THE VANGUARD REPRINTS

 

 

 

Introduction to the “Vanguard Reprints”

 

 

by Roel Velema

 

 

David Morrieson Panton (1870-1955), the author of the Vanguard Reprints, ministered at Surrey Chapel, Norwich, England.

 

 

He succeeded Robert Govett (1813-1901) in that pulpit.  Panton was the founder and editor of Dawn magazine, a strong voice for deep Scriptural and prophetical truth from 1924 until his death in 1955. He was known as “The Prince of Prophecy.”

 

 

David Panton was born in Jamaica, where his father was first archdeacon, a missionary of the Church of England. His uncle was Archbishop of West Indies.

 

 

DMP (as he was affectionately known), came to England to study, taking a law degree at Gaius College, Cambridge.  Impressed by the teaching of Robert Govett surrounding Christ’s coming kingdom and glory, he gave up his legal career, being fully occupied with these and related truths such as the responsibility and accountability of every Christian for his stewardship before the judgment seat of his Lord.

 

 

DMP wrote numerous tracts and books, including Rapture and The Judgment Seat of Christ.

 

 

In later years, because of his health, he preached only once a month at Surrey Chapel, eventually retiring in 1941.

 

 

Mrs. Margaret Barber (1866-1930), a British missionary in China, and instrumental in the spiritual growth of Watchman Nee, wrote in 1926 in a letter to David Panton: “Nothing you ever printed was more valuable than those concise rich Bible Studies called ‘Vanguard Reprints’. ”

 

 

This indicates that the Vanguard Reprints have been written during the first part of Panton’s ministry and probably before or soon after he started to edit the Dawn Magazine in 1924. …

 

 

“We should also be aware that the Vanguard Reprints are often outdated, due to the time they were written.  Nevertheless, the need was felt to make these 109 concise rich Bible studies called the Vanguard Reprints completely available again, just as they were published almost a century ago.  In fact the Vanguard Reprints contain 108 articles.  Article no. 109 on The Revelation was included in the original copy of the Vanguard Reprints, but not labelled as such. Nevertheless it has been added.

 

 

The old English text has been retained.  Only some minor typographical corrections have been made.

 

 

Roel Velema Hattem, The Netherlands, July 2005 email: rjvelema@xs4all.nl website: www.xs4all.nl/~rjvelema

 

 

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Appendix: List of subjects of the Vanguard Reprints:

 

 

1 Seven Steps to Glory

                                                                                      55 Did Christ Rise as a Spirit?

2 Son or Lord - Which?

                                                                                      56 Excommunication and Exclusion

3 The End of the Age

                                                                                       57 Christ

4 The Angel in the Fire

                                                                                       58 Emperor-Worship

Our Crown in Jeopardy

                                                                                       59 Brotherhood

6 The Fall of Man and the Love of God

                                                                                       60 Catholicity

7 The Lamb of God

                                                                                       61 The Miracles of Christ

8 The Disciple’s Use of Money

                                                                                       62 Seducing Spirits

9 Calvary and the Mass

                                                                                        63 Korea

Readiness for Rapture

                                                                                        64 Baptism

11 The Cross and the Kingdom

                                                                                        65 Expiation by Blood

12 Miraculous Gifts

                                                                                        66 The Church and the Kingdom

13 The Bread of God

                                                                                         67 Paul’s Autobiography

14 Burial to the Law

                                                                                         68 Rome: A Warning

Why I believe the Whole Bible

                                                                                         69 The Ascension

16 Works Tested by Fire

                                                                                         70 The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day

17 The Place of the Dead

                                                                                         71 Probation after Death

18 Facts Every Man Ought to Know

                                                                                         72 Civil War

19 China’s Crisis

                                                                                         73 Laying Hands in the Sacrifice

20 A Board in the Tabernacle

                                                                                         74 Under Law to Christ

21 Exclusion from the Kingdom

                                                                                         75 False Christs

22 The Glories of Israel

                                                                                         76 The Two Justifications

23 The Trial of Jesus

                                                                                         77 The City and the Salt

24 A Sacrificial Priesthood

                                                                                         78 Temples of the Holy Ghost

25 The Higher Criticism

                                                                                         79 Counsel for Young Workers

26 Adam and Christ

                                                                                         80 Gethsemane and Calvary

27 The Judgment Seat of Christ

                                                                                         81 Rapture

28 The New Birth

                                                                                         82 The Ethics of Atonement

29 Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

                                                                                         83 Prayer

30 An Empty Tomb

                                                                                         84 The Servant of Jehovah

31 A Dying World

                                                                                         85 The Two Overcomings

32 An Unknown God

                                                                                         86 Witnesses to Christ

33 Ten Pounds

                                                                                         87 Watch

34 The Indestructible Jew

                                                                                         88 The Use of Firearms

35 Living Letters

                                                                                         89 The Sinless Christ

36 Schism

                                                                                         90 The Prophecy on Olivet

37 The Blood and the Soul

                                                                                          91 To Each His Work

38 The Prize of the Kingdom

                                                                                          92 The Seed and the Soil

39 Jehovah our Righteousness

                                                                                          93 Purgatory

40 Soul-Winning

                                                                                          94 The Image of the Invisible God

41 Onesimus

                                                                                          95 One Shall be Left

42 The Great Escape

                                                                                          96 Strangers and Pilgrims

43 A Cancelled Bond

                                                                                           97 The Creator Christ

44 The Blood and the Leaven

                                                                                           98 The Last Watch

45 The Vision of God

                                                                                           99 Latent Romanism

46 The Kingdom

                                                                                           100 Garning the Wheat

47 The Theology of Heaven

                                                                                           101 Lo, I am Come

48 Burial to Sin

                                                                                           102 The Coming Gnosticism

49 Heirs Wanted

                                                                                           103 Oaths

50 An Urgent Danger

                                                                                           104 Armageddon

51 Man and his Destiny

                                                                                           105 Fasting

52 The Parousia of Christ

                                                                                           106 Our Prize

53 The Greatness of Jesus

                                                                                           107 A Change of Dress

54 Social Reform

                                                                                           108 My Debt

                                                                                              

                                             109 The Revelation

 

 

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“THE VANGUARD” REPRINTS

 

 

1

 

 

Seven Steps to Glory

 

 

Which way do the steps to Glory slope?  Downward.  Every step in the life of our Lord was a step downward. Let us trace them.

 

 

The first was a MENTAL RENUNCIATION. “Being originally in the form of God, [He] counted it not a thing to be grasped” - a treasure impossible to be renounced - “to be on an equality with God” (Phil. 2: 6). Christ was once in the full Form of God.  “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. ... And one [seraph] cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6: 1).  Who is this? “These things said Isaiah, because he saw [Christ’s] glory; and he spake of Him” (John 12: 41).  All Bethlehem, all Nazareth, all Capernaum, all Calvary, - the enormous chasm between the Throne and the Cross, - were involved in this act of mental renunciation.

 

 

Christ’s second step downward was into resignation of the Glory. He “EMPTIED HIMSELF  He resigned, not the Godhead, but equality with the Godhead: He divested Himself of the garments of Deity: He put from Him the blazing splendours, and the consuming fires, of the Throne.  He might have come as Jehovah to Sinai. “There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled, ... because the Lord descended upon it in fire” (Ex. 19: 16).  But our Lord came otherwise. Matt. 12: 19.  A touch from Sinai was death: a touch from Christ was life: for He had laid aside the terrors, but not the powers, of the Godhead. “For your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8: 9).

 

 

Christ’s third step downward was into creation. He took “the form of A SERVANT  He might have merely disrobed: He might have appeared as God did to Manoah. “Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is wonderful? ... When the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame ... And Manoah said, We have seen God” (Jud. 13: 18).  But Christ came as a creature.  “Behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch” (Zech. 3: 8).  The Root of David is David’s Maker: the Branch is a created Servant. Isa. 11: 1, 10; Rev. 22: 16.

 

 

Christ’s fourth step downward was into humanity. He was “made IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN  He might have come - a servant indeed, a creature - yet as one of the Princes in the Throne-room of Deity.  So Gabriel came.  “An angel of the Lord [stood] on the right side of the altar of incense, ... and said, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God” (Luke 1: 19).  But the Word became flesh. John 1: 14; Gal. 4: 4.  Only the shoulders of the God-man could bear the sins of the world: the Infinite entered the finite infinitely to atone. Heb. 10: 4-7.  The Pharisees said: “Thou, being a man, makest thyself God”: the reverse was the truth, - Thou, being God, makest thyself a man. Heb. 2: 16-17; 1 Tim. 2: 5, 6.

 

 

Christ’s fifth step downward was into human renunciation. “Found in fashion as a man, HE HUMBLED HIMSELF  He might have come as Solomon.  “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.  And all the earth sought the presence of Solomon” (1 Kings 10: 23).  The sceptre of Alexander, the ingots of Solomon, the legions of Caesar, the bays of Shakespeare, the sword of Napoleon: - “the devil showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. ... Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4: 8).  Born in a borrowed manger, and buried in a borrowed tomb, the Maker of the worlds had not where to lay His head.

 

 

Christ’s sixth step downward was into death.  He became “obedient even unto DEATH  He might have been rapt as Enoch.  “Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for before his translation he hath had witness borne to him that he had been well-pleasing unto God” (Heb. 11: 5).  So had Christ.  John 8: 29; Prov. 12: 28.  But He chose to die: He chose not the chariot and horses of fire. “I lay down My life for the sheep. ... No one taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself” (John. 10: 15, 18).  The Hireling flees: the Good Shepherd dies.  The good pleasure of God saved Enoch: the supreme pleasure of the Father slew the Son.  Rom. 8: 32.  For “apart from shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9: 22).

 

 

Christ’s seventh step downward was into crucifixion. “Yea, the death of THE CROSS  He might have died as Moses. “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him” (Deut. 34: 5).  God buried Moses: His enemies murdered Christ.  The cross was the climax of all.  A disgrace in human law, a curse in Divine Law (Deut. 21: 23), wrath was exhausted in the culminating tragedy of Calvary.  Gal. 3: 13.

 

 

Behold the seven steps!  The consequence?  “Wherefore also” - for glory is measured by renunciation - “God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name

 

 

Brother, mark the tremendous command.  Downward is to be our every step which is to lead upward to Glory. Matt. 10: 25. Luke 14: 10, 11, 33.  “HAVE THIS MIND IN YOU, WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS

 

 

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2

 

 

Son or Lord - Which?

 

 

“What think ye of the Christ? Whose Son is He  Our Lord states a problem by presenting an enigma.  “The son of David,” the Pharisees answered (Matt. 22: 42). “How then,” Jesus replied, “doth David in the Spirit call Him Lord? ... If David calleth Him Lord, how is He is son?” Certain facts acutely intensify the problem.

 

 

(1) Without doubt Messiah was to be of David’s seed.  “There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots: ... unto Him shall the nations seek” (Isa. 11: 1).  2 Sam. 7: 13. “I will raise unto David a righteous Branch: ... and this is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our righteousness” (Jer. 23: 5). Luke 1: 32, 69.  The Rabbis, no less than the Scriptures, agreed, with one consent, that Christ was to be of David’s seed: so also the multitudes. Matt. 12: 23.

 

 

(2) David called the Christ his Lord when moved by the Holy Ghost.  “David himself said [it] in the Holy Spirit” (Mark 12: 36). 2 Sam. 23: 2.  It was neither error, nor falsehood, nor exaggeration, nor self-deception: David called Christ his Lord by the infallible impulse of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 12: 3.

 

 

(3) The Lordship spoken of by David involves the Godhead.  For the Psalm continues: “The Lord at thy right hand” - David’s Lord just named, elevated to the throne of Deity - “shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath.  He shall judge among the nations” (Ps. 110: 5).  David’s Lord is the world’s final Judge: He is God.  Rom. 2: 16.

 

 

Here then is the enigma.  If the Christ is from eternity God, how can He be David’s Son: if He is born of David, how can He be the eternal God?  The silence of the Pharisees is extraordinarily significant.

 

 

Three answers only were possible, and unbelief is confounded by all.

 

 

(1) “Since David called Messiah Lord, Messiah could not be his Son  This reply is the overthrow of the Word of God, and therefore of God. Messiah was to be born in the city of David (Micah 5: 2); from the stock of David (Is. 11: 1); for the throne of David (Jer. 33: 15).  The overthrow of God is involved in the overthrow of His law and His prophets.

 

 

(2) “Since Messiah was David’s Son, He could not be David’s Lord  Then why did David call Him Lord?  Nay more: why did the Spirit of God move David to call him, Lord?  “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar”: if Christ is refused as David’s Lord, we charge sin to the Holy Ghost.

 

 

(3) “Since Messiah was both Son and Lord of David, He must be both man and God  This would at once have established the Messiah-ship of Jesus. Luke 2: 11.  David’s God and David’s Child: “For unto us a child is born, and His name shall be called ... the Mighty God” (Isa. 9: 6).  Then why do ye not believe Him?  Every mouth is stopped that all unbelief may be brought in guilty before God: it was the silence of the confounded intellect, but the unconverted heart.

 

 

These Pharisees had been dead for a score of years. Calvary is over.  The Sacred Canon is closing, and the Lamb is upon the Throne.  In the holy silence of angels, Jesus speaks: once again it is the old conundrum. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. ... I am the root and the off-spring of David” (Rev. 22: 16).  God’s eternal conundrum yields but one reply: CHRIST IS GOD; CHRIST IS MAN.  The root out of which David sprang; the branch out of the stock of Jesse: David’s Maker; David’s off-spring: Christ was born; Christ was never born. “There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit: and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Isa. 11: 1).  That is the Branch.  “The root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto Him shall the nations seek; and His resting-place shall be glorious” (Isa. 11: 10). 

 

 

That is the Root.  Before Jesse was, He is: long after Jesse is dead, He is born.  “Born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the son of God with power ... by the resurrection [out] of the dead” (Rom. 1: 3).  What He was in time, that He is in eternity.

 

 

All silence before the enigma is a guilty silence.  “What think ye of the Christ?” God said to God: “Sit Thou on My right hand,” enthrone Thyself: you have never said that to Christ. GOD HAS.  David called Him Lord; will you?  The Holy Spirit in David calls Him Lord; do you?  The man after God’s own heart said, My Lord; the woman at, the tomb said, My Lord; the apostle wrestling with doubt said, My Lord; the worn apostle of the Gentiles said, My Lord; the millions of the sanctified have said, My Lord.  If your lips are locked, they may be locked in the silence of the lost.  Jesus was born, as man, that He might obtain what now He dispenses, as God: He became partaker of the human that we might become partakers of the Divine. The Son of God became the Son of man, that the sons of men might become the sons of God. “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son” - the eternal God - “born of a woman”- the human Christ - “THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION OF SONS” - (Gal. 4: 4).

 

 

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3

 

 

The End of the Age

 

 

How will this present evil Age end?  “Not by the crash of revolution,” says Mr. F. B. Meyer, “but by the spiral staircase of evolution, shall the world pass to perfect order and beauty.  The coral island of the golden age is by this time not very far from emerging above the surface of the stormy waters  Or, as Mr. R. J. Campbell puts it: “I wish we could reach the Christian ideal of destroying the Church by enabling the whole world to become a Church  What saith the Scripture?  For “we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as UNTO A LAMP shining in a dark place, until the day dawn” (2 Pet. 1: 19).

 

 

Our Lord decides once and for ever. “The field is the world; ... the harvest is the end of the age”: “LET BOTH [wheat and tares] GROW TOGETHER UNTIL THE HARVEST” (Matt. 13: 30, 38).  This is the overthrow of Mr. Meyer.

 

 

(1) For the world in Harvest will be a piebald world: yellow grain and blackish darnel, in blotches of sharply contrasted colour: not a globe rolled into light.  The moment of the advent will be the discovery of earth’s dense darkness. “Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60: 2). Luke 18: 8.

 

 

(2) “By the spiral staircase of evolution”: - this supposes all tares to evolve at last into wheat.  But the silent growth of wheat and tares evolves fruit, not an interchange of nature: the poisonous darnel ripens for fire; the wheat ripens for the barn.  Dan. 12: 10. “Bind [the tares] in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn” Rev. 14: 14-20.

 

 

(3) “Not by the crash of revolution”: that is, by no outside force, but by inside goodness, the world is to be saved.  But the Son of man, seated on the clouds, lets fall a rapid succession of reaping angels, sweeping earth as with a mighty scythe: not evolution, but revolution, wielded by perfect holiness, controlled by perfect justice, and informed with perfect discrimination, will alone dislodge iniquity from its empire of the world. “For the upright shall dwell in the earth, and they that deal treacherously shall be rooted out of it” (Prov. 2: 21). Matt. 15: 13.

 

 

To extinguish the lamp of prophecy is to plunge the Church into darkness.  It is a cruel wrong to the world, for it lulls the tares into expecting salvation without a miraculous change of nature (Matt. 12: 33): it paralyzes missionary effort, by proclaiming God’s Fatherhood to be universal, when Christ here reveals that our only hope is a change of fatherhood: it corrupts church life by the frantic methods it induces to convert tares into wheat in excess of God’s election of grace: at last it endangers belief by making the Apocalyptic judgments so startling a disillusionment as to rock all faith to its foundations.  For all who extinguish God’s lamp the path is involved in the most dangerous darkness. Solemn are the lessons of the TARES.

 

 

(1) “Between the wheat and the darnel,” says Jerome, “so long as it is in the blade, and is not come into ear, there is a great resemblance, and it is either impossible, or very difficult, to discriminate between the one and the other  All attempt (as by the Inquisition) to uproot the tares is forbidden: - “lest haply while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat with them  No less than Divine omniscience is needed for the eternal severance of human souls.  2 Tim. 2: 19.  1 Cor. 4: 5.

 

 

(2) God will at last unmask all hypocrisy, and expose its perfect iniquity. “When the grain is ‘headed out’” says Dr. Thompson, “a child cannot mistake tares for wheat”: the day will arrive when sepulchres will be no longer whited.  (The Parable probably bears especially upon the destiny of nominal and real disciples in Christendom.) Rom. 2: 16.

 

 

(3) Punishment will be graded. “Bind [the tares] in bundles”: the wicked are filed off in companies, each in his own order.  Matt. 10: 15.  Rom. 2: 5.  But all suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Rev. 21: 8.

 

 

Exquisite are the lessons of the WHEAT.

 

 

(1) No forest tree, deep-rooted in earth, but a fragile annual, for ever passing in successive harvests; - the Church’s garner is a better world.  Heb. 13: 14.

 

 

(2) Wheat dies downward, as it ripens upward; the stalk and roots are dead, as the grain is ripe: so the soul that dies to earth is the soul that ripens to the Throne of God.  It is the sanctity of the relaxing grasp.

 

 

(3) A ripe wheat-field is a field of bowed heads: the heavier our load of grace, the lowlier will be our faces.  Jas. 4: 5, 6.

 

 

(4) Sun after sun smites burning into the grain, and turns it to sweetness: trial, for God’s child, is the burning of His Father’s sunshine.  1 Pet. 4: 12-14.

 

 

(5) Wheat ripens by absorbing light: to abide in our Light is to bear much fruit: abiding means ripening.

 

 

(6) Wheat is cut in its order of maturity: the rapture of Firstfruits is prior to the rapture of Harvest.  Rev. 14: 4, 15.  Unripe wheat remains for the violent heats of the Tribulation.  Luke 21: 36. Rev. 3: 3.

 

 

(7) The Husband-man delays till the crop ripens: “when the fruit is ripe, immediately he putteth forth the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mark 4: 29).  The Kingdom waits for the holiness of the sons of the Kingdom.

 

 

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4

 

 

The Angel in the Fire

 

 

On every high hill in the Old Testament a telescope is planted: from every ancient mount of God we catch sight of Calvary.  So here: Jud. 13: 15-23.

 

 

Who is the Angel of the Lord? A Divine Person.* “The angel of the Lord appeared unto [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; ... [and] said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3: 2, 6).  So when Jacob had wrestled with the Angel, he found he had prevailed with God. So here: - “Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord, [and said], We shall surely die, because we have seen God” (Jud. 13: 21).  Still we ask, with Manoah, “What is thy name?” Who is the Divine Being that revealed God to the Patriarchs; the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of the Presence, the Jehovah-Angel, the Man that wrestled, the Man that was the Lord?  An apostle answers.  “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten SON, which is in the bosom of the Father.  He hath declared Him” (John 1: 18).  Here also the Angel hints His identity. “Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is Wonderful  Name with God are not so much names, as realities: Wonderful is a title of Christ linked especially with the wonder of wonders, the Incarnation.  “Unto us a child is born, ... and His name shall be called Wonderful” (Isa. 9: 6).  Nor is the Atonement less a wonder.  “The Angel [in the fire] did wondrously”: already our Lord’s thoughts and affections circle around the place that is called Calvary.

 

* See Gen. 48: 16; Ex. 23: 20; Jud 2: 1.  But in Hag. 1: 13 it is applied to a prophet, and in Mal. 2: 7 to a priest.

 

 

The action now begins.  Manoah offers the Angel meat and drink: the Angel bids him make of the kid a burnt-offering.  The disciples said to Jesus, “Rabbi, eat”; but He answered; “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4: 34): “sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body” - as an incarnate burnt-offering - “didst Thou prepare for Me; ... then said I, Lo, I am come to do Thy will” (Heb. 3. 5).  Then the Angel stept into the fire.  Christ replaced all burnt-offerings: He is the Angel in the Fire.

 

 

(1) The altar was a bare, natural rock, unchiseled of man. Ex. 20: 25.  No tool but God’s shaped the mound of Golgotha.

 

 

(2) The Angel stept on to the rock, and then into the fire.  An altar is that which presents to God the sin bearing sacrifice: its fire is the answering wrath revealed from God against all unrighteousness.  The altar goes up: the fire comes down: the substitute perishes between.  Christ stept on to the altar, bearing sin: He stept into the fire, suffering wrath.

 

 

(3) The Angel “caused a wonder to take place” (Lange).  What was the wonder?  That He survived the fire. The sacrifice was wrapt in fire: so was Christ.  The sacrifice was consumed in the fire: so was not Christ. Solitary among all sacrifices, He rose out of death whither no fire can follow.  Why?  Because, as fire feeds on fuel, so wrath consumes sin; but here was a Lamb, without spot, without blemish, THE LAMB OF GOD.

 

 

(4) The Angel remained unknown until the sacrifice had been offered.  “Thou must offer it unto the Lord.  For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the Lord” John 1: 10.  Not until He had passed through the fire was Jesus “declared to be the Son of God with power ... by the resurrection of the dead” (Rom. 1: 4), Matt. 27: 54.  “The angel of the Lord did no more appear unto Manoah or to his wife. Then Manoah knew that He was the angel of the Lord1 Tim. 3: 16.

 

 

Terror falls upon Manoah.  God has been in the Fire.  “All the multitudes, ... when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts” (Luke 23: 48): His murderers, realising whom they had crucified, cry, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37).  To see God is, for a sinner, to die: to have slain, with all mankind, the Son of God is to die eternally.  But the sacrifice removes the terror.  “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, He would not have received a burnt-offering  The climax of human sin is also the climax of Divine love.  The Angel of the Lord - here is an infinite Sacrifice: the Angel steps on to the altar - here is a Bearer of guilt: the Angel enters the fire - here is an absorption of wrath: the Angel ascends out of the flame - behold God’s reception of a perfect atonement.  Heb. 9: 12.  God would never have made CALVARY had He sought the world’s damnation: that altar is a lightning-rod that has drawn off the wrath from the sinner to the Sacrifice.  Heb. 13: 10, 12.

 

 

What still remains?  Our choice between the Angel and the Fire.  God’s wrath must rest on sin: if in the Angel, we are out of the fire; out of the Angel, we must abide in the fire, Rev. 21: 8.

 

 

Will you ask God to place you at once in Christ? Rom. 8: 1.  “By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10: 10).

 

 

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5

 

 

Our Crown in Jeopardy

 

 

Israel in the Wilderness, says Paul, are a type, real and actual, of us. “In these things they became FIGURES OF US: these things happened unto them by way of figure” (1 Cor. 10: 6, 11).  Their experiences God has selected, not as exceptional, but as permanent revelations of His character: all human experiences, ours as theirs, must flow out of the one unalterable character of God.  Moreover God so wrought, and so wrote, purposely for the Church.  “In these things they became figures of us, to the intent that we should not lust, as they also lusted”: “these things were written for our admonition

 

 

The inspired record exists to prove the parallel: God so wrought, that we might know His character; He so wrote, that we might know it for ever.  Moreover the parallel points specifically to the acts of judgment.  “They were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now these things” - the repeated overthrows - “were our examples  The judgments are embedded in the Word as in rock for ever, that the Wilderness should become the kindergarten of the Church.  To deny the parallel is to overthrow inspiration: to ignore the parallel is to silence the Scripture: to admit the parallel is to disclose a momentous peril to the believer in Christ.

 

 

The apostle lays down, in figure, the ample bedrock of our own spiritual standing.  “Our fathers were all under the cloud” - redeemed by the blood of the Lamb - “and all passed through the sea” - separated from a godless world - “and were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” - a people buried to sin - “and did all eat the same spiritual meat” - at the Lord’s Table - “and did all drink the same spiritual drink” - the Spirit from the smitten Lord - “for they drank of a spiritual rock; that followed them: and the rock was Christ  Standing in grace could hardly be stated, in so few words, more exhaustively: if privilege could render immune, Israel was beyond fall.  Now observe the startling and studied contrast. “Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness  All under - all through - all immersed - all eating - all drinking: MOST OVERTHROWN.  For “they which run in a race all run, but one receiveth the prize.” All - two millions: most - two millions minus two: “wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall  Luke 12: 47, 48.  Rom. 11: 17-22.

 

 

God’s sharp dilemma impales us on its one horn or on the other.  Overthrown Israel are a type, either of the believer’s eternal destruction or of his forfeited reward: if it is not lost glory, it is lost life.  But the passage itself decides.

 

 

“Know ye not that they which run in a race all run, but one receiveth THE PRIZE?  Even so run, that ye may attain. … For* I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, how that our fathers,” so privileged, “were overthrown  God never put us under the Blood to withdraw us from its blessed efficacy (Rom. 8: 1; John 10: 27-29; Rom. 11: 29; Heb. 9: 12): neither has He ever presented the Prize as an irrevocable gift.  What is the imperilled prize?  “They do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore ... buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself” - even Paul - “should be rejected [for the crown].”  As fivefold was the privilege and fivefold the overthrow, so even the best saints need cautioning against the worst sins. 1 Cor. 6: 9. Heb. 4: 11.  “He is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully” (2 Tim. 2: 5). Jas 1: 12. Rev. 3: 11.  The badge, the title, the proof of possession for the Millennial Kingdom is the Crown; and the Kingdom of Heaven has no entrance fee, but its subscription is – “all that a man hathPhil. 3: 8-14.  The blessed reality of the election of God can prove no shelter for the sins of the elect: remember Moses. Col. 3: 25.

 

* See R.V. and Critical Editions

 

 

Nevertheless the command abides: Matt. 6: 33. “Take heed” - never presume: “God is faithful” - never despair. Every escape out of temptation is a straight path into the coming Glory.  “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it  God offers prizes in order that we may win them: His heart yearns for our entry into the Kingdom.  “Walk worthily of God, who is calling you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2: 12).  The entrance lies in the worthy walk. Matt. 7: 21.  If our hearts linger in Egypt, our graves will be dug in the wilderness: if our hearts dwell in Canaan, we shall follow in person. Col. 3: 1-4. Rev. 2: 26.

 

 

“NOW THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM BY WAY OF EXAMPLE; AND THEY WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE AGES ARE COME

 

 

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6

 

 

The Fall of Man and the Love of God

 

 

Out of two attributes dominant in the character of the Most High flow all the dealings of God with man: -Justice and Mercy.   Mercy is first in the field.  How so?  Creation was a sovereign act of the love of God. Called out of nothingness, in which he had no claim on God to be created, into a sphere where every sense found a world for its enjoyment, and every desire had God for its satisfaction, CREATION was an act of pure and undiluted grace.  Grace spoke God’s first word to man - “And God blessed them” (Gen. 1: 22).  Justice stept almost as promptly into the field.  A law is enacted, - “Thou shalt not eat of it”; a penalty is attached, - “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die  What does this mean?  Mercy says, - “I have given you life”: Justice says, - “Keep it holy  Mercy says, - “I have made you upright”: Justice says, - “Keep yourself as upright as you were made  Mark one fact of supreme importance.  The command implies that man can fall. God cannot fall (Jas. 1: 17): any one not God, can, and, of necessity, may: on no other condition could God make worlds at all.  Unchangeableness, like eternity or infinity, belongs to God alone, an attribute which He can no more transmit to the creature than eternity or infinity; and liability to change necessarily involves liability to fall.  I may fall, because I am not God.  So Love said, - “I have given you life”: Righteousness said, - “Keep it holy

 

 

Now arises the first dreadful check to the love of God: - the FALL. Eccl. 7: 29.  The Tempter came: they listened: they fell.  God never decreed their fall: He never even decreed to permit it: He simply left them alone. God made man upright: man had no claim on God to keep him upright.  His liability to fall arose from his being a creature; his actual fall was his own choice.  Instantly the penalty of the law flashed down like the blade of a guillotine.  Guilt, is imputed (Rom. 5: 12): the stock is ruined (Ps. 51: 5): sin becomes the law of my members (Rom. 7: 14, 23).  The deadly virus of sin enters the one blood of which God has made all nations. One star alone rose on the tragic gloom.  Probably by the Fall alone could the creature learn that Jehovah alone changes not: by no means less awful could he read the impassable gulf between himself and the dreadful perfections of his Maker.

 

 

Mercy now re-enters the field.  What claim has man, fallen, on God?  None whatever.  Innocent, he had no claim on God to uphold: a rebel, far less has he any claim to be restored.  Sovereign Mercy now alone can save. REDEMPTION must deliver from the outside, for a stone bounding down a hillside can be saved by no inherent force: yet also from the inside, for man must be justified as man, or not at all.  Behold the Incarnation! I Cor. xv. 21, 47.

 

 

But the Incarnation cannot save.  Justice cries, - “Hold! Mercy, you are free to grant favours only where Justice is not outraged: I said, ‘If thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die’: plunge not the bosom of God into a suicidal war of fratricidal attributes  Mercy replies: - “That has been in my heart from the first. Therefore behold a lamb for a man - Abel: a lamb for a family - Noah; a lamb for a household - Israel in Egypt; a lamb for a nation - Israel on the Day of Atonement: and now, O Justice, behold a lamb for a world - ‘behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’” (John 1: 29).  Ps. 85: 10.  And for whom is this?  I know my sins better than I know anyone else’s; therefore I know no sinner greater than myself: therefore I know that if he died for sinners, He died for me. Rom. 5: 18. 1 John 2: 2. “Look at me,” exclaimed Henry Martyn dying, “the vilest of sinners, but saved by grace: amazing that I can be saved!”

 

 

A last check to the love of God now confronts us more dreadful even than the fall.  What is it?  Left alone not one human soul would ever have accepted the Gospel of Christ.  A bowl that has a twist in it will always swerve with its bias: cast it a million times, and a million times it will swerve: so a fallen nature carries in it a perpetually evil will.  We may love Christ if we will: left to ourselves we never will.  Once again steps in tireless, patient, infinite Grace.  Creation - pure mercy; Redemption - pure mercy; both are now made effectual for good by the amazing mercy of ELECTION. Eph. 1: 3-5.  The truth lodge the whole glory in God.  Election is the love of God removing the scales from our eyes, to behold the precipice at our feet, and to leap back, with trembling joy, into the Arms that save.  Election inclines the will to will to be saved: when man’s will (Rev. 22: 17) coincides with God’s will (1 Tim. 2: 4), salvation is instantaneous.  Yet Justice has not left the field. The non-elect are hurrying themselves to death with all their might; they harden themselves; they love sin with their whole soul: Justice merely lets them alone. Christ’s death can save all the world if they believe: it will save all those ordained to eternal life. Acts. 13: 48.  The names of the elect are in the Lamb’s Book of Life; but this offers no obstacle to the salvation of anyone else: not “he that is elected not,” but “he that believeth not,” is condemned. Mark 16: 16.  God never decreed the death of him that dieth (Ezek. 18: 32; 1 Tim. 2: 4; 2 Pet. 3: 9): neither did He see aught in me which deserved anything but death.  God says again and again that nothing in us prompted Him to choose us. Rom. 9: 11.  The reasons of that choice lie in a region human foot has never travelled.

 

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11: 33).

 

 

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7

 

 

The Lamb of God

 

 

1. - LAMB OF THE PASSOVER HAD TO BE TAKEN UP ON THE TENTH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH.  “In the tenth day of the [first] month they shall take to them every man a lamb” (Ex. 12: 3).  In that month Jesus was crucified; and John tells us the day on which He entered Jerusalem.  “Jesus therefore six days before the passover came to Bethany”; and “on the morrow” - that is, five days before the Passover - “Jesus was coming to Jerusalem” (John 12: 1, 12).  Now the Passover feast was on the fifteenth; therefore - five from fifteen - our Lord arrived in Jerusalem on the very day the lamb was to be taken, the tenth of Nisan.

 

 

2. - THE LAMB WAS TO BE BROUGHT ON THE DAY THAT IT WAS TETHERED.  Every householder was to “take” a lamb, by purchase, if not already possessed. 2 Kings 12: 16. Mark 11: 15.  As soon as the supper at Bethany was over, then Judas went unto the chief priests, and said, “What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?” (Matt. 26: 14).  At six o’clock that evening the ninth had already closed: Jesus was bought on the tenth.  He was bought for exactly the predicted amount.  “They weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver” (Zech. 11: 12).  And the money was ultimately paid to the right persons.  “The money for the guilt offerings, and the money for the sin offerings, was not brought into the house of the Lord: it was the priests’”(2 Kings 12: 16): so Judas “brought back the thirty pieces of silver, ... and the chief priests took [them], and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury” (Matt. 27: 3).

 

 

3. - THE LAMB WAS TO BE KEPT TETHERED FOR FOUR DAYS WITHIN REACH OF THE PLACE OF SLAUGHTER.  “Ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month” (Ex. 12: 6). From the tenth to the fourteenth Judas kept watch over the bought Lamb, with a view to its sacrifice: “they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver.  And from that time he sought opportunity to deliver Him unto them.” Each day (which seems to have included a Sabbath) was spent in Jerusalem, and - a Sabbath day’s journey off (Luke 24: 50; Acts 1: 12) - each night in Bethany; and from the tenth day Jesus was marked, at the Bethany supper, for slaughter.  “She hath anointed My body aforehand for the burying” (Mark 14: 8); - not for coronation, but for sacrifice. Ex. 29: 36. Lev. 2: 1.

 

 

4. - THE LAMB MUST BE OF SPECIAL BIRTH, CHARACTER, AND BEHAVIOR.  (1) It must be a firstborn (Ex. 13: 2): Jesus could not have been the Lamb did we not read - “she brought forth her firstborn son” (Luke 2: 7).  (2) It must be without any evil-favoredness (Deut. 17: 1); “your lamb shall be without blemish” (Ex. 12: 5): so Pilate pronounced, “I find no fault in Him at all” (John 18: 38); and Caiaphas, the priestly examiner of lambs, pronounced the witnesses against him false. Matt. 26: 60. 1 Pet. 1: 19.  (3) The prophets foretold Messiah as standing on His death-day as a dumb lamb (Isa. 53: 7): “and He gave him no answer, not even to one word” (Matt. 27: 14).

 

 

5. - THE LAMB MUST BE KILLED ON A SPECIFIC DATE.  “They killed” - not ate - “the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month” (2 Chron. 35: 1): “the whole congregation of Israel shall kill it between the two evenings” (Ex. 12: 6).  The Crucifixion was on the fourteenth, for “it was the preparation of the Passover” (John 19: 14).  Between the two evenings, says Josephus, was from the sixth hour, until the ninth hour.  “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land” - a more dreadful going down of the sun than the world had ever known - “until the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour ... Jesus yielded up His spirit” (Matt. 27: 45, 50).  To the month, to the day, to the hour, God’s Lamb was slain: “our passover hath been sacrificed, even Christ” (1 Cor. 5: 7).

 

 

6. - NO BONE OF THE LAMB MIGHT BE BROKEN.  “Neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Ex. 12: 46). The Samaritans, whose sacrifices to-day are living survivals of Jewish ritual, pierce each lamb by a wooden spit, with a cross-bar near the extremity; that is, they transfix the lamb with a cross, they crucify it.  Golgotha is said to have been the Mound of Precipitation, from whence criminals sentenced to stoning were hurled; had our Lord so suffered, He could not have been the Lamb.  How did God provide for this?  Forty years, says the Talmud, before the destruction of the Temple - that is, the year before the Crucifixion - the Romans deprived the Jews of the power to inflict their capital punishment, stoning: therefore our Lord suffered the Roman death. “The Jews said unto [Pilate], It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, ... signifying by what manner of death He should die” (John 18: 31, 32).  But a peril of the breaking of a bone yet remained.  For a crucified Jew the law commanded burial on the day of crucifixion (Deut. 21: 23): breaking of the legs, therefore, alone ensured death enabling burial.  But the Spirit that had borne the sins of the whole world had already flown. “When they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs, ... that the Scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken”(John 19: 36).

 

 

7. - THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB ALONE COULD GUARD THE HOUSEHOLD FROM THE ANGEL OF DEATH.  Ex. 12: 23.  Blood on the overarching lintels - for none can mount to Heaven save through blood: blood on the right post, blood on the left post - for none can pass into salvation except through blood: but no blood on the threshold - for woe be to the soul that treads under foot the blood of the Son of God.  Heb. 10: 29.  Will you pass through and under God’s blood-stained archway now? “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” “Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5: 9).

 

 

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8

 

 

The Disciple’s Use of Money

 

 

A STEWARD is one who handles another person’s goods, and such is every Christian: all money in our hands is a TRUST FUND.  Why?  Because “the silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag. 2: 8).  The expenditure of the fund will be examined by the Lord of the steward.  “After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them” (Matt. 25: 19): “so then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14: 12).  Therefore “trade ye herewith till I come” (Luke 19: 13).

 

 

Two sharply defined characteristics stand out in the STEWARD our Lord pictures (Luke 16: 1-13): a wise foresight, and a deliberate unscrupulousness.  As a child of this evil generation, he defrauds his master, and so is called by Christ a steward of unrighteousness: but - and on this the whole parable turns - his foresight is so wise as to be our example forever.  Here is the parallel.  He is a steward: so am I.  For his evil generation he acts with great wisdom: for my holy generation I must be no less wise.  He fears poverty in old age: I am to fear poverty in eternity.  His stewardship was drawing rapidly to a close: so is mine.  The wealth slipping from his grasp had to be used immediately: so must mine.  He strains every nerve to mould the future through the present: so ought I.  Wise foresight that uses money with a view to the future his lord commends: so will mine.  Yet - this is the startling summary of our Lord - so few, so rare, so solitary are the Christians who are thus wise that our Lord has practically to condemn us all.  “The sons of this age are wiser than the sons of the light

 

 

“One great purpose of this life is to form friendships for the next”: Christ tells us how to do it. “I say unto you, Make to yourselves FRIENDS by means of the mammon of unrighteousness [the wealth of a fallen world]; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles  Do righteously what the Steward did unrighteously: by bringing joy into the sorrowing face now prepare for yourself a royal welcome then.  A small gift can purchase an eternal gratitude.  So money is wisely invested only when it is spent on others: for what we keep we lose, and what we give we retain: and investment for eternity can be made only by expenditure in time.  Nor does this apply to the wealthy only.  “He that is faithful in a very little”- the poorest disciple - “is faithful also in much”.  Mark 12: 43, 44.  It is “according as a man hath, not according as he hath not” (2 Cor. 8: 12): for every disciple, his handling of what he has daily reveals to God what he is; and day by day it decides his eternal investments.  All needs are thus met: - God’s requirement of His own (1 Chron. 29: 14); the distress of the needy (1 John 3: 17); and the development of unselfishness (Acts 20: 35) by perhaps the most searching test to which character can be put.  Who but God could have conceived so daring, so unearthly, so divine a method of investment?  Prov. 11: 24.  Luke 6: 38.  The Christian steers by a star invisible from earth.

 

 

Our Lord’s next point is of vast importance.  Character so tested in time is the ground of God’s promotion to wealth in eternity.  “If therefore ye have been unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the TRUE RICHES?” Not God: for He says, - “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. iv. 2).  Christ assumes that the true riches lie in the eternal tabernacles.  John 14: 2. Matt. 6: 20.  Riches in this ye are a phantom wealth, a ghost of possession, in which one of two things always happens, - either it flees from us, or we flee from it.  Ps. 39: 6. Prov. 23: 5. 1 John 2: 17.  “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. ... But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?” (Luke 12: 20).  Riches in the age to come are unsoiled, uncorrupting, unforfeited; the true riches, the mammon of righteousness.  Here is revealed the true value of money.  He who is faithful in a cottage will be faithful in a palace; he who is righteous in a field will be righteous in a province: God is shaping, and training, and, above all, searching for hands that can be trusted with the true riches.  In whom does He find them?  In the faithful stewards of to-day.  “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the

joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25: 21).

 

 

A lovely point remains.  Faithful stewardship on earth culminates in personal ownership in heaven.  “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is YOUR OWN  Riches in heaven are not a stewardship, but a possession; an irrevocable gift, and therefore of incomparable value.  We amass in heaven by expending on earth: we grasp the true riches by a wise expenditure of the false.  Who stands security?  God Himself.  “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and his good deed will He pay him again” (Prov. 19: 17).  What percentage is promised?  Ten thousand. “Every one that hath left houses, ... or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundred-fold”(Matt. 19: 29), - i.e., of the capital so invested.  What is the stewardship?  “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6: 7), - a stewardship sharply defined by cradle and grave.

 

 

What is the ownership?  “Sell that ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12: 33), the eternal wealth, our own.  Solemn is our Lord’s summary.  Two master-methods of handling money exist in the world to-day, and two only, - hoarding for self, and spending for God: two tempers so irreconcilable, that their simultaneous adoption is impossible.  “No servant can serve two masters.  YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON

 

 

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9

 

 

Calvary and the Mass

 

 

The heart of all sacerdotalism is THE MASS.  If there be a priesthood, there must be a sacrifice. Heb. 8: 3. “The body and blood of Christ,” says the Creed of the Council of Trent, “together with His soul and divinity, are daily sacrificed on the altar by priests.” Or, as Dr. Moberly of Oxford puts it, the church “in her eucharistic worship on earth is identified with Christ’s sacrificial self-oblation to the Father.”  Here is the keystone on which rests the entire arch of sacerdotalism: if it be removed, the archway falls in ruins.  What saith God?

 

 

I. - OUR LORD IS NOW A SEATED PRIEST.   A priest - whether modern or of the Law - stands and offers sacrifices: our Lord is seated, for He is not sacrificing.  “Every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering” (Heb. 10: 11).  The Tabernacle, the royal tent of God, had the furniture of a tent - a table, a lamp, a fire-place, a basin of water; but it had no seat.  To God and His priests there was no rest under the Law; the work of redemption was ever doing, and never done.  “The Lord thy God hath chosen [Levi] out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister”, (Deut. 18: 5): “stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the fathers’ houses of your brethren” (2 Chron. 35: 5): “the priests could not stand to minister” (1 Kings 8: 11).  But our Priest is seated. “He, when He had offered one sacrifice, ... sat down”; a resting Priest, after a completed sacrifice.  Any priest now sacrificing is doing what Christ is not doing.  Had one stitch in the robe of righteousness been unwrought - had one drop of purging blood been yet unshed - had one penny of our debt been left unpaid, Christ would never have sat down: but so perfect is the sacrifice, so accomplished the righteousness, that heaven itself sits with folded hands in restful joy.

 

 

2. - CALVARY’S SACRIFICE IS SOLITARY, UNIQUE, AND FINAL.  “Every priest ... standeth ... offering oftentimes the same sacrifices” (Heb. 10: 11).  Every priest offered, not one sacrifice, but many: he offered, not once, but often: and he offered, not fresh sacrifices, but the same.

 

 

Why (1) did he offer many?  Because no sacrifice under the Law covered every sin.  The fivefold offerings (Heb. x. 8); sacrifices for the priests, sacrifices for the people (Heb. 7: 27); a lamb for a man, or a lamb for the nation: - every sacrifice was partial and limited.  But this Priest’s offering covers all sin. “He, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down1 John 2: 2.

 

 

Why (2) did the priest offer often?  Because no sacrifice under the Law atoned for ever. This year’s lamb was no atonement for last year’s sin: much less could any sacrifice atone forward.  But “He, when He had offered one sacrifice ... for ever, sat down

 

 

Why (3) did the priest offer the same sacrifices?  Because no sacrifice under the Law cured the sin.  Heb. x. 1-4.  The same sins, repeated, called for the same sacrifices: “the which can never take away sins  But “He was manifested to take away sins” (1 John 3: 5), both removing their guilt, and breaking their power: “for by one offering He hath perfected for ever” - the removal of the guilt - “them who are being sanctified” (Alford) - the breaking of the power.  Christ’s blood cures, as well as atones.  Thus the Levitical sacrifices were numerous, because partial; frequent, because temporary; and repeated, because ineffectual; whereas Calvary is solitary, because comprehensive; unique, because eternal; and final, because effective.

 

 

3. - THE SACRIFICE AVAILS BECAUSE IT IS ENDED.  “Now, where remission [of sins] is, there is no more offering for sin  Why?  Because God never demands a victim twice.  One offering having been made for all sin, all sin-offering ceases: the world-penalty has been borne by a world-sacrifice: God is satisfied with the work of the seated Priest: there is no more sacrifice for sins.  “Christ also, having been once for all offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9: 28), “through His own blood entered in once for all” (Heb. 9: 12): so that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10: 10): and He therefore “needeth not daily ... to offer up sacrifices: ... for this He did once for all, when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 7: 27).  To repeat Christ’s sacrifice is to charge it with failure: to renounce the forgiveness of sins: to offer what none but He can offer without daring impiety (Heb. 9: 14): and to subject Him daily (which is impossible) to the agonies of Calvary.  “For Christ entered not into a holy place ... that He should offer Himself often; ... else must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once for all at the end of the ages hath He been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9: 25).  The perfection of the sacrifice is the cessation of its offering: and the cessation of sin-offering is the conclusive proof of sin’s remission.

 

 

4. - THE PRICE OF FORGIVENESS IS BLOOD MORE COSTLY THAN A THOUSAND WORLDS.  Then think not lightly of forgiveness.  Accept it. The Priest is seated - therefore the work is done: He is seated with God - therefore you may be as satisfied as God: He has offered for the sins of the whole world - therefore for yours: He has offered for every sin - therefore for your worst: He has offered it for ever - therefore it is an everlasting pardon: He has offered it as God’s cure for sin - therefore it alone can cure your sin: He has offered it once for all - therefore eternity holds no second salvation. Accept it.

 

 

“THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN” (1 John 1: 7).

 

 

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10

 

 

Readiness for Rapture

 

 

“Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21: 36).  God has not revealed the date of the advent in order that we may always be watchful: nor has He revealed the standard of holiness for rapture in order that we may be always pressing on to perfection.  What is required?

 

 

1. - THE GIRT LOIN: “Let your loins be girded about” (Luke 12: 35).  Flowing Oriental garments, if loosed, check work, and impede flight.  “Thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand: and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.  For I will go through Egypt ... and will smite” (Ex. 12: 11).  A pilgrim people, on the eve of the last judgments, must be instant in service, and unimpeded for flight: the world will become our coffin unless it becomes our enemy.  Heb. 3: 17.  “The time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives be as though they had none; and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use the world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7: 29).  They who stand on the brink of the last flight must stand with tightened robe and shod feet.  1 Pet. 1: 13.

 

 

2. - THE BURNING LAMP: “Let your lamps be burning  Lamps are kept burning at night only: and all night, unless we sleep.  “Now it is high time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13: 11).  “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord” (Prov. 20: 27): every disciple is a lit lamp: and right through the moral midnight Christ expects a burning flame. Of John He said: “He was the lamp” holding the Light, “that burneth and shineth” (John 5: 35): “from evening to morning before the Lord” the lamp is “to burn continually” (Ex. 27: 20).  Burning without shining - zeal without knowledge: shining without burning - light without love: God demands both: burning with heat to God, shining with light to men. Matt. 5: 16.

 

 

3. - THE FIXT GAZE: “Be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord  Christ said: “It is expedient that I go away”; He never said, It is expedient that I stay away: He commands conscious acceptance of the truth of the second coming.  A visionary is one who sees visions that have no correspondence with reality: the looking disciple beholds the march of God’s purposes from eternity to eternity, crystallising into fact as they precipitate into time; so that every prophetic word is an inevitable fact.  “Watch for ye know not the hour”: “Pray that ye may be accounted worthy”: perpetual watchfulness; perpetual prayer; these are the mind and heart that come from God.  So, “blessed are those servants  Not, blessed are all servants; but, “blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching  Heb. 9: 28; Tit. 2: 13; 2 Tim. 4: 8; Rev. 3: 10.  The carnal disciple forfeits the beatitude.  Matt. 24: 48-51; Luke 21: 34; Rev. 3: 3.  The deeper the midnight, the more urgent the vigil.  The first watch has yesterday’s wakefulness in it; the fourth watch has to-morrow’s wakefulness in it: but, “if He shall come in the second watch, and if in the third, and find them so, blessed are those servants  Christ returns later than the early church thought - not in the first watch; but earlier than the last churches will dream - not in the fourth watch: not so early as impatience desires, nor so late as carelessness assumes.  The unknown hour of the burglary compels that the householder sit up all night: watching, in Rutherford’s words, as men who have no to-morrow.

 

 

The fruit of the vigil is such as to make the loss of a thousand worlds as dust in the balance.  “He cometh” - inquisition, approval, promotion; “He maketh them sit down” - rest, glory, enthronement; “HE SERVES THEM” - the King of kings girding Himself once again with a towel, at the side of His watchful child.  This is a verse beyond all human comment.  Does Christ speak the truth?  He does.  Does He always speak the truth? He does.  Then is this an absolute fact?  It is.  Then build all life upon this fact, for to build on aught else is faithlessness to Him, and folly for eternity, “Every man is worth just so much as the things about which he busies himself  The girt loin - incessant service: the burning lamp - incessant holiness: the fixt gaze - incessant vigil: finally,

 

 

4. - THE PREPARED LIFE: incessant readiness. “Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of Man cometh  Death can be sudden, but it nearly always throws out warning symptoms: there will be no warning symptoms here.  1 Thess. 5: 2.  Sudden as an avalanche, swift as the lightning, irrevocable as death - one flash, and the watchful will be gone, and the last judgments will be here.  Matt. 24: 40-42. 1 Cor. 15: 52.  One fact is supreme.  Christ might have returned at any moment these eighteen hundred years: He may return at any moment now.  Much unfulfilled prophecy remains before He comes with His saints: none, before He comes for them.  Therefore “become” - so the Greek - “ye also ready  One known sin undropt, one known command unobeyed, one known truth unbelieved, one part of the life knowingly unyielded, and we stand in jeopardy. Unbeliever, the last shadows are falling across the world, and therefore across your life: yet you are still not ready.  But “there is time” - as Napoleon said, on the news of a great defeat - “to win a victory before the sun goes down  Your coming Judge is your present Saviour: “BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED

 

 

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11

 

 

The Cross and the Kingdom

 

 

Upon a mountain Moses received the Decalogue: upon a mountain Elijah confounded Baal’s prophets: upon a mountain Jesus, with Moses and Elijah, reveals Himself.  The mountains are the beacon-lights God kindles down the ages.  But all culminate in Mount Calvary.  For, no sooner had the inherent glory of Jesus suddenly and silently whitened out in face and robe, than Moses and Elijah “spake of His DEPARTURE which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9: 31).  When the living Prophet and the dead Lawgiver break the silence of centuries, their theme is one: - the central Person is Christ, and the central fact is the cross.

 

 

“There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. And about eight days after these sayings, He took with Him Peter and John and James, and went up into the mountain  Therefore the Kingdom is the visible glory of Jesus: they saw the KINGDOM. “And as He was praying, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and dazzling  The Kingdom for which we pray (Matt. 6: 10) is the open majesty and power of Christ: when “the kingdom of the world” shall have “become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11: 15).  Thus His second coming is no idle tale. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of His majesty ... when we were with Him in the holy mount” (2 Pet. 1: 16).  Acts 1: 11.  2 Thess. 1: 10.

 

 

The Kingdom will be on [this] EARTH.  The Transfiguration was an earthly scene: no angels appear throughout: Elijah is type of rapt saints, Moses of risen saints, and the disciples of nations in the flesh: and even after the handing over of the kingdom to God (1 Cor. 15: 24), mankind is planted afresh upon a new earth. Rev. xxi. 1. On the eve of the Advent the Elder-angels in heaven cry: - “Thou didst purchase unto God with Thy blood men of every tribe; ... and they reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5: 9). Matt. 5: 5.  For the gates of Hades - as our Lord has just said - prevail not to imprison buried Moses: rapt Elijah returns to earth, as do the armies of heaven with Christ. Rev. 19: 14. Jude 14.  The City in the heavens, overhanging earth, will be the metropolis from which the Millennial rulers will reign. Rev. 19: 7; 21: 2.

 

 

Selections from the redeemed of all ages are in the Kingdom: all who are “ACCOUNTED WORTHY to attain to that age, and the resurrection from [among] the dead” (Luke 20: 35).  From the patriarchs and prophets - as Elijah: from the Law - as Moses: from the Church - as Peter, John, and James, the only three disciples whom Jesus re-named.  “To him that overcometh, to him will I give ... a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written” (Rev. 2: 17).  The Kingdom is the reward of the holy (Eph. 5: 3-6), the sufferer (Matt. 5: 10), the obedient (Matt. 7: 21), the martyr (Matt. 10: 39). “Thou hast a few names in Sardis which did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy” (Rev. 3: 4): “he that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with Me in My throne” (Rev. 3: 21).  Bare faith is accounted unto righteousness for eternal life: works after faith alone prove and produce the conquering holiness which enters the Kingdom.  “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: ... they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20: 6).

 

 

Yet the bed-rock beneath the Kingdom is the CROSS.  It is the absorbing theme of the Glory. Eph. 2: 7.  The ‘going out’ of the Camp, to atone; the ‘going out’ of life, laid down; the ‘going out’ of the tomb, left empty; the ‘going out’ of a world, redeemed: no plant will ever bloom in our Paradise, no note will ever thrill in our songs, no jewel will ever gleam in our crown, that is not the fruit of the exodus of Jesus.  For good works are but the foam on a wave which started at the cross.  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2: 12). 1 Cor. 15: 10. Gal. 2: 20.  So we seek the Kingdom on our knees.  “And as He was praying, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became white and dazzling  So pray! “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 36).

 

 

Behold the Man! “Jesus was found alone?” God had appeared visibly to Moses: He had responded with lightnings to Elijah: but the servants disappear in the revealing of the Son. “This is My SON, My chosen: hear ye Him  The moon of the Law and the stars of the Prophets die out of the sky in the glory of the dawn: the cross itself takes its value only from the Person who was on it.  Moses tarried with God till, saturated with glory from without, his face shone: Jesus, not in face only, but even in raiment, blazed forth at will with the glory of the Godhead, from within.  A heathen ruler, on his deathbed, ordered his servants to make a large cross, and place it in his bedchamber. “Now,” he said, “lay me on it”: and as he thus lay dying, looking by faith to the blood of Christ, he cried, - “It lifts me! it lifts me! Jesus saves me!”  Beneath all redemption, and all glory, lies the cross.

 

 

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12

 

 

Miraculous Gifts

 

 

1. - Is it not a fact that miraculous orders were inherent in the church as it left the hands of God?  “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues”(1 Cor 12: 28).  “He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 11). 1 Tim. 1: 18. Acts 8: 18.

 

 

2. - Is it not a fact that gifts of miracle spring essentially out of justification by faith?  “This only would I learn from you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? ... He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3: 2). “These signs shall follow them that believe: in My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16: 17). John 7: 38, 39.

 

 

3. - Is it not a fact that God’s gifts, which are never revoked, deepen holiness, enlarge knowledge, and constitute the true wealth of the church?  “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance”(Rom. xi. 29). “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established”(Rom. i. 11).  “He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself” (1 Cor. 14: 4). “Ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things; and ye need not that any one teach you” (1 John 2: 20, 27). John 16: 13. 1 Cor. 2: 15. 1 Cor. 14: 3.  “In everything ye were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge; so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1: 5).

 

 

4. - Is it not a fact that miraculous gifts, lapsing with the fall of the church into worldliness and justification by works, nevertheless God still bids us seek?  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father” (John 14: 12).  “I would have you all speak with tongues”: “but desire earnestly the greater gifts”: “follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy”: “desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14: 5; 12: 31; 14: 1, 39). “For to you is the promise [of the gift of the Holy Ghost], and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him” (Acts 2: 39).

 

 

5. - Is it not a fact that the divine tests imply the possibility of either spirit manifesting itself at any moment, while ensuring the perfect safety of all tested intercourse?  “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: every spirit which confesseth not Jesus is not of God” (1 John 4: 1).  “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God” - i.e., no inspired man - ”saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man”- i.e., inspired - “can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 3). Matt. 7: 15-20. Gal. 1: 8. 2 John 7.  “Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5: 19). Rev. 2: 2.

 

 

6. - Is it not a fact that miraculous evangelising powers were never more needed than at the present moment amongst the increased masses of mankind? “Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15: 18). “God also hearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Heb. 2: 4).  “They went forth everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16: 20).  “And now, Lord, ... grant unto Thy servants to speak Thy word with all boldness, while Thou stretchest forth Thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Thy holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4: 29).

 

 

7. - Is it not a fact that prophecy indicates the restored activity of inspiration and miracle in the neighbourhood of the second advent?  “And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations.  And when they lead you to judgment, ... whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost”(Mark xiii. 10).  “And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2: 17, 20).  “Behold, the husbandman [God: John 15: 1] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5: 7).

 

 

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13

 

 

The Bread of God

 

 

“I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever” (John 6: 51).

 

 

1. - See the preparation of the Bread.  Bread passes through three processes before it can be eaten.  (1) “Bread corn is bruised” (Isa. 28: 28), or ground, or crushed into flour - an emblem of the deepest suffering.  Peter said to the Lord, Spare Thyself; the Lord said to Peter, Deny thyself: and none but God has ever known the sore and wounded spirit carried by the Son of God.  “Reproach,” He says, “has broken My heart” (Ps. 69: 20).  The Bread of Life was “wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53: 5).  (2) The flour must pass under the fire.  Man could crush Him, and did: only God could inflict on Him the fires of divine wrath, and He did.  Jesus, as the Lamb, became identified with the loathsome iniquities of mankind: what a horrible thing to God!  What a horror to Christ!  “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?  O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou answerest not”(Ps. 22: 1).  The fire of the judgment-furnace drove its heat through and through the Bread of Life.  (3) The loaf must be broken before it is eaten.  Had our Lord stopped at a bruised life, or come down, alive, from a wrath-carrying cross, we could not have been saved. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood” - so severed in judicial death – “ye have no life:” that is, I must die that you may live; I must take the place of your forfeited life.  Not, I have become flesh for the life of the world; but, “The bread which I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world:” and “this is My body, which is broken for you,” bruised in life, burnt in suffering, broken in death.

 

 

2. - See an ingredient absent from this Bread.  “No meal offering ... shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, as an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (Lev. 2: 11).  Behold the sinlessness of Jesus.  Leaven is ferment, or corruption, the least crumb of which, dropt into the dough, permeates the loaf: the least sin, so contagious is it, so all-devouring, would have made of Christ, Bread of death.  “He who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5: 21); “He who did no sin” (1 Pet. 2: 22); He who was “without sin” (Heb. 4: 15); in whom “is no sin”(1 John 3: 5); - “He whom the Father sanctified” - as consecrated Bread - “and sent into the world” - as Bread of God - was “holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners” (Heb. 7: 26).

 

 

3. - See the qualities of the Bread.  (1) It is Bread from heaven, Bethlehem was ‘the house of bread’: but behind Bethlehem, and above the star, our Lord, the Maker, was “from everlasting” (Ps. 90: 2): “I am the living bread which came down out of heaven  (2) It is bread uncorrupted.  The manna, though bread from heaven, bred worms, except the pot of manna in the ark, which represented Christ: but that holy Thing which lay in the tomb saw no corruption. Acts 2: 31.  (3) It is living bread.  Life - the fountain of life, the source of life, life itself - is in the Bread: so it not only sustains life, but it imparts life; and life not for time only, but for eternity.  Manna, put into the mouth of a dead Israelite, left a corpse: “the fathers did eat, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live for ever”: “the bread of God ... giveth life to the world”: “if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever”: “he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life  The Bread of God gives the life of God, and that is the eternity of the heaven from which it comes.

 

 

4. - See the distribution of the Bread.  How much did our Lord charge for the bread which He made for the five thousand?  God’s Bread is free, because (1) It is made for the hunger.  As Christ created the barley for a hungry crowd, so God has sent Christ as bread for a starving world.  “It giveth life unto the world”: “My flesh for the life of the world”: if Christ, with five loaves, could satisfy five thousand, He could feed five million; He is sent as food for a world God wants to save.  “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever  (2) It exceeds the hunger.  “Not sufficient,” says Philip: “Twelve baskets full over,” is Christ’s reply.  The more we consume, the more remains: a world may feed, and yet the Bread is for ever in a blessed surplus.  (3) It satisfies the hunger. As all heat of the sun, all the moisture of the shower, all the fruitfulness of the field, met, as it were, in the hands of Christ, and the barley multiplied: so this Bread, taken into the soul, grows and expands and multiplies, until every desire in the soul that God planted, God satisfies. “I am the Bread of Life; he that cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst

 

 

5. - Only one thing remains: the Bread must be eaten, or there can be no life. “Except ye eat, ... ye have no life  Christ is life, and if He is outside us, life is outside us.  No corpse eats: if we are not feeding on Christ it is because we are dead: and so long as we don’t eat, we remain dead.  The richest nutriment in the world is starvation diet so long as it is outside our mouths.  No man can eat for me, nor can I eat for another man.  What do we do with food?  We look at it, we see it is not poison, we observe how others flourish on it, we desire it; we put it to our mouth, we eat it, we digest it, so that it becomes bone of our bone, blood of our blood: consequently we are alive.  So it is with Christ.  Unless we eat of Him, we cannot be saved.  What is the eating?  “He that BELIEVETH hath eternal life.  I am the Bread of Life  “HE THAT COMETH TO ME SHALL NOT HUNGER, AND HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME SHALL NEVER THIRST

 

 

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14

 

 

Burial to Law

 

 

A Jew might object against a Christian: LAW is Jehovah’s mind as to what a man ought to do; man was created to do that Law; that is, the soul of man and the law of God are wedded together for ever: therefore your desertion of the law of Moses for the worship of Christ is spiritual adultery.  It is an objection forcible and profound.

 

 

Paul, in reply, first aggravates the difficulty.  For he asserts that the failure of a marriage does not dissolve the union.  Wrath in the husband, revolt in the wife, utter incompatibility of temper in both, - nothing can dissolve what God united: “Are ye ignorant, brethren, how that the law hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth?” (Rom. 7: 1).  What God says man should be, he must be; what God says he should do, he must do: there is no option.  Now the marriage is a failure.  The wife is in constant revolt: the soul is in chronic DISOBEDIENCE.  What did the Law: itself say for such cases?  The husband could divorce the wife, or obtain sentence against her in the courts for unfaithfulness; but under no circumstances could a wife free herself from the law of her husband, Rom. 7: 2.  She is bound for life.  So all the Law, being a holy law, can do is to prosecute the Soul, being a sinning soul, in the courts of God: and the issue of the trial is known.  “The soul that sinneth it shall die”: “the wages of sin is death”: the wife is doomed.

 

 

So only God can solve the problem: how does He solve it?  He shuts us up to one startling, yet obvious, conclusion.  Without the soul’s death there can be no life: the only escape out of marriage is through death.  “If the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband: ... if the husband die, she is free from the law.” So the Christian begins to answer: - You charge me with spiritual adultery; but the wife of whom you are speaking is dead.  For observe a change in the apostle’s figure: he does not say, the Law dies; he says, the soul dies.  “Wherefore, my brethren, ye” - the wife - “were MADE DEAD” - put to death - “to the law  The Law remains in all its dread obligations and power: how else should God judge the world? but as earthly law runs no longer against a corpse, - as no officer of the Crown can deliver a writ on a dead body - so the soul dies to law: out of death to law arises life to God.

 

 

At this point the Gospel reveals its exquisite message.  “Ye were put to death through the body of Christ  Ye - through Christ’s body: Law slew you in the person of Christ.  Law, in capital punishment, takes effect on the body of the criminal:  CHRIST’S BODY came between me and the mortal blow of the Law.  Faith makes one with Christ. 1 Cor. 6: 17.  Law slew Him - Law slew me: Law was done with Him in His death - Law was done with me in His death: Christ is divorced from law - I am divorced from law, absolutely and forever.  “Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10: 4). Eph. 2: 15.  It is all “through the body”: a Body, which met the Law’s dues in a life of obedience, and paid the Law’s debts on the tree. 1 Pet. 2: 21-24.  So the profound problem is solved.  The Husband lives: the Wife dies: the marriage union is dissolved for ever.

 

 

So vital is this truth that God has enshrined it in a rite of perpetual obligation.  Here is a watery trench, a grave, into which a man who is to be baptised steps down.  What of his spirit?  It died with Christ upon the cross. Gal. 2: 20.  But what of his body?  It must be put to death also.  He must be buried alive: he must go down into death: so actual is the picture that, if kept under the water, he would die.  The Law does not so keep him under only because it kept Christ under until He died.  “Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death?  We were buried therefore with Him through BAPTISM into death” (Rom. 6: 3).  Baptism is our ritual answer to the circumcised Jew.  It shows the Christian not guilty of adultery against the Law: for the Law loses its last grip of the man in the water: it has no power over a buried man: baptism is a funeral rite over one dead to law.  So all who are in living union with Christ are commanded to proclaim, by this startling rite of God, their release, their discharge, their divorce from the Law.  “Repent ye, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2: 38); for “by Him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13: 39).

 

 

Salvation closes, however, not in a funeral, but in a RE-MARRIAGE. Gal. 2: 19. “Ye were made dead to the law, ... that ye should be joined to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead  Death to law takes place on faith: burial to law takes place in the ritual grave, - thenceforth to walk together “in newness of life” (Rom. 6: 4). Col. 2: 12. “I espoused you to one husband” - re-marriage with a divorced husband Law itself forbids (Deut. 24: 3, 4) - “that 1 might present you as a pure virgin to Christ”(2 Cor. 11: 2): “not being without law to God, but under law to Christ” (I Cor. 9: 21).  Earth knows no union so close, so tender, so miraculous: “this mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church” (Eph. 5: 32)  Without it we cannot be saved.  The flesh is under law, yet antagonistic to law, and is at last slain by law.  To lay hold of law - that is, morality, good works, inherent goodness - for salvation, is to grasp a live electric wire, to clutch a naked blade, to leap into; a burning caldron.  But to lay hold of Christ is to die to law, and to be lifted into union with the Son of God.  “For I through law died unto law, that I might live unto God.  I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but CHRIST; LIVETH IN ME” (Gal. 2: 19).

 

 

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15

 

 

Why I Believe the Whole Bible

 

 

“O FOOLISH men, and slow of heart to believe in ALL that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24: 25).  Here is a startling fact.  Infidels charge Christians with folly for believing so much of the Bible: Christ charges Christians with folly for believing so little.  “O fools and slow of heart to believe all  It is no light matter to be called a fool by the Son of God.  It is easier to insinuate a doubt than to create a faith; it is easier to abandon the Bible than to obey it; it is easier to ruin a soul than to save one.  Infidels are doing the easy work: Christ is doing the hard.

 

 

Christ, risen from the dead, does not rebuke the disciples for not believing the women, nor even for not believing the angels, but for not believing the PROPHETS.  It is probable that not a book of the Bible has been written except by a prophet.  Moses was a prophet (and tradition says he was the author of ‘Job’); the historical books were written by seers, or prophets (2 Chron. 9: 29); David and Solomon were prophets; Isaiah to Malachi are one block of prophets; and none but apostles - still higher than prophets - wrote the New Testament, except Mark and Luke.  Prophecy, the function of a prophet, is, as a rule, foretelling, but is always inspired utterance.  One passage is decisive. “No prophecy ever came by the will of man”: it is no mental resolve of a human brain: “but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1: 21).  God said to Moses, - “Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” (Ex. 7: 1), i.e., thy mouthpiece: so “the Word of the Lord” came “by the mouth of Jeremiah” (2 Chron. 36: 21).  “Thou testifiedst against them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets” (Neh. 9: 30).  The prophets were thus flutes through which God blew the music of His words; scripture, therefore, is the crystallised breath of the Holy Ghost, and the Bible a telephone down the ages, at the other end of which is the Voice of God.

 

 

Our Lord thus makes Himself responsible for all that the Prophets have spoken.  He never accommodates the scriptures to unbelief: He commands unbelief to accommodate itself to the scriptures.  This is a challenge of the gravest import, because no mouth uttered sayings so hard as the mouth of the Son of God.  Who so presents His DEITY as to say that all men are to honour the Son even as they honour the Father? John 5: 23. 

 

 

Who affirms and underscores the Atonement - the eating of the broken Body, and the drinking of the shed Blood - as that without which there is no life? John 6: 53.  Who states verbal inspiration as drastically as it can be stated - to the jot, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and the tittle, the tiny turns of a stroke by which one letter differs from another? Matt. 5: 18.  Who gathers up the most startling miracles of the Old Testament - the Flood (Matt. 24: 39), Lot’s wife (Luke 17: 32), Jonah (Matt. 12: 40) - and solemnly re-affirms them as absolute fact?  Who enjoins on every disciple the great renunciation (Luke 14: 33), prohibits him laying up treasure upon earth (Matt. 6: 19), and commands, as none before or since, almsgiving (Matt. 5: 42), prayer (Luke 18: 1-6), and fasting (Matt. 6: 1 - 6)?  Who warns in the most awful terms of the penalty overhanging a servant of God guilty of disobedience (Luke 12: 47), denunciation (Matt. 5: 22), or the unforgiving spirit (Matt. 18: 35)?  Who supremely emphasises the Second Coming as the dominant practical doctrine of the Church of God? Luke 12: 35-40.  Who speaks in the most plain and unmistakable terms of an everlasting hell, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9: 48)? 

 

 

The awful question underlying all others is this, - not, “Are these doctrines true?” - but, “Is Christ true  Those mighty shoulders have taken upon themselves the burden of the whole Word of God: now, as ever, all faith and all doubt rage around one lonely Form.  I believe the whole Bible because I believe Christ. “Lord, to whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we have believed and know that Thou art the Holy One of God” (John 6: 68).

 

 

I also believe the WHOLE BIBLE because (1) no hard saying of Christ is half so hard as the mystery of a world without Christ; and all the hard sayings of Christ put together are not so hard as the creed which accepts some and rejects others.  Partial faith creates greater difficulties for itself than faith ever has to meet.  (2) A revelation from God which is not deeper than my comprehension is to me no revelation at all.  A Book which comes out of eternity must have the depths of eternity in it. Isa. 55: 8, 9.  (3) Half the doubts in the heart spring from sin in the life; and the very truth which is doubted is the truth which would cure the sin. John 15: 3.  A disciple’s grace is measured by his acceptance of the truths that hit him: therefore accept the whole Bible: it is a wounding that heals.  (4) The whole scripture is necessary to feed my soul. Matt 4: 4.  As silkworms fed on different leaves produce silks of varied colours - vine leaves producing a bright red, and lettuce an emerald green - so the soul’s life is lovely according to the fulness of its Scripture diet.  (5) Scripture difficulties are a test of faith.  “O fools and slow of heart” - not, to reconcile, nor, to understand but, - “to believe  For “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17).

 

 

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16

 

 

Works Tested by Fire

 

 

1. - A FOUNDATION: “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” or, that Jesus is the Christ. I Cor. 3: 11.  God laid the foundation in fact: every wise master-builder lays it in doctrine. “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone of sure foundation”(Isa. 28: 16).  Every regenerate soul is planted upon that Rock as upon adamant.  “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God” (1 John 5: 1). “Jesus Christ” - the personal Rock; “Jesus is the Christ” - the doctrinal rock; upon this foundation rests all revelation, all regeneration, and all the millions of the saved. Matt. 16: 18.

 

 

2. - A WARNING: “But let each [disciple] take heed how he buildeth thereon  Works emerge into God’s sight only after the foundation of faith is laid: works before faith are sins to be repented of. Heb. 6: 1.  “But” implies one foundation, but many superstructures: “take heed” implies that grave consequences attach to how a disciple builds after conversion.  Slowly, surely, imperceptibly a house of works - and, for the Christian teacher, a house of doctrine - is rising round each disciple’s life: costly granite and marble, silver columns, and cornices of gold; or else wooden doorways, hay mixed with mud for the walls, and straw thatching for the roof. The supreme fact is this: one set of materials stands fire, the other feeds fire; and, since the fire is coming, “let each take heed how he buildeth thereonTit. 3: 8.

 

 

3. - A CHOICE: “If any buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble  Every disciple has absolute control over the materials with which he builds: he selects which he chooses.  Contending motives sway the choice: popularity, social prestige, wealth, pleasure; love to Christ, fidelity, a sense of truth, the fear of God.  What is the precious stonework?  Material that matches the foundation.  There are a thousand voices in the world to-day: to the wise man there is but One.  “Heaven and earth shall pass away [in fire: 2 Pet. 3: 7], but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24: 35): that is, the divine Word will survive the judgment fires.  Every thought, every word, every act is to be built out of the quarries of Scripture. 2 Cor. 10: 5; Matt. 28: 20; Matt. 4: 4.  No higher level is possible to a Christian teacher than to frame a not altogether inadequate setting for the jewels of revelation; no higher level is possible to a Christian disciple than to translate into life the mind of God as revealed in the Word of God: the one transmits the Book into the soul, the other translates the Book into the life. Gal. 6: 4.

 

 

4. - AN EXPOSURE: “Each [disciple’s] work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire  The believer’s life is a palimpsest, the invisible lines of which steal forth into sight as it nears God’s fires.  The foundation is not tested; it is, as Isaiah says, already a tried Stone: it is the superstructure which the fire searches.  No believer will be put on trial for his standing, but for his walk; not for his faith, but for his works; not for his life, but for his living; not for his foundation, but for his superstructure.  “For we [disciples] must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done” (2 Cor. 5: 10); “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” (Rom. 2: 16). Rom. 14: 12.

 

 

5. - A TEST: “The fire itself shall prove each [disciple’s] work of what sort it is  The kind of material is infallibly revealed by the fire: it is searched through and through by the eyes of Christ. Rev. 1: 14. Mal. 3: 2. The fire does not cleanse, it tries: and, if trying the inflammable, it destroys: Christ does not purge our works, but searches them judicially.  “These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like a flame” - here is the fire “I know thy works” - the fire plays into the heart of the material; “and thy love and faith and ministry and patience” - the fire tests the quality, and finds gold; “and that thy last works are more than the first” - the fire tests the quantity, and finds much fine gold. Rev. 2: 19.  The fire proves.

 

 

6. - A REWARD: “If any [disciple’s] work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward  Salvation stands upon the foundation, reward rests upon the superstructure. “If the work shall abide - reward”: reward is utterly conditional on works.  “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to each [disciple] according as his work is” (Rev. 22: 12): and “each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Cor. 2: 8). Eph 6: 8.

 

 

7. - A LOSS: “If any [disciple’s] work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet as through fire  Himself saved - for no [redeemed] soul can ever be swept off the foundation of Christ: his work burned - for a discipleship may end in piteous conflagration.  As fire-balls descend upon a laboriously-constructed dwelling, and the inmate within, overwhelmed by a sudden burst of flame, escapes for his life through a blazing corridor of fire - “he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire  THEREFORE “LET EACH [DISCIPLE] PROVE HIS OWN WORK” NOW (Gal. 6: 4).  “O could I always live for eternity, preach for eternity, pray for eternity, and speak for eternity! I want to see only God.” - Whitfield.

 

 

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17

 

 

The Place of the Dead

 

 

No dead soul stands in the presence of God in heaven.  The Type, first of all, forbids it.  Aaron shall bring the blood “within the veil, ... and make atonement for the holy place. ... And there shall be NO MAN in the tent of meeting when he goeth in to make atonement, until he come out” (Lev. 16: 17).

 

 

This is exactly the high priestly work on which our Lord is now engaged.  “Through His own blood [He] entered in once for all into the holy place, ... [to cleanse] the heavenly things with better sacrifices,” that is, His own (Heb. 9: 12, 23).  So long as our High Priest tarries within the Temple precincts, no man is anywhere in the heavenly courts: until, at the Second Advent, He comes forth, one Man alone is in the Temple in heaven.

 

 

The Law of God also forbids it.  To touch a corpse, or even a grave, was to be unclean.  “Whosoever in the open field toucheth ... a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be UNCLEAN seven days” (Num. 19: 16).  Nor was it a corpse only which defiled: a far deeper defilement sprang from contact with a departed spirit. “There shall not be found with thee ... a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer” - i.e., one who holds intercourse with the dead – “for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the Lord” (Deut. 18: 11).  Death, in all its parts, is Legal uncleanness: it is the visible Curse of God, the holy, resting on man, the sinner; it is the foul rotting of the leprosy of sin.  None such can stand in the Holy Temple, until resurrection, resting on the Blood, has finally obliterated all taint and consequence of sin. 2 Cor. 5: 4.

 

 

One crucial example is given that the dead are still unascended.  David had said: - “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou give Thy Holy One to see corruption  David, says the apostle, could not have spoken this of his own soul.  Why not?  Because, Peter says, “this Jesus did God raise up”; whereas “David is NOT ASCENDED into the heavens” (Acts 2: 34), and therefore he could not have spoken it of himself.   This assumes that no disembodied human spirit [soul] is ascended to God.  For if not David, who is? “He died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day  Death is an unclothing (2 Cor. 5: 4): God’s kings and priests may not appear before Him unclothed. Ex. 28: 42, 43. “No man hath ascended into heaven” (John 3: 13).

 

 

Affirmative revelation also establishes the truth.  THE RESURRECTION of the body is a fact absolutely cardinal to the Christian faith.  “If the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15: 16): - Atonement has never been made, Death still reigns, the Curse clings to the dead or ever.  But Christ is risen: and “if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8: 11). John 5: 28.  For a naked spirit, [i.e a disembodied soul] judicially disembodied, to enter the presence of God on high would be to approach Him in the shrouds of the Curse.

 

[* NOTE. The “spirit” which returns to God at the time of Death, is His animating spirit (Luke 8: 55, R.V.)]

 

 

For THE BODY has [not yet] been redeemed [Rom. 8: 23].  Glorified human spirits are unknown to the Word of God: glorified human persons - body, soul, and spirit - are to be the perfect fruit of redemption.  “How long, O Lord, holy and true?” (Rev. vi. 10), cry the naked souls under the Altar, waiting to be clothed upon: so “ourselves also ... groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8: 23); for “we wait for a Saviour ... who shall fashion the body of our humiliation, that it be conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3: 21).  Earth is one vast field sown with the dead: out of it, like the rising Lord, will soon burst the waving harvests of resurrection. I Cor. 15: 20-26.  This cannot be until our High Priest issues from the Temple. “The hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs” - not in the heavens – “shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good” - the saved are therefore included - “unto the resurrection of life” (John 5: 28); for “the dead in Christ shall rise” - not descend – “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4: 16).* Meanwhile two compartments enfold the departed.  Dives, like the citizens of Sodom, imprisoned in the lower Hades, already suffers the vengeance of eternal fire. Luke 16: 23. Jude 7.  PARADISE, in which our Lord and the penitent Thief met on the night of the Crucifixion (Luke 23: 43), and where, in His divinity, He still is (Ps. 139: 8), is described, now as a rest, now as a slumber, now as a harbour, now as a garden, now as a home.  “For me to die,” says Paul, “is gain; ... for it is very far better” (Phil. 1: 21): wherefore “we are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5: 8).  Life in Christ is good: death in Christ is better: resurrection in Christ is best. “I am in the happiest pass,” said Rutherford, in his dying hours, “to which man ever came. Christ is mine, and I am His: and now their stands nothing betwixt me and resurrection, except Paradise

 

* The actual locality of Sheol, or Hades, is indicated by such scriptures as these: - Matt. 12: 40; Num 16: 30, 33; 1 Sam. 28: 13, 14; Job 26: 5, 6; Amos 9: 2; Eph. 4: 9; and Ps. 63: 9.  So scripture speaks of descending into it (Prov. 1: 12; Isa. 5: 14; Ezek. 31: 15, 16), and of rising up out of it (I Sam. 2: 6; Ps. 30: 3; Prov. 15: 24; Rom. 10: 7).

 

 

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18.

 

 

Facts Every Man Ought to Know

 

 

1. - ALL men have got to meet God as a Judge.  “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world” (Acts 17: 30): for “all the world [shall] be brought under the judgment of God” (Rom. 3: 19).  This judgment will be conducted by strict process of law, based on the acts of every soul, acts recorded with unerring precision in the books of God.  “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened; ... and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20: 12).  Nor can any man avoid this judgment.  “Reckonest thou this, O man, ... that thou shall escape the judgment of God” (Rom. 2: 3).

 

 

2. - The Judge will adjudicate exactly according to the evidence.  It is impossible for a just judge to clear a guilty man, or to condemn a man who has obeyed the law. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 17: 15).  Of this abomination God, of all judges, will not be guilty: and He says so. “The Lord [is] a God ... that will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex. 34: 7): “He will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nah. 1: 3).  He is a Judge of absolute righteousness.  “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right”(Gen. 18: 25): “for He cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Ps. 96: 13): “at the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render unto every man according to His works” (Rom. 2: 5).  The records will decide the sentences.

 

 

3. - A man must be able to present to the Judge a perfect righteousness.  “Not the hearers of a law are accounted righteous before God, but the doers of a law shall be justified” (Rom. 2: 13).  What does this mean? That it is not enough to be forgiven for having broken the Law: if I am to be saved.  I must be proved to have kept it: the soul must be proved, not only innocent, but righteous.  “Cursed is every one which continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Gal. 3: 10).  The only righteousness which any judge - much more the Righteous Judge - can accept is a complete, flawless, life-long obedience to the whole Law: less than this involves the Curse of a broken Law.  One sin snaps the chain, one disobedience shatters the vase that holds eternal life.  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all” (Jas. 2: 10).  Law can justify only those who have kept it in its entirety.

 

 

4. - No man has such a righteousness to present.  With the Searcher of all hearts as Judge, my conscience as accuser, my life as evidence, and the secrets of my heart as witnesses, what is the finding of the just Judge? “All under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3: 9).  I am found guilty: “not having a righteousness of mine own” (Phil. 3: 9); for “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64: 6).  But this is the doom of every soul.  Law cannot be flouted: God Himself cannot save a soul against law: every man is lost.

 

 

5. - A perfect righteousness has been provided.  What is it? “The righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1: 1).  Christ obeyed the whole Law. Matt. 5: 17. John 8: 29.  His righteousness is the righteousness of a Man: it is a righteousness according to Law: it is the righteousness whereby alone the Law’s prisoner is justified.  “A man is not justified by works of law, except through faith in Jesus Christ; ... because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2: 16).  Here is a paradox.  A man is not justified by works of law, except: He is, and he is not: what does it mean?  This.  I am not justified by works of law wrought by myself: I am justified by works of law wrought by Christ.  What I did not do, He did: what I was not, He was: and if “in Christ,” I am “found” - not guilty, but, “in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3: 9).  In Christ, His righteousness is mine: for “through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous”(Rom. 5: 19), “unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4: 6).

 

 

6. - This perfect righteousness may become any man’s. “The righteousness of God through faith in Christ Jesus [is] unto all” (Rom. 3: 22).  To refuse it is to be lost: even as Israel, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10: 3).  Christ is offered to all.  John 3: 16; 10: 9; 1 Tim. 2: 4; 1 John 2: 2; Rev. 22: 17.  “God in Nature is God above us; God in Providence is God beyond us; God in Law is God against us: but God in Christ is God for us, with us, and in us

 

 

7. - This righteousness becomes any man’s simply on faith.  Christ wove; I wear: Christ obeyed; I believe: Christ gives; I take.  “The righteousness which is through faith in Christ,” – “the righteousness which is from God [as a gift] upon [the shoulders of] faith” (Phil. 3: 9): “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom. 3: 22).  Christ wove the flawless robe: He bore it up from the wardrobe of His grave (John. 16: 10): He clothes me in it the moment I believe: - the Law is vindicated, the Judge is satisfied, the angels rejoice, and one more soul passes into everlasting life. Isa. 61: 10. Rom. 3: 26, 31.

 

 

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19.

 

 

China’s Crisis

 

 

This decade appears to be, for China, the decade of destiny.  It is the slow waking of a dormant giant.  “When China is moved,” said Napoleon, “it will move the world  China was an empire before Abraham was born; its foundations were laid before the foundations of the Pyramids; and long ere the birth of Rome it possessed elaborate ceremonials and a national literature.  It is the oldest government in the world.  Nor is the Chinese character less remarkable.  “The Chinaman,” says Dr. Pentecost, “is a far greater man than the Japanese, only he is asleep.  The brain of China has got on it the plaster cast of Confucianism, and as soon as they break that cast the Chinaman will wake  A fourth of the human race is Chinese.  On account of its mass, its unity, its high possibilities of intellect, its resources, its immensity, China is perhaps the vastest burden and the most magnificent opportunity now laid upon the shoulders of the Church by God.

 

 

For the awakening has come.  Eleven years ago China had 200 miles of railway; to-day she has 3,746, with 1,622 under construction.  A few years ago there was no daily press; to-day two hundred dailies are creating a ferment of new thought: and in five years political and educational reforms have been decreed more drastic than were ever enacted in any half century, in any country in the world except Japan.  Nine or ten years ago two officially commissioned students landed in Japan.  Shortly they rose to 591; in 1904 they increased at the rate of 100 a month; in 1905 they were 8,620; to-day they number more than 10,000.  Chinese universities contain some 64,000 more students than are in the whole of Europe, bent upon mastering the knowledge of the world. “The whole of China is now awake,” says Dr. Timothy Richard, “and of all the renaissances that have taken place in the history of the world, there is not one comparable to the renaissance going on now in China

 

 

Ponder the peril that this implies.  The Great Wall is now all too narrow to restrain her overflowing millions. Two-and-a-half millions have poured into Siam, another two-and-a-half millions into Formosa, while Australia, South Africa, and America are confronted with grave Chinese problems.  “If the working men of the western nations,” says Bishop Bashford, “knew what would make for their peace during the twentieth century, they would pour money by the million into the evangelisation of their not distant competitors in China, who have reached the highest point of economic efficiency of any heathen race. The cloud to-day, due to the industrial conflict between the Chinese and western nations, is not larger than a man’s hand; but in less than a quarter of a century it may cover the entire heavens  It is said that within a few decades China will be able to put twenty-five millions of men upon the battlefields of the East; and if the Chinaman is not tamed by conversion to the Christian faith, says Sir Robert Hart, the land of the Dragon Throne will become a terror to the civilised world.

 

 

Nor is it less wonderful how the winds of God are sweeping over the plains of China. “Idols have been dislodged,” says Dr. Griffith John, “and the temples converted into schools; and generally the gods have been treated with the greatest contempt - thrown into the streets, or emptied into the rivers  3,833 missionaries, and nearly a quarter of a million native Christians, now press the claims of Christ.  It is said that there are more Christian converts in the Far East to-day than there were Christians altogether in the fourth century.  Two-and-a-half million copies of the Scriptures were sold in China by the Bible Societies in 1906; and the Bible Society’s agent in Shanghai writes (1907): “The demands upset all calculations, and bring gray hairs to those responsible for meeting them.” A church to which Christ has given a Pastor Hsi enfolds untold spiritual potentialities.  But China is still the land of the Dragon Throne.  Christ walks unknown through 1,500 out of its 1,900 capital cities.  China is under the tutelage of the land whose Viscount Hayashi has translated Tom Paine’s Age of Reason into Japanese.  “Never,” says Mr. Connell, “was there a greater opportunity before the Christian Church of turning the energies of a reborn civilisation Godwards; but the penalty will be terrible in the event of failure

 

 

This decade appears to be China’s decade of destiny.  The mould of the Chinese mind may now stiffen and grow cold at any moment, before it has taken Christian shape.  Nelson said that there is one five minutes which mean the winning or losing of a battle; and “the secret of victory,” said Napoleon, “is to bring up the reserves when the struggle is at its crisis  Have we no reserves to call up? reserves of men, money, prayer, time, study, love? but, most, of men?  Between two and three thousand Chinamen pass hourly into Christless graves; thirty-three thousand will pass to-day beyond our reach; and before our missionary, sent to-morrow, lands in China, a million and a quarter of Chinese will have gone to their last account.  In the dangerous task of “sealing” Port Arthur, two thousand Japanese sailors volunteered for the peril, and each man signed his application in his blood.

 

 

“THEY THAT BE WISE SHALL SHINE AS THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FIRMAMENT; AND THEY THAT TURN MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER” (Dan. 12: 3).

 

 

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20.

 

 

A Board in the Tabernacle

 

 

1. - THE BOARD.  Ex. 26: 15-30.  Cut from shittim or acacia, a tree which grew in the desert, a cheap and common timber, each board was worth about half-a-crown.  It is a figure of our common humanity.  The sinless human nature our Lord took, is so described.  “He grew up as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground” - the shittim is a wilderness tree - “He hath no form nor comeliness” (Isa. 53: 2).  Half-a-crown is all our worth: the extraordinary value of a human soul lies in the value God puts upon it, not in its intrinsic worth. The tree is felled: its root in earth is absolutely severed: no longer “flourishing as a bay tree,” it lies a prostrate log, passive in the hands of the Carpenter of Nazareth, until planed and grooved and shaped into a board for the House of God.

 

 

2. - ITS STANDING.  In the wilderness it was felled; in the wilderness it now stands for God: where a soul is saved, there it must shine.  But now founded on what?  The tree’s roots are replaced by silver sockets, cast from the ransom-money.  “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half-shekel” - a silver coin - “to make atonement for your souls” (Ex. 30: 15).  The whole Tabernacle stood upon the atonement-money, and the whole of the atonement-money was used for supporting the structure.  “For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3: 11).

 

 

I stand upon His merit,

I know no other stand;

Not e’en where glory dwelleth

In Emmanuel’s land.

 

 

The soul’s worth, 2s. 6d.; each socket, £250: what God founds the saved soul on is of vastly greater value than the soul itself: “who gave Himself a ransom” (1 Tim. 2: 6). 1 Pet. 1: 18. Matt. 20: 28.

 

 

3. - ITS SOCKETS. “Two sockets under one board”: why?  Because Christ had to do a double work for my soul. His life obeyed the law in perfect righteousness; His death satisfied the law in perfect atonement: so in Him I have obeyed all the Law required, and have satisfied all the Law demanded.

 

 

Upon a life I did not live,

Upon a death I did not die;

Another’s life, Another’s death,

I stake my whole eternity.

 

4. - ITS COVERING. “Overlay the boards with gold  I rest upon Christ, but I also dwell in Christ: my standing is on what He did, but my life is in Him: my resting-place is of silver, but my dwelling-place is gold.  All grains and knots and stains in the wood are now invisible: the dead board is lost in the life and glory of Another. Isa. 61: 10. “In Christ”: - that is an address which will always find a saint. Rom. 16: 7. Gal. 1: 22.  (The baptised disciple has put on Christ in spirit, soul, and body: Gal. 3: 27.)  The soul, half-a-crown; the sockets, £500; the gold plating, £250: salvation is six thousand times the value of the thing saved, or £36,000 for the forty-eight boards.  God’s salvation is more costly than we shall ever know.

 

 

5. - ITS ERECTION.  The Board is not erected in the wilderness by itself: its loneliness - “hateful, hating one another” (Tit. 3: 3) - belonged to the old life of the Tree.  A board is sawn and planed and shaped for building; so that many boards, dovetailed, compacted, and mutually supporting, may form a house.  So in Christ “ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2: 22): “for we are a sanctuary of God; even as God said, I will dwell in them” (2 Cor. 6: 16).  Forty-eight boards: - four, the number of earth, twelve, the number of perfection: the perfection of earthly worship is impossible without the association of all. Rom. 12: 5, 20.

 

 

6. - ITS LINKS.  Four visible and one invisible bound the house together: so it was in the first of God’s churches. Acts 2: 37-47.  “Pricked in their heart” - the tree felled; “they received his word” - the silver sockets; “were baptised” - visible absorption into the gold; “added together” - the boards compacted; “the apostles’ teaching” - bar one; “and fellowship” - bar two; “the breaking of bread” - bar three; “the prayers” - bar four: one faith, one love, one communion, one worship.  The invisible bar was in all, and ran through all, the only unity for ever impossible of rupture: for “in one Spirit were we all baptised into one body” (1 Cor. 12: 13). Eph. 2: 18. Phil. 1: 27. Eph. 4: 3.  The indwelling of the Holy Ghost, without which discipleship does not exist (Rom. 8: 9), is the one visible unity which can never be broken.

 

 

7. - ITS DESTINY.  The Tree rots where it grows - no motion, no progress: its cradle is its grave.  But the Board ever advances, as part of ‘a moving tent,’ each day pitched “a day’s march nearer home  The Tabernacle, of boards, crossing the wilderness, is the Church on earth; the Temple, of stone, in the Holy Land, is the Church in Heaven. Eph. 2: 19-22.  The Board, albeit golden, is mortal still; the living Stone is imperishable immortality: the one, dying, is life swallowed up of mortality; the other, risen, is “mortality swallowed up of life” (2 Cor. 5: 4).

 

 

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21.

 

 

Exclusion from the Kingdom

 

 

1. - Godly servants of Christ have understood the Scriptures to teach the possibility of a believer’s exclusion. So Mr. Robert Chapman: “Has any child of God any warrant of Scripture to expect that he will reign with the Lord during the period of Rev. 20.?  But, on the contrary, has not every child of God a promise of reigning with Christ in the perfect and final state?”* So Mr. G. H. Pember: “To those who believe on Him, but go no further, the Lord does, indeed, give eternal life; but the fruition of it will not begin until the Last Day, until the thousand years of the Millennial reign are ended. Such persons will not, therefore, be permitted to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens   So Dr, A. T. Pierson: “The greatest of all the revelations about the future condition of the saints is, that they are to be identified with Jesus Christ in His reign, - that is, those who ‘overcome.’ Not all saints are to be elevated to this position; this is for victorious saints  So Mr. Robert Govett: “The native magnitude of this truth must speedily redeem it from all obscurity. Those who have the single eye will perceive its amplitude of evidence, and embrace it, in spite of the solemn awe of God which it produces, and the depth of our own responsibility which it discloses.”§

 

* Morning Star, Oct, 1902. .. The Church, the Churches, and the Mysteries, p. 46. .. Life of Faith, Sept. 14, 1904.

 

§ Preface to Entrance Into the Kingdom.

 

 

2. - It is certain that all crowns are conditional on works done after faith. 2 Tim. 2: 5. (1) The crown of incorruption.  “In a race all run, but one receiveth the prize.  Even so run, that ye may attain.  And every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (1 Cor. 9: 24, 25).  Can that racer be crowned who failed in the running?  Paul dreaded the loss of the crown for himself: “lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.” (2) The crown of rejoicing. “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at His coming?” (1 Thess. 2: 19).  Dan 12: 3.  Can he be crowned for turning many to righteousness who never turned one?  (3) The crown of glory. “The elders therefore among you I exhort, Tend the flock of God, … and when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5: 1-4).  Can a disciple be rewarded for shepherding the flock of God who never did it? (4) The crown of righteousness. “I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, ... and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4: 7, 8).  Can the crown for watchfulness be given to one who never watched? (5) The crown of life. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life” (Jas. 1: 12). Rev. 2: 10.  Can he be crowned for resisting temptation who succumbed to it?  That a crown may be lost to a believer is as certain as any truth in Holy Scripture.  “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown” (Rev. 3: 11). Matt. 7: 21.

 

 

3. - Scripture states that the Kingdom is offered to all believers as the master-prize for service and suffering. “He that overcometh, and he that keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations” (Rev. 2: 26).  2 Tim. 2: 12.  It was a supreme desire of Paul.  He abandoned all, he says, and suffered all, “if by any means I may attain unto the [select] resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained, ... but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded” (Phil. 3: 11-15).  For the fall of Israel in the wilderness is a designed type of the present peril of the Church on earth.  Hebr. Chs. 3. & 4.  “Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedienceHebr. 4: 11. 

 

 

4. - Scripture also explicitly asserts the exclusion of certain believers.  Proud (Matt. 18: 3, 5: 3); unfaithful (Matt. 24: 48-51); disobedient (Luke 12: 47, 48); covetous (Eph. 5: 5); effeminate (1 Cor. 6: 9); slothful (Matt. 11: 12); strife-loving (Gal. 5: 20); unbaptised (John 3: 5); erroneous (1 Cor. 3: 15); or luxurious (Luke 6: 24) disciples are unripe for the duties and harmony of Messiah’s Reign.  Most rigorously also will all unclean disciples be excluded. Eph. 5: 3-8; 1 Thess. 4: 3-7.

 

 

The Holy Ghost has given a summary of exclusion. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”(Gal. 5: 19-21). 1 Cor. 6: 9, 10.  For it is the Kingdom of the holy, who are holy, not by imputation only, but also by active righteousness. Heb. 12: 14; 2 Thess. 1: 5.

 

 

“BLESSED AND HOLY IS HE THAT HATH PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION: THEY SHALL BE PRIESTS OF GOD AND OF CHRIST, AND SHALL REIGN WITH HIM A THOUSAND YEARS” (Rev. 20: 6). “O God, I have lost this world: grant that I lose not that which is to come!” (Carson).

 

 

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22

 

 

The Glories of Israel

 

 

“It is not easy,” says McCheyne, writing on Mount Carmel, “to pray really for Israel; it needs you to have much of the peculiar mind of God  Now that mind unchanged (for Paul uses the present tense) is revealed in nine glories which God has given irrevocably to Israel. Rom. 9: 3-5.

 

 

1. - ISRAELITES.  Not Jacobites, but Israelites: not men’s supplanters, but wrestlers on their behalf with God; princes by conquest in intercession.  “Thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Gen. 32: 28).  It was Israel’s glory to be God’s intermediary: the Temple was “the house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11: 17). Rom. 11: 18. Isa. 61: 6.

 

 

2. - THE ADOPTION.  Ex.4: 22, Jer. 31: 9.  The Church receives an adoption as sons (Gal. 4: 5); Israel received an adoption as a people; and it is a national adoption confined to Israel for ever. “Hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation ... according to all that the Lord your God did for you?” (Deut. 4: 34): “He hath not dealt so with any nation” (Ps. 147: 20).  Israel is God’s solitary and peculiar people, - the only nation to whom the Messiah personally ministered (Matt. 15: 24), and the only nation, as such, for which He is said to have died.  John 11: 50.

 

 

3. - THE GLORY.  God’s Shekinah Fires never dwelt in the midst of any nation except Israel. “He made thee to see His great fire; and thou heardest His words out of the midst of the fire” (Deut. 4: 36).  From a burning Bush Israel was called; by a burning Cloud Israel was led; on a burning Mercy Seat God dwelt in the midst of His people: Israel is the sole nation that has ever beheld and contained the devouring fires of Deity. Num. 14: 14.

 

 

4. - THE COVENANTS.  Apart from Noah, God has never entered into a covenant with any man but a Jew.  Eight covenants were made with Abraham; one with Moses; at least two with Israel; and the New Covenant, the blood of which has been shed (Luke 22: 20), and the ministers of which have been appointed (2 Cor. 3: 6), has yet to be made with the Houses of Israel and Judah (Heb. 8: 8).  Covenants between God and man belong only to the blood of Abraham.

 

 

5. - THE LAW.  Jehovah’s descent in person on Sinai, with a Decalogue written by the fingers of Deity, is an unique glory of Israel. “He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel.  He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they [the nations] have not known them” (Ps. 147: 19).  The mind of God was distilled in the Law, ministered through angels, and deposited at last in the hands of the Jew.

 

 

6. - THE WORSHIP. ‘Jew’ means ‘praise’: and God’s liturgy, the sole mode of ritual access into His presence under the Law, was revealed to the Jew only. “If thou bearest the name of a Jew, [thou] restest upon the law, and gloriest in God, and knowest His will ... being instructed out of the law” (Rom. 2: 17).  God planned every knob and tent-pin in Tabernacle and Temple, and no Gentile ever crossed the threshold of the Holy Place, much less ministered in the divine ritual.

 

 

7. - THE PROMISES.  All promises are held in germ in one promise to Abraham; - “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22: 18).  ‘Thy seed’ is a Jew: whether, therefore, by way of circumcision, or through faith, salvation is of the Jews, because salvation is from a Jew.  So also the promise of the Spirit was first given to the Jew.  Gal. 3: 14. Acts 2: 39.

 

 

8. - THE FATHERS.  God’s providence never leaves the Jew because His love never leaves their fathers. “Because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them” (Deut. 4: 37).  No man ever gave God a name but a Jew: He is not known as the God of Adam, or the God of Noah; but, - “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3: 6).  No nation ever had divine priests but Israel (except Melchizedek): for two thousand years none other had divine prophets (except Balaam): no other nation has had divinely anointed kings: and there is no author of divine Scripture but a Jew (except Luke). Rom. 3: 2.

 

 

9. - THE CHRIST.  In Bethlehem lies Israel’s consummate distinction. “Of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever  The Son of a Jewess, of the seed of David (Rom. 1: 3), of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5: 5), the Word tabernacled in flesh of Israel. Heb. 2: 16.  Eternity can hold no racial glory so unique. Here, then, is the mind of God.  None of these glories sprang from natural excellence, but all from supernatural grace, so revealing how peculiarly God has isolated Israel in honour, as “the dearly beloved of My soul” (Jer. 12: 7), “My glory” (Isa. 46: 13).  Oh, for more of this mind of God!  He who had it most fully could say, - “I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9: 3).

 

 

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23

 

 

The Trial of Jesus

 

 

The Sanhedrim, a court regularly constituted of Israel’s shrewdest and most judicial minds, was a tribunal not unworthy of the nation which, alone among all nations, possessed the Law of Jehovah.  Yet the amazing trial of Jesus was thick with illegalities.

 

 

(1) Our Lord was arrested and tried at night: which, on a capital charge, was illegal.  (2) The trial was conducted, not in the Hall of Purchase, where the Sanhedrim was regularly convened, but in the private house of the High Priest. This, if not actually unlawful, was highly irregular: it obviously savoured of conspiracy. Mark 14: 1, 2.  (3) The Prisoner was pronounced guilty on the day of the trial: whereas, according to the law of the Sanhedrim, although a prisoner might be acquitted on the same day, he could never be condemned.  (4) The Sanhedrim, in appealing to Pilate, dropt the charge of blasphemy, and substituted the charge of treason (Luke 23: 2): quashing their own proceedings, they carried an appeal to a higher court on a new and unsubstantiated charge.  The trial was thick with illegalities.  But these are technicalities: although establishing a grave presumption against the equity of the Sanhedrim, they are not fatal; it is conceivable that, in spite of technicalities violated, substantial justice might yet be done to a prisoner.

 

 

We turn therefore to the Trial. Two charges were brought against Christ: the first sedition, the second blasphemy. The charge of sedition was based on an alleged statement threatening the destruction of the Temple.  Apart from the fact that Christ never said He would destroy the Temple, but, - “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2: 19); apart from the fact that it was the reestablishment of a destroyed Temple that He promised - a beneficial act that could hardly be made into a criminal charge; apart also from the fact that the sole reference was to His own body, not to the Temple at all (John 2: 21): one crucial fact, so far as the trial is concerned, emerged.  The evidence was so conflicting, so obviously suborned, that the charge was quietly dropt: that is, on a point of palpable fact the prosecution breaks down. Mark 14: 56, 59.  Caiaphas now adjures Christ to assert His Sonship of God: which He does.  On this answer of Jesus Caiaphas formulates the charge of blasphemy.  Two gross illegalities, invalidating the whole trial, are now committed.

 

 

(l) Everything, on such a charge, obviously turns on who the Prisoner is: yet the Court never examines the point at all.  If Jesus was the Son of God, it was no blasphemy to say so: if He was not, it was.  The action of the Sanhedrim would make it impossible for the Messiah ever to come at all without being liable to immediate arrest and destruction for blasphemy.

 

 

(2) The Law of Moses expressly forbad condemnation, on a capital charge, on the evidence of less than two witnesses (Deut. 17: 6): Jesus was condemned to death on none.  He was then spit upon and smitten. Matt. 26: 67.  So, hundreds of years before, Isaiah had said, - “By oppression and judgment He was taken away” (Isa. 53: 8): Micah also, - “They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek” (Mic. 5: 1).  The Roman Law has been the foundation of the soundest jurisprudence of the world: yet here again the air is thick with illegalities.  Not one of the essentials of Roman law was observed in the trial of Jesus.  There was no notice of the trial; no definition of the charge; no invoking of the law whose breach was alleged; no examination of witnesses; no hearing of counsel; no proof of a criminal act; no sentence formally pronounced. Still more amazing, the judge actually acquits the Prisoner whom he delivers to execution.  Three times Pilate pronounces the Prisoner not ‘guilty’ (Luke 23: 4, 15, 22), yet each time re-tries Him: whereas under Roman law a prisoner might not be tried twice for the same offence.  Three times Pilate pronounces the Prisoner ‘not guilty’: yet over the cross, as the law required, Pilate wrote the charge, and he wrote - treason.  Three times Pilate pronounces the Prisoner ‘not guilty’: yet he orders his soldiers to execute the sentence of ‘guilty.’ “Jesus of Nazareth,” says a member of the New York Bar, “was not condemned; he was lynched.  The martyrdom of Golgotha was not a miscarriage of justice; it was murder

 

 

The People had not yet officially condemned Jesus.  Pilate, conscious of Christ’s innocence, resorts to the last expedient open to him under Roman law, short of acquittal.  A judge might stop a trial at the demand of the prosecutors, if it appeared to him that that demand was prompted by just motives, and not actuated by any unlawful object.  Pilate presents the pitiful object of the Saviour bleeding after the flogging, crying, “Behold the Man!” and tries the pulse of the crowd by suggesting His release in place of Barabbas.  A hoarse cry warned him off: the prosecutors refuse to drop the charge.  Pilate then publicly reveals what is happening.  It was a Jewish custom, in order to attest one’s innocence of murder, to wash the hands: Pilate therefore, to ensure being understood in that deafening uproar, and amid a crowd of so many diverse languages, symbolises silently that which all will understand - he washes his hands.  The judge pronounces the whole transaction to be murder.

 

 

The World, alas, now shares the verdict.  The issue is as momentous as ever. “Nineteen centuries,” says a member of the Italian Bar, “will not again go by before either the cross of Golgotha shall become once and for ever the emblem of victory; or man, born to strife, shall sink, vanquished eternally in the age-long struggle for his redemption  Illegalities as gross - the same - are thick in the modern trial.  Christ is not given a hearing; or, men never really examine His claims: or, those claims are set aside for self-interest; or, the claims are admitted, but decision is shirked: - Caiaphas and Pilate, in innumerable multitudes, again do despite to a Saviour’s love.  “Is it no thing to you, all ye that pass by?  Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger” (Lam. 1: 12).

 

 

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24

 

 

A Sacrificial Priesthood

 

 

“We venerate the Eucharist,” says Pope Pius X, addressing the Eucharistic Congress (1908), “as the sacrifice of the New Testament, ... a tribute of thanksgiving and praise, of atonement, and propitiation, ... a sacrifice foreshadowed by the offerings of the Fathers of the Old Law, notably by that of the High Priest Melchizedek.” Now into the hands of two priestly Orders only has the knife of sacrifice been committed, the order of Aaron, and the order of Melchizedek; since Moses God has received atoning sacrifices from no other hands: and Pius X claims for the Roman Priesthood succession to the Order of Melchizedek.

 

 

For it is universally agreed that the Order of Aaron is gone: Israel is “without sacrifice and without ephod” (Hos. iii. 4).  Nor was our Lord’s priesthood after Aaron’s order.  “For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests”: therefore Christ was “named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7: 14; 5: 10).  The solitary sacrificing Priesthood that remains is Melchizedek’s: and it is the Sacrifice peculiar to the High Priest of the Melchizedekian Order which Rome claims to offer. “In the Eucharist,” says Pius X, “that selfsame sacrifice offered once upon the cross is renewed  Therefore one test is simple and final. Seven times is the parallel drawn between Melchizedek and Christ, in order to define the characteristics without which none can be a priest after that Order.  Has the Roman Priesthood these characteristics?

 

 

1. - Without descent: “without father, without mother.” God suppressed certain details in Melchizedek’s life that, as recorded, it might be made like unto the Son of God’s: he is not like unto the Son of God, but is made like by, the silences of the Scripture.  Without recorded father or mother, he types Him who, as Son of Man, had no father, and, as Son of God, no mother.  Why?  Because this Priest had to offer a superhuman Sacrifice. “Sacrifice and offering [of the Aaronic Order] Thou wouldest not, but a body didst Thou prepared for me” (Heb. 10: 5).  The Priest must be divine who is to offer the Son of man: and the Priest must be human who is to be Himself the Sacrifice: He must be Son of God, and Son of man.

 

 

2. - “Without genealogy  Genealogy was a requisite for Aaron’s Order.  On the return from Babylon certain priests “sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore they were deemed polluted and put from the priesthood” (Ezra 2: 62).  It is most startling to observe that that on which modern priests lay the supreme emphasis - apostolic, or priestly, succession - is the genealogy which disqualifies for the Order of Melchizedek.  ‘Apostolic succession’ is fatal to the Melchizedekian Priesthood.

 

 

3. - Without origin or end: “having neither beginning of days nor end of life  Neither birthday nor deathday is recorded of Melchizedek: so our Lord was not born to the priesthood, for He was never born, and thus required no genealogy; and His priesthood is not forfeited by death, for He never dies; birth and death, to Him, were but incidents in an eternal existence.  Behind His birth lies the eternity of the Godhead: beyond His resurrection lies the eternity of His Priesthood, - “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek  Here is the final overthrow of the Roman claim.  The Order of Melchizedek stopped with Christ.  Without successor, as without predecessor, He never lays down this priesthood, and so no other ever takes it up.  “He, because He abideth for ever, hath a priesthood that doth not pass to another” (Heb. 7: 24, marg.), - an irrevocable, inviolable, un-transmittable priesthood.

 

 

Most solemn is God’s attitude to the claim of sacrificial powers.  It is the sin of Korah.  Korah, Dathan, and Abiram - Levites, not priests* - for offering animal sacrifice - how much more daring the impiety of offering human sacrifice, nay, a divine - met instant wrath.  “The ground clave asunder ... and swallowed them up”; and upon their adherents “fire came forth from the Lord and devoured them” (Num. 16: 32).  Judgment on priestless sacrifice now tarries only for the expiration of the day of grace.  “Depart, I pray you” - ours becomes the sorrowful invocation of Moses - “from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins

 

* So we, though priests. have no power to offer atoning sacrifices, but spiritual only. 1 Pet. 2: 5. Heb. 13: 15.

 

 

Behold the supreme glory of the Son of God.  As Aaron soared above Israel, - as Abraham above Aaron, - as Melchizedek above Abraham, - so, but incomparably more, Jesus soars above Melchizedek.  What an apex of glory!

 

 

(1) He is the human Priest.  The Order of Melchizedek arose long ere God had chosen the Jew: humanity was one, and Melchizedek was its priest, Not once does Jesus call Himself ‘Son of Judah’; but sixty-three times ‘Son of man 

 

 

(2) He is the royal Priest.  Royalty and priesthood were kept distinct in Israel. 2 Chron. 26: 19. But - sprung from the Royal Tribe - on Christ’s head are crown and mitre; in His hand, sceptre and censer; and He passes, like Melchizedek, from throne to altar - at the Incarnation, and from altar to throne - at the Ascension. Zec. 6: 13. 

 

 

(3) He is the solitary Priest.  Melchizedek himself, already half vanished into the night, was but a type: so tremendous is a world’s atonement, that no Priest was sufficient but One - the Son of God; and no Sacrifice was sufficient but One - the Son of man: for ever “the Priest upon His Throne

 

 

 

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25

 

 

The Higher Criticism

 

 

The Higher Criticism. - Advanced Criticism has arrived, in some quarters, at a goal which challenges the attention of the whole Church of God.  In presenting some ‘results’ of its more extreme developments, it should be borne in mind that (1) all the Higher Criticism, none of which professes to present a single new manuscript, or to produce a tittle of fresh external evidence, yet claims so to dissect the Scriptures as to have discovered facts as to their history, authorship, and value, not only unknown to the Church of God hitherto, but also profoundly revolutionary of our whole conception of the Divine Book.  And (2) the Higher Critics from whom I quote (I believe, without exception) are professed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and paid and public defenders and expounders of the faith of the Son of God. These two facts, a critical and a moral, together dominate the situation.

 

 

Results: Old Testament.  “The legends first taught by word of mouth,” says the Dean of Westminster, “you may read in the Book of Genesis.  These stories, which fathers used to tell their children about their national heroes, contain only that amount of history which such stories contain in the case of other peoples.” “Abraham’s real existence,” says the Encyclopoedia Biblica, edited by an Anglican Canon, “is as doubtful as that of other [legendary] heroes”: the Book of Jonah is to be classed with Tobit and Susannah as “imaginary religious stories”: the Red Sea was crossed by a natural wind: the setting up of the Tabernacle in the wilderness “must be pronounced utterly impossible”: Jehovah was “a wilderness deity, who had his abode in Sinai or Horeb.” “Ezekiel,” says Prof. Peake, “seems to set on the throne of the universe a self-centered egoist who bends the whole course of history to glorify his holy name.” “Critical research,” says Prof. Krüger, “has annihilated the Old Testament Canon. There is no longer any theologian who can conceal from himself the final outcome of Old Testament criticism. The century just dawned will in all probability consign the New Testament also to the same fate

 

 

Results: New Testament. “The connexion of sin and death in Scripture,” says Prof. Denney, “is no piece of supernaturally revealed history, to be accepted on the authority of Him who has revealed it. In such revelations no one believes any longer.” “The picture of Jesus,” says Prof. Bousset, “is drawn from the standpoint of the miraculous.  The historian can scarcely do otherwise than admit that legends, and not history, are before us.” “So far as the reported miracles of Jesus [were to establish His Messiahship],” says Dr. Abbott, “they are no longer to be taken to be credible; either they never happened at all, or (at least), if historical, they were not miraculous.” “For modern criticism,” says Dr. Abbott, “the story [of Calvary], even in its most historic version, is not pure truth, but truth mixed with doubtful legend”; and among the legendary “details” are the parting of the raiment, all the sayings on the cross, the rending of the temple veil, and the supernatural darkness. “An intelligent man,” says Prof. Schmidt, “who now affirms his faith in such stories [the miracles] as actual facts can hardly know what intellectual honesty means

 

 

Results: Jesus Christ.  All storms close at last around one lonely Brow. “The Messiah,” says Prof. Harnach, “is a conception to which we can no longer attach a meaning or validity.” “Jesus,” says Prof. Schmidt, “never assumed the title ‘Son of God’: it was a bestowal upon him of a title he did not claim, and probably could not have understood. When he was lifted up from the earth, and made a god, he drew all men unto himself.” “It ceases to be a matter of fundamental importance,” says Prof. Schmeidel, “whether Jesus rose again on the third day. The belief of the disciples [that they had seen the risen Lord] does not prove that what they saw was objectively real: it can equally well have been merely an image begotten of their own mental condition. The accounts of the empty tomb are none of them admissible  “There is no use,” says Prof. Burkitt, “in shirking the plain fact. The old infallible Bible has been taken away. It has been given into the hands of the Critics, and what they have given back is shorn of its old authority. We no longer believe because the Bible tells us to do so

 

 

Consequences. “The Higher Criticism” says Prof. Peake, “has drawn the fangs of the Secularist”: only - we sorrowfully add - by removing them to the mouth of the theological professor. The sale of Bibles in England is falling.  “Across not one church threshold in Wales,” says Dr. Pierson, “where the Higher Criticism is taught,

did the Holy Ghost pass in the revival of 1904

 

 

Nemesis is at the doors. In Liverpool - the second city of the Empire, a sample city - in 1881, 40 seats out of every 100 were filled in morning worship in the Free Churches; in 1891, 31; in 1902, 25; in 1908, 12.  So also evening attendance has fallen from 57 in every 100 seats in 1881, to 28 in 1908.  The average morning attendance in 1881 was 274; in 1891, 212; in 1902, 170; in 1908, 85.  So also the average evening attendance has fallen from 392 in 1881 to 190 in 1908.  These are appalling figures.

 

 

When doubt speaks in the pulpit, infidelity sits in the pew, and at last empties it; diluted doses of infidel criticism are killing the churches, undermining public confidence in the Bible, and laying the foundations of approaching apostasy. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things

 

 

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26

 

 

Adam and Christ

 

 

1. - SIN. “Through one man sin entered into the world” (Rom. 5: 12).  How so?  Because God “made of one blood [or stock] all nations of men” (Acts 17: 26).  Made of one stock, sprung from one source, pollution at the fountain-head necessarily fouled the whole stream; as a severing blow at the root of a tree levels all the branches also.  An angel might sin, and conceivably - if isolated, as a small-pox case is isolated - the sin might not spread; for angels “neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12: 25): the sin could be isolated to the angel.  But humanity increases by procreation; through one man therefore - because he was the first - sin infected a world: nothing short of arrested increase - i.e., the total annihilation of the race - could cut the entail of inherited corruption. Behold our helplessness.  “Sin entered”: it is a done thing.

 

 

2. - DEATH.  “So death passed [travelled] unto all men  Death is not essential to true humanity: God could have garnered the whole race, as Enoch or Elijah, without death.  Why then did death come?  Because, with sin, rottenness entered into the bones; and now, though a man may doubt universal sin, who doubts universal death?  And universal death proves universal sin.  “Sin bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1: 15); “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6: 23); “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ez. 18: 4); “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. ii. 17): - death is a consequence of sin.  Only he may say, - ‘I am no sinner,’ - who can immediately add, - ‘Because death will never cross my threshold  A doctor’s utmost achievement is to postpone his final failure.  What helplessness!  “Death passed”: it is a done thing.

 

 

3. - IMPUTED GUILT.  But the gravest fact of all is one which it would never have entered the human mind to conceive.  “So” - through one man - “death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.” That is, in Adam all died, for in Adam all sinned.  Human solidarity is a profound mystery comprehensible only to Deity; but so real is it, so actual, that death seals in every man what every man did in the first man.  Imputation of guilt is as real as the imputation of righteousness.  Could helplessness sink lower?  “All sinned”: it is a done thing.

 

 

4. - RUIN.  So look at the facts.  (1) A man is lost thousands of years before he is born: even could he atone for his own sins, he is powerless to wipe out his share in Adam’s: sin entered, death came, the tragedy was over, the race was ruined thousands of years before we were born.  Moreover (2) every man himself enters the world a sinner. Ps. 51: 5.  The stock is ruined: so, while I commit corruption, I also am corruption: I carry in me from birth the seedbed of all sin.  But also (3) we are helpless, not so as to be irresponsible, but so as, by ourselves, to be unsavable.  Why? Because since birth we have made sin our own by the delight with which we have sinned.  Where in all the world is a sinner who does not love sin?  But if a man catches the plague, and dies, he dies, not of the other man’s plague, but of his own.  “Death reigned”: it is a done thing.  The ruin is complete.

 

 

5. - IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.  God’s antidote now exactly fits the poison: as by a solitary sin came death, so by a solitary righteousness came life.  “So then” - for, as the fall, so the redemption - “as through one trespass the judgment came, ... even so through one righteousness the free gift came  As Adam involved us in Hell before our birth, so, before our birth also, Christ secured to us a right to Heaven.  But how?  “As through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous  Adam’s sin imputed made sinners; Christ’s righteousness imputed makes saints: and, as the imputed guilt begot actual sin, so the imputed righteousness produces active goodness.  But for whom was Christ’s obedience wrought?  “As through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life  The obedience of Christ for redemption is coextensive with the disobedience of Adam for ruin: the All that fell is the All that is redeemed.  “The free gift came”: it is a done thing.

 

 

6. - LIFE.  The salvation also travels back in effect over the road of ruin.  Life springs from righteousness exactly as death springs from sin. Prov. 12: 28.  “So as through one trespass the judgment came ... to condemnation; even so the free gift came ... to justification of life  Adam gave us his death: Christ gives us His life.  We are one with Adam by birth, and that is our ruin: we are one with Christ by second birth, and that is our salvation.  So that all shall be saved? no, but that all may be saved.  For as we have sinned wilfully, so we must be saved willingly.  “For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive [take] the abundance of grace ... reign in life  The righteousness bringing life has been wrought: the thing is done.

 

 

7. - SALVATION.  So God has mercifully made salvation as helpless a thing as the ruin in which we were born. We were passive recipients of Adam’s sin: we are passive recipients of Christ’s righteousness.  Thousands of years before I was born, I was lost: thousands of years (nearly) before I was born, I was redeemed.  Salvation, equally with the Fall, is a done thing: I can no more alter it, or add to it, or take from it, than I can alter, or add to, or take from Adam’s guilt: I can reach neither, across a gulf of thousands of years, any more than I can gather up last winter’s snows.  I can only suffer the one: I can only take the other.  All that I can do, all that I ought to do, all that I need do, is to take it; that is, to believe it, to accept it. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22: 17): “the free gift came,” and the moment I take it, it is mine for ever.

 

 

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27

 

 

The Judgment Seat of Christ

 

 

1. - THE WILL OF GOD.  The ideal manhood - “A man after My heart, who shall do all My will”(Acts 13: 22): its aim - “I am come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10: 7): its business - “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me” (John 4: 34): its fellowship - “whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, he is My brother” (Matt. 12: 50): its education - “Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God” (Ps. 143: 10): its pleasure - “I delight to do Thy will, O My God” (Ps. 40: 8).  So God’s ideal for a disciple is obedience to His will; and God’s ideals are not optional, but obligatory. “We labour”(A.V.) - “we strive” (Alford) - “we are eager” (Stanley) - “we make it our aim” (R.V.) - “we are ambitious (R.V., margin) to be well-pleasing unto Him” (2 Cor. 5: 9). Why? “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ,” to give account: we must report to God whether we did His will or not.

 

 

2. - THE TRIBUNAL.  (1) The tribunal is a Bema, not a Throne; a Judgment Seat for the investigation of disciples, not a Throne for the arraignment of rebels: for the Judge (2 Tim. 4: 8) is “a certain king, which would make a reckoning with his servants” (Matt. 18: 23).  It is the first of our Lord’s three judgments (Rom. 14: 12; Matt. 25: 31; Rev. 20: 12) on His return; and judgment begins “at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4: 17).  (2) Thus those examined are Christians only.  “We all” - i.e., “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord in every place” (1 Cor. 1: 2): it is a final investigation of the whole Church of God.  No Book of Life is produced, for it is no judgment of the lost: “the wicked shall not stand [or, rise] in the judgment ... of the righteous” (Ps. 1: 5).  (3) The process is individual: “so then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14: 12). ‘Must’ - it is inevitable; ‘all’ - it is universal; ‘made manifest’ - it is public; ‘judgment-seat’ - it is judicial; ‘stand’ - it is in resurrection; ‘each’ - it is individual; ‘give account’ - it is responsibility; ‘to God’ - it is Divine.

 

 

3. - A JUDICAL PROCEDURE: “that each one may receive the things done  Not, that each may receive something from God, but “that each may receive the things” he himself has “done”: it is not a general granting of glory, irrespective of service; but an exercise of the Divine Law, - “as he hath done, so shall it be done to him” (Lev. 24: 19). “Be not deceived” - is a word to disciples - “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6: 7).  Paul puts it with exquisite clearness, and two-fold emphasis. “Whatsoever good thing” - for a judge approves - “each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Eph. 6: 8): on the other hand - “Ye serve the Lord Christ.  For he that doeth wrong” - for a judge censures - “shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col. 3: 25).

 

 

4. - THE EVIDENCE: “things done by means of the body  We must all “appear in our true light” (Alford): as the fossil imprint of a bird’s claw, made ages earlier by a momentary alighting when the stone was soft, now records that act in solid rock, so our actions are the unerring imprint of our characters; the things done reveal what the body was.  Like a palimpsest, when the heat of fire (1 Cor. 3: 13) passes over it, so our life silently steals forth in lines every one of which we ourselves wrote: so that what our eyes looked on, what ours ears listened to, what our hearts loved, what our minds believed, what our lips said, what our hands wrought, where our feet walked: - these are the unimpeachable evidences of the Judgment Seat. Rev. 22: 12.  Secrets (1 Cor. 4: 5), motives (Matt. 6: 1), soul-attitudes (Luke 6: 36-38), and just church decisions (Matt. 18: 18), also sway the adjudication.

 

 

5. - THE AWARDS: “whether it [the award] be good or bad  The Greek points to the award: “that each may receive according to the things done, whether it” - i.e., what he receives - “be good or bad  Reward (as distinct from salvation, which is through faith, against deserts) is strictly defined by works.  So minutely do actions tell, that “whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple [it is true only of Christians], shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt. 10: 42); how much more, greater benefactions! Matt. 19: 29.  Conversely, as judicial, the Bema, inevitably taking cognizance of a disciple’s unrepented offences, may inflict loss, or even penal (but temporary: Matt. 5: 26) consequences. I Cor. 3: 15.  “That servant, which knew his lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes” (Luke 12: 47). Matt. 18: 35. (Nevertheless, eternal 1ife cannot be forfeited by a disciple: John 3: 16; 10: 27, 28.)

 

 

So somewhere there exists a draft by the hand of God of what our life might have been, and still can be: some have lived wonderfully near God’s thought for them: let us find and follow that Divine original. Eph. 2: 10.

 

 

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28

 

 

The New Birth

 

 

Nicodemus - sincere, moral, upright, needing no reformation - meets Jesus: Jesus says, - You need to be remade.  How much more an open sinner!  For “verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3: 3).  “A man” - therefore it is true of all.  For man is (1) sightless: “he cannot see  He does not now see Christ in his stead, a perfect righteousness and a perfect sacrifice: and he who has never seen the Blood can never see the Glory.

 

 

He is (2) lifeless: “except a man be begotten  Begetting is the imparting of life; and life is imparted to the dead, not to the living.  Who ever saw a man who was not born? no more has anyone even seen a Christian who was not born again.  Man enters no world except by birth: and we must be born into heaven if we are ever to enter it.

 

 

He is (3) fatherless: “ye must be born again  A second birth implies another fatherhood: “begotten of the Spirit”- it is the second birth which produces sonship of God.  Even Nicodemus - sincere, moral, upright, needing no reformation - is a sightless, lifeless, fatherless soul, who can be saved only by being remade.

 

 

“Ye must be born afresh”: “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (2 Cor. 5: 17).  Many a sinner, bitter and broken, cries: “Oh, that I could begin life afresh  That is exactly what Christ offers: “ye must be born afresh.” “Ye must” - therefore ye may: ye may - therefore “ye must  Regeneration is not so much an organic change, creating or extinguishing human powers, as a functional change, whereby our old powers take a new direction, move by a totally new life, and expand to the fullness of their created capacities.  Man redeemed fulfils all, and more, than God planned in man created.  But Nicodemus interposes. “How can” this be?  Jesus now introduces baptism the more fully to unfold His meaning.  “Except a man be born out of water” - not a second time of his mother - “he cannot enter into the kingdom of God

 

 

The new begetting is regeneration: the new birth is baptism.  Secret, viewless, mysterious is the begetting of the soul: open, visible, natural is the birth out of water which manifests life already begun.  As an infant is alive before it is born, so within the water is a living soul, and out of the water issues a new birth.  It is a new man that issues out of the water: not made new by the water, but by the Spirit before the birth.  Therefore only the regenerate may be baptised.  Regeneration is a renewal (Tit. 3: 5); a translation (Col. 1: 13); a quickening (Col. 2: 13); a creation (Eph. 4: 24); a cure (1 Pet. 2: 24); an emancipation (Gal. 5: 1); a resurrection (Eph. 2: 6).

 

 

Our Lord now probes deeper: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh”: i.e., a second fleshly birth would be useless.  A thousand re-births from the flesh would be - flesh: a new start indeed, but the millionth would be a start as polluted as the first.  “It is not the children of the flesh that are children of God” (Rom. 9: 8).  Our Lord rarely states total depravity: He always assumes it. Matt. 7: 11; Luke 18: 19; Mark 7: 23.  Total depravity is not that every man is as bad as he can be, but that the flesh - i.e., every faculty of the natural man - has an unchanging bias to evil. The flesh may braced with laws, and educated with culture, and moulded with religion, and chastised with the hair-shirt of the monk; but it remains that incurable thing which begets sin to endless generations.  A re-introduction to the cradle, and the baby-face, and the mother’s arms, would be a second birth into a life of deeper guilt.  “The mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be”(Rom. 8: 7).

 

 

But the crowning marvel of regeneration remains.  It is a re-birth: but with whose life? “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit  Animal paternity gives animal life; human paternity gives human life; divine paternity gives divine life: it is possible to start life afresh with the life of God.  As the flesh is the seed-bed of all vices, so the new creation is a seed-bed of all the virtues of Him who begat it: we are indeed put back into the cradle, but out of that cradle spring the mighty limbs, and the soaring soul, of a son of God. Children are sometimes born crippled, or with limbs missing: there are no cripples from the second birth.

 

 

The divine power has entered in a divine birth to produce on earth a divine life: it is a birth from above: and Heaven’s gates swing back to the born again, because their life, their nature, their creation belong to Heaven.  O Nicodemus, have you learnt the lesson yet?  But mark: how shall the wind blow our way?  We can no more control that Wind than we can handle the hurricanes.  Listen to the Gospel which our Lord immediately adds. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth may in Him have eternal life  The price of the new life is the old: the renunciation of sin is the birth-travail: but the moment of faith is the moment of regeneration.  Accept Christ’s work for you, and instantly begins the Spirit’s work in you.

 

 

“Whosoever BELIEVETH that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God” (1 John 5: 1).

 

 

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29

 

 

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

 

 

Powerful and tempting arguments are now being used for the union of all disciples on a basis of the spiritual divorced from the external.  Possessing the realities for which the rites stand - it is asked - why maintain the forms, so creating, and perpetuating, division? Our Lord, in principle, has graciously revealed a profound answer. “Why do thy disciples fast not?” (Mark 2: 18): why, as a Teacher come from God, - for this is the underlying question to which our Lord addresses His answer - dost Thou add no ritual to Moses’ Law?  The Lord’s reply is the great RUBRIC OF RITUAL.

 

 

Jesus, having guarded Himself from any condemnation of fasting, of which He approves in His absence (Matt. 6: 16), answers: - “No man rendeth a piece from a new garment and putteth it upon an old garment” (Luke 5: 36).  The ritual of Moses for two thousand years draped the Law of Jehovah: as an outward vesture, it clothed and expressed that which God Himself now calls “the old covenant” (2 Cor. 3: 14), “the oldness of the letter” (Rom. vii. 6), the Covenant grown “old” (Heb. 8: 13). No man - Jesus says it is a truism - patches an old garment: the reasons are obvious.

 

 

(1) It is useless: “else he will rend the new  The patch will be stiffer and stronger than the garment: the old worn, vesture, too threadbare to stand the strain, will rend: and “that which should fill it up taketh from it, and a worse rent is made” (Mark 2: 21).  Both patch and garment perish.  Moreover (2) it is unsightly: “also the piece from the new will not agree with the old  It does not match: the ‘patch of unbleached rag’ - unwhitened by sunlight or chemicals - is not only a badge of poverty, but a positive ugliness.  God rejects it.

 

 

Profound ritual principles here stand revealed.  The Son of God refuses to add a single rite to the ritual of the Law.  He removes the robe, to replace it with a better: but patchwork is abhorrent to His eye: so long as God preserves the vesture, no human hand may tamper with its handiwork.  This is the condemnation of all man-made rituals, such as the ‘Seven Sacraments’ of Rome.  To Christ’s new ritual, no church, episcopal or other, may add rites: even so simple a rite as hand-washing before eating - a patch sewn on to the Law by Pharisees - evoked our Lord’s drastic censure.  “Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition” (Mark 7: 9).  No man has got God’s loom: he cannot manufacture fabric of the same texture or pattern: and his clumsy and ugly patches offend the eye, and only end in new and more disastrous schisms.

 

 

Ritual principles deeper still are now revealed.  “No man putteth new wine into old wineskins; else the new wine will burst the skins  As the skin yields to the pressure of the wine, and yet the wine is exactly delimited by the skin, so a rite enshrines and expresses a doctrine, and the doctrine is exactly defined by the rite.  Christ therefore had to make new rites.  The old skins had become rigid: new wine, poured in and fermenting, would have expanded the skins, till they burst: the strong, seething, expansive spirit of the Gospel would have ruined the old rituals.  The modern Jew instinctively realizes this peril to the Law.  “If ever there was a converted Jew,” says a worker, concerning a recent convert, “he is one”.  And yet, whilst his religious conviction is well known to the Jews, and even to his employer, he cannot accept baptism.  While not baptized, it is little matter to the Jews what his religious opinions may be: they still consider him as one of their own.  Once he submits to baptism, however, he becomes an outcast, and is regarded as worse than a heathen.  For the Jew prefers the doctrine which sets the flesh on its trial - as in Circumcision - to the doctrine which buries it as incurable - as in Baptism: “for he saith, The old is better” (Luke 5: 39), - that is, is milder.  The Decalogue from the Mount is an easier rule of life than the Sermon from the Mount.

 

 

Our Lord now establishes His Ritual Rubric.  Doctrine must be enshrined in rite: “new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” Why?  “They put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matt. 9: 17): for if the skins are rent, “the wine itself will be spilled, and the skins will perish” (Luke 5: 37).  Says Dr. Marcus Dods:- “We are in possession of descriptions of proselyte baptism which make it impossible to doubt that the rite was performed by immersion. And it is probable that unbiased interpreters of the Pauline Epistles will continue to believe that his allusions to baptism are intelligible only on the supposition that he had in view baptism by immersion.  Of course it is also the fact that owing to the inconvenience and frequent impossibility of performing the rite in the ideal manner, another and also significant mode was commonly adopted.  But if the meaning of baptism is understood, why fuss about the mode  Because to rend the skin is to lose the wine: the meaning evaporates with the mode.  Burial and resurrection disappear from a baptistry that is no more a grave: a priest, standing before an altar, swathing a water with incense, and offering a sacrifice of masses - what of truth lingers when the Feast of Communion is visibly gone? “New wine must be put into fresh wineskins

 

 

So long as our Saviour’s sacrificial death for sin is to be kept before the eyes of the world, so long are the wounded Bread and the shed Wine to be kept before the eyes of the Church, showing forth “the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11: 26): so long as the flesh is to be buried as incurable, and saved souls are to rise to newness of life, so long is baptism to be the funeral service and the resurrection rite of the Church of God - “baptising them ... even unto the end of the age” (Matt. 28: 19, 20). “So both [doctrine and rite] ARE PRESERVED

 

 

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30.

 

 

An Empty Tomb

 

 

1. - THE SEPULCHRE.  “Came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre” (Matt. 28: 1).  What did they see?  (1) A new tomb, “wherein never man lay”: therefore, if a resurrection took place, it was not, as in Elisha’s case (2 Kings 13: 21), a resurrection from contact with a holy body: it was a new tomb.  (2) A tomb “hewn out in the rock”: therefore there was no subterranean passage by which a body could be withdrawn; by the door the corpse entered, it issued.  (3) An open, empty tomb.  What did this prove?  That what had been buried, that had been raised; namely, a crucified corpse.  The resurrection could not have been the rising of the spirit of Christ, because the spirit of Christ had never been in the tomb at all.  The world had waited thousands of years to see a tomb that would never be refilled: it saw it now.

 

 

2. - THE EARTHQUAKE.  “And behold, there was a great earthquake.” The Prison-house into which our Lord descended was a Prison-house erected by sin.  “Through sin came death”: the place of the dead is the place of sinners.  Now shaking by God is preparatory to destruction.  “Whose voice then shook the earth,” signifying “the removing of those things that are shaken, ... that those things which are not shaken may remain” (Heb. 12: 26).  The realms of death have been twice violently shaken: the third shock (Rev. 20: 14) will be a final paralysis.  When Jesus entered Hades, it trembled “Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  And behold ... the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened” (Matt. 27: 50).  So, at the resurrection, “there was a great earthquake”: Hades shook beneath the rising tread of the Son of God, and faint tremors reached the surface of the world.  The Resurrection was the death of Death, and the first instalment (for the redeemed) of the obliteration of Sin.  Hos. 13: 14. Rev. 20: 14.

 

 

3. - THE ANGEL.  “An angel of the Lord descended from heaven”; “his appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow  The presence of the Angel was of incalculable importance.  That Figure - bringing with him part of the shining of Heaven - proves that Christ did not ‘break prison,’ but issued with a free and legal discharge, authorised by God.  Christ’s body needed no rolling away of the stone: the Angel did not raise Him: the supreme function of God’s officer, in flinging open the gates of death, was to show to the universe that the great Burnt-offering had been accepted for a guilty world.  The Angel brought the legal authorisation of God.  Rom. 6: 4.

 

 

4. - THE WATCHERS.  “The watchers did quake, and became as dead men  Our Lord’s resurrection had two immediate and opposite effects: - dead saints became living, and living sinners became as the dead.  Roman soldiers, the hardiest of the world’s sons, able to meet death in battle with a smile, are cowed by the lightnings from an angel’s face.  It is the terror of another world.  Earth’s bravest become white to the lips when they see through the open grave into the dread world beyond: but to the weak and defenceless women Jesus says, - “Fear not ye.” It is a presage of the dual effect of the Last Assize.

 

 

5. - THE NEWS.  “He is not here; for He is risen, even as He said  “Give me the resurrection as a fact, and I will shatter in pieces the modern view of the world.” It casts lightnings backward.  Again and again our Lord had foretold His resurrection, “By His death all that had gone before seemed disproved; by His rising, it was proved that nothing had been disproved; nay, that everything had been proved  The sinlessness of Jesus (John 8: 46); the miracles of Jesus (John 14: 11); the prophecies of Jesus (Luke 22: 69); the salvation offered by Jesus (Matt. 11: 28); the judgment foretold by Jesus (Luke 19: 27); the Heaven and Hell (Matt. 5: 12, 22) Jesus revealed: the resurrection is the last link that shows the whole chain, backward, as solid gold. “He is risen, even as He said 

 

 

6. - THE BRIBE. - “They gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples ... stole Him away while we slept  This last session of the Sanhedrim recorded in Scripture seems an incredible fail: yet Israel’s history since reveals how foul must have been the fountain that has poured forth two millenniums of unbelief. No nemesis is so awful as the nemesis of the rejected fact.  (1) The Soldiers preached the Resurrection to the Priests: Hell ends by confounding itself.  (2) ‘Large money’ - compare that with ‘thirty pieces of silver’; Hell felt it supremely more important to crush the Resurrection than to crush the Saviour.  Hell estimates the Resurrection at a great price.  (3) What is the only explanation of the Resurrection offered by the keenest critics it ever had, living on the spot, and at the time?  ‘The soldiers, being asleep, saw thieves; and, still asleep, recognised in the thieves Christian disciples  One of the things most amazing to unbelievers in the Day of Wrath will be to discover what fools they were.  All deniers of the Resurrection range themselves with the Sanhedrim.

 

 

7. - THE COMMISSION.  “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations  An empty tomb means that there is a gospel to preach.  The sweep of the Commission has been verified by history; the Resurrection is the cause of the Church, but the Church is also the proof of the Resurrection, The Commission Christ bases on ‘all power’: He clothes it in the Triune Name: He assumes myriads of unborn witnesses: He foresees the homage of nations: He flings its arches sheer across two thousand years of Christian experience and Christian love. History has verified it.  And what for the individual soul?  All God asks for salvation is the acceptance of the Resurrection, and action upon it. “FOR IF THOU SHALT CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH JESUS AS LORD, AND SHALT BELIEVE IN THY HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, THOU SHALT BE SAVED” (Rom. 10: 9).

 

 

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31

 

 

A Dying World

 

 

The shock of earthquake at Messina was preceded, says an eye-witness, by “a low growling like distant thunder,” followed, as the earth cracked and split, by “a tremendous roar like the firing of a hundred guns  So “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise [a crashing roar (Lange)], and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3: 10).  The crash of final dissolution baffles all human imagination.  Laws which uphold science can discover; laws which dissolve are beyond our experience, and therefore beyond unrevealed knowledge.  Dissolution, as much as creation, is a unique power attaching solely to the Godhead. “Upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1: 3) - the put-forth force of Christ is the soul of all things: when that is withdrawn, the universe falls together like a soulless corpse, and lapses into burning ruin. Twice the Holy Ghost asserts the dissolution.  “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent [intense] heat.  But we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousnessRev. 21: 1.

 

 

God reveals no fact (I suppose) without implying a moral consequence: all inspired doctrine is a verbal statement of fact leading to practical goodness.  God reveals eternity - that I may become a child of eternity; He informs me of the Second Coming - that I may be prepared to meet my God.  So here. “Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be  The big things of eternity dwarf the seductions of time.  How can I live for a world which will soon be dust and ashes?  Science must dissolve with the dissolution of that which it examines: all gold will melt in the last fires: the pleasures of sin are dissolving views which depart with the world that bred them: - wisdom does not allow the heart to settle on that which can suffer dissolution.  1 Cor. 7: 29-31.  These tremendous facts are designed and revealed to have an effect no less tremendous on our life.

 

 

“What manner of persons  All things are dissolving: personality abides.  What manner of persons can rise above what a ruin of worlds! 1 John 2: 17.  Some insects are born, grow old, and die within twenty-four hours: when we confront personality we confront the imperishable.  What manner?  “In all holiness  Holiness is a growing recoil from the horror of sin: “righteousness is conformity to the law of God, but holiness is approximation to His character”: holiness beholds ten thousand burning worlds, and sins not.  Holiness in doctrine is good, but holiness in life is better; for it necessarily presupposes the possession of holy doctrine: “in all holy living  Our life is long?  Not so wise Angels say Who watch us waste it, trembling while they weigh Against eternity one squandered day.

 

 

What manner? “In all godliness  Godliness is the life of Heaven lived on earth: it is the activity of God reproduced through a human soul: it is the air of eternity always blowing through a human life.  The world may rock in the last earthquakes, but God remains: therefore, “as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God!” (Ps. 42: 1).  Heb. 1: 10-12.  Godliness is, in me, the activities and aims and joys and griefs of God: - “furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3: 17): “prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2: 21): “in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2: 17).  This is the calling of the child of eternity. 

 

 

The attitude - “Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose again this morning, and is coming back to-morrow”: the atmosphere - “The closet is an excellent place in which to practise meeting Christ in the air”: and the aim - “That ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in His sight” (2 Pet. 3: 14).  How deep the Church’s slumber! “It is possible, and even probable, that the world will last hundreds of thousands, or a million, or even millions of years, before the coming of Christ” (Church Quarterly Review, 1901). “Was St. Paul mistaken?  Christ has not descended with the voice of the Archangel yet.  Will He never descend?  For the most part the Church of Christ is now content to answer, Never” (Expository Times, Oct. 1905).  Yet down the ages the Church’s nightingales have kept up the midnight song - “earnestly desiring the coming.” “There is nothing left for the faithful but with wakeful mind to be always intent on His second coming” (Calvin). “Ardently I desire the day of Christ. I half call His absence cruel - O when shall we meet?” (Rutherford). “I am daily waiting for the coming of the Son of God” (Whitfield). “I waken, and I hear the birds twittering, twittering, twittering, and I expect to hear the Trumpet break in upon their song” (A. Bonar).  “His coming will be visible, corporeal, local; and wherever we open the New Testament, we find it thrilling to the heat and joy of that manifestation of the Lord when we shall see Him as He is” (Robertson Nicoll). “I never lay my head upon the pillow without thinking that may be before the morning breaks, the final morning may have dawned. I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps He may interrupt my work and begin His own” (Campbell Morgan).

 

 

“SURELY I COME QUICKLY.  AMEN.  EVEN SO COME, LORD JESUS” (Rev. 22: 20).

 

 

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32

 

 

An Unknown God

 

 

1. - ONE BLOOD: “God made of one blood all nations of menActs 17: 26.  The solidarity of the human race is one of the awful and mysterious facts of life.  That solidarity is the basis both of the Fall and of the Redemption. One blood - so, if poison enters anywhere, it enters everywhere: one blood - so, if Christ died for one man, He died for every man.  If there has been one sinner since Adam, all are sinners: if one has been saved, all can be saved: if one is lost, all are lost: if one has become radiantly Christ-like, so can all.  One blood circulates through the whole human race.

 

 

2. - ONE AIM: God made all nations “that they should seek God  God made the human soul for God: the soul is a great emptiness which only the Divine can fill: God made every man for Heaven.  When He moulded the human soul, He gave it a bias Godward.  Creation - our birth - our present heart-throbs - the world in which we live, all have come into being simply that we might seek God.  Nor is He far to seek. “He is not far from each one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being  If a veil has dropt between God and man, it is a veil God never made.  The world is full of God: every word we speak is spoken into the ear of God: every motion we make is made in Him: the difficulty is not to find God, but to escape Him. God made your soul for that research to which all science is a toy - the search for God; therefore - Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and spirit with spirit can meet, Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

 

 

3. - ONE LIKENESS: “for we are also His offspring  This is an immense advance on earlier statements: it means that when we find God, we can know Him. Gen. 1: 27.  Man has lost the moral likeness of God (Gen. 5: 3), but the rational likeness remains.  God can see and feel and hear - so can we: God can reason - so can we: God can love and yearn and sorrow - so can we: that is, God and man can understand one another when they meet. Herein is the deadly insult of idolatry. To make God wooden, or even golden, is not only an almost incredible degradation of the human intellect in worship; but also, instead of a seeking after God, it is a blotting out of the image of God, by the substitution of a caricature.  Nevertheless our rational affinity with the Divine remains. It is the inalienable dignity of the human spirit that it can communicate with God. Jer. 9: 23-24.

 

 

4. - ONE COMMAND: God “now commandeth men that they should all every where repent  Repentance is a change of mind about sin: it is a sinner taking sides with God against himself: it is a lost soul retracing its steps back to God. God commands this. To whom?  “All men - everywhere  The poison is in the one blood: - in cottage and palace, in young and old, in moral and immoral, - wherever God is God, and man is man, “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent  When?  “Now  Now - that the days of ignorance are past; now - that Calvary has bought, and offers, pardon; now - while there is space to repent, and while the Spirit still strives: now - without a moments delay. 2 Cor. 6: 2.

 

 

5. - ONE APPOINTMENT: “because He hath appointed a day  God’s wishes are made as clear as light. Who? - all men. Where? - everywhere.  When? - now.  Why? - “because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world  To-day is a merciful interlude, a last opportunity, a golden moment, a supreme crisis, before one Day arrives, to which God is converging all events, and in which He has fixed all judgment.  God’s cry is urgent because there is no hope in judgment.  God never breaks His appointments: He will be there, and the world will be there: and mercy will be swallowed up in doom. Heb. 9: 27.

 

 

6. - ONE MAN: “He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He hath ordained  Men will be judged by a Man; and He only among men who tasted death for every man has the right to pass eternal sentence upon any man.  The man who judged the leper (Lev. 13.) was the priest who atoned for him; and the priest who atoned for him was the one who judged him.  God is very slow to pronounce any man a sinner: every scrutiny is resorted to, every delay is made, every opportunity for amendment is given: and even when the case is hopeless, then atonement is made. Lev. 13; 14.  But judgment comes at last.  The greatest friend the leper ever had exiles the un-purged leper from the Camp for ever. Lev. 13: 44, 46; Rev. 22: 15.  Jesus examines, Jesus atones, Jesus absolves, Jesus condemns: no element in the destiny of the lost is more hopeless than the fact that the Priest who atones is at the last the Judge who dooms.  It is the wrath of the Lamb. Rev. 6: 16, 17.

 

 

7. - ONE PROOF: “whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead  All things tell of coming judgment.  Every star that obeys its orbit; every human state founded on the administration of law; every career that tells of the triumph of virtue, or the ruin of vice; every warning in the soul of sins that go before us into the other world:- all things speak loudly of coming judgment.  But one fact proves it.  There is only one Judge: the Father “hath given all judgment unto the Son” (John 5: 22): and the Judge is alive.  God has lodged all judgment in the Son: if Christ be dead, so is all judgment; if Christ be risen, judgment is risen from the dead. O man, be warned of approaching judgment.

 

 

“If any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2: 1).  Claim the advocacy now.  A lady wrote to her lawyer to undertake a case. “Madam” he replied, “I am sorry I cannot undertake your case: I am no longer an advocate; I have been made a judge

 

 

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33

 

 

Ten Pounds

 

 

1. - THE PARABLE.  Luke 19. 11-27.  The Parable is two-fold throughout: two reasons for its utterance (1) “because He was nigh to Jerusalem” at the close of an all but royal progress, and (2) “because they supposed that the kingdom was immediately to appear” in consequence; two classes - citizens and servants; two judgments - a compulsory muster of citizens and a willing assembly of servants; and two adjudications - slaughter and reward exactly measured by service.  (With the Citizens - unbelievers, who are taken and destroyed - we are not now concerned: nor are we concerned with the differences in ability (Matt. 25: 15) among the Servants, which is the ground of the distribution of the Talents).

 

 

2. - THE KINGDOM.  Our Lord’s words at once postpone the Kingdom.  “A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return  Israel - and even the apostles after the resurrection (Acts 1: 6) - expected the kingdom immediately: the Church since the second century has supposed, for the most part, that it has been established: Jesus reveals that, until He had died, risen, ascended, and returned, the kingdom is impossible.  The Nobleman must go “into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return1 Cor. 15: 50.

 

 

3. - OFFICERS.  The supreme principle of the Parable is now laid bare.  Officers are required for the administration of a kingdom: so God deliberately interposed a prolonged period between the two advents, that our Lord might be enabled so to test His servants, in His absence, as to discover which are fitted for positions of responsibility and trust on His return.  A silent period of profound mystery is slipped in, for the servants to reveal their character, for the citizens to reveal their enmity, for God to reveal His justice upon both, and for the Nobleman to reveal the Kingdom he has gone to obtain. Rev. 10: 7; 11: 15-18.

 

 

4. - SERVANTS.  Ten servants are chosen (ten is the number of responsibility; Ex. 34: 28; Luke 17: 17; Matt. 25: 1; etc.): “of his”- all are the Nobleman’s property (1 Cor. 6: 19): each is entrusted with a sovereign: all are commanded to trade: and, on the Nobleman’s return, all are assembled for judgment, Matt. 25: 19; 2 Cor. 5: 10.  The court is full: the ‘bystanders’ (ver. 24) - doubtless Angels - keenly watch the adjudication, and carry out the sentences (Matt. 5: 25): and each servant steps forth, isolated and alone, to report to his Lord. Rom. 14: 12.

 

 

5. - Faithful Servants.  The first servant’s report is brief and pregnant - “Lord, thy pound hath made ten pounds more(1) Not, “I have made,” but, “Thy pound hath made”: the utmost we can do for God is what God shall do through us. Phil. 2: 13. 1 Cor. 4: 7.  God’s gifts in us push through into fruit and flower: our responsibility is to give grace free scope by which to multiply itself. John 15.  The servant trades, and the pound multiplies.  (2) No servant had more than one pound: no servant was without one pound: every servant had an equal opportunity of making ten pounds: yet only one so (far as we know) did so. 1 Cor. 9: 24.  (3) The recompense exactly corresponds to the trade done: for every pound a city. “Well done, thou good servant: because thou was found faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities  The servant receives the ‘well done’ for one reason only - because he has done well. Eph. 6: 8.  So the second servant: - “be thou also over five cities  God works through us: but He rewards us exactly according to the measure in which we have allowed Him to do it.  “Unto every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him

 

 

6. - An Unfaithful Servant.  The First - Commendation and reward: The Second - Reward; but no commendation: the third Servant, neither commendation nor reward, but reproof and loss.  “Lord,” this servant says, “here is thy pound, which I have kept  But the Lord had told him to circulate it, not to keep it: “trade ye herewith till I come  To bank money is the easiest way to reap returns: this servant’s refusal even to bank it revealed, not only how little he had his master’s interests at heart, but that, while willing to take money from his Lord, he was unwilling to spend it for his Lord.  But worse lies behind.  Sadducean denial of a believer’s judgment according to works, flowers at last into open criticism of Christ when that judgment is found to be a fact.  “Thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow”: that is, I object on principle to the servants of God coming unto any judgment for their works. (“Just as the Legalist resents the doctrine that good works can have no part in effecting our forgiveness, so the Evangelical recoils from the idea that they can constitute any ground for our recompense.” - Dr. A. J. Gordon.)  The Judge answers: - Your very consciousness of the severity of the principle ought to have made you more careful, not less, to meet its requirements Rev. 2: 23; Heb. 12: 28, 29; 1 Pet. 1: 17.  “Take away from him the pound, and give it unto him that hath these pounds:” - for the capacities and opportunities of service, out of which spring the emoluments and dignities of coming glory, if despised by one, will be reaped by another. Rev. 3: 11.

 

 

7. - OUR CRISIS.  Do we realise the tremendous nature of the crisis through which we are passing?  Before the Nobleman departed, He laid plans for the selection of officers to aid Him in the administration of the Kingdom: He devised a plan for bringing to light who these officers are on His return: this plan is in operation at the present moment, purposely so contrived as to reveal individual capacity for office, and personal fitness for trust; and - most impressive of all - the Long Journey is now nearly over, and at any moment the investigation may begin.  “Make haste about cultivating a Christlike character.  The harvest is great: the toil is heavy; the sun is drawing to the west; the reckoning is at hand.  There is no time to lose; set about it as you have never done before, and say. ‘This one thing I do’ ” (A. Maclaren).

 

 

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34

 

 

The Indestructible Jew

 

 

“The preservation of the Jew during so many centuries of complete dispersion is a fact standing nearly, if not absolutely, alone in the history of the world. It is at variance with all other experience of the laws which govern the amalgamation with each other of different families of the human race.” (Late Duke of Argyll).  There is no land without a Jew; and so fecund and virile is the race that in fifty years it has leapt up from four millions to twelve, and now exceeds by five millions the Jewish census of the time of King David.  Between Babylon and Rome stretches the vast chain of Gentile empire: Babylon crushed the royalty of Israel, and Rome crushed her priesthood: Babylon has been a ruin for two thousand years, and the Rome of the Caesars is a dream, - yet the Jew survives, “The world has found out by this time that it is impossible to destroy the Jew.” (Lord Beaconsfield).

 

 

Nor is the racial type altered.  Other races have suffered dispersion, but dispersion in colonies; the Jew alone has been a race in solution among other races: yet what he was on the Jordan and the Euphrates, that he is to-day on the Thames and the Hudson. “The black hair, the dark eyes, the sharply cut nose, the somewhat prominent lips, the pale complexion, the piercing glance, the slight figure, the foreign accent, foreign in all lands, the politeness and servility, the combination of a love of appearance with slovenliness, the overweening estimate of money and money’s worth, - this is no Negro, no Turk, no Egyptian; this is simply and only the Israelite  Jewish births compared with Gentile are as five to three; and the Jews who exceed ninety years of age, compared with Gentiles, are as five to two. “We still preserve laws,” says a son of Israel, “that were given to us in the first days of the world: our history begins at the cradle of mankind, and it is likely to be preserved to the very day of universal destruction

 

 

We are now confronted with a startling fact.  The ineradicable instinct of the Jew has been to seek absorption among the nations. Even in the golden age of Israel the Psalmist had to say, - “They mingled themselves with the nations and learned their works” (Psa. 106: 35); and it was the unceasing grief of Jehovah that Israel, His Bride, was never weary of breaking wedlock.  So eagerly did Israel absorb a Babylonian atmosphere that, after seventy years, Nehemiah had to translate the Law into Hebrew (Neh. 8: 8), and a thousand years later the language of Palestine was still a compound manufactured in Babylon.  Yet every instinct of absorption has been defied by an invisible barrier of mysterious destiny.  Intermarriages with Gentiles have but one third to one fourth the fertility of pure Jewish marriages.  A ring of fire has kept the Jew lonely, isolated, and indestructible.  “Experience shows that this conservation is due in a great degree to the very hatred which they have incurred” (Spinoza).

 

 

It was the persecutions of a Pharaoh which first isolated the Jew into a national consciousness, and made him a nation. It was the whips of Philistia, and the scorpions of Egypt and Syria, which kept him a nation for a thousand years.  For two thousand more, in Ghettos and Pales of Settlement, by Jew baiting and ‘pogroms’ a nation has been forged now more vital and united than at any time since the Fall of Jerusalem, - a burning bush, unconsumed.

 

 

The indestructibility of the Jew is a fact of unsurpassable significance.  There could be no more startling proof as to Who it was that hung upon the Cross than these nineteen centuries of un-exhausted expiation. “For our SINS” - the Jews have confessed every year since the burning of the Temple - “we have been exiled from our land.” Now mark: - in seventy years, that is, in two generations, Israel in Babylon discovered its sin, and was cured of idolatry for ever: in nineteen hundred years, or seventy generations, the sin producing the second dispersion has never been discovered or expiated.

 

 

Nor could it be the transgression of the Mosaic Law alone; for Jehovah had explicitly promised, that, on repentance, “the Lord thy God will TURN THY CAPTIVITY, and have compassion upon thee” (Deut. 30: 3).  No people has fasted longer, or prayed more fervently; no nation has so studied the Law, or sought more earnestly to obey its precepts: yet not a single [spiritual] blessing, that was to follow obedience, has been procured, and not a single curse, which was to follow disobedience, has been averted.  What immediately preceded this tremendous catastrophe.  CALVARY.  “All the people answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. 27: 25). “This scattered, undying people offer the most irresistible evidences of the Divine mission of the Christ whom they crucified” (Bishop Geo. Moberley).  Calvary is the solitary clue to eighteen centuries of exile.

 

 

The survival of the Jew is an equally arresting proof of the love of God.  The worlds that roll around our earth are no more indestructible than the people of God’s choice.  “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night: If these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever” (Jer. 31: 35).  All blessing for the world God has lodged in the Jew.  “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”: with the absorption of the Jew among the nations, therefore, would disappear, as a river that sinks out of sight, the hope of the world, and his survival is essential to the salvation of the race.  The indestructible Jew carries in ‘the wandering feet and weary breast’ the irrefutable proof of the crucifixion of the Son of God, and the perpetual witness of Jehovah’s un-exhausted love. 

 

 

Take the Jew from the world, and what becomes of the Bible?  Take the Bible from the world, and how do you explain the Jew?  Interpret one by the other and the proof is overwhelming that God has sent His Son into the world, that through Him the world might have life.

 

 

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35.

 

 

Living Letters

 

 

Not a line written by our Lord’s hand has come down to us. Once, and once only, He wrote (John viii. 6): and that word vanished with the dust in which it was written. Nevertheless, for nearly two thousand years Jesus has been writing millions of letters: what are these?

 

 

1. - THE RAW MATERIAL.  What is Christ’s paper?  “Ye are an epistle of Christ, written, not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts” (2 Cor. 3: 3).  God might write on the mind - yet, knowing what is right, I might refuse it; God might write on the conscience - yet, feeling what is right, I might neglect it; but when He writes on my heart, He grips the centre of my being, and masters my life.  “I will put my laws on their heart, and upon their mind also will I write them” (Heb. 10: 16).

 

 

2. - THE PARCHMENT.  All writing material - whether reeds, or leaves, or skin, or rag - is utterly unfit to be written on until worked up: the reeds and leaves have to be dried, the skin to be dressed, the rags to be pulped; even stone must be polished before it can take the engraver’s tool.  The raw material is the heart: what is the parchment ready for inscription?  “Written in tables [or tablets] that are hearts of flesh  A heart which refuses to absorb the ink, which takes no saving impression from the Gospel, is a ‘hard’ heart, which has no part nor lot in salvation.  “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36: 26).  But all rags can make good paper.  A manufacturer cares nothing concerning the original state of the rags: - foul, or clean, all he asks is that it should go through the indispensable process: so the cleanest sinner will not enter Heaven because of his cleanness, and the foulest sinner need not keep out of Heaven because of his foulness. Joel 2: 13.

 

 

3. - THE PEN.  Christ writes no letter with the pen of an angel, or an audible voice from Heaven: what then is His pen?  “An epistle of Christ, ministered by us  The sun takes the photograph, but human hands set the camera: so the penmanship is Christ’s, but the amanuensis is any one who can write God’s truth on other hearts.  “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Ps. 45: 1), and that Writer is Christ. 2 Cor. 4: 13.

 

 

4. - THE INK.  What is the invisible and mysterious fluid, which, traced by the finger of Christ, engraves God upon the heart?  “Written, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God  The Tablets are alive: the Pen is alive: so must the Fluid be living too: the Holy Ghost is God’s great Agent of life without Whom salvation is impossible.  “If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8: 9).  As flowers and figures upon porcelain are burnt in, so as never to be blotted out; - so the words ‘Sin’ - ‘Judgment’ - ‘Hell’ - ‘Blood’ - ‘Pardon’ - ‘Christ’ - ‘Heaven’  [and ‘Kingdom’] are engraved in letters of fire on the saved heart for all eternity.

 

 

5. - THE WRITER.  How can we be sure that the Writer is Christ?  The author of a letter is revealed, not alone by the penmanship, or the signature - these can be forged, - but supremely by what he says, and how he says it: that is, by the contents, and the style.  “An epistle of Christ” must give “a savour of Christ.” “I saw a terrible object” says a traveller - “propped against the wall.  He had lost all semblance of humanity, eyes and face eaten away: he could neither move nor speak, but could hear a little.  Near him stood a handsome young Chinaman. ‘Do you see that young man?’ said the doctor. ‘When he came to us he was intensely proud, and bitterly opposed to the Gospel. He was converted. His first thought was, What can I do for Jesus?  He constituted himself the nurse of this melancholy object, sleeping by his side, feeding him before touching his own food, and lifting him hither and thither.’ ” As a violet will fall out of an opened letter, or some word of love in it suddenly set all our pulses beating, whose is the aroma of this subtle and exquisite perfume?  Whose is the image and superscription?  It is ‘a sweet savour of Christ

 

 

6. - THE CORRESPONDENT.  No letter was ever written except to convey thoughts to others: to whom are these letters addressed?  “An epistle known and read of all men:” that is, read and re-read; the handwriting recognised, and the contents studied; read within and read without.  “The godly man is the ungodly man’s Bible  Everybody knew what the Corinthians had been: everybody knew what they now were: in every one of them, therefore, all Corinth saw an autograph letter from God.

 

 

7. - THE CONTENTS.  What do these letters declare?  And who may become living letters?  (1) “Ye” - the whole church - “are an epistle  As there are many copies of the Bible, but only one Bible, so there are many Christians, but only one epistle; and as a copy of the Bible may be mutilated or defective, yet the Bible is perfect, so, however defective a Christian, all the grace in the world to-day is lodged in the Church of Jesus Christ.  One Christian is a living document overthrowing all infidel argument: how much more the entire Church!  It spells a divine Christ.  (2) If Christ has written one such letter, He can write a thousand, and He can write a million: and if your neighbour has become God’s love-letter to the world, so can you.  (3) Life can hold no higher possibility for a man than to become God’s living letter: for it is Christianity in its most convincing form - the godlike life; in its most persuasive form - a loving voice; in its most enduring form - an immortal heart; and in its divinest form - an autograph of God.

 

 

Christ will soon close His correspondence for ever.  He will soon have written the last letter.  Will you be one?  God’s Church is a letter addressed to you: He who wrote it is waiting for an answer.

 

 

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36.

 

 

Schism

 

 

1. - THE CHURCH.  Countless problems are solved the moment the word ‘church’ is correctly defined.  What is the Church?  It is - as the word indicates - an assembly called out of the world [by the Holy Spirit]; a body of men, women, and children who believe in Jesus as the Christ (1 John 5: 1), and who confess Him as the Son of God (1 John 4: 15).  Seven times the Scriptures describe the Church as that body of people which is vitally one with Christ.  It is (1) a Vine; “I am the Vine, ye are the branches” (John 15: 5): (2) a Flock; “other sheep [Gentiles] I have, which are not of this fold: ... they shall become one flock, one shepherd” (John 10: 16): (3) a Temple; “unto Whom coming, a living stone, ye also, as living stones, are built up” (1 Pet. 2: 4): (4) a Bride; “that He might present it unto Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Eph. 5: 27): (5) a Family; “that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”(Rom. 8: 29): (6) a Body; “God gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Eph. 1: 22): (7) a Spirit; “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6: 17).  The sole fact which constitutes membership of the Church is vital union with our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

2. - RECEPTION.  The moment the Church is defined correctly, the terms of communion become inevitable and obvious.  If the Church is the assembly of all vitally united to Christ, all so vitally united constitute the Church, and must therefore be acknowledged as the Church.  We do not make a Christian, the utmost we can do is to receive him: we do not manufacture fellowship, we can only acknowledge it: we do not make the unity of the Spirit, we can only keep it: and we are bound by the very construction of the Church to receive into our fellowship all whom God has received into His, - for they are the Church. Rom. 14: 1-7. “Wherefore receive ye one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God” (Rom. 15: 7). Heb. 12: 13.

 

 

3. - SCHISM.  We are now in a position to define the sin of Schism.  God is compacting His saints into unity: Schism tears them asunder.  “God tempered the body together, ... that there should be no schism in the body” (1 Cor. 12: 24).  God tempers together: Schism, which means a split, or rending, pulls apart; it is party spirit in the Body, alienating hearts that still profess the same fellowship. 1 Cor. 1: 10-13.  Whence does it come?  “Now the works of the flesh” - that is, permanent tendencies in us all, springing from the old nature - “are manifest, which are these, faction, divisions, parties” (Gal 5: 20). Jude 19.

 

 

4. - HERESY.  But there is a worse sin, - the sin of Schism grown hard and old: this Scripture calls Heresy. Schism is heart-separation in the Body: Heresy is an undisguised faction (often involving a separate Table, and an organisation hedged by separatist terms or communion) which ultimately develops into a split from the Body.  Both sins are named in one passage. “I praise you not, ... for I hear that schisms [heart-separations] exist among you; and I partly believe it.  For there must be also heresies [factions] among you” (1 Cor. 11: 17).  It is crucial to observe that Heresy - which never bears in Scripture its modern moaning of false doctrine - is a faction which divides the people of God either on a truth or on an error.  Its sinfulness lies, not in that which divides, but in the division.  The forcing of any doctrine or ritual or practice - whether true or false - as a term of communion compels division, and is the sin of Heresy: and the heretic, or party-maker, is to be avoided. Tit. 3: 10; Rom. 16: 17.

 

 

5. – EXCOMMUNICATION.  The only commanded excommunications are those for implacable injury (Matt. xviii. 17), certain stated immoralities (1 Cor. 5: 11), and perhaps also for persistent sloth (2 Thess. 3: 11, 14).  All other exclusion is unscriptural and evil.  “Neither doth he himself receive the brethren” - the grounds of Diotrophes’ excommunication of others are not stated, for they are immaterial: it is the excommunication which is the sin - “and them that would he forbiddeth, and casteth them out of the church.  Beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good” (3 John 10, 11).  Schism and Heresy will exclude disciples from the millennial kingdom of Christ.  “Factions, divisions, heresies, and such like: of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5: 21).

 

 

6. - THE SCHISMATIC.  A fact of supreme practical importance remains.  Who is the Schismatic?  The Schismatic is the one who raises barriers to communion with his brethren which God never raised.  If an individual, or a church, or a group imposes as a condition of fellowship any doctrine or ritual or practise which God has not imposed - that is, any doctrine except that which makes a Christian (Rom. 10: 9) - the guilt of schism lies with the imposing body, and not with the conscientious objector who is thereby debarred from fellowship.  God has founded His Church on life: he who, ignoring a disciple’s life in Christ, and his entire innocence of the immoralities of 1 Cor. 5: 11, insists on a doctrine or a ritual or a practice as a term of communion, - he is the Schismatic: on the other hand, the individual or the church which, loving all God’s children, receives them on the sole ground of regeneration, nor exalts un-sectionalism as the fresh rallying-cry of a sect, no excommunication can bring in guilty of Schism at the bar of God.

 

 

7. - CATHOLICITY.  Here lies the true Catholicity.  “I take a whole Christ for my Saviour; I take the whole Bible for my staff; I take the whole Church for my fellowship; and I take the whole world for my parish” (Augustine).  In spite of the deep disorder and tragic sin at Corinth, they are all still to Paul “my beloved” (1 Cor. 10: 14), to whom he can say, - “Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you” (2 Cor. 7: 3).

 

 

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37

 

 

The Blood and the Soul

 

 

1. - SACRIFICE.  A custom that is universal, dating back through all ages, and spread through all nations, is bloodshed in Sacrifice.  The most ancient writers, as Pythagoras and Plato, complain that so strange a practise - one so abhorrent (as it is) to reason, and opposed to all the dictates of natural religion - had even then spread through the whole world: modern travellers affirm that it is still as wide-spread as the human race.  How could the blood of a dead animal please God?  Imagine the first sacrifice.  No animal had yet been killed by man.  No creatures were yet slaughtered for food.  No holy human instinct demanded bloodshed for worship.  Yet Abel deliberately cuts his lamb’s throat, and its blood welters on the ground; when the last quiver of the heart has ceased, he places the carcase in the flames; and the fire consumes it into silent ash.  Blood, hot with life, poured out is a tragic and awful thing: could it please God?  Ezek. 18: 32.

 

 

2. - GUILT.  Abel’s only possible motive is that which has been the motive of all Sacrifice since.  The dreadful accents of an offended God still rang in the ears of the disobedient family.  Abel, profoundly moved, must have felt thus: - “I can come before God no more in the glow of child-like innocence and gratitude: the purpose for which He made me, I have destroyed: I have sinned, and now I am sin; even as this sacrifice is burnt to ashes, so I deserve nothing but death.”  But the moment God’s lightnings fell on the lamb, and not on him, imagine Abel’s joy.  “God is pleased, somehow; the philosophy of it I do not understand: how an innocent animal can replace my guilty soul, I do not know: all I know is that I have escaped the fire  It was life for life.

 

 

3. - FAITH.  But was God pleased?  “By faith Abel offered” his lamb: and, since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10: 17), God must have told Abel to do it.  How else could Abel know he was not to offer the animal alive?  How could he tell which animal was sacrificial?  How could he know God would not be angry with the slaughter of His lovely living thing?  Moreover, God had already done it.  The first animal ever slain was slain by God (Gen. 3: 21): not for human food, but to cover man: life was taken, that life might be preserved.  It was life for life.

 

 

4. - BLOOD.  The meaning of the bloodshed now begins to appear.  Death is no pleasure to God: it is a tragic and horrible necessity. “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it” - the blood, containing the soul - “to you upon the altar to make atonement” - that is, a covering - “for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement; by reason of the soul” that is in it (Lev. 17: 11).  It is soul for soul.  There is no magic in blood, but there is a soul in it: and only when the blood is poured away with the soul in it is death assured, and soul has been given for soul.  Therefore God, for mercy’s sake, reserved all the blood for sacrifice alone.  “No soul of you shall eat blood: ... I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement  It is soul for soul.

 

 

5. - CALVARY.  Now observe that the brunt of tragedy falls on God.  The blood of sheep and oxen has a soul in it (Rev. 16: 3): why then was it perfectly valueless (Heb. 10: 4) for atonement?  Because it had not a human soul in it.  A sacrifice to be atoning must be in the nature that has sinned: a man must die for men: an animal will not do, nor an angel.  “A man of sorrows, ... He poured out His soul unto death: ... Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” (Isa. 53: 3).  But why could no other man do it?  Because no other man had a soul sinless in quality, and Divine in value: atonement for the entire race could be wrought by the God-man alone. Ps. 49: 7.  “Awake O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 13: 7).  And the death of the Man who was God’s Fellow is specifically stated to have been in our place: for “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities  It was soul for soul.

 

 

6. - JUDGMENT.  Therefore all Sacrifice - and Calvary supremely - does not lessen, but enormously enhances, the terrors of judgement.  For the holy Law is shown immeasurably more dreadful in Calvary than it could ever have been in the open punishment of the sinner.  Why?  Because sinless, holy, and Divine though He was, God spared not His own Son: if the Law never hesitated for one moment in smiting the sinless One, because He took the sinner’s place, how shall it spare the sinner himself?  Again, all infliction which is punishing punishment, and not merely reformative, is now often said to be immoral and revengeful: but if all punishment is only to amend, how did it ever fall on Christ?  Calvary is an awful revelation of the penal destiny of the lost: the sinless Cross stands for ever as the dreadful nemesis of the offended majesty of the Law.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18: 4).

 

 

7. - CONFUSION.  How then, and when, is atonement - God’s mercy-gift - made mine?  The Law of Moses - the most organized and wonderful sacrificial system the world has ever seen - first made plain, by its ritual, the identity of the sacrifice and the sinner.  “Aaron shall lay his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat” (Lev. 16: 21).  Personal contact - personal appropriation - personal identity, must be established between the sinner and the sacrifice: I must take Christ as my personal Saviour: and the moment I do so, the sins of the sinner pass to the Sacrifice, and the merits of the Sacrifice pass to the sinner. 2 Cor. 5: 21.

 

 

“And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him [by God] to make atonement” (Lev. 1: 4).

 

 

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38.

 

 

The Prize of the Kingdom

 

 

Is the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20: 4-6) the Prize for which the Christian is to run, and which may be forfeited, unless a standard of holiness be attained known only to God? It is so -

 

 

1. Because our Lord states it in the Gospels, - the Holy Spirit repeats it in nearly every Epistle, - it is the basis of the promises and threats to the Seven Churches, - and it is foretold as an actual experience in the prophecies of the Apocalypse.

 

[1] Matt. 7: 21; Luke 20: 35, etc.

 

[2] Eph. 5: 5, 6; Gal. 5: 19-21.

 

[3] Rev. chs. 2. & 3.

 

[4] Rev. 11: 18, 20: 6.

 

 

2. Because the Types of the Old Testament, largely an unquarried mine, strikingly corroborate it, thus confirming our understanding of the literal passages of the New Testament, and weaving all into an exquisite mosaic of revelation.  1 Cor. 9: 24 – 10: 12: Ex. 12: 15; Luke 17: 32; Heb. 4: 11.

 

 

3. Because the Age to Come - as distinct from the Eternal State, which is based (Rev. 20: 15) on grace alone - is revealed as “one last day of a thousand years, a full and perfect judicial aeon,” in which all seed sown in this Age reaps its exactly corresponding harvest, and to which the consequences of works done after faith are confined.  Rom. 2: 5-11; 1 Pet. 4: 17; 1 John 4: 17; Gal. 6: 7-9.

 

 

4. Because it safeguards the infinite merits of our Lord’s imputed righteousness and divine sacrifice by establishing the spotless and eternal standing of every believer in Him; while it also safeguards human responsibility and divine justice by making every believer accountable for his walk, under pain of a possible forfeiture of coming glory.

 

[1] Heb. 10: 14, Rom. 8: 33;

 

[2] Phil. 2: 12, Rev. 3: 11.

 

 

5. Because - since God’s dealings with His people must always rest on the character of God, and God’s character is not mercy only, but justice also - it is inconceivable that a disciple’s life, if unholy, should have no profounder effect on his destiny than mere gradation in glory. Heb. 10: 30, 31; Rev. 22: 12; 1 Cor. 3: 15; Luke 20: 35.

 

 

6. Because, if we acknowledge any judgment of a believer’s works at all, and that before a tribunal which is a judgment seat and not a mercy seat, we are thereby compelled to acknowledge, further, that the investigation must be strictly judicial, and that it will therefore be as exactly graded in censure as it is in praise.  2 Cor. 5: 10; Rom. 14: 10-12; Col. 3: 24, 25; 2 Tim. 2: 5.

 

 

7. Because it vindicates the holiness and justice of God from the charge of compounding with His people’s sins, and makes the highest glory of God to rest only on the active righteousness of the disciple co-operating, consistently and ceaselessly, with the imputed righteousness of his Lord, - obedience being the only proof of love.  1 Cor. 3: 17; 1 Thes. 4: 6; Matt. 5: 20; Rev. 20: 6.

 

 

8. Because it is the supreme reconciliation between Paul and James, - that is, between justification through faith unto Eternal Life and justification through works unto Millennial Reward.

 

[1] Before works - Rom. 4: 10, Gen. 15: 6;

 

[2] After works - Jas. 2: 21, Gen. 22: 16.

 

 

9. Because it is perhaps as near an approximation as has yet been reached to a solution of the perennial controversy between the Calvinist and the Arminian: for it establishes all the passages of glorious certainty, while it leaves ample scope for the most solemn warnings: it takes both sets of Scripture as it finds them.  John 10: 27, 28; Rom. 6: 23; Rom. 11: 29; John 15: 6; Heb. 10: 26; Matt. 5: 22.

 

 

10. Because it gives the natural and unforced interpretation to the facts of Church life, as it does also to the simple statements of Holy Writ, and reveals how exactly the one squares with the other, both in present character and in just recompense.  2 Cor. 12: 20, 21; Jas. 2: 5; Matt. 18: 18; Rom. 8: 12, 13.

 

 

11. Because large sections of the Church of God are purged, and can only be purged, by seeing the drastic consequences of a carnal life: and because, for want of a frank and fearless statement of these consequences, multitudes of disciples are now wrapt in a profound slumber.  1 Cor. 5: 5, 11, 6: 9; Matt. 24: 48-51; Luke 12: 47, 48; Rev. 3: 16, 21.

 

 

12. Because it purges every motive with the awful vision of the Judgment Seat of Christ, and supplies a lever of unsurpassed power for alienating the disciple from the world and filling him with a passion for the Kingdom of God.  1 Pet. 1: 17; Rev. 2: 21-23; Phil. 3: 11-14; Rev. 2: 26, 27.

 

 

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39.

 

 

Jehovah Our Righteousness

 

 

TRANSGRESSION. “By works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3: 20).  What is the Law? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10: 27): “on these two commandments hangeth the whole law, and the prophets” (Matt. 22: 40).  Love from cradle to grave; love to God from every part of one’s being; love to every act, to every truth, to every attribute, of God; love that has so controlled us as to prevent, under all circumstances, and at all times, injury to God or man; love to every neighbour without exception, with a love no less than love to self; love that has never ceased, and that has never slipped: - this is the Law of God.  The soul that imagines that flesh can be justified before God by works of law has no conception whatever of the true nature of the Law of God.

 

 

REPENTANCE. Nor can Repentance ever be Justification. “For through the law cometh the knowledge” - or consciousness - “of sin,” or guilt, and not its removal.  No law court in the world ever justified an offender because he repented: for law has to do, not with the feelings of the guilty, but with his deeds: it has never said, Repent and live, but always, Do this, and live (Ezek. 18: 19). “The doers of a law shall be justified,” that is, pronounced righteous (Rom. 2: 13).  For law to acquit the guilty on the ground of repentance, or on any ground whatever but that of obedience, is to dissolve the very foundations of righteousness. Prov. 17: 15. Gal. 3: 10.

 

 

RIGHTEOUSNESS.  But listen. “Now” - since the Gospel came - “apart from law a righteousness of God hath been manifested  A righteousness now manifested, - now, for the first time: and it is God’s: what is this righteousness?  God was never manifested anything but righteous: and so far from the Gospel revealing a righteous God, it is the Law which supremely did this (Ps. 119: 142): what then is this righteousness now revealed?  Look again.  “A righteousness of God”: but righteousness before law is the Law pronouncing righteous one who stands before it: when did God ever so stand?  Look again.  This must be a human righteousness; for it is human conduct which the Law regulates: what then is it?  Christ. 

 

 

PAUL ANSWERS.  “Christ Jesus, whom God set forth ... to show His righteousness: ... for the showing, I say, of His righteousness at this present season  “Whom God brought forward”: God brought Jesus out of the veiled eternities, led Him under human gaze for three-and-thirty years, lifted Him on the cross to the eyes of all men and all ages, and then drew Him back to God.  Behold the Righteousness!  It is the “righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1: 1); “for as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous” (Rom. 5: 19).  It is a Man’s obedience, for Christ was “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4: 4): yet it is God’s righteousness, for it was “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3: 16) who gave that obedience its infinite value and reach.  It is “Jehovah our righteousness” (Jere. 23: 6). Phil. 3: 9.

 

 

JUSTIFICATION.  So justification before law - though “apart from law” so far as the sinner is concerned - becomes both possible and a fact. Gal. 2: 16.  “For the showing, I say, of His righteousness at this present season; He might Himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus  On what ground?  Because, since the Law has been perfectly obeyed in a living righteousness, and perfectly obeyed also in a death under judgment, the Law itself now justifies him who is in Christ.  If I have faith, I am in Christ: not only, therefore, may God justify me, but - by His own gracious provision - He must; once justice is satisfied, it were injustice to ask for more: the just Judge can now justify the unjust without losing his character, - nay, while gloriously vindicating His holiness. Is. 61: 10.

 

 

BOASTING.  “Where then is the glorying?  It is excluded  Three things must follow if I had a finger in my own salvation: - (1) the Divine holiness would be irretrievably damaged in my eyes, for God would have slurred over, and accepted, an imperfect goodness; (2) my eternity would be uneasy, for how should I know what fresh guilt the Law might not uncover in my earthly life?  And (3) for all eternity I could boast in the face of Heaven that “salvation belongeth unto God” and myself. Rev. 7: 10.  But now the righteousness that saves is not mine at all, but God’s; nor is it God’s righteousness eking out mine, but substituted for mine: the meriting cause lies wholly outside my conduct, and wholly inside Christ’s; and the Law, “Thou shalt love” - the highest law that man could hear, or God could give - has been so divinely fulfilled from Bethlehem to Calvary that now “Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to everyone that believethRom. 10: 4.

 

 

LAW.  “Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish law  “The law is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7: 12): its enforcement is holy and righteous and good: and the joy of eternity is a salvation that rests, not on a pardon granted against law, but on a righteousness founded on the vindication of law.  God is pleased to impute Christ’s righteousness to the soul on faith as surely and effectually as He imputes the soul’s sin to Christ.  “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become” - not righteous, but - “the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5: 21).

 

 

“There is such dignity in the Godhead that all it does is infinite in its merit, and when He stooped to suffer, the Law received greater honour than if a whole universe had become a sacrifice” (Spurgeon).

 

 

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40.

 

 

Soul-winning

 

 

1. – IT IS A COMMAND.  “To save” (John 12: 47) - that was our Lord’s mission; “I must work” (John 9: 4) - that was His motto: and “as He is, even so are we in this world” (1 John 4: 17).  “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers” (Matt. 4: 18): every follower is to be a fisher: and our witness, like a pebble dropped in a pool, is to widen out to the utmost frontiers of mankind.  “Ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem” - the home circle; “and in all Judea” - the homeland; “and Samaria” - the place of corrupt religion, or (for us) Christendom; “and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1: 8) - the vast heathen world beyond. Mark 16: 15.  Not a single disciple is excepted from the great command.

 

 

2. – IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY.  1 Cor. 1: 27, 28.  It was labouring men out of whom our Lord made the greatest Fishers.  All the college that is needed is a heart set on souls; all the learning, an experimental knowledge of saving truth; all the training, actual experience in soul-winning; and all the ordination, the impulse of the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 4: 13.  The very consciousness of our sinfulness is the best warrant for our pointing others to the Saviour.

 

Christ, the Son of God, hath sent me

Through the midnight lands;

Mine the mighty ordination

Of the pierced Hands.

 

 

3. – IT IS A RESOLVE.  “I determined that as I loved Christ, and as Christ loved souls, I would press Christ on the individual soul, so that none who were in the proper sphere of my individual responsibility or influence should lack the opportunity of meeting the question whether or not they would individually trust and follow Christ. The resolve I made was, that when ever I was in such intimacy with a soul as to be justified in choosing my subject of conversation, the theme of themes should have prominence between us, so that I might learn his need, and, if possible, meet it” (Dr. Trumbull). Prov. 11: 30.

 

 

4. – IT IS A GREAT CHALLENGE.  For every ten men competent and desirous to address a meeting, there is not one competent and desirous to deal with individual souls; for winning the individual is incomparably the hardest work that God has given us to do.  “From nearly half a century of such practice, I can say I have spoken with thousands upon thousands on the subject of their spiritual welfare; yet I find it as difficult to speak about it at the end of these years as at the beginning.  If there is one thing Satan is sensitive about, it is the danger of a Christian’s harming the cause he loves by speaking of Christ to a needy soul” (Dr. Trumbull).  It is a challenge to the highest manhood in the soul. Luke 14: 23.

 

 

5. – IT IS A GREAT BLESSING.  The first recorded soul-winners in the world - save Noah - were angels fresh from the throne of God (Gen. 19: 15): our work is the work they dropped: and we too must live in Heaven if we would do personal work on earth.  We must win men to us if we would win them to the Lord: the effort, the self-watchfulness, the unselfishness evoke all that is loveliest in the soul.  In dealing with souls, “Be especially careful of the hand, the voice, and the smile” (Evan Roberts).  Mr. Muller’s five principles of intercession produce the highest type of character.  (1). “I have no shadow of doubt in praying for their salvation: 1 Tim. 2: 4 and 1 John 5: 6.  (2). I never plead for their salvation in my own name, but in the all-worthy name of my precious Lord Jesus: John 14: 14.  (3). I always believe in the willingness and ability of God to answer my prayers: Mark 11: 24.  (4). I have not allowed myself in known sin: Ps. 66: 18.  (5). I have continued in believing prayer for over fifty-two years, and shall so continue until the answer is given  Nor need the highest talents lie unused.  “Every one out of Christ I look upon as a fortress that I must storm and win; and when I look back upon the thousands of youths whose hearts have opened under my influence, I can only say, ‘The Lord hath done it.’  In working to save souls, my life has been one of joy, rather than of toil.” (Dr. Tholuck).  Jas. 5: 20.

 

 

6. – IT IS A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.  “In the great eternity which is beyond, among the many marvels that will burst upon the soul, this surely will be one of the greatest, that the Son of God came to redeem the world, that certain individuals were chosen from among mankind to be the first-fruits of the new creation, that to them was committed the inconceivable honour of proclaiming the glad tidings to their fellow-creatures still in the darkness, and they did not do it” (Dr. Eugene Stock).  Matt. 21: 30.

 

 

7. – IT IS A GREAT NEED. Isa. 60: 2.  The need is greater by many millions of souls than when our Lord gave the command nineteen hundred years ago.  “Thirty millions of souls go to no place of worship in England” (Bishop of Thetford): can we not reach some of these with the spoken or printed word? “Your blood be upon your own heads” - can we cry? - “I am clean” (Acts 18: 6).  God is searching for His jewels among the dust-heaps of the world, and He wants hands to find them: it is better to have our hands cut with a score of bits of broken glass, and grasp one jewel, than to have whole hands, and no jewel.  Jude 22, 23.

 

 

8. – IT IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.  “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12: 3).  Then do it.  Don’t wait for what men call a passion for souls; don’t wait for a more perfect equipment; don’t wait for an audible voice from Heaven: Hell is not waiting in swallowing up the lost.  Matt. 18: 14.

 

 

“Do something, oh do something!  By the hell on earth these poor creatures suffer to-day; by the destruction on the verge of which they hover; by the abundant mercy provided for them; by the deliverance we have proved so possible; by the agony of the Cross under which I make this appeal, I plead for a united, desperate, persistent effort to save the lost” (Gen. Booth).

 

 

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41.

 

 

Onesimus

 

 

1. - A RUNAWAY SLAVE.  Onesimus had fled from the mountains of Phrygia, to escape from the service of a master conspicuous for his goodness and love (Philemon 5).  By doing so he cast a slur on Philemon’s character as a master: the service which, as a slave, he owed, he refused: he set an example of lawlessness to Philemon’s other slaves: and - to reach Rome - he probably had robbed his master’s till.  Behold us all, the Lord’s Onesimi!  My sin casts a slur on the God who made me: I have robbed him of the lifelong service that was his due: my unregenerate life has been full of evil example to others: I have wandered far away into the prodigal’s land.  And the extreme penalty against a runaway slave was crucifixion.

 

 

2. - A LETTER.  Philemon, wealthy, loving, wronged, hurt; Onesimus, a runaway, a thief, an outcast, a criminal: - now there appears one between, - Paul, a sufferer, a sympathiser, an intercessor, a surety.  What does Paul do? “Whom I have sent back to thee in his own person  The first thing Christ does with a soul is to send it back to God.  Sinner or saint, pure or foul, saved or unsaved, we must all get back to God.  But how?  With a covering letter only.  No excuses, no denials, no vows, no promises; no offers to pay our debt, or to work out our own liability: Onesimus, silently pointing to the letter in his hand, stakes everything on Paul’s influence with Philemon.  “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1: 2).

 

 

3. - VITAL UNION.  Paul presents Onesimus in a way the most awkward possible for Philemon to refuse.  “I beseech thee for my child, Onesimus; - whom I have sent back to thee in his own person, that is, my very heart: ... if then thou countest me a partner, receive him as myself  Onesimus comes back, not Onesimus, but a part of Paul: for Philemon to refuse him now, would be, as it were, to strike out Paul’s eye, or to pluck out Paul’s heart.  What a picture of Christ’s love!  “I in them, and Thou in Me, ... that the world may know that Thou lovedst them even as Thou lovedst Me” (John 17: 23).  Philemon must receive him, so.

 

 

4. - A NEW BIRTH.  ‘But,’ Philemon may say, ‘how can I take back one so false and untrustworthy? a second time he may ruin me utterly  Therefore Paul gives back another man.  “My child, whom I have begotten in my bonds: [who] perhaps was parted from thee for a season, that shouldest have him for ever  Paul gives back one born over again; one re-created in his own likeness; the new nature, one with the Holy Father.  The child of God is begotten in the bonds of Calvary: Christ reproduces Himself in me, and then He gives me back to God.  What a philosophy, too, of the Fall!  “Perhaps he was parted from thee for a season, that thou shouldest have Him for ever:” - have in full, have exhaustively.  Paul gives back far more than Philemon ever lost: the re-created in the last Adam is a more wonderful being than the Adam who fell.

 

 

5. - THE DEBT.  But Onesimus is a bankrupt slave and the debt remains.  ‘If my slave,’ Philemon may say, ‘can rob me with impunity, and I merely cancel his debt, how can this be just to my other slaves  Paul answers: “If he hath wronged thee at all, or oweth thee aught, put that to mine account, ... I will repay it  Paul had not robbed Philemon: but the liability for the debt, by this offer, now passes from Onesimus to Paul: after this, Onesimus is no more in debt.  Crucifixion, the extreme penalty of a runaway slave, has been paid in full: “having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2: 14).  The redeemed soul is in debt to God no more: the bond is cancelled, because the debt is paid.

 

 

6. - A BROTHER BELOVED.  So Paul takes the whole liability: Onesimus takes a full discharge: and what is he to Philemon now? “No longer as a slave, but more than a slave” - that is, a slave still, but much more – “a brother beloved  He was Philemon’s in body before: now, in body and soul. Why?  Because the soul has now understood its God; that our God is love, essential, originating, all-comprehensive love: and it has found salvation in simply letting God love it.  The state of salvation is the state of love between God and the soul. “Every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4: 7).  Nothing, in heaven or earth, is nearer the heart of God than His redeemed child.

 

 

7. - COMING HOME.  In one point - perhaps the loveliest - the picture fails.  Paul had to work on the sympathies of Philemon, to win back his love to Onesimus: in the Gospel it is Philemon who sent Paul after his runaway slave.

 

And none of the ransom’d ever knew

How deep were the waters cross’d;

Nor how dark was the night that the Lord pass’d through,

Ere He found His sheep that was lost:

Out in the desert He heard its cry,

Sick, and helpless, and ready to die.

 

 

O Onesimus, will you present Christ’s letter, on your behalf, to God?  God will be certain to hear that plea: none ever came to Him through Christ in vain, “Are you there, Mary?” a blind girl, dying, said to her attendant. “Yes.” “Have you got a Bible?” “Yes.” “Turn to Heb. 7: 25.” “I have got it.” “Read it.” “He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.” “Yes, that is it. Now take hold of my hand, and put my finger on that verse. Is it there?” “Yes.” “Now, my God, I die on that verse

 

 

“I AM THE DOOR: BY ME IF ANY MAN ENTER IN, HE SHALL BE SAVED” (John 10: 9).

 

 

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42.

 

 

The Great Escape

 

 

THE PERIL.  “All these things that shall come to pass” (Luke 21: 36): what things?  Crowding and disastrous miracles: - terrors from heaven (ver. 11); signs in sun and moon and stars (ver. 25); the powers of the heaven shaken (ver. 26): for these will be the days of vengeance (ver. 22), of persecution (ver. 17), of distress of nations, men fainting for fear (ver. 25). Jer. 25: 32.  “Then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24: 21).  No peril so awful has ever demanded an escape so great.

 

 

A HEAVENLY ESCAPE.  Escape is possible: “to escape all these thingsGen. 19: 22.  Now since the distress is universal it can only be an escape into the heavens: “for it shall come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth  No foothold of safety will exist in the whole inhabited world. It is an escape to “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”: for “He bowed the heavens also, and came down; ... He made darkness His hiding place, thick clouds of the skies :.. He sent from on high, He took me” (Ps. 18: 9). 1 Thess. 4: 17.

 

 

A MORAL ESCAPE.  Nor can this be the deliverance of the elect Jewish remnant: for (1) the escape of the Jew is into the wilderness, never into the heavens. Rev. 12: 6.  The earthly escape was typed by Noah passing through the Flood, the heavenly by Enoch who escaped it altogether; and this is an escape which sets “before the Son of ManMatt. xxiv. 26.  (2) The Jewish escape is active: this escape is passive.  The faithful Jew is to “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24: 16): the faithful disciple here is to pray to be removed - “to be set by angels,’ Alford] before the Son of Man  (3) The Jewish escape is on purely physical grounds, - if he instantly sets his face to the mountains whatever his exact moral condition, he escapes: this deliverance turns crucially on moral acceptability - “accounted worthy to escape

 

 

A CHRISTIAN ESCAPE.  Other Scriptures are conclusive that this escape is Christian.  (1) To the head of a Christian church is our Lord’s promise: - “Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon whole world” (Rev. 3: 10). 1 Thess. 5: 9; Heb. 9: 28.  (2) To the head of a Christian church is also our Lord’s warning: - “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will arrive over [see Greek] thee” (Rev. 3: 3). Matt. 5: 13; Rev. 12: 17.  (3) The Type exquisitely confirms it.  The Field is the world; the Wheat is the church; the Reapers are angels (Matt 13: 39): - the Reapers first of all gather the Firstfruits, then garner the Harvest, and finally glean the Corners of the Field which had been deliberately left unreaped. Lev. 23: 10-22.  So firstfruits are found in the Heavenlies before the harvest (Rev. 14: 4): and after the harvest (Rev. 14: 15) the warning to watchfulness still goes forth (Rev. 16: 15).  “Only those who are devoutly looking and waiting for the Saviour’s return shall be taken at first” (Dr. Seiss).

 

 

A CONDITIONAL ESCAPE.  The moral crisis of the escape lies in the condition: “watch and pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape  These Divine words, if they have any meaning at all, must mean that without the prayerful vigil the worthiness is impossible: “watch and pray alwaysHeb. 11: 5.  “No command is more frequent, none more solemnly impressed” (Dean Alford): for the escape is no privilege attached to faith, but a reward attached to a standard of holiness known only to God.  “Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left; two women shall be grinding in the mill; one is taken, and one is left.  Watch therefore, for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh” (Matt. 24: 40).  “Our Lord assumes that some of His beloved Church will continue to be cared for as His sheep upon earth, until He destroy ‘that wicked’ with the breath of His mouth” (Dr. Tregelles).

 

 

THE WAY OF ESCAPE.  ‘Watch’ is one of the great comprehensive words of the Bible.  Watch oneself: watch the advances of the world-crisis: watch for the King; watch for the highest interests of Christ: watch for flying opportunities: watch for dying souls: watch Satan: watch God.  Watchfulness is acute alertness exercising every faculty for God.  But it must be accompanied by specific prayer: - “pray that ye may be accounted worthy”; “that ye may prevail [with God] to escape  Watchfulness invokes all our powers for God, - prayer invokes all God’s powers for us; but more than that, - watchfulness devotes our works to God, - prayer devotes ourselves.  2 Tim. 4: 8.

 

 

THE CRISIS.  The cry of urgency should now ring through the whole Church of God.  Ezek. 2: 7.  Why?  Because (1) “if my faith is wrong, I am bound to change it: if my faith is right, I am bound to propagate it” (Dr. Whately).  To withhold the warning is to rob the Church of the very truth which is to deliver from the peril.  Because (2) no more powerful lever can be imagined for overturning our natural sluggishness. 1 John 3: 3. Dan. 12: 10.  Facts are more moving than a whole library of exhortation.  Because (3) the peril, however imminent, has not yet fallen.  2 Thess. 2: 2.  “Lukewarm Laodiceans can be roused before it is too late: Christ is standing at the door” (Mr. G. H. Pember).

 

 

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43.

 

 

A Cancelled Bond

 

 

THE BOND.  No judge can liberate accused man without first disposing of the indictment which holds the prisoner in an iron grip.  That indictment is absolute master of the situation.  Now such a bond, Paul says (Col. 2: 14) - a document that binds - exists between the soul and God.  The contract in the bond is obedience in all points to the Law of God: man is a debtor to do the whole law (Gal. 5: 3).  The advantage named in the bond is Eternal Life - “he that doeth [the works of the law] shall live” (Gal. 3: 12): the penalty named is a Curse - “Cursed is every one which continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Gal. 3: 10).  The great Creditor now holds the Bond: drawn originally in His actual handwriting (Ex. 31: 18), it is deposited with Him, and therefore there can be no evasion of its obligations.  As all-knowing, no detail of the debt can escape Him; as almighty, the payment can be enforced; as all-just, the indebtedness must be exacted; as all-holy, He cannot tear up His own bond.  The indictment flutters over the whole human race.

 

 

BROKEN.  No honourable and solvent man need fear a bond: he can not only meet its obligations, but it guarantees his own claim.  The Bond binds me to obedience, but it also binds God to grant me life, on obedience.  But the exactness and comprehension of the contract allows of no flaw in the fulfilment. “Whosoever shalt keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all” (Jas. 2: 10). One sin, therefore, releases God from the Bond: one sin renders me powerless to enforce my claim upon Him. But God’s claim upon me does not lapse: on the contrary, the penalty agreed upon the Creditor, as a just judge, has now no option but to enforce.  And my sin is not one, but a multitude (Jas. 5: 20): the list of the Law’s enactments has become, approximately, the catalogue of my sins.

 

 

HOSTILE.  Thus a bond, which is broken, becomes actively hostile: it becomes virtually a writ for my arrest.  I can be proceeded against in a court of law, and the broken bond is the fatal document. “Which was [secretly] hostile to us, and [also openly] contrary to us  Secretly: for myriads, resting on obedience for salvation, thus actually appeal to the Bond for justification; which is as though a thief, caught red-handed, pointed to his indictment to clear him.  Slowly it dawns on the debtor that he is “dead through his trespasses”; and, if a Gentile, doubly dead, for his signature - circumcision - has never been affixed to the bond at all - “dead [also] through the uncircumcision of your flesh  Even if he has kept the Law, he is powerless to enforce his claim on an unsigned bond.

 

 

EXPUNGED.  Now God, anxious for the salvation of all, deals, not with the debtor, but with the indictment; for the cancelling of the indictment is the only hope of the accused.  First, therefore, “having blotted out the bond”: He has expunged the charges of the broken Law.  How?  In the only way open to a judge in a true indictment.  The debt has been paid. 1 Pet. 2: 24.  The penal consequences having been endured, the obligations are discharged: justice never strikes twice for the same sin: every sting for every sin, emptied into Christ, is a spent sting: therefore the handwriting of the Bond fades and disappears, Jesus having undergone my capital punishment, the writ against me no longer runs: His death is the death of my sins: and the only condition is my acceptance of the discharge.  “Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts. 3: 19).

 

 

REMOVED.  But God has done more: He has bodily removed the indictment, “taking it out of the way  The Law rose up as the great barrier between God and man; it blocked the road to life; it was powerless - through the weakness of the flesh - either for justification, or for sanctification: God has therefore removed the Flaming Sword from the way to the Tree of Life.  Who has removed it?

 

 

THE CREDITOR.  The document on which all His claims rest, - by which alone He can enforce those claims, - in which lies the only record of my debts - He has taken it away; and the Judge Himself is powerless against me without the indictment.  The indictment is withdrawn because all the charges have been met.

 

 

PUNCTURED.   Our merciful God has finally turned the Bond into a receipt: He has “nailed it to the cross  Who was nailed to the cross?  Christ.  What was nailed to the cross?  The Law.  Then the two were identified, and both were crucified.  The nails which pierced the Lord, pierced the Law: the moment a debt is paid, a bill becomes inoperative: it becomes a receipt.  A man once entered an American bank, and presented a cheque of considerable value.  The cashier, after examining it, asked him where he obtained it. “I do not see,” the customer replied, “that that is any business of yours: is it not made payable to bearer  “Certainly,” the cashier replied. “Is it not a genuine cheque?” “Yes,” said the cashier. “Then why won’t you cash it?” “Look here,” said the cashier, “I don’t want to exceed my official duty; nor do I question that you came by this cheque honourably. But here, in the middle of the cheque, is a peculiarly-shaped and clear-cut little hole. It corresponds to the die of this little instrument, with which we bankers puncture cheques that have been paid. That cheque has been cashed. Once punctured, it has no power or authority over the bank.” Exactly so it is with the Law. The Law has no fraction of authority over me any more: it is a cashed cheque: it is a cancelled bond: and God now hands it to every soul, for the taking, as a receipted bill.

 

 

“For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10: 4).  To refuse the receipt - I do not pay for a receipt, I take it - is to make oneself responsible for the payment of the whole debt in person, which is - Calvary: and who shall deliver from that cross?

 

 

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44.

 

 

The Blood and the Leaven

 

 

THE TYPE.  Ex. 12.  A zoologist, it is said, if he be given but a single bone of an animal, can reconstruct the entire anatomy to which the bone belongs: so one sure clue is sufficient to explain a type: and, in the Blood and the Leaven, three explicit clues are given by the Holy Spirit, so as to put all beyond doubt.  “Our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ” - therefore the lamb’s blood typifies Christ’s blood: “wherefore let us keep the feast” - therefore the Church age, the Seven Days between Advent and Advent, is the antitype of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness” - the leaven, therefore, is sin - “but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5: 8).  No type could be clearer or surer.  1 Cor. 10: 11.

 

 

THE BLOOD.  Jehovah’s first command was putting of the Blood upon the House.  “They shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat” the lamb (Ex. 12: 7).  The Destroying Angel sought out every house, for every house held sinners; but he lowered his sword, and passed, wherever he saw the blood.  “When I see the blood, I will pass over you  Why?  Because death had already crossed the threshold: the lamb had perished in the place of the firstborn.  But into every other house the Angel entered.  The moment Christ’s blood rises up between my soul and Jehovah, it is “the beginning of months” to my soul: it is regeneration, the begetting of a new and divine life: in that moment, when I have consciously appropriated Calvary, I leave the world, in spirit, and start travelling home to God.  “Even the selfsame day all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.  It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt  The pilgrim life starts with the putting on of the blood. Heb. 9: 14. John 10: 28.

 

 

THE LEAVEN.  Jehovah’s second command was the putting forth of the Leaven from the House. “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day” - that is, from the moment of conversion - “ye shall put away leaven out of your houses  Israel started the pilgrim life with sufficient sweet dough to last them the whole Seven Days: the old, sour dough - all discoverable sin - was to be left in Egypt: and so urgent is Jehovah that He commands the putting forth of the leaven nine times.  Paul is no less urgent.  “It is actually reported that there is fornication among you.  Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out the old leaven.” (1 Cor. 5: 1, 7).  1 Pet. 1: 14-19.

 

 

JUSTIFICATION.  Here then is God’s dual truth exquisitely revealed.  The Blood - Justification; the Leaven - Sanctification: the Blood - Christ’s work for us; the Leaven - the Spirit’s work in us.  Now observe.  There is no command to put out the Leaven before putting on the Blood.  The Lamb, it is true, must be eaten with unleavened bread (ver. 8); the heart must turn from all sin in the act of appropriating Christ: but we are not to attempt to cleanse the House from Leaven before it is presented to God for the Blood.

 

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.

 

“Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5: 9).

 

 

SANCTIFICATION.  But the completed work of Justification immediately introduces the complementary work of Sanctification: and only when the Blood is on the door have we power to put forth the Leaven.  “Work out your own salvation” - the Leaven put forth - “with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you” (Phil. 2: 12) - the Holy Spirit is now in the House.  Jehovah does not say that the presence of Leaven in the House proves that there is no Blood on the door: on the contrary, the constant peril of known or discoverable, but un-expelled, leaven is assumed as the peril of every house. We cannot be too passive under the Blood: we cannot be too active in purging out the Leaven. “My sins slew my Saviour: now I must slay my sinsMark 9: 43-50.

 

 

DISOBEDIENCE.  Both these Divine commands involve grave consequences.  The Israelite or Egyptian who refused or neglected to apply the Blood, perished: he perished at the hand of God: he perished in Egypt: he perished lost. “We all” - that remain in Egypt - “be dead men” (Ex. 12: 33).  Even if his house were comparatively pure of leaven, the Destroying Angel destroyed.  Heb. 2: 2, 3.  Nor can the disobedient disciple escape unscathed.  The Israelite under the Blood who refused or neglected to expel the Leaven, was cut off (ver. 15): not, it is true, in Egypt: nor was he cut off by the Angel: nor was he cut off from God, but from Israel: that is, he fell an excommunicated pilgrim, on the right side of the Blood, and on his way to God. 1 Cor. 9: 24 - 10: 12; Heb. 4: 11.  It is not eternal destruction. Rom. 8: 33-39.  But the disciple who (like the incestuous Corinthian) stretches privilege so as to cloak sin must meet a stern disillusionment at the Judgment Seat of Christ: no appeal to the Blood will deliver the Leaven-eater from his judgment. 1 Cor. 11: 30-32; Luke 12: 47, 48; Col. 3: 25.

 

 

OBEDIENCE.  Put on the Blood: O my soul, purge out the Leaven!  A traveller once watched a carpenter in Nazareth search his house for leaven.  Girding himself up, he turned every board, opened every drawer, swept every cupboard; till suddenly, with a cry of horror, he started back.  A workman had left some old bread in a small canvas bag.  Solemnly and anxiously the carpenter laid hold of it with two pieces of wood - not with his fingers - and, carrying it to the fire, dropt bag and all into the flames.

 

 

“LET US CLEANSE OURSELVES FROM ALL DEFILEMENT OF FLESH AND SPIRIT, PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD” (2 Cor. 7: 1).

 

 

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45.

 

 

The Vision of God

 

 

Some twelve visions of God are revealed in Scripture: all (since Adam) granted to fallen mankind: and all (with one exception) granted to redeemed souls of conspicuous holiness and utmost fidelity.  What was the effect?

 

 

JOB.  Job is one of the very few men whom God has called perfect.  “Hast thou considered my servant, Job?  For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (Job 1: 8).  So Job himself says: “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go”: “I am clean, without transgression” (Job. 27: 6; 33: 6). But what happened when he saw the Lord?  “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind”: and Job said, “Now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job. 38: 1; 42: 5-6).

Behold the perfect man when face to face with God.

 

 

MOSES. Moses was ‘fair unto God’ in the cradle; though fiery-spirited, his lowliness of heart made him the meekest man on earth (Num. 12: 3); Jehovah revealed the whole body of the Law through him; and he accomplished the mightiest administrative work for God ever achieved by human hands.  But what followed on a vision of God?  “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.  And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3: 4).  Sin-cursed earth near which was Deity was too holy for Moses.

 

 

ELIJAH.  Elijah has been called “the grandest and most romantic character that Israel ever produced  He is one of the two men who, alone of the human race, never saw death: ripe on earth for Heaven, he went up in a chariot of fire.  But what followed on a vision of God?  “Behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord: and, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19: 11); and at the sound of the still, small voice, “Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle  The man who in one day broke Baal-worship for ever with lightnings from God had fled from the face of a woman.

 

 

ISAIAH.  No Old Testament prophet had sublimer revelations than Isaiah: none caught so full a Gospel light from the still unrisen Sun.  But what followed on a vision of God?  “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.  One seraph cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6: 1).  The mouth through which some of Heaven sublimest revelations were poured was a mouth of unclean lips.

 

 

DANIEL.  Daniel is the only man in the whole Bible in whom his enemies could find no fault except that he prayed too much: he is the only man to whom God has sent an angel from Heaven to tell him that he was loved.  But what followed on a vision of God?  “His body was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire.  I saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption” (Dan. 10: 6).  The most faultless saint of Scripture could not face God without being turned into corruption.

 

 

PAUL.  Paul came nearer to justification.  Paul works [more] than any man that ever lived.  By birth, the purest Hebrew; by education, the straitest Pharisee; by conviction, a burning flame; by conduct, blamelessly righteous… But what followed on a vision of God? “Suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven: and he fell upon the earth.  And when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing” (Acts 9: 3).  Even Paul’s eyes were so sinful that he could not look on the Glory without blindness.

 

 

JOHN.  John’s, perhaps, is the supreme case.  The man whom Jesus specially loved, - the disciple who alone was faithful in the judgment hall, - the apostle selected for the authorship of the divinest of the Gospels, and the most stupendous of all Revelations: - in the ripeness of perfected maturity the old saint sees his Lord.  What followed on his vision of God?  “His head and His hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as one dead” (Rev. 1: 14).  Earth’s ripest and loveliest saint, who had lain in the bosom of his Lord, falls as lifeless when he meets God.

 

 

This is not only the overthrow of ‘sinless perfection’ in any believer: it is much more.  These overwhelming issues were all to saints: what will the vision be to sinners?  Sinless Adam had no such experience in the Garden. “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD  We may disown Him as Father; we may reject Him as Lord; we may dethrone Him as King; we may refuse Him as Saviour: - but we must meet Him AS GOD.  See now the only Vision that saves.  “It was a human body that writhed, pale and racked, upon the accursed tree; they were human hands that were pierced so rudely by the nails; it was human flesh that bore that deadly gash upon the side; the soul that yearned over His mother was a human soul.  But every wound was a mouth to speak of the grace and the love of God: every drop of blood that fell came as a messenger of love from His heart, to tell the love of the fountain” (McCheyne).

 

 

“HE THAT HATH SEEN ME HATH SEEN THE FATHER: THE BREAD WHICH I WILL GIVE IS MY FLESH, FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD” (John 6: 51; 14: 9).

 

 

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46.

 

 

The Kingdom

 

 

THE KINGDOM DENIED.  In certain present-day influential Christian circles the Millennial Kingdom is scouted and derided as never before.  “The predictions, as they stand in our documents, clearly assert that the return, or coming, of the Son of Man was imminent.  Our Lord is recorded in the Gospels to have made predictions which certainly have not been, and cannot now be fulfilled.  Whatever the disciples may have thought, He did not fancy Himself filling the role of Daniel’s Son of Man in the near future: such a notion would not be compatible with sanity.  The Kingdom could not be ushered in by any Jewish apocalypse.  Messianism was shattered from within” (Dr. Inge, Guardian, May 13, 1910).  “Millenarianism, I thought, had now gone the common way of absurdities in a more or less sane world.  It is a stupid and prosaic perversion of Jewish apocalyptic. Most of the oracles of the Revelation are cryptograms to which the key is now lost. Prophecy-mongering is an unwholesome farrago of charlatanry, ignorance and vanity, and I had thought its day was past” (Dr. David Smith, British Weekly, April 7, 1910).  This comes perilously near an apostolic warning.

 

 

“IN THE LAST OF THE DAYS MOCKERS SHALL COME WITH MOCKERY, WALKIKG AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS, AND SAYING, WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF HIS COMING? FOR, FROM THE DAY THAT THE FATHERS FELL ASLEEP, ALL THINGS CONTINUE AS THEY WERE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION” (2 Pet. 3: 3).  Num. 14: 6-10.

 

 

THE KINGDOM AFFIRMED.  The return of our Lord in person to establish a Kingdom over the whole earth was the universal faith of the Church in its purest dawn.  “The assurance [of that return and reign] was carefully inculcated by men who had conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, and appears to have been the reigning sentiment of orthodox believers” (Gibbon).  “This prevailing opinion met with no opposition previous to the time of Origen” (Mosheim): until Origen no Christian writer can be found who denied it. “No one can hesitate to consider this doctrine as universal in the church of the first two centuries” (Giesler). “The doctrine was believed and taught by the most eminent fathers in the age next after the apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned: it was the catholic doctrine of those times” (Archbishop Chillingworth).

 

“FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN, WITH A SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD” (I Thess. 4: 16): “AND HE THAT OVERCOMETH, AND HE THAT KEEPETH MY WORKS UNTO THE END, TO HIM WILL I GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON” (Rev. 2: 26).

 

 

THE KINGDOM RE-AFFIRMED.  The world-wide revival of the Gospel of the Kingdom before the End is certain. Matt. 24: 14.  “In our Lord’s teaching the conception of the Kingdom is supreme.  Yet it is safe to say that there is no subject upon which there exists a greater amount of division among expositors. For some the Kingdom is definitely the historical Church; for others it is altogether in the future, a great Divine supramundane order of things which is suddenly to overwhelm the temporal order; for others again it is simply the ideal social order to be realised on earth; for a fourth class the Kingdom is the rule of God in the heart of the individual.  Among recent critics the tendency is more and more to lay stress on the eschatological interpretation, and to hold that, in our Lord’s teaching, the Kingdom is essentially the great future and heavenly order of things which will be revealed at His coming. The Kingdom in its fulness is yet to come. It is always to be prayed for.  It is the great end which is ever before us” (Bishop D’Arcy, University Sermon at Oxford, 1910).

 

 

“FOR FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, NEITHER DOTH CORRUPTION INHERIT INCORRUPTION.  BEHOLD, I TELL YOU A MYSTERY: WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED” (1 Cor. 15: 50).

 

 

THE KINGDOM A PRIZE.  Slowly the further truth is emerging that the Kingdom, ushered by the First Resurrection, is the supreme prize of the Christian hope and calling.  I Thess. 2: 12 (R.V.). Heb. 3: 12, 15, 4: 1, 2.  “It is most evident that Paul had some special resurrection in view (Phil. 3: 11) even the first: and to share in that he was straining every nerve” (J. MacNeil).  The opinion that the Millennial Reign was confined to the martyrs “prevailed, as is known, to a great extent in the early Church, and not only proved a support under martyrdom, but rendered many ambitious of that distinction” (De Burgh). Heb. 11: 35.  “Scripture speaks plainly concerning the exclusion of those who permit the old nature to disgrace their Christianity: while they may be saved as by fire for Heaven, they will forfeit all their position in the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ” (Dr. A. T. Schofield). 1 Cor. 6: 8-10. Gal. 5: 19-21. Eph. 5: 5.   For “in this exclusion from the Kingdom, which is the dominion of the good made visible at the return of our Lord, we are not to see the loss of eternal salvation: an entrance into the Kingdom is rendered impossible [in certain cases], but not by any means does it follow that salvation can be thereby prevented” (Olshausen).  “Oh for a noble ambition to obtain one of the first seats in glory!  Oh for a constant, evangelical striving to have the most ‘abundant’ entrance ministered unto you into the Kingdom of God!  It is not Christ’s to give those exalted thrones out of mere distinguishing grace.  No, they may be forfeited, for they shall be given to those for whom they are prepared; and they are prepared for those who, evangelically speaking, are ‘worthy’ ” (Fletcher, of Madeley).  Luke 20: 35. Rev. 3: 4.

 

 

“NOT EVERY ONE THAT SAITH UNTO ME, LORD, LORD, SHAL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, BUT HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER, WHICH IS IN HEAVEN” (Matt. 7: 21): FOR “BLESSED AND HOLY IS HE THAT HATH PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION: THEY LIVED, AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST

A THOUSAND YEARS” (Rev. 20: 6).

 

 

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47.

 

 

The Theology of Heaven

 

 

“Could not an all-powerful God,” wrote an unbeliever recently, “especially at this time when criticism is raising so many honest doubts in many minds, send an angel to the earth to tell us really what to believe?  This would be proof for ever and ever.”  From angels has come the most tremendous testimony to the Lamb of God the created universe has ever known.

 

 

THE CHALLENGE.  With the scales of infinite justice, as it were, in his hand, and a cry flung into the furthest recesses of the universe, a strong Angel challenges all creation for a soul of spotless holiness and infinite worth.  “Who is worthy  On the palm of Deity, in the secret blaze of the Godhead, there lies a little Book: who is so holy as to see it, so meritorious as to take it, and so powerful as to open it?  A hush falls on the assembled multitudes of Heaven, broken only by the sobbing of John. “I wept much, because no one was found worthy” (Rev. 5: 4).  Not one with a vicarious merit; not one with a communicable holiness; not one with a Divine fidelity: - creation has no holiness in itself with which to deliver a fallen world.

 

 

A MAN.  One Figure now draws all eyes.  In the midst of the Elders, - closer still, in the midst of the Cherubim, - closer still, in the midst of the Throne, a Man stands: “and He came, and He taketh it out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne  In His eyes before whom all character is as transparent glass, here is the face that never knew a shadow, the heart that never knew an unfaithful throb, the only stainless, radiant, infinitely worthy life.  Jesus of Nazareth is in the midst of the Throne.  (There are no arguments for the Resurrection in Heaven: for “the Lamb is standing in the midst of the throne”).  The silence is suddenly broken by a rush of hallelujahs.  The Lamb draws all hearts: He enlightens all eyes: He governs all angels: He blesses all creation: He is the theme of all Heaven’s song.  Heaven has no potentate too mighty to fall before the Lamb: it is only on earth that men are too great to worship Him.

 

 

A LAMB.  John heard - “the Lion”; but when he turned he saw “a Lamb:” - a Lamb with the might of a Lion, and a Lion with the heart of a Lamb.  But why is the Lamb upon the Throne?  Why are the faces of all creation turned towards a Lamb?  Because the wounds are there: they flush forth in the heart of the glory: it is “a lamb, as though it had been slain  The crowning worthiness Heaven puts upon Christ is due to Calvary.  All the splendid attributes, all the incomparable glories, concentrate in the wounds.  The place of a lamb is upon an altar: but, because of a perfect atonement perfectly accepted, the Lamb is now upon the Throne.  The wounds abide.  It is, as it were, a fresh death; for the Atonement can never lose its freshness: God never forgets it, the Angels never forget it, the redeemed never forget it: eternal wounds are the pledge of an eternal pardon.  The man who knows the incarnate God slain for human sin stands at the inner most core of truth, and knows Heaven’s final secret.

 

 

THE GOSPEL.  The testimony of all God’s Angels now reveals what is the theology of Heaven. “I heard a voice of many angels, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a great voice, Worthy art Thou to take the book, for Thou wast slain  Heaven is not ashamed of the cross on which Christ was slain.  What a slaughter!  And what a song!  Christ was slain prospectively from the foundation of the world; He was slain typically in a thousand sacrifices under the Law; He was slain judicially by the pre-determinate counsel of God; He was slain actually by Jew and Gentile; He is slain retrospectively by every trampler upon the Blood.  “Thou didst purchase unto God with Thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation  The Blood alone purchases the sinner to God: the Father comes into His inheritance of human souls only by the blood of the Son. 

 

 

Therefore what do all angels yield to the Lamb?  “The power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honour, and glory, and blessing  What a song!  All crowns meet upon that Brow: all power are in those pierced Hands: all love flows from that rent Side: all the Godhead shines in that human Face: and this is the Theology of all the angels of God. “The blood of Christ, it binds all heaven, with its many mansions and throngs without number, in holy and indissoluble security.  My soul, seek no other stream in which to drown thy leprosy!  My lips, speak no other song with which to charge your music!  My hands, seek no other task with which to prove your energy!  I would be swallowed up in Christ. I would be nailed to His cross. O my Jesus! My Saviour! Thine heart did burst for me, and all its sacred blood flowed for the cleansing of my sin. I need it all. I need it every day. I need it more and more. I search out the inmost recesses of my poor wild heart, and let Thy blood remove every stain of evil.

 

E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die.

 

Mighty Saviour!  Repeat all Thy miracles by taking away the guilt and torment of my infinite sin” (Dr. Parker).

 

 

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48.

 

 

Burial to Sin

 

 

A GRAVE.  So urgent is God on our separation from the world that He has taken two of the mightiest events of all history - the drowning of the old world in the Flood, and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea - as types of a perpetual Rite.  1 Cor. 10: 2; 1 Pet. 3: 21.  The trench, deep, black, abiding, which He keeps before the eyes of His Church between Advent and Advent, is nothing less than a grave.  “All we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death”: “we were buried therefore with Him through baptism” (Rom. 6: 3). What a lightning-like illumination of baptism!  It is the dead who are buried; if an unbeliever - alive to sin and to the world - is baptised, it is burying a man alive; it is entombing the un-crucified; it is burying one who has no right to a grave.  I must be one with Christ on the cross before I can be one with Him in the tomb.  “We died to sin: ... we were buried therefore  So the converse is also true.  Every dead man ought to be buried: the moment Jesus has become my death, that moment I must prepare for my burial. “We died to sin: ... we were buried therefore

 

 

A BURIAL. So baptism is the sole God-given ritual of consecration.  For the Rite next reveals a new and wonderful aspect.  The believer is judicially dead with Christ, but he is not actually dead to sin: baptism, therefore, enters as a self-inflicted death, by which he drowns the old life, and smothers and suffocates the past. The waters of death and judgment fill the grave; the living man steps down, and plunges beneath them; and so real is the ritual that, left but for a few minutes, he would die.  “Very soon,” said a Bechuana convert, a shepherd, “I shall be dead, and they will bury me in my field.  My sheep will come and pasture above me.  But I shall no more go to them, or they come to me: we shall be strangers.  So am I in the midst of the world from the time that I believed in Christ  This is the meaning of baptism.  Crucified with Christ - this is the order of the prepositions in the passage - baptised into Christ, buried unto sin like Christ, we are now alive in Christ. Gal. 3: 27.

 

 

A CONSECRATION.  Alas, how little we baptised have lived the exquisite ritual!  It ought to be - in God’s design it is - as unnatural, as monstrous, for a believer to live in sin as for a dead man to cross his grave back into life. The whole man and the whole life are baptised into Christ.  A heathen tribe in the middle ages, about to be immersed, asked that their right arms might remain out of the water, that they might still slay their enemies! Baptism buries all the man into all the holiness of God.   “There was a day,” says George Muller, “when I died, died utterly; died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will - died to the world, its approval or censure - died to approval or censure even of my brethren and friends - and since then I have studied to show myself approved unto God.” Baptism not only buries our past, but ourselves. “Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ

 

 

A RESURRECTION.  But baptism has a still lovelier side: it is not only immersion, but also emersion: “that like as Christ was raised from the dead, so we  Passive as a corpse under redemption, we are at once to pass into intensest activity: “alive” - not to a creed, or a church, or a philanthropy, but - “unto God  On one half of us we are dead: the calls to wealth, to fame, to pleasure, to sin, are to reach us on our dead side, all the avenues of which, into our souls, are blocked.  So it was with Jesus. “Who is blind, but my servant? Or deaf, as my messenger that I send? Who is blind as he that is at peace with me, and blind as the Lord’s servant?” (Is. 42: 19).  The kingdoms of the world and the glory of them appealed to a dead man in Christ.  But on one half of us we are to be all a-quiver with life: the calls to God, to heavenliness, to service - these are to find us as responsive as the harp to the wind, or the sunflower to the sun.  So also was it with Jesus.  “He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught” (Is. 50: 4).  Our bodies are to be a living sacrifice (Rom. 12: 1), pulsating with life God-wards.

 

 

A LIFE. ‘Hebrew’ means a man who lives on the other side of the water: so we, beyond the ritual grave, are ‘to walk’ - dead men do not walk - not in a new life so much as “in newness of life  The deep, dark grave of Christ lies between us and the world that cast Him out; with Him we are to walk on the further shore: on which side, therefore, are the theatre, the whist-drive, the novel?  On which side is that love of money which is ruining untold multitudes of disciples?  Are these things ‘Hebrew’?  Are they newness of life?  So, naturally, the newness of life ends in “the life which is really life” (1 Tim. 6: 19). Rom. 8: 13.  “For if we have become united with Him [fellow-plants] by the likeness of His death [baptism], we shall be also [fellow-plants] of His resurrection  Sown together in the seed-bed of the baptismal grave, we shall spring together - heavenly snowdrops, the first to break up from under a frozen ground. Rev. 3: 4; 20: 6.  Baptism is the ritual act; sanctification is the truth it enshrines: when crystallised together into an actual experience, together they will lead into the Select Resurrection (Phil. 3: 11, Greek) from the dead.

 

 

Brother, have you been entombed (both spiritually and ritually) since you were crucified? “WHY CALL YE ME LORD, LORD, AND DO NOT THE THINGS WHICH I SAY?” (Luke 6: 46): “HE THAT HATH MY COMMANDMENTS AND KEEPETH THEM, HE IT IS THAT LOVETH ME” (John 14: 21).

 

 

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49.

 

 

Heirs Wanted

 

 

THE HEIRS.  The law regards a child as the continuation of the personality of his father, and so as the legal possessor of his property after his death: therefore, “if children, then heirs” (Rom. 8: 17).  So it is with God. Not, if men, then heirs; nor, if Jews, then heirs; nor, if moral and upright, then heirs: we must become partakers of the Divine nature before we can become heirs of the Divine inheritance: “if children, then heirs  Property descends because father and son are of one stock, one life: so “as many as received Christ, to them gave He the right to become children of God: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12).  But the Birth carries with it the Inheritance.  All are not apostles or prophets; all are not shining or eminent; all are not even spiritual or separated: but all are heirs; - “if children, then heirs

 

 

THE WILL.  A son does not inherit his father’s life - he already has that; he inherits his father’s property: here then is an inventory of the Will.  “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (1 Cor. 3: 21).  Have you yet seen all things? The cattle on a thousand hills; the gold in all mines, the pearls in all oceans; the wealth and beauty of the Father’s home: “all are yours  Moreover the Will bequeaths, not on leasehold, but in perpetuity; and this for two reasons.  Heirs on earth often outlive, or squander, their inheritance: inheritances constantly outlive their heirs: but an inheritance “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 1: 4) must be in perpetuity for heirs who never die.  “If ye have not been faithful in that which is another’s” - all present wealth is a stewardship only - “who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16: 12): the true riches are personal and held for ever.  So the Will bequeathes ‘all things’: it bequeathes it to all children: and it bequeathes it to them for ever.

 

 

A CODICAL.  The Will is unconditioned: in it is a Codicil, however, to which a condition is attached. “Heirs of God indeed” (men) - no condition, save regeneration: “but (de) joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer” - ‘in case we suffer as He did’ (Olshausen); ‘provided that we suffer’ (Alford) - “with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Si autem filii, et heredes: heredes quidem Dei, coheredes autem Christi: si tamen compatimur, ut et conglorificemur: Vulgate).

 

 

Both heirships involve eternal life: but the Codicil, which bequeathes joint-heirship with Messiah in His Millennial Reign, and bequeathes it on the same condition on which our Lord receives it (Phil. 2: 9; Heb. 1: 9; Isa. 53: 12), antedates the Will by a thousand years: it is “the reward of the inheritance” (Col. 3: 24), a legacy which entitles to an ‘abundant entrance’ into the Eternal Kingdom (2 Pet. 1: 11).

 

 

Both heirships are in the Will: both heirships are offered to all: both Will and Codicil depend for their validity on the death of the Testator: but without the fulfilment of its condition, the Codicil is inoperative.  “The suffering with Him must imply a pain due to our union” (Moule): “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2: 12): the Will is the unconditional bequest of free grace, the Codicil is a glory conditioned on identity of experience with Christ.

 

 

THE TESTATOR.  A legal proverb says, - “Living men have no heirs”: the State requires proof of death before an estate can be inherited under a will.  “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all” - it is not valid - “while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9: 16).  But this is God’s last will and testament: when, then, did that death occur?  The inheritance had become alienated from man by sin: a ‘fugitive and a wanderer’ from the gate of Eden, man became a disinherited soul: but God, in the Person of His Son, “buyeth that field,” ‘so as to will it to whom He would’; and He wills it to ‘the called of the inheritance.’ But what makes the Will valid?  The death of the Testator.  Jesus is now presenting the Blood to the Father, in proof of the Testator’s death: the Will is therefore now operative: the Estate has been bought, and made over: the Title-deeds He has put into our hands: and at any moment we may enter on the Inheritance.

 

 

THE ADVERTISEMENT.  But the most amazing fact of all remains.  Something like forty million sterling lies to-day in Chancery, unclaimed, for want of heirs: and ‘heirs wanted’ is a commonplace advertisement for these vast inheritances.  The Gospel is such an advertisement.  Through all the world God is sending the amazing cry of ‘heirs of all things’ wanted; it is the offer of untold wealth (1 Cor. 2: 9); and in the advertisement is to be found a careful description of the missing heirs.  What is that identifying description?  “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit: the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood” (Rom. 3: 13).  The heir of the Tichborne estates was known to have been careless, slovenly, ill-educated; and to prove his inheritance the claimant established his own carelessness, slovenliness, and ignorance.  So only could he hope to obtain the inheritance.  Is your name in God’s Will?  If you are a sinner, it is.  We are not saved although we are sinners: we are saved because we are sinners.  My sin is my sole identifying plea for a sin-bearing Saviour’s merit, and the life which that merit brings: if you are a sinner, rejoice!  Your name is in the Will.

 

 

“I came not to call the righteous, BUT SINNERS” (Mark 2: 17): “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was LOST” (Luke 19: 10).

 

 

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50.

 

 

An Urgent Danger

 

 

COVETOUSNESS - not only the desire of what we have not got, but the refusal to part with what we have - God ranks among the blackest of sins.  It is one of the supreme Prohibitions of Jehovah (Ex. 20: 17); it is defined by God as ‘idolatry’ (Col. 3: 5), a sin, under the Law, reserved for capital punishment; it renders a believer so unholy that he is to be excommunicated from the Church on earth (1 Cor. 5: 11); and twice (1 Cor. 6: 10; Eph. 5: 5) it is stated as involving a disciple in the loss of the Millennial Kingdom.  “The peril of the Church is not so much an unorthodox creed as an orthodox greed” (Dr. A. J. Gordon). Love of money brought us the first awful discipline of the Holy Ghost (Acts. 5: 5): love of money is the absorbing passion of the last Church named in the Word of God - Laodicea. 

 

 

THE MONEY CHEST.  It is extraordinarily significant that last thing on which our Lord’s eyes rested in the Temple was the Money Chest.  Twice He had cleansed the Temple, the great type of the Church, from merchandise: once in His life, and once only, He used violence, - when, in hot indignation, He drove money out of God’s holy things (John 2: 15): on leaving the Temple for the last time, He sits down deliberately to behold “how the multitude cast money into the treasury” (Mark 12: 41).  Nor is it less significant that the only donor on the subscription-list of the Temple whom He has not buried in oblivion is an anonymous one - ‘this poor widowMatt. 6: 3.

 

 

GOD’S AUDIT. “Verily I say unto you” - our Lord pledges Himself to the most startling of all revelations on money - “this poor widow cast in more than all”: that is, more than any other donor, or else, more than all put together.  Those who give most often gives least, and those that give least often give most.  Why?  Because God judges what we give by what we keep.  “For they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living  The widow had given all she had to live on for that day; and was so walking with God that she could trust Him for tomorrow’s meal. I Kings 17: 15; Heb. 13: 5.  God’s scales, in weighing gifts, also weigh what is not given: so, quite literally, the poorest can give more than the wealthiest, and all can give immense gifts: for the amount withheld exactly determines the value of the amount given.

 

 

OUR DANGER.  We now arrive at the peril.  “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (I Tim. 6: 10).  It can estrange friends, divide families, and harden hearts; nurse extravagance, pamper appetite, and foster pride; ‘sweat’ labour, freeze up charity, and indulge every lust - “foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition  Every year increases our peril.  “In the last days men shall be lovers of money” (2 Tim. 3: 2): “ye have laid up treasure in the last days” (Jas. 5: 3): “because thou sayest, I am rich, ... thou art miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3: 17): “thus shall Babylon be cast down, for thy merchants were the princes of the earth” (Rev. 18: 23).   “Of all the temptations none has so struck at the work of God as the deceitfulness of riches; a thousand melancholy proofs of which I have seen within these last fifty years. By riches I mean not thousands of pounds; but any more than will procure the conveniences of life. Money-lovers are the pest of every Christian society. They have been the main cause of the destruction of every revival. They will destroy us, if we do not put them away” (John Wesley). 1 Cor. 5: 11; Mark 10: 23.

 

 

INDESTRUCTIBLE PURSES.  How is the peril met? “Sell that ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12: 33).  No warnings on wealth are severer than Christ’s: so there is no greater tribute to the power of money over the human heart than the startling silence of the Church on these warnings of her Lord.  “With such words [as 1 Tim. 6: 6-10] before him, one would think that any Christian man who is laying up money, or is planning to do so, would at once abandon his project. But how many such cases have ever been heard of? I cannot remember one” (Dr. J. P. Gledstone).  O beloved, the indestructible purses must be manufactured now! “Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to them that love Him?” (Jas. 2: 5).  “The most sensitive part of the civilised man is his pocket” (Sir W. Ramsay): so grace is supreme when it is the biggest jewel in the purse.  Heaven’s purses are filled by emptying those on earth.  

 

 

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things!” What things? “They that desire to be rich” - fly even the desire! The man who has nothing to gain is the man who can never be bought: so if you would be the man of God - a man who belongs to God, who is devoted to God, whose wealth is in God, who lives for God - then flee these things.  “I make no purse. What I have I give away. ‘Poor, yet making many rich’ shall be my motto still” (Whitefield).  Prov. 11: 24.  The costliness of the gift is the measure of the love behind it: God did not keep back His Son when He loved the world: what God did not keep back was the measure of the love that He felt. So we! One of the Lord’s people, who had once been rich, was asked how he bore his poverty so happily. “When I was rich,” he replied, “I had God in all my wealth: now, I have all my wealth in God  How much more he who has deliberately lodged it there!

 

 

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.  FOR WHERE THY TREASURE IS, THERE WILL THY HEART BE ALSO” (Matt. 6: 20).

 

 

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51

 

 

Man and His Destiny

 

 

MAN.  What exactly is ‘man’?  Scripture regards both the body and the soul as ‘man  “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his [still lifeless] nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2: 7): “they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths; - there then they laid Jesus” (John 19: 40): Dorcas “fell sick and died; and they laid her in an upper chamber” (Acts 9: 37): in each case the body is the man.  So also, only more emphatically, is the soul or spirit. “I will go down to Hades to my son mourning” (Gen. 37: 35): “this day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43): “the garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them” (Acts 9: 39): - in each case the spirit is the man, Thus both body and soul (in this context I am using ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ as one) are essential elements in man: humanity is “body, soul, and spirit” (1 Thess. 5: 23).  Death, therefore, we had almost said, dehumanises: it is a decomposition, a disintegration, a dissolution, of ‘man’: it is a violent rending asunder of his constituent elements, consequent on sin: and, to speak exactly, though body and spirit are each ‘man’, neither is man alone.  The body rots; the spirit departs to Hades: the man is dead.

 

 

CHRIST.  Thus, when God deals finally with man He deals, not with a corpse, nor with a disembodied spirit, but with a man: man, for all eternity, can never cease to be ‘man’: his eternal destiny, whatever it be, must be the destiny of a man.  Now our Lord, as the typical Man, is the One who, alone hitherto, has passed through all the processes of man.  First, He was truly man: - “they took the body of Jesus” (John 19: 40); “my soul is exceeding sorrowful” (Matt. 26: 38); “into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23: 46).  Violent dissolution took place on the Cross: “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit; in which He went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3: 19).  After three days and three nights, the angels said: - “Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here” - His corpse is not in the graveyard, His soul is not left in Hades (Acts 2: 31) - “but is risen” (Luke 24: 5); that is, the recumbent body stands again upon its feet, and the spirit is ‘returned’ into it (Luke 8: 55).  Christ, born of a woman, was born full man: He died as a man dies: and He rose with body, soul, and spirit re-knit in everlasting resurrection. “I am the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev. 1: 18).

 

 

RESURRECTION.  A passage now arises before us than which perhaps the whole Bible itself contains none more solemn. “For since by [a] man came death” - dissolution, decomposition, disintegration - “by [a] man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15: 21) - the re-knitting, in individual re-composition, of the whole man: and this, for the entire race.

 

 

“I AM RESURRECTION AND LIFE” (John 11: 25): since Christ was made man, and is resurrection, resurrection has become an essential part of human nature. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” - not regenerated, but made alive physically: for as physical death poured itself through Adam into all the race, so physical resurrection becomes integral to humanity from the second federal Head of mankind. Because Christ was a Man, and rose, all rise; for all partake of the same flesh with Christ: but believers are “one spirit with the Lord” (1 Cor. 6: 17): so, while unbelief severs from all benefits of the Passion, no man can escape the consequent resurrection.  The Incarnation empties every grave. 

 

 

THE SECOND DEATH.  The eternal destiny of our race now stands revealed. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed”- for all mankind - “is death”: man, after entering on resurrection, never suffers dissolution again: “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9: 27): full manhood follows for ever.  Thus the redeemed are wholly redeemed: redeemed in spirit, and also in body (Rom. 8: 23), the man, as man, is redeemed utterly and eternally.  What then of the lost?  “Be not afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matt. 10: 28).  The wicked equally abide as men for ever: “they twain were cast alive” - that is, body, soul, and spirit - “into the lake of fire, which is the second death” (Rev. 19: 20; 21: 8).  The Second Death is not decomposition, the splitting up of the personality, as was the First: much less is it annihilation: it is the final and eternal abode of the undivided man.  “This is the second death, even the lake of fire.  And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20: 14).

 

 

Unbeliever, what a destiny!  And what a Christ! “I am a substance nobler than the stars”: they must perish, but, for better or worse, we endure: none can escape the momentous consequences of the Incarnation.  It twists its roots under and about all that is human, and lifts the entire race into resurrection from death.  And what a Christ!  Christ is so truly man that He actually died as a man dies: He is so truly God that He not only raised Himself, but the whole of humanity, in His rising.  The resurrection of one is the peculiar prerogative of the Godhead: who but the Son of God, by the mere fact of association in the flesh, could raise all?  Then confess Him as the Son of God!

 

 

“I AM RESURRECTION AND LIFE” (John 11: 25): “whosoever shall confess that JESUS is the SON OF GOD, God abideth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4: 15).

 

 

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52

 

 

The Parousia of Christ

 

 

‘PAROUSIA’ - a word which is the cardinal pivot of all Second Advent truth, and the keystone in the arch of unfulfilled prophecy - in itself states merely a stationary presence, and is a ‘coming’ only when linked with words implying motion.

 

 

The ‘Parousia of Christ,’ used by the Holy Spirit as a technical expression, the Psalmist exquisitely unfolds. “He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and thick darkness was under His feet ... He made darkness His hiding place, His pavilion round about Him; darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Ps. 18: 11). Christ’s downward motion stops: His people’s upward motion stops: the Lord silently forms His Royal Court in a pavilion of cloud.  The Parousia is thus secret - a hiding place; it is stationary - a pavilion; it is invisible - in thick darkness; and it is the centre of rapture - “He sent from on high, He took me  For thus our Lord is to return.  He ascended visibly, and was wrapt from sight in cloud: but He is to “so come in like manner” (Acts 1: 11), - that is, the process is to be reversed: He descends in visibly, concealed by clouds, and then bursts forth, visibly and bodily, as the Sun of righteousness.  The interlude is the Parousia.

 

 

The Parousia serves purposes of vital import to the Church.  It is thither saints are to be rapt, encompassed, as our Lord was, with clouds: “we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught upa sudden and irrestible seizure by a power beyond us’: Dr. Eadie] in the clouds to meet the Lord”; a reunion, not on earth, nor in the heaven of heavens, but “in the air” (1 Thess. 4: 17); as homing doves flock to their airy dovecotes (Is. 60: 8).  The Parousia is our ark of refuge.  “In the covert of Thy presence Thou shalt hide them from the plottings of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Ps. 31: 20).  It is the heavenly Tabernacle against which Antichrist, enraged by the loss of his prey, hurls impotent blasphemies.  “And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, even them that tabernacle in the heaven” (Rev. 13: 6).  Thus the ‘epiphany’ or manifestation to the Church (1 John 3: 2; 2 Tim. 4: 8) occurs in the ‘parousia’: the epiphany to the world (2 Thess. 2: 8) is delayed until the ‘apocalypse’ (2 Thess. 1: 7).

 

 

The Parousia is also the judgment court of the Church.  Judgment begins at the House of God (1 Pet. 4: 17): for “after a long time the lord of those servants cometh and maketh a reckoning with them” (Matt. 25: 19).  Within the Parousia are enacted the Virgins, the Talents, the Pounds: here converts are presented by the evangelist (1 Thess. 2: 19): here the disciple’s heart and life are examined (1 Thess. 3: 13), and blamelessness (1 Thess. 5: 23) or shame (1 John 2: 28) revealed.  For the Household is examined in camera: the Bema is set up in the Throne-room: and the approval of the Judgment Seat is the supreme reward of the disciple, and an incorruptible motive of holiness.  “We make it our aim to be well-pleasing unto Him.  For we [disciples] must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5: 10).

 

 

The Parousia of Christ runs simultaneously with the Parousia (2 Thess. 2: 9) of Antichrist: the heavenly Parousia is the advanced outpost whither God recalls His ambassadors, on the outbreak of war against the world and the last judgments of God.   “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice; hailstones and coals of fire.  And He sent out His arrows and scattered them; yea, lightnings manifold, and discomfited them” (Ps. 18: 13; Rev. 8: 5; 10: 3; 11: 19; 16: 10).  But Antediluvian and Sodomic wickedness recur, and remain obdurate, during the Parousia. Matt. 24: 37.  At length ripeness of iniquity below, and the close of the judgment scene above, together produce the break-up of the Parousia; scattering clouds on a sudden reveal to every eye the triple glory (Luke 9: 26) burning in the heart of the Pavilion.  “For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the presence [see Revised Margin throughout] of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24: 27); who shall paralyse Antichrist by the manifestation, or outburst, of His Parousia (2 Thess. 2: 8); and “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13: 43).  Our Lord’s feet alight upon Olivet.  Zech. 14: 4.

 

 

So the Presence is to be the lode-star of the Church: for its Bema is the criterion for all regenerate life and conduct.  Unfulfilled prophecy all lies after the Rapture: nothing stands between us and the summons of God. No premonitions, no warnings, no signals, no prophecies: “know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming” - silently, secretly, suddenly, as a thief comes - “he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through.  Therefore be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matt. 24: 43).  Holiness is the supreme passport into the Presence.  Luke 21: 36; 1 John 3: 3.  “The miller’s apron, the baker’s cap, the labourer’s coat, the housewife’s gown, are all suitable material for ascension robes”: every day, every hour, puts in a stitch, or drops one, in the garment of our coming glory. Rev. 19: 8. “What I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH” (Mark 13: 37).

 

 

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53.

 

 

The Greatness of Jesus

 

 

“What think ye of Christ  No question is more fundamental, more critical, or more persistent: none could be asked more fraught with irrevocable destiny.  What do men think?  The Atheist thinks nothing about Him at all; for, as there is no God, there can be no Son of God.  The Worldling, given over to pleasure and the love of money, is careful not to think about Him: for to think about Christ, is to think about holiness.  The Unitarian thinks that He is the noblest of all men, a revealer - or the revealer - of God, but a man only.  The Swedenborgian thinks He is God, the only Person in the Godhead, and now not man at all.  The Arian (such as the Millennial Dawnist [i.e., today’s ‘Jehovah Witnesses’]) thinks He is a created god, a powerful and Divine archangel, come into the world.  The Gnostic (such as the New Theologian, the Christian Scientist, and the Theosophist) thinks of Jesus as a son of Joseph, but peculiarly and mystically indwelt by the Christ.  The Mohammedan thinks that He is a real prophet, but inferior to Mohammed.  The Jews thought that He was a carpenter’s son; and the Pharisees thought Him a demoniac.  The CHRISTIAN - and the Christian only - sees in Him “the MAN Christ Jesus, - born of a woman; who is over all, GOD blessed for ever

 

 

ABRAHAM.  None in Christ’s lifetime ever doubted that He was a man; those who saw, and heard, and even handled Him (Luke 24: 39; 1 John 1: 1) never doubted, and could not doubt, the Manhood; - that was left to the invention of a later age.  But what rank did He take among men?  This was the inquiry, and it began with Abraham.  Abraham loomed up incomparably the greatest figure on the horizon of Israel: he was the embodiment of the promises, the father of all faith, the friend of God. “Art Thou greater than our father Abraham?, the Jews asked Him; “whom makest Thou thyself?” (John 8: 53).  The directness and intensity of the challenge drew as startling an utterance as even our Lord ever gave of Himself.  “Before Abraham was” - before there was an Abraham - “I AM”: the greatest of the Patriarchs was but a star of the dawn, swallowed up and lost in the Day he foresaw: for I AM is the tremendous title of Deity.  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as Jehovah is than Jehovah’s Friend.

 

 

JACOB. “Art thou greater” - again Jesus is challenged - “than our father Jacob?” (John 4: 12).  Jacob, the wrestler with the Jehovah-Angel, was ‘a prince with God’ - what a title!  Jesus answers: - “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water  Jacob dug the well, and gave the earthly water: Jesus says He gives water straight from the hand of God to the lips of the soul.  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as the living water is than the earthly, so much greater is the Giver of the one than the giver of the other.

 

 

SOLOMON.  Solomon, in outward splendour, was incomparably the greatest of Israel’s Kings, and endowed with a gift of wisdom possibly never surpassed.  “For he was wiser than all men; and there came of all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (I Kings 4: 30): for it was supernatural illumination, and embraced all nature.  I Kings 4: 33.  Art Thou greater, O Lord, than Solomon?  Hear Jesus: - “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and shall condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11: 31).  Jesus is the Divine Logos. John 1: 1.  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as the Giver of wisdom is than the wisdom He gives.

 

 

JONAH.  We pass to the Prophets.  Perhaps no greater miracle (apart from the Flood) stands forth in the Old Testament than Jonah’s descent into Sheol (Jon. 2: 2), - a man who literally came back from the dead.  Art thou greater, O Lord, than Jonah?  Jesus answers: - “The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here  Jonah came up from [i.e., from “the belly of Sheol” (Jon. 2: 2, R.V.) - the place of] the dead, but he was not dead: Jesus was dead, yet mastered death.  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as resurrection is than natural life.

 

 

THE TEMPLE.  The Priests remain.  One spot of earth alone held the local manifestation of God: one Holy of holies enshrined the Deity: one sacred Temple held the only Divine Priesthood in the whole world.  Jesus was greater than Solomon, the builder of the Temple: was He greater than the Temple?  Again He replies: - “I say unto you, that One greater than the temple is here” (Matt. 12: 6): ‘a greater thing’ than the temple; for “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2: 9).  God was more in Christ than He was in the Temple: the Body enshrined the Godhead as no temple ever could: He was holier than the Holy of holies.  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as a son is than the house in which his father dwells.

 

 

THE ANGELS.  Rank over rank rise the hierarchies of Heaven, - thrones, dominions, principalities, powers.  Art Thou greater, O Lord, there?  Listen to the testimony of the Most High.  “By so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For” - now hear the voice of God - “of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels” - angels are made - “winds, and His ministers a flame of fire: but of the Son He saith, Thy throne, O GOD” - un-create, from everlasting - “is for ever and ever” (Heb. 1: 4).  How much greater therefore?  As much greater as the Creator is than the creature, so much greater is Christ than all the thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers that circle the throne of God.  “Of the SON He saith, O GOD

 

 

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54

 

 

Social Reform

 

 

The Church of God is now impaled on a tremendous dilemma: it is no less than a choice between some form of Socialism, and the Second Advent.  For the Golden Age, it is agreed, must come: God’s explicit pledges cannot fall to the ground: is it - this is the issue - to be erected by human effort, or created by Divine intervention? Christ has said.  “The Son of Man shall send forth His ANGELS” - social reformers of adequate wisdom and irresistible might - “and they shall gather out of His kingdom ALL THINGS THAT CAUSE STUMBLING” - all social evils - “and THEM THAT DO INIQUITY” - the incurable originators of social wrongs: “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13: 41).

 

 

ADMINISTRATION.  Social Reform insists on judicial equity and administrative purity: the Kingdom of God, on our Lord’s return, will be the quintessence of righteous administration.  “With righteousness shall He judge, and reprove with equity; He shall smite the earth, He shall slay the wicked” (Is. 11: 4).  The dream of all noble statesmen will have come true at last - a state so ordered that sin will be difficult, and goodness will be easy: the citizen’s conduct will meet with instant recompense from an administration incorruptible and irresistible. Some have supposed that the Sermon on the Mount, brimming over with gentleness and inexhaustible patience towards the sinner, will be the law of the Kingdom: the exact opposite is the truth; - for the oppressed and the poor there will be law-courts of swift and unerring power, and of perfect equity: tyranny - of despotism, or star-chamber, or papacy, or trust, or union, or secret society - can rear its head no more: each must give his due, and will get his due.  “He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers” (Rev. 2: 27).

 

 

ENVIRONMENT.  Social Reform lays an immense emphasis on Environment.  “The doctrine of environment” as Dr. Campbell Morgan says, “had its death-blow in the garden of Eden”: man is made or unmade from inside, not outside (Mark 7: 15): nevertheless a changed environment - in a lifted curse, vanished disease, and an imprisoned Hell - is essential for human bliss.

 

 

(1) Men of science say that the tiger’s fangs and claws are not original, but acquired: certain it is that a restoration of the conditions of Paradise will rob the lion and the bear of their rage, and substitute the fir-tree for the thorn (Is. 55: 13); the little child shall play by the crevice in which once lurked the deadliest serpents, and the evil passions of the Fall be exorcised by almighty Power.  (2) So also “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick” (Isa. 33: 24): disease - except where supernaturally inflicted (Zech. 14: 18) - vanishes: life - except in the case of capital punishment for sin (Is. 65: 20) - is prolonged throughout the Thousand Years (Rev. 20: 4): the ages of the Patriarchs return.  (3) Best of all, Hell is incarcerated in the Pit.  “It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zech. 13: 2): for the Abyss is sealed over Satan, “that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished” (Rev. 20: 3). Is. 24: 21.  What but the miraculous intervention of God could create a threefold change of environment so drastic and sufficing?

 

 

EDUCATION.  Social Reform works for universal education: but the education of God begins with the heart: so “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” - that is, saving knowledge - as completely as the ocean covers the sea-basin; “and He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations” (Is. 25: 7). 2 Cor. 4: 3, 4.  Thus the Kingdom starts wholly regenerate: its kings - the co-heirs of Christ, saints of tried ability and tested holiness; its viceroys - Israel, all saved; its subjects - the Sheep of the Parable, saved Gentiles: it is the REGENERATION, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory.  Probation throughout the first century of life will be granted to every soul born during the Kingdom: “the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Is. 65: 20).  No land so remote, no climate so inclement, no tribe so savage, as to be outside the Kingdom of Christ: “ask of Me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Ps. 2: 8): “they shall all be taught of God” (John 6: 45; Is. 54: 13).

 

 

DISARMAMENT.  Social reform agitates for disarmament with profound conviction: nor need we wonder.  Of the total revenue of the leading nations, something like one half, or £600,000,000 goes for war: what could this not alleviate, poured through the poverty of the world! But no ‘league of peace’ can banish war: the controversy between God and the nations over the crucifixion of the Son of God has never been settled: “there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God” (Is. 57: 21). Rev. 6: 4; Jer. 25: 27, 28.  Regeneration is the sole secret of disarmament.  For “whence come wars and whence come fightings among you?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war” (Jas. 4: 1).  The sword is first forged in an evil heart: wrench it out of the hand, and the heart only forges another.  But, in the Regeneration, “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Is. 2: 4): for “of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD OF HOSTS SHALL PERFORM THIS” (Is. 9: 7).

 

 

Who shall create this?  The creation of a perfect age is as utterly beyond our powers as the creation of a perfect character.  Before Christ came neither a perfect age nor a perfect character had appeared: now one has: and the perfect character is the pledge of the perfect age.  Because Christ has been, the Kingdom of Christ will be: “AND THE LORD ALONE SHALL BE EXALTED IN THAT DAY” (Is. 2: 11).

 

 

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55

 

 

Did Christ Rise as a Spirit?

 

 

“Even men who were considered stalwart in orthodoxy a few years ago have now ceased to insist upon the physical resurrection of Jesus: this is a gain: Christianity no longer rests upon an alleged physical fact. ... THE CRUDE BELIEF OF THE GALILEANS THAT THE PHYSICAL BODY OF JESUS WAS TAKEN UP TO A HEAVEN BEYOND THE SKY AND THEREFORE GLORIFIED IS NOW IMPOSSIBLE” (Christian Commonwealth, April 2, 1911).  By such statements the League of Liberal Christianity and its president, Mr. R. J. Campbell, deny, totally and without reservation, the supreme factor which the Church of God has stood with unbroken front for nineteen centuries.

 

 

THE PANIC.  A panic like that which overtook Eliphaz (Job 4: 15) suddenly seized the Apostles in the upper room.  “The disciples were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit” (Luke 24: 37).  It was an ideal environment in which to prove resurrection.  For even had the disciples expected our Lord’s body to rise, that expectation was now shattered - they did not, therefore, imagine it: His entering through locked doors made them suppose He was a Spirit - therefore they were ignorant of the nature of a resurrection body, and were thus unbiased witnesses: nor were they sure it was the Lord at all - “a spirit” - therefore it was no self-induced hallucination of Christ.  No better test conditions could be imagined.

 

 

THE SCARS.  A startling fact at once confronts us.  The person most anxious to prove His bodily resurrection is our Lord Himself: it must be of the gravest moment.  He presses the evidences upon them. “See My hands and My feet, that it is I myself:” “handle Me and see,” (or, as in John), “feel the nail prints:” “and He showed them His hands and His feet  All law courts accept a scar as a sufficient proof of identity; for a scar, after the wound is healed, can be so shaped and placed as to be unique and decisive.  So it was here.  Not only did the prints in the palms and the soles confine the body examined to one of the three crucified; but the scar under the ribs identified it as the only Body that had the spear-thrust.  It was therefore no reincarnation: the Body was His own.  As a wound inflicted in childbirth, or in infancy, can bear a scar which survives all the physical changes of a lifetime, so the body of Jesus, passing under the mighty change of resurrection, nevertheless carried the death-wounds. “It is I myself

 

 

THE BODY.  A decisive proof remains.  The Apostles witness to a kind of resurrection so puzzling as to have been, among themselves, long disbelieved.  The apparition of a spirit [i.e., a disembodied soul], like Samuel’s, they understood: the resurrection of a body, like Lazarus’s, they had seen: what the Old Testament had never unfolded, and what no man had ever guessed, is what the apostles end by asserting as a fact again and again - a spiritual body; combining the properties of body and spirit [and soul] in a way never hitherto conceived by the human mind.  It was the same Body, for there was no body in the tomb, and the body they handled was identically scarred: yet it was another fashion of body, not always recognizable, passing through matter, and ultimately into heaven, without difficulty.  Nothing but actual experience, tested and re-tested, could have convinced them of so puzzling, so unique, a fact.  So also our Lord’s resurrection is the model of ours.  1 Thess. 4: 14.  The bodies of the saints arose (Matt. 27: 52): our bodies are to be quickened (Rom. 8: 11): our body is to be made like His body (Phil. 3: 21): and, while it will be a spiritual body, it will also be a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15: 44).  The change that passes over the rapt, who do not leave their bodies on earth, is exactly equivalent to resurrection.  1 Cor. 15: 52.

 

 

THE RESURRECTION.  Our Lord Himself is the finally decisive witness.  He says: - “Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, AS YE SEE ME HAVE  If the body did not rise from the grave, what did? - for the spirit had never been in the grave at all; and if it had, it would have needed no rolling away of the stone, to free it: a spirit is already free as air.  An apparition, a phantom - our Lord says - though it can be seen and heard, (as He assumes), cannot be felt: it is too imponderable, too immaterial, to be handled: it has no flesh and bones.  “Who maketh His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Heb. 1: 7).  Nor was it only solid flesh and bone: it was wounded flesh.  A spirit is not scarred by a physical incision: if, as Gnostics taught and teach, our Lord’s body on the cross was a phantom, no scars would or could have remained.  Palpable to the touch; visible or invisible at will; scarred with the earthly experience; eating or not, as He chose: - “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have”: He says He is not a spirit.  If Jesus came back as a spirit, He came back as a lying spirit. 1 Cor. 15: 14, 15.

 

 

The gravity of the issue it is impossible to exaggerate.  For the Lord’s resurrection in flesh is the criterion both of demons and of antichrists.  “That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” (the perfect denoting a past act continuing to the present: Lange), is the truth which no demon, when challenged, will ever confess (1 John 4: 2, 3): ‘Christ come’- the Divine Being arrived; and ‘in the flesh’- not into flesh, to disappear out of it again, but - a Man for ever.  So it is the criterion of the antichrists.  “Many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh” - in the Second Advent - “IN THE FLESH.  This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).  A deliberate and systematic denial of the resurrection is more than an overthrow of Christ: it is the revelation of an antichrist.

 

 

“LITTLE CHILDREN, IT IS THE LAST HOUR: AND AS YE HEARD THAT ANTICHRIST COMETH, EVEN NOW HAVE THERE ARISEN MANY ANTICHRISTS;

WHEREBY WE KNOW THAT IT IS THE LAST HOUR” (1 John 2: 18).

 

 

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56.

 

 

Excommunication and Exclusion

 

 

THE CHURCH.  As, in the regenerate, the current of being sets towards good, and evil is a backwater; so, in the unregenerate, the current of being sets towards evil, and effort after good is a backwater: and this is always the criterion of regeneration. 1 John 3: 7, 8.  Yet it is also certain that the regenerate can sin deeply, and die in such sin.  For - as an example - three facts decisively establish the regenerate nature of the incestuous brother whom the Holy Ghost has made a perpetual and conclusive proof.

 

 

(1) Excommunication was to deliver his flesh, but not his spirit, to Satan: Satan might touch his body, like Job’s, but not his soul: “that the spirit may be SAVED in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5: 5).  Now the destruction, like Ananias’s, might be immediate (for aught we read to the contrary) and yet his salvation was assured: therefore he was regenerate before excommunication.  1 Cor. 11: 30, 32.

 

 

(2) Paul sharply limits the jurisdiction of the Church to believers: “do not ye judge them that are within, whereas them that are without God judgeth?  Put away the wicked man” - pass sentence, for he is within - “from among yourselves  The right to judge unbelievers, Paul says, belongs solely to God: therefore the incestuous brother, judged by the Church at Paul’s command, was a believer.

 

 

(3) This brother, if excommunicated at all, was promptly restored: for in his second Epistle Paul says, - “forgive him and comfort him; confirm your love toward him” (2 Cor. 2: 7).  This is absolutely decisive.  The sharp discipline had severed him from his sin: acting under an inspired command the Church restored him to full fellowship, as a living member of Christ.  Therefore a believer can so sin, and has: and - since there may be destruction of the flesh - can also die in it.

 

 

EXCOMMUNICATION.  But a fact of overwhelming decisiveness still remains.  Paul states that the identical sin might permeate the whole assembly.  “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the WHOLE LUMP  Was the ‘whole lump’ all good dough, or half bad?  Was the assembly regenerate throughout or not?  “Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump” - fresh, pure dough throughout - “even as ye ARE unleavened  Those whom Paul is alone addressing (1 Cor. 1: 2) had all left the hands of God as pure, sweet dough on conversion: all were regenerate: “ye are unleavened”: now keep so, Paul says, and if any leaven returns, purge it out, to keep the lump new.  For fornication - as also the other immoralities named - might spread through the entire Church: “know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump  So far from Paul regarding the incestuous brother as no believer, because of his fornication, he asserts exactly the reverse - that, unless drastic measures purge the Body, immoralities may contaminate the whole, 1 Cor. 10: 12.  No disciple is immune from peril.

 

 

THE KINGDOM.  Thus it is certain that believers can commit such sins: it is certain that some in Corinth did: it is certain that all such are to be excommunicated: Paul now unfolds the tremendous revelation that disciples so unclean as to be shut out of the Church, must also be shut out of the Kingdom; that the excommunicated will be the excluded.  For what is the catalogue of excommunication?  Fornicators, idolators, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners. 1 Cor. 5: 11.  And what is the catalogue of exclusion?  “Ye yourselves do wrong”: at what peril?  “Know ye not that wrong-doers [the same word, with no article] shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived” - could a well-instructed Church like Corinth be in peril of imagining that unregenerate adulterers would enter the Kingdom? - “neither fornicators, nor idolators, [four new sins are now added, three an expansion of fornication, one an expansion of covetousness: exclusion is a wider thing than excommunication], nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners” - each excommunicating sin is also an excluding sin - “shall inherit the kingdom of God*  It is the same list: the justly excommunicated will be the infallibly excluded.  For “whose soever sins ye forgive [e.g., the incestuous brother’s], they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain” - always assuming that it is an excommunication which God has commanded - “they are retained” (John 20: 23): for “whatsoever things ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18: 18).

 

* “The Kingdom of God is here taken in the eschatological sense” - Godet: “the Kingdom of God refers here to its external appearance at a future period” - Olshausen.  That ‘the Kingdom’ is the Millennial, and not the Eternal, this very Epistle declares: - “He shall deliver up THE KINGDOM to God, even the Father” (1 Cor. 15: 24).  Eternal life, on the other hand, is the irrevocable gift of God on saving faith. John 3: 36.

 

 

EXCLUSION.  Paul closes with words finally conclusive.  “Such were some of you; but ye were washed” - through blood and water - “but ye were sanctified” - set apart for God as hallowed - “but ye were justified” - through the accepted righteousness of Christ: these are the souls Paul is threatening with exclusion: “defiled, ye were cleansed; profane, ye were hallowed; unrighteous, ye were justified  Dare any of you become foul again?  Paul asks.  If unbelievers only are excluded, Paul’s warning is not only pointless, but unjust.  Believers are sinning; unbelievers are to be excluded: “ye do wrong”; therefore the world will be punished: does God reveal the sins of one set of men, to threaten punishment to another? “I fear lest I should find YOU not such as I would,” because of “uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they COMMITTED” (2 Cor. 12: 20).  It is the washed, the sanctified, the justified that are in peril.   Are [unregenerate] hypocrites - empty professors, false brethren, who have slipped past the Church examiners - washed, sanctified, justified?  Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches: - “HE THAT DOETH WRONG SHALL RECEIVE FOR THE WRONG THAT HE HATH DONE; AND THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS” (Col. 3: 25). “Thou hast a few names in Sardis which did not defile their garments: and THEY shall walk with me in white; FOR

THEY ARE WORTHY” (Rev. 3: 4).

 

 

 

 

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57

 

 

Christ

 

 

RECOGNITION.  “For a long time” a madman (Luke 8: 27) - probably years - the Gadarean, dwelling apart “in the tombs,” could have known nothing of Christ: yet he instantly names Jesus.  Such knowledge could only be supernatural.  “Jesus I know,” cried a demon far off in Ephesus (Acts 19: 15): Christ was immediately recognized by the unseen world - they hailed Him in the tombs, in the deserts, in the synagogues: there was not a spirit who ever had to ask Christ who He was.  “He suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew Him” (Mark 1: 34).

 

 

IDENTIFICATION.  Thee demons recognised Jesus: did they, then, hail Him as one of themselves?  Or as a malignant power?  Or as an angel?  Or as son of Joseph? “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, THOU SON OF THE MOST HIGH GOD  Hell instantly declared that it has nothing in common with Jesus Christ; and as instantly it identified Him as the Messiah.  “The Son” was a title of Messiah (Ps. 2: 2, 12) for appropriating which Jesus incurred the charge of blasphemy (Mark 14: 64): it is the title of the Judge (Ps. 2: 9), before whom, as such, the demons recoil in terror.  “Rebuking them, He suffered them not to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ” (Luke 4: 41).

 

 

AUTHORITY.  The Jews were deeply startled by the instant obedience of the unseen world to Christ. “They were all amazed, saying, What is this? With authority He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Mark 1: 27).  The obedience of unseen principalities and powers, of keen malignancy, vast experience, and great power is an astounding tribute to the inherent authority of Christ: and yet more to His holiness.  For attempting exorcism without holiness the Sons of Sceva fled naked and wounded from a single demon (Acts 19: 16): yet our Lord controls at least two thousand (for all the swine were entered), and when He says, “Get thee behind Me, Satan,” even Satan himself obeys.

 

 

SOVEREIGNTY.  Facts compelled an extraordinary confession from the demons.  “Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8: 29): “and they intreated Him that He would not command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8: 31).  The Abyss, into which our Lord Himself descended (Rom. 10: 7), and out of which evil spirits will swarm in the last judgments, (Rev. 9: 2), is the strong prison of Satan at last (Rev. 20: 3).  Thus the demons confess that Christ can control the legions of Hell; that He can send them anywhere He chooses; that He can compel the Abyss to receive whom He will; and that He can command souls of angels or men into the Eternal Torments.  What a Christ!  Devils would make us doubt Christ, but they never doubt Him themselves: they would have us doubt Hell, but they never doubt it themselves: “the demons also believe, and shudder” (Jas. 2: 19).

 

 

MAJESTY.  So also Christ had the manner of God.  “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?” (Is. 40: 13).  God acts - famine or plague sweeps away millions - and He offers no explanation.  It has been said that the owners of the swine were Jews, and justly suffered as transgressors of the Law; that the loss was meant to startle concerning the peril of the soul; that the deliverance of one man is worth the destruction of many swine: Jesus gives no explanation.  “What things soever the Father doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner” (John 5: 19): it is the un-challengeable majesty of the Godhead, acting as God, and consulting none.  “Declare how great things GOD hath done”: “and he published abroad how great things JESUS had done” (Luke 8: 39).

 

 

WISDOM.  Three prayers are offered: the prayers of enemies are answered, - the prayer of the friend is refused: what man would have done that?  The demons are not commanded to the Abyss - for even devils will not suffer more than their due: Jesus departs - because He never forces the human soul: the disciple is left - because, if Gadera has abandoned Christ, Christ has not abandoned Gadera.  The greatest demoniac of the New Testament becomes a preacher of salvation to ten cities.  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11: 33). 

 

 

POWER.  One power quells the storm, exiles the demons, cures the maniac: what a power!  Evil spirits, even through human wrists, can snap fetters like thread: yet one word from Jesus binds them with links of adamant. What follows?  That no madness is incurable; no sin (save one) unpurgeable; no devil invincible; no habit unconquerable; no outcast beyond reach: - that all power is gathered into those glorious Hands.

 

 

“ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH” (Matt. 28: l8): “THE SON OF MAN HATH POWER ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS” (Mark 2: 10).

 

 

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58.

 

 

Emperor-worship

 

 

ANCIENT.  The acceptance of the King as the Saviour is older than history; and no sooner had God deposited all earthly power in the hands of a single monarch than the worship of the emperor, or of his image, broke forth. “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that ye fall down and worship” (Dan. 3: 4).  God smote Nebuchadnezzar, thus intoxicated with universal (Dan. 5: 19) power, with madness - “till thou know that THE MOST HIGH ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (Dan. 4: 32).  But the lesson was never learnt.  Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian, Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Greek, Caesar the Roman - every one of the empire-dynasties have claimed divine honours: emperor-worship became an ineradicable sin in the controlling dynasties of the world.

 

 

ROMAN.  The worship of the King as Saviour rose to its height in that Empire the revival of which we await (Rev. 13: 1; 17: 9, 10) - the Roman; and it reached its climax under Marcus Aurelius.  Says a Roman historian: - “Every stage of life, both men and women, every rank and condition, rendered the Emperor divine honours; a temple was erected to him, with priests and high priests, and all those other institutes which antiquity has decreed for worship  A tablet to Marcus Aurelius is inscribed thus: - “From one most devoted to his Godhead  Multitudes of Christians lost their lives for refusing emperor-worship: of others, in Bithynia, Pliny writes to the Emperor Trajan, - “all of them worshipped your image, and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ  So foreign kings, captured, were sometimes compelled to confess the Deity of the Emperor by offering sacrifices to him as God: it became the compulsory state religion of the Roman Empire.

 

 

MODERN.  It is very startling to discover that, since Babylon, the world has never been without this acme of human iniquity; for since the fall of the Roman Caesars emperor-worship has been steadily maintained in Japan.  Says an official of the Court of the Mikado: - “The Emperor is our Father, but he is also to us as a God; and as long as we are faithful and obedient to him, we are fulfilling the mandates of religion” (Fortnightly Review, May, 1906).  Admiral Togo telegraphed after the battle of Port Arthur: - “The fact that not one man was injured must be attributed to his Majesty’s glorious virtue”; and the Minister of Marine replied - “Success attributable to the Emperor’s illustrious virtue  Nor are we without ominous symptoms nearer home.  Prince Henry of Prussia, when sent to China by the Kaiser, thus addressed him: - “I am only animated by one desire - to proclaim and preach abroad to all who will hear, as well as those who will not, the gospel of your Majesty’s Anointed Person [i.e., Christ].  Let the cry resound far out into the world, - one most serene, mighty, beloved Emperor, King, and Master, for ever and ever”(Dec. 16, 1897).

 

 

ANTICHRIST.  Thus the world-conditions are rapidly approximating to the culmination of all emperor-worship: - “all that dwell on the earth shall WORSHIP him” (Rev. 13: 8).  In one of the deadliest of magazines, steeped in Theosophy and Gnosticism, we read: - “Behind this universal empire rises a still more majestic idea, the notion of a world-Saviour.  A mighty world-ruler must come, who will at the same time be a Saviour of the world” (The Quest, April, 1911).  So also a leading Theosophist: - “We await the coming of One to whom none may say, Go, but who ever breathes, I come; the supreme Teacher, the Lord Maitreya, the blessed Buddha yet-to-be; who shall shape the religions of the world into one vast synthesis  Emperors hitherto have never been able to wield miracle: crushing power alone has compelled worship: but “he whose coming is according to the working of Satan” will seduce to worship “with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood” (2 Thess. 2: 9).  To receive his sacramental sign will be certain damnation. Rev. 14: 10.  The magazine which heralds the Messianic Emperor also studies magic and the return of the dead: it emanates from circles saturated with Spiritualistic miracles; the miracles in which Antichrist is to be cradled are already in the group which is raising the cry of a Messianic Emperor.  “WATCH YE THEREFORE, AND PRAY ALWAYS, that YE may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21: 36).

 

 

CHRIST.  How glorious a light it sheds on the Redeemer!  How does a forger start to forge a coin?  Whereas the material is bad - it may be chalk, that immediately snaps on the counter - the appearance of the coin is a copy as exact as he can make it.  When Satan launches his supreme counterfeit Christ, what does he forge, so that the world may mistake him for the original?  A man who is also God: an emperor who is also a saviour: one who is gifted with all miraculous power, yet human, whose are the uttermost parts of the earth, and to whom incense is offered by all nations.  That is what Satan knows Christ to be: that is the original Coin which he counterfeits: he forges a world-saviour, because he knows a Divine Empire is imminent, and a Divine Emperor.  For the angelic cry is near: - “The kingdoms of THIS WORLD are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11: 15).

 

 

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59.

 

 

Brotherhood

 

 

The Brotherhood of Man, as springing from the alleged universal Fatherhood of God, is incomparably the most popular doctrine in the modern world.  It is (for example) a bedrock doctrine of the Gnostic groups, such as Theosophy and the New Theology; of Bahaism, which aims to unite the religions of the world; of all Socialism, so far as it is religious; and of the Brotherhood Movement - a movement growing with such enormous rapidity that its societies in 1906 numbered nine, but in 1911, 1,543, with 600,000 members.  “All classes and all creeds” are embraced, officially and of set purpose, in this ‘brotherhood’ of mankind, as they were also embraced in the motto of the French Revolution - “liberty, equality, brotherhood

 

 

EXCLUSIVE SONSHIP.  The first arresting fact which confronts us is that four revealed sonships, by their very terms, deny universality.  (1) Our Lord, as Son of God, is “the only-begotten of the Father” (John 1: 18); that is, His is a Sonship so unique, so Divine, as to exclude all others: no other man is the Son of God in this sense. (2) Angels, as sons of God (Job 38: 7), are sons as His direct agents (John 10: 35): it needs no proof that, as we are not angels, all men are excluded from this sonship.  (3) Again we read, - “the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3: 38).  As son by direct creation, and alone so of all mankind, the genealogy itself excludes all but Adam from this sonship.  (4) Of Israel Moses says: - “ye are the children of the Lord your God” (Deut. 14: l): but here, also, Israel’s selection from among the nations for sonship (Jer. 31: 9) excludes all others, but Israel.  Thus these four revealed sonships, by their very terms, exclude the sonship of all mankind.

 

 

SATANIC SONSHIP.  Of these four sonships but one now remains on earth: if, therefore, any one in the flesh is a son of God, it is the Jew: does our Lord so regard him?  If not, much less all others.  Israel pressed the claim on Christ: - “we have one Father, even God” (John 8: 42).  Jesus answers with awful decisiveness, - “If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I came forth and am come from God.  YE ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL  Divine sonship is a moral likeness to the Divine Fatherhood: all are offspring (Acts 17: 29), but not all are sons: for “the lusts of your Father” - lies and murders - “it is your will to do1 John 3: 8. Spiritual likeness betrays spiritual sonship as infallibly as physical features reveal earthly paternity. “All classes and all creeds” are a brotherhood in the flesh: but “it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God” (Rom. 9: 8); and such a union must include criminals, adulterers, idolators, and atheists.* No such brotherhood can God acknowledge.

 

* The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 1, 2, 11), exactly expounded, reveals Israel’s national sonship as then still un-forfeited, even by the publicans and harlots. Matt. 15: 24.  But since, and individually, “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9: 6): personal regeneration - even of a Nicodemus - is vital.

 

 

DIVINE SONSHIP.  Where then and what, is the true Brotherhood?  For it must be discoverable amongst mankind, and yet it must be sharply severed: for we read - “Honour all men.  Love THE BROTHERHOOD” (1 Pet. 2: 17).  God’s Word declares that the Brotherhood stands revealed by its place, its spirit, its character, and its conduct.

 

 

(1) Its place: “come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6: 17).  The brotherhood of all men is exactly the place where it is impossible to find the Divine Brotherhood.  (2) Its spirit: “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8: 14). Antagonism to the Spirit in the Word and in the Church betrays Satanic sonship: it is only the indwelt of the Holy Ghost that have become sons of the Father.  (3) Its character: “that ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2: 15).  The sonship is not in the crooked generation: only where we see the character of God, do we see the sons of God: for sonship is not so much a title, or a privilege, or even a relationship, as a transmitted life.  (4) Its conduct: “he that doeth righteousness is righteous: in this the children of God are manifest” (1 John 3: 7, 10).  The sons of God are those into whom the Spirit has so entered that, as temples of the Holy Ghost, they work the works of God.

 

 

The Gospel now throws wide open its golden gates.  Before we can be a son, we must be born: before we can be sons of God, we must be born of God: and - here is the unique revelation of our Faith - all men, of all classes and all creeds, are invited, and are able, to become sons of God, and thus to enter the holy brotherhood of the regenerate.  Human birth no man can obtain for himself, or control: his parents, his birthplace, his epoch are utterly beyond his choice: the marvel of revelation is that all men can now choose to become sons of God. “For ye [disciples] are all sons of God through faith” (Gal. 3: 26): and “AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, to them gave He the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD, even to them that BELIEVE on His name: which were BORN, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD” (John 1: 12).

 

 

 

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60.

 

 

Catholicity

 

 

No corporate restoration of the Church is to be expected before the Lord returns (Matt. 5: 13, 13: 33): nevertheless, for individual purity, and for confronting an ever-growing and spurious catholicism, the catholicity laid down by the Holy Ghost is one of the urgent needs of a growing crisis.  What is that catholicity?

 

 

IN FACT.  Fellowship in His Church our Lord has thrown open to all believers. John 13: 35.  Separation is commanded: but it is separation from the world (2 Cor. 6: 14-18), not from fellow-disciples; unless they be guilty of the sins named in 1 Cor. 5: 11 - “with such a one no, not to eat  Only as severed from the world is the Church a party or sect. Acts 28: 22.  For him whom God has received the Church must receive (Rom. 14: 3): Christ’s acceptance of us is the imperative reason, without option, for our acceptance of our brother. “Wherefore RECEIVE ye one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God” (Rom. 15: 7). Conversion is the compelling reason for communion. “Is a man a believer in Jesus Christ, and is his life suitable to his profession? - are not only the main but the sole inquiries I make for admission” (Wesley).  For our Lord came to gather into one the children of God (John 11: 52); He prayed, “that they may all be one” (John 17: 21); He tempered the Body together, “that there should be no schism” (1 Cor. 12: 25): for, in fact, the Body of Christ is an indivisible unity.  “Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof” (1 Cor. 12: 27).  “The unity of the Body is a fundamental truth of revelation, not only to be held as a theory, but manifested as a fact. More than that which is necessary to unite us to Christ is, or ought to be, unnecessary to unite us to one another” (Fuller Gooch).

 

 

IN NAME.  “I wish all names among the saints of God were swallowed up in that one name of Christian.  Are you Christ’s?  If so, I love you with all my heart” (Whitefield).  No other proper name is ever applied to disciples by the Holy Ghost. “If a man suffers as a CHRISTIAN, let him glorify God in this name” (1 Pet. 4: 16): “the disciples were called Christians” - i.e., by God: the word here for ‘called’ is used for the response of an oracle - “first in Antioch” (Acts 11: 26).  If I name myself after a rite (as baptism), or a man (as Luther, or Wesley), or a place (as Rome), or a form of church government (as episcopacy, or independency, or presbyterate), or a method of organisation (as an army), or a sectional use of a catholic name (as friends, or brethren) - and if I organise, and exclude from communion, within these limits - I am a factionist.  Even the name of Christ, used in a sectarian sense, is forbidden.  “Each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1: 12).  Factions are inevitable (1 Cor. 11: 19), but factions are not thereby justified: participation in ‘factions, divisions, parties’ - all ‘works of the flesh’ - will forfeit coming reward.  Gal. 5: 20.  For party spirit is of the essence of the world.  “For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men?  Are ye not carnal, and walk after the manner of men?” (1 Cor. 3: 3).  “If I had a drop of sectarian blood in my veins, I would open a vein and let that drop out” (Moody).

 

 

IN HEART.  Thus catholicity is not inter-denominationalism, or a conglomerate of factions: it is the casting down of all barriers to full communion for every disciple of Christ.  For fellowship with a brother in error is not fellowship with his sin, but with his regeneration: we do not hold communion with his weakness, but with his faith: “him that is weak in the faith RECEIVE, for God hath received him” (Rom. 14: 1, 3).  The Church is God’s convalescent home - the perfectly cured, in justification, are getting better, in sanctification; and it is justification, and no exact degree of sanctification, on which communion is based by God.  “Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees; and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed” (Heb. 12: 12).  Supreme forbearance is thus required, not for the laxity of indifference, but for the catholicity of love; and differences of judgment on Scripture must be met, not by excommunications (as in 3 John 9-10), but by instruction (Acts 18: 26), longsuffering (2 Tim. 2: 24, 25), and humility (1 Cor. 8: 2).  For God liberates us from the thraldom of sect in order that we may love and serve all who are in Christ.  (Such the world will but label with a new name: it is at the Judgment Seat alone that our catholicity, if we be faithful, can be revealed).  “We are to receive, on the one great truth of Christ’s salvation, all who, through divine grace, believing it, are converted to God: we are to receive all that are on the foundation, and reject and put away error [not by excommunication, or refusal, but] by the Word of God, and by the help of His ever blessed, ever living, and ever present Spirit” (J. N. Darby).

 

 

There will be no divisions around the Throne: daily let us recollect how rapidly we are nearing “that all-reconciling world where Luther and Zwingle are well agreed  As two drops of water become one at a touch, so should redeemed hearts: “receive ye one another, TO THE GLORY OF GOD  True catholicity is a great sorrow, not an angry scorn, over a mutilated Church: it is no attitude of impatient protest or impotent un-charity: on the contrary, it is the love that “beareth all things,” and gathers all disciples into its bosom, even as God does.  “But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? Or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother?  For we shall all stand before the judgment Seat of God.  LET US NOT THEREFORE JUDGE ONE ANOTHER ANY MORE: but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way, or an occasion of falling” (Rom. 14: 10).

 

 

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61

 

 

The Miracles of Christ

 

 

THE CONSECRATION.  Miracle which has behind it efficient cause and sufficient purpose becomes utterly credible the moment it is established as historic fact.  Now the miracles of Christ have behind them precisely that efficient cause and sufficient purpose.  For “whom the Father sanctified”* - set apart for a specific use - He “sent into the world” as the Son of God (John 10: 36): that is, Jesus entered the world charged with the power of God - an efficient cause; and consecrated as the world’s Messiah - a sufficient purpose.  Miracles in Christ, so far from being idle and incredible wonders, are so inevitable that if they do not occur, He is not the Messiah.

 

* This word for “sanctify” means “to set apart for God”; if the person is unholy, it involves a change of nature; if holy, as Christ was, it is simply consecration to a divine purpose.

 

 

THE FACT.  We now turn to the fact.  Did our Lord work miracles?  We may be told that the narratives of miracle are subsequent legends; that He worked no miracles, but that myth-makers said He did.  But “John did no miracle” (John 10: 41), and no one ever said that he did.  John was a contemporary of our Lord, and probably as famous as Christ in his lifetime: yet the Jews never said that he worked miracles; the Bible never says it; tradition since has never said it: not a single miracle has gathered round his name.  Neither, therefore, need miracles have been invented of Christ.  But the proof that Jesus, as a matter of fact, did work miracles it is impossible to resist.  Many were wrought on public men - as Jairus, a synagogue ruler; Lazarus, a man well known to the Jewish authorities; and Malchus, an officer of the High Priest: and some were permanent miracles - that is, the cured leper, the blind whose eyes had been opened, the man raised from the dead, could be handled and cross-examined years after.  So real were the miracles, so indisputable, so palpable, that no refuting evidence was ever produced, no denial of them was ever made, no contemporary doubt of their occurrence was ever expressed.  The men who were looking at Christ, both friend and foe, never doubted that He worked miracles: but His foes said that they were Satanic: an explanation which at once establishes, out of the mouth of the keenest hostile critics on the spot, that they were actual occurrences.  The Talmud, hundreds of years after, still puts them down to magic.

 

 

THE KIND.  This brings us a step further.  Of what nature were our Lord miracles?  Were they Satanic? Apocryphal literature asserts that, as a child, He made clay birds to fly, turned children into goats for refusing to play with Him, and cursed a boy with death for running against Him; exactly the kind of miracle which our Lord did not work, but which miracle-mongers invent.  Had the Gospels been apocryphal, such miracles would cram their pages; but not one such miracle can be found.  Two characteristics are so supreme in our Lord’s miracles as to isolate them from all others, and to establish their Divine character.

 

 

First, goodness: “many good works” - fair, beautiful, comely - “have I showed you from the Father” (John 10: 32).  Moses slew an entire army in the Red Sea; Elisha smote Gehazi with leprosy; even Paul blinded Elymas: - all righteous miracles, but miracles judicial and dreadful: Jesus, on the contrary, never worked a destructive miracle on man.  He blighted the fig-tree, that men might know it was no lack of judgment power; but every other miracle was a lovely and comforting miracle, in helpfulness of hunger or disease, taxation or marriage joy, deliverance from demonism or death.  Is that kind of miracle Satanic?

 

 

Secondly, power: “many good works have I showed you out of the Father;” works therefore omniscient and omnipotent.  Moses was constantly at a loss what to do - at the Red Sea, at the desert rock, at the revolt of Korah: our Lord was never perplexed, never consulted anyone, never was baffled, never failed.  He asked Philip how they should feed the multitude, but “He Himself knew what he would do” (John 6: 8).  Elisha, to raise the dead, stretched himself along the corpse, and cried again and again to God: Jesus, never.  Once our Lord prayed before a miracle, but He was careful to add, - “because of the multitude which standeth around, I said it” (John 11: 42).  He so dwelt in God, and God in Him, that He did not ask God for miracles, He showed them: “many good works have I showed you out of the Father”: therefore their goodness was without exception, and their power as absolute as their goodness. 

 

 

THE CHALLENGE.  Thus our Lord’s miracles are a grave and un-escapable challenge to every soul.  “If I do not the works of my Father, believe Me not”; “though ye believe not Me, believe the works”; “believe Me for the very word’s sake” (John 14: 11).  The miracles are fundamental to our salvation.  Why?  Because forgiveness is so invisible a transaction, so purely spiritual, that it requires to be proved by supernatural credentials direct from God. To say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” is a knocking off of invisible shackles, a healing of an invisible soul, a cancelling of a debt in invisible books: but to say, “Arise and walk,” is a removal of visible shackles, the restoring from a physical paralysis, such that the fact can be seen to correspond immediately and exactly with the word.  If Christ’s word is instantly operative in the physical sphere, it is equally instantly operative in the spiritual sphere.  “THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT THE SON OF MAN HATH POWER ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS, He saith unto him that was palsied, I say unto thee, Arise” (Luke 5: 24).  The outward sign of power instantly guaranteed the inward gift of grace.  Are the miracles real?  So is the pardon.  Are the miracles un-bought and unearned? So is the pardon.  Does the miracle perfectly cure? so does the pardon.

 

 

Reader, have you sought and got the pardon?  How sad, if Jesus can forgive sins, and you are never forgiven! Seek it and you will find it. “THE SON OF MAN HATH POWER ON EARTH TO FORGIVE SINS

 

 

 

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62.

 

 

Seducing Spirits

 

 

“The Spirit saith expressly”- so momentous is the announcement, that for once the Holy Ghost italicises His own utterance - “that in later times” - that is, on the threshold of the Second Advent (2 Thess. 2: 3) - “some shall fall away from the faith” - become apostate - “giving heed to seducing spirits” (1 Tim. 4: 1) - spirits, that is, who masquerade in a personality or a holiness not their own, for the seduction of Christian souls.  THE GREAT APOSTASY IS TO SPRING OUT OF [regenerate] CHRISTIANS GIVING HEED TO UNTESTED SPIRITS.  It is a fact of incalculable gravity that Christian leaders, at this moment and before our eyes, are giving ever deeper and closer heed to spirits miraculously present, and advancing the most monstrous claims.

 

 

AS OUR LORD.  Seductive spirits sometimes masquerade as the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here is Mr. R. J. Campbell’s startling confession.  “I am conscious of someone’s presence in the mysterious unseen at this moment.  Who is it?  I have always believed it to be Jesus; it is no vague abstraction, but a definite, living, personal being. I work under his orders.  Am I wrong [in supposing it to be Jesus]?  If so, I have been deluded into doing a good many things which otherwise I would never have attempted.  Someone is directing me from the spirit world: it not Jesus, who is it?  To me it is a thing incredible, impossible of acceptance, it should be anyone else” (Christian Commonwealth, Nov. 30, 1910).  No more awful lightning-flash could reveal, not only how a local apostasy originates, but also the origin and methods of the world-wide Apostasy yet to come.

 

 

AS THE DEAD.  Again, these seductive spirits masquerade as the Dead.  “I pray to my wife,” said Dr. Joseph Parker, “every day. I never come to the work without asking her to come with me: and she does come.  I never come to this place without her coming with me” (Review of Reviews, Jan. 1902).  In a book of messages from the dead, endorsed by prefaces from Mr. R. J. Campbell and Dr. F. B. Meyer, Mr. Meyer says: “We are evidently passing into a new realm.  The veil is getting thinner, and the day is at hand when we shall see face to face.  What may lie immediately before us is known only in Heaven: but it is sweet to think that the Departed may not only be a great cloud of witnesses, but a great body of helpers!” This is Spiritualism: and Spiritualism is either the work of the dead, that is, Necromancy (Deut. 18: 11), and therefore of the wicked dead; or it is the work of personating demons, that is, Sorcery: either was forbidden by the law of Jehovah under pain of death.  On Mr. Meyer’s words Mr. W. T. Stead comments thus: - “The work is important because it has received the imprimatur of the Rev. F. B. Meyer, who may be regarded as an exponent of the average belief of Nonconformists on this matter.  When so competent an authority tells us that he is convinced that the spirits of our departed friends may return and visit us, is it not the duty of all Christians to take up the study of Spirit Return and Ministry as a religious duty

 

 

AS MAHATMAS.  Apostate spirits also seduce through false messiahs, alleged reincarnations, and world-teachers. The Theosophical Society, founded to “lead an open warfare against dogma,” by Madame Blavatsky, who asserts that “the Serpent of Eden was actually the Lord God Himself,” whereas “Jehovah is Cain,” - now foretells, through Mrs. Besant, the imminent coming of “the blessed Buddha yet to be, who shall shape the religions of the world into one vast synthesis.  He loves all faiths, blesses them all alike, sends his messengers to every one of them and is the heart and life of each.  And ever the World-Teacher is connected with what are called the mysteries, that which Origen called Gnosticism; and in those mysteries the teaching of the World-Teacher was ever the same.  He is waiting till his messengers have proclaimed his advent, and to some extent have prepared the nations for his coming

 

 

Here is the Satanic groundwork preparatory to the Advent of Antichrist.  Yet it is Dr. R. F. Horton who writes: - “It would almost seem from these addresses that Mrs. Besant has been brought back to Christ by the road of Theosophy.  It is to such a heart, determined to find the truth and to speak it when found, that we could well imagine the communication should be given of the coming of the Lord: it is an appeal which, I trust, will come home to us all.  The anxiety of the lecturer was lest, through our unfitness and blindness, we should not be able to recognise the great World-Teacher when He comes, lest we should treat Him again as He was treated when He came before; lest if He should come again as a poor man, or if He should come with the skin of the black man or the yellow man, we should not receive Him.”  What a conception of the Advent!  “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, there: believe it not.  For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man” (Matt. 24: 23, 27).  Ignorance or refusal of prophecy is as grave a danger as is now possible to a human soul.

 

 

As the Holy Ghost.  Nor do these conscienceless spirits - having “consciences cauterised as with a hot iron” - shrink from masquerading as the Holy Ghost.  “We state the grave fact,” says a collective utterance of German pastors (1908), “that in the late Tongues movement in Cassel and other places, well-known Christians have got a gift of prophecy and tongues that was not from the Holy Ghost.  We must say that we missed in a deplorable measure the trying of the spirits, as the Word of God [1 John 4: 1-3 and 1 Cor. 12: 1-3] orders; and we confess this deficiency as guilt and blame falling on us, as on wide spheres of the Christian Church

 

 

It was by a spirit personating the Holy Ghost that Mr. Prince, of the Agapemone, was led at last to exclaim: - “In me you see Christ in the flesh; by me, and in me, God has redeemed all flesh from death

 

 

May God help us!  The Advent cannot be far. “IF THOU PUT THE BRETHREN IN MIND OF THESE THINGS” - the Apostasy, seducing spirits, and the doctrines of the Apostasy - “THOU SHALT BE A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST” (1 Tim. 4: 6).

 

 

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63.

 

 

Korea

 

 

THE CHURCH.  The creation of the Korean is one of the modern marvels of God.  In 1885 there were 10 missionaries and no converts; in 1886 there were two baptized Koreans; in 1888 there were 125; in 1903 there were 15,000; and in 1910, 250,000: a strong, living, fruitful church, probably second to none in intensity, created, within quarter of a century, out of nothing.  The Korean receptivity to the gospel has been rarely equalled.  The same amount of evangelistic work (Bishop Montgomery estimates) results, in Japan, in ten converts, in China, in fifty, but in Korea, in one thousand.  So, too, the Korean welcome to the gospel was extraordinarily prompt.  In Japan it was six years before the first convert was baptized; in China it was twenty; but the second year bore fruit in Korea, and now an average of one new congregation, or some 450 converts, are added to Christ in Korea every day.  In fifteen years the Korean Church has grown by one thousand per cent.

 

 

THE LAND.  The background of this mighty work of the Holy Ghost is one of the oldest of the nations.  The rectangular streets in Pyeng Yang, its oldest city - only recently altered - were laid down 3,000 years ago: the text-books used (until lately) in the schools date back a thousand years: and so dark was the nation spiritually, that the word for God (as we understand it) had to be created.  Until 1885 no Korean could become a Christian under pain of death; and as lately as 1902 proclamations were placarded on the roadsides, “If you see a foreigner kill him: if you see a native reading the Bible, kill him  Korea killed its first missionary; and when the others were only stoned, Dr. Lee said to Mr. Moffet, - “What do you suppose we are out here for?” “God led us here,” was the answer, “and it must have been right that we should come  So God plucks dawn out of midnight.

 

 

THE REVIVAL.  A revival swept over the infant church from 1903 to 1907.  Prayer and Scripture were the two dominant characteristics of the revival.  A passion of prayer fell upon the people.  Whole days and nights were spent in prayer; they would kneel for hours on the frozen ground on the mountain sides; there are churches which have had prayer meetings every night since they were founded; and the largest prayer meeting in the world - with an average attendance of eleven hundred, frequently with an overflow meeting - is in Pyeng Yang. “Prayer is like some vast deposit of precious ore: time must be taken to sink deep the shaft to reach the richer veins; and this the Korean does  So also Bible conferences sprang up everywhere; there are now more than a thousand such throughout Korea; and the Koreans will walk a hundred miles, or more, to attend.  Prayer and the Word of God are the sole, simple instruments the Holy Spirit has used for the creation of a modern church second to none in faith and zeal.

 

 

THE FRUIT.  Here are a handful of Korean fruits.  A blind sorcerer walked five hundred miles to find a blind man’s Bible.  One man saved five slices of bread, and lived on one a day, that he might attend a Bible conference.  One assembly - and Korea is reputed the poorest land in the Far East - gave £2,500 for the erection of its own church, an assembly only ten years out of heathenism.  Whole days and weeks are set aside by church members for personal work in winning the unsaved: in one young Korean’s diary a missionary saw a record of 3,400 such personal interviews in one year.  In a village where there was no money to build the church, a farmer-evangelist sold his ox, a valuable one, and finished the erection of the church; and when the missionary arrived, he saw this man and his brother yoked together in the plow, while their aged father held the handles, and followed the furrow.  What must be the mighty undercurrent of grace which can throw up such living marvels on the crest of its wave!

 

 

THE LESSON.  The lesson is exquisite and solemn and I beseech any unsaved reader to mark it.  Korea has been the last of the nations (except Tibet) to open its doors to the gospel: yet it has sprung at one bound into the front rank of the churches.  “Many shall be last that are first; and first that are last” (Matt. 19: 30): did even our Lord ever utter a more solemn word to the Church, or one more exquisitely encouraging for the last?  It is possible to reach the loftiest heights of sainthood out of the lowest depths of sin: there is no handicap: all things are possible to all.  But how did the Korean reach it?  In the words of Mr. Goforth - “they were in all the agonies of judgment”; “they would weep and wail,” says an eyewitness, “and beat their breasts, and sometimes they would sink down upon the floor under such a weight of sin as to be wholly unable to articulate distinctly. At times the whole congregation would wail together and cry out to God for mercy  It is concerning the time of the End that it is written - “Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined” (Dan. 12: 10).  To-day the Korean Church is one of the happiest and most fruitful of churches: but it has all sprung out of the deepest sin-revelation, and utter trust in the cleansing Blood.  Therefore no height is impossible to us.

 

 

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Is. 55: 7).

 

 

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64

 

 

Baptism

 

 

The Testimony of History.  It will be accepted without challenge that Mr. Gwatkin, professor of ecclesiastical history in the University of Cambridge, is second to none among English ecclesiastical historians.  Here is the testimony on baptism [by] this Anglican clergyman.

 

 

“Christian life [in the early church] properly began with baptism, for baptism was the convert’s confession before men, the soldier’s oath which enlisted him in the service of Christ.  The rite was very simple, as described by Justin in the 2nd century.  After more or less instruction, the candidate declared ‘his belief in our teachings, and his willingness to live accordingly  Then he might be directed to fast a short time, in way of preparation.  He was then taken to a place ‘where there was water  Here he made his formal confession, and here he was baptized by immersion in the name of the Trinity.  After this he was taken to the meeting and received by the brethren.  We have decisive evidence that infant baptism is no direct institution either of the Lord Himself or of His apostles.  There is no trace of it in the New Testament.  Immersion was the rule: the whole symbolism of baptism requires immersion, and so St. Paul explains it” (Early Church History, vol. i., pp. 248-250).  Thus the Early Church baptized only believers, and baptized only by immersion.

 

 

The Testimony of the Old Testament.  The Holy Ghost has selected the two mightiest catastrophes by water in all history to picture baptism, and thus to reveal its significance and its mode.  These two catastrophes were judgments in which, in the one case thousands, and in the other millions, were drowned; while, in both cases, the people of God, though in the water, and overwhelmed by the water, nevertheless came through it dryshod.

 

 

(I) God “waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: which also after a true likeness” - no fancied analogy, but a real type - “doth now save you, even baptism” (1 Pet. 3: 20).  Sin provoked the Flood, which turned the world into one vast watery grave: all mankind perished: but the household of faith, passing through judgment unscathed, arose on Ararat out of the grave of the world. 

 

 

(2) At the Red Sea both church and world are again plunged into a common grave: the mountainous walls of water roll down on the Egyptians, wiping them out of existence: while God’s people, threatened on every hand with a watery death - for they “were all baptized in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10: 2), the two forming together a stupendous coffin - nevertheless emerge alive on the further shore.  Thus baptism, as foreshadowed in the Old Testament, pictures death overwhelming all - all flesh drowned in the judgments of God: but, while one group perishes irremediably, the other - because God is with them in the Ark, and in the cloud - survives judgment.  Thus again, the Old Testament being witness, believers only are to be baptized, and baptized only by immersion.

 

 

The Testimony of the New Testament.  It is with exquisite appropriateness, therefore, that one of the first allusions to baptism in the New Testament runs thus: “Jesus baptized.  And John also was baptizing in Aenon, because there was much water there” (John 3: 23).  A tumble-full could have sprinkled a thousand converts: not so immersion: nor without the destruction of the symbolism.  For “we were buried therefore with Him through baptism into death” (Rom. 6: 4); “having been buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him” (Col. 2: 12).  Burial is total immersion in earth; and when it is ocean-burial, it is no less total.  “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3: 27) - clothed with Christ in Ark and Cloud, to pass safely through judgment.  It is the ritual bath: “be baptized and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22: 16); for “he that is bathed is clean every whit” (John 13: 10): for a bath is total immersion. 

 

 

“Of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures [than believer’s baptism] - not even the doctrine of justification by faith; and the subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point” (George Muller).  Judgment passed over the believer on Calvary, and therefore he now passes safely through the waters of death and judgment: that is, the New Testament witnesses that baptism is only for believers, and that baptism is by immersion only.

 

 

The Testimony of Experience.  Experience exquisitely confirms baptism, so administered, as of God.  Here are some testimonies the writer has himself received.  “Last night I was smitten to the dust.  Of course I shall obey Him in baptism!  There is nothing else to do.  I do so gladly, humbly, thankfully, gratefully.” - “Sunday night was far more beautiful even than I had thought: I saw no one - the Master was there.” - “I shall never forget how I realized the preciousness of Christ after I obeyed Him in baptism.” - “I have been thinking over the matter for 25 years: I only wish now it had taken place years ago.” - “It has brought greater joy into my life, and it has given me a stronger passion for service.  ‘To obey is better than sacrifice  The blessedness that has been mine since my baptism is more than words can express.” - “I was just trembling in every limb, - but when the time come to step into the water, it was just as if He held my hand, and led me.  Never in my whole life has He been so near: I cannot tell you all that it meant to me, as I laid my whole life at His feet.” - “Each moment of this evening last week comes to my mind to night; so overpoweringly, that I was forced to my knees in an ecstasy of joy. What hath God wrought  Is it likely that such experiences flow from an illusion, an error, a misunderstanding, or a falsity disapproved by the Holy host?  Then obey!

 

 

“He that hath My commandments, AND KEEPETH THEM, He it is that loveth Me” (John 14: 21): “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, AND DO NOT THE THINGS WHICH I SAY?” (Luke 6: 46).

 

 

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65

 

 

Expiation by Blood

 

 

HUMAN SACRIFICE.  The sacrifice of a substitute is one of the oldest instincts of the world.  Here is a cuneiform text from the Accadian, the most ancient of all civilizations.  “The lamb, the substitute for a man, the lamb he [the offerer] gives for his life: the head of the lamb he gives for the head of the man, the back of the lamb he gives for the back of the man, the breast of the lamb he gives for the breast of the man,” etc.  But substitution, groping after the actual redemption desired, inevitably became human.  At Athens, for example, at a festival called the Thargelia, a man and woman were led forth from the city, wearing, as type of worthless character, white and black figs, to be solemnly burnt in a desert spot for the purification of the city, and their ashes cast away as unclean.  So in China an ancient inscription bears the image of in emperor kneeling, in time of national calamity, before an altar, and offered up as an atonement for the sins of his people.  In Gaul, amongst the Druids, a gigantic figure of a man, made of wicker-work and filled with a hundred victims, was consumed by fire as an offering to the gods.  Central Africa, Armenia, Ethiopia, Hindustan, and Mongolia, the South Sea Islands, and Peru - it is startling to learn at from no nation has human sacrifice been absent.

 

 

EXPIATION.  What lay in the heart of humanity in this awful holocaust?  An Egyptian inscription tenderly and profoundly replies.  An ox, about to be sacrificed, was stamped with a seal bearing the image of a man: on this seal the man’s hands were bound behind him, and a sword-point was at his throat.  The ox perished in the place of the doomed man.  A Babylonian treatise on astrology, speaking of children offered by their parents to the Moon-god, says: - “The son who lifts up his head among men, the son for his own life must he [the father] give; the head of the child must he give for the head of the man, and the neck of the child for the neck of the man  It was substitution with a view to expiation.  In Greece reprobates, chosen as sacrifices and thrown into the sea as an expiation of national guilt, were despatched with the formula, - “Become thou an off-scouring for us! ”  That is, adds Suidas, the ancient historian, “a means of salvation or ransom  The sacrifice was a definite expiation.

 

 

IDENTIFICATION.  Thus animal sacrifice, felt to be inadequate, became human: moreover, in some cases sacrifices were selected, the dearest to the offerer that could be found.  Deeply pathetic was the sacrifice of children. These were selected on two grounds: - (1) as the most innocent, they could stand for the guilty; and (2) they were the sacrifices dearest and costliest to the offerer’s heart.  The parents stopped their cries by fondling and kissing them, for the victim had to be mute: the sacrifice must be so wholly voluntary that if either child or parent wept, the expiation was forfeited.  Blind instinct of Calvary!  So in Mexico the offerer, to benefit by the expiation, must touch the body: nor would an Egyptian taste the head of any animal, since on that head might have been laid the sins of others.  Jewish tradition, wholly apart from the Bible, prescribed these words to the offerer: - “O God, I have sinned, I have done perversely, I have trespassed before Thee.  Lo, now I repent, and am truly sorry for my misdeeds.  Let this victim be my expiation  The touch identifying the offerer and the sacrifice made the substitution complete: it was appropriation by the hand of faith. Lev. 1: 4.

 

 

CHRIST.  Now what has God to say to these human sacrifices?  “They have built the high places of Topheth, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into my mind” (Jer. 7: 31).  Jehovah’s rejection of Isaac, and His substitution of the ram, reveals once for all His refusal of all human sacrifices: when He said: - “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die  He knew that He passed sentence of death upon Himself.  The reason of God’s rejection of human sacrifice is clear: no sinner can be a propitiation for another sinner.  “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”(Mic. 6: 7); when “none can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him”: that “must be LET ALONE FOR EVER” (Ps. 49: 7).  To offer up a sinner for a sinner is to add murder to a futile sacrifice.

 

 

CALVARY.  Yet the matter cannot end there.  How is it that all races and all nations have felt that sin can only be expiated by blood?  It is obviously the terror of guilt, and the consciousness that only death can meet the transgression of law.  If parents could so stifle human instinct as to offer their babes to a fiery or a bloody death, terrible indeed must have been the consciousness of their own guilt and doom.  Human sacrifice, awful and murderous, nevertheless was the sole and inevitable mode of expiation finding an unclean echo in the vast gulf of human need: it was the world’s cry for an atoning Saviour.  And He has come!  “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body” - for human sacrifice; indispensable, if there is to be substitution for human sin - “didst Thou prepare for me.  In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hadst no pleasure; then said I, Lo, I” - the great Burnt Offering and Sacrifice for sin - “am come to do Thy will, O God.  He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.  By which will WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL” (Heb. 10: 4).

 

 

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66

 

 

The Church and the Kingdom

 

 

THE CHURCH.  No ‘church,’ properly defined as such, existed before our Lord appeared: “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16: 18): un-built in His lifetime, He nevertheless here foretells it as we know it.  He also legislated for it: - “if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican” (Matt. 18: 17).  For the stones our Lord quarried became the foundation stones of the Church (Eph. 2: 20); and all disciples, made and baptized between the two advents, are to be taught “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 20).  The next occurrences of the word, immediately after Pentecost, assume the Church as by this time actually existing in the world.  “Great fear came upon the whole church” (Acts 5: 11): “they were gathered together with the church” (11: 26); “when they had appointed for them elders in every church” (14: 23); “when they had gathered the church together” (14: 27); “it seemed good to the apostles, with the whole church” (15: 22).  The Book of the Acts refers throughout to the church as a body actually in the world: it is the book of the propagation of the church: it refers to Jew and Gentile, - gathered out to Christ, and compacted together, - as the church: and it does so from the moment of the Holy Ghost’s descent, - the birth-moment, therefore, of the church.  The Epistles follow, as church documents: and, in the Apocalypse, churches are addressed for the last time by our Lord - “Hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2: 25): that is, the church is to continue until He comes.

 

 

THE KINGDOM.  The essentially church documents, the Epistles, refer constantly to ‘the Kingdom,’ and - with the exception of Col. 1: 13 - invariably refer to it as future.  So did our Lord.  When “they supposed that the Kingdom of God was immediately to appear,” He answered that the Nobleman must first go into the Far Country “to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (Luke 19: 11): and so He says, - “they [shall] see the Son of man coming” - at the Second Advent - “in His Kingdom” (Matt. 16: 28).  Thus the close of the Church is the start of the Kingdom: the Kingdom is future so long as there is a church on earth.  So Paul also defines the apostolic attitude. “Flesh and blood” - the living, unchanged - “cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption” - the dead, unrisen - “inherit incorruption.  Behold, we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15: 50), ere the Kingdom can be entered.  Its time and place are put beyond all doubt by the Apocalyptic vision.  “There followed [after the last judgments] great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11: 15).  (The references to the Eternal Kingdom, consequent on the destruction of the old earth, seem nearly totally confined to Rev. 21. and 22.: the Kingdom linked with the Advent is obviously the Millennial.)

 

 

THE KINGDOM IN MYSTERY.  In one aspect, however, the kingdom is now present: for in parables the kingdom is the church: in literal passages, it is the literal kingdom; in figurative, it is the mystical.  The reason seems clear. Our Lord, when personally present, spoke of the kingdom as present also, for it was present in the person of the King: “if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you” (Matt. 12: 28).  When the King withdrew from the world, so did the kingdom.  But the Lord is mystically present with His Church: there is, therefore, a mystical kingdom: “who translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1: 13).

 

 

THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM.  Scripture finally unfolds the right attitude of the Church to the Kingdom.  The Church is to preach the Kingdom, to pray for it, and to seek to enter it.  (1) Paul, peculiarly the ‘Church’ apostle, “reasoned and persuaded as to the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 19: 8); and the last time we hear him speak (Acts 28: 31), as in the last letter he ever wrote (2 Tim. 4: 1, 8), he is still “preaching the kingdom of God.”  (2)  So also, “when ye pray, say, Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6: 10): and the last prayer of the last apostle is still the same cry, - “Even so come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22: 20).  (3) Moreover we are to seek to enter the Kingdom.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matt. 6: 33) - i.e., the godlike rightness that leads thither; or, as Paul puts it, - “walk worthily of God, who calleth you” - is calling you - “into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2: 12): “to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (2 Thess. 1: 5).  For “in this exclusion from the Kingdom, which is the dominion of the good made visible at the return of our Lord, we are not to see the loss of eternal salvation: an entrance into the Kingdom is rendered impossible [in certain cases], but not by any means does it follow that salvation can be thereby prevented” (Olshausen).  “For the First Resurrection is limited to a portion of the redeemed Church: and while eternal life and the inheritance are of faith and free grace, and common to all believers merely as such, the millennial crown and the first resurrection are a Reward - the reward of suffering for and with Christ; a special glory and a special hope, designed to comfort and support believers under persecution: a need and use which I have little doubt the Church will before long be called on to experience collectively, as even now, and at all times, it has been experienced by some of its members” (Burgh).

 

 

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67

 

 

Paul’s Autobiography

 

 

LIFE.  “I was alive,” Paul says, in the most wonderful of all revelations of conversion, “apart from the law once” (Rom. 7: 9).  Paul, unregenerate, and ignorant of the nature of the Law, was once honestly at rest.  So to-day are myriads of unbelievers.  For the Law promised life to all who obey it: the perfect man was always sure of eternal life: and the unbeliever is not conscious of a broken law.  “If thou wouldst enter into life,” our Lord said to the young Jew, “keep the commandments” (Matt. 19: 17); and Paul, “as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless” (Phil. 3: 6), had a sense of perfect security. “I was alive” - possessed, in my own eyes, of eternal life - “apart from the law once

 

 

LAW.  “But when the commandment came,” Paul continues, “sin revived  What commandment?  One he has just named, the tenth in the Decalogue, - “Thou shalt not covet,” or lust, or have an evil desire; the solitary command in the Decalogue that deals solely, not with outward actions, but with internal emotions.  Coveting, or lusting, or evil desire is a motion of the soul which may, or may not, flow out into action: our neighbour may never know that we covet ‘anything that is his’: nevertheless the mere desire the Law forbids.  A sinless soul, not only would never indulge an evil desire, but would never have one: God has no evil motion of the soul.  “The commandment came” home to the conscience: it found the heart lustful, and, after it has come, the heart remains so: the Law reveals sin, it does not create it.  But instantly, in Paul’s eyes, “sin revived”- sprang back into life; the dormant, latent sin deep down in his heart sprang up like a serpent in his face.  Paul had run his finger down the Decalogue, the great summary of the Law.  He is no idolator - no blasphemer - no sabbath-breaker - no dishonourer of parents - no murderer - no adulterer - no thief - no false witness: he is a righteous man.  But suddenly his finger stops: his eye is riveted by a command that blazes at him as if he had never seen it before, - “Thou shalt not covet.” He had controlled all his outward actions; but how can he control the motions of his soul?  But if the motions of his soul are sinful, how can he be without sin?  And if he is sinful, a law-breaker, how can the Law grant him freedom*?  If evil desire is sin, who in all the world is not a sinner?

 

 

DEATH.  What then was the effect of this awful discovery upon Paul?  “I died”: I saw myself a dead man, I fell back dead.  Why so?  Because the Law says, - “whosoever shall keep the whole law” - Paul had kept nine commands - “and yet stumble in one point” - Paul had broken the tenth - “he is become guilty of all” (Jas. 2: 10).  The only possible condition on which law can grant life is a perfect obedience: for the Law is an entirety, covering all righteousness; and less than the whole Law is not the Law.  The man who is to win eternal life by perfect righteousness must possess a righteousness that is perfect.  But Paul’s failure was not only negative: it was positive. “The soul that sinneth” - to break a single commandment is sin - “it shall die” (Ezek. 38: 4): “the wages of sin” - whether little sin or much sin - “is death” (Rom. 6: 23).  So long as God remains God, and sin remains sin, not murder only, or adultery, but evil desire also, damns.  Internal haemorrhage kills as surely as external; a man can bleed to death inside, without a drop of blood ever becoming visible on his skin: so a man externally righteous can become hellish, and sink into Hell, while ‘found blameless’ - so far as human eyes can reach.

 

 

Moreover the Tenth Commandment is the root command of all.  Idolatry, a lust after other gods; murder, a lust of hate; slander, a lust to wound; adultery and theft, lust after that which is another’s: coveting, or lust, carries the germ of every sin.  In it, it is not the man’s life that stands out black, but the man; and whereas a vile hand can be cut off, and a foul eye can be plucked out, what is a man to do with an evil heart?  The heart is the man. So Paul fell back dead.  For it was as though a sleeper rested in a pitch-dark room, in perfect security and peace.  He is sure, as he lies in the dark, that all is well.  But as the first light creeps through the window, he suddenly realises that the room is full of wild beasts, and the door is locked.  From the chandelier hangs, half uncurled, a serpent, poised with lolling fangs and constant hiss; beneath the window a tiger, with eyes glaring full upon him, crouches in the act to spring.  “I was alive [in my own eyes] apart from the law once: but when the commandment came [home to my conscience], sin revived [sprang back into life], and I died [saw myself a dead man].”

 

 

CHRIST.  So the Law had done its glorious work, preparatory to salvation: the Spirit had wrought conviction of sin, before He displayed saving righteousness.  It is ever so.  The pangs of the sinner are the blessed footsteps of the Holy Ghost.  For who immediately confronts Paul?  He who said, - “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2: 17): “for the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19: 10): and on the way to Damascus He found an utterly lost soul.  And what did Paul find?  That the life he could not live, Christ had lived; that the death he could not die, Christ had died; and that the life and the death were offered in the place of the lost.   “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but CHRIST liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me”(Gal. 2: 20).

 

 

Yea, through life, death, through sorrow and through sinning, He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed: Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning, Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.

 

 

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68

 

 

Rome: A Warning

 

 

WORLDWIDE BLOODSHED BY THE CHURCH OF ROME IS FORETOLD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT BEFORE THE END.  “I will show thee the judgment” - not the history, or the mediaeval corruption, but the judgment - “of the great harlot”: “these shall burn her utterly with fire” (Rev. 17: 1, 16).  It is a judgment which is on the immediate threshold of the Advent; for the Woman is seen actually riding on the Antichrist after he has come up out of the Abyss.  Rome, at first allied with the Beast, and resting on his imperial power, is ultimately destroyed by his field-marshals: at that final moment, in what condition is she seen?  “And I saw the woman DRUNKEN WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, AND WITH THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS OF JESUS.”

 

 

EXTERMINATION.  Rome, be it deeply understood, exterminates ‘heretics’ on principle.  John 16: 2.  “Heretics and schismatics,” says the Council of Trent, “are within the power of the Church, and may be called to trial by her, be punished, and condemned by anathema  St. Thomas Aquinas directs that heretics, after a second admonition, must be handed over to the secular power for extermination - a doctrine which the Breviary declares was directly inspired in Aquinas by the Holy Ghost.  By Roman Canon Law all secular princes must extirpate every heretic in their states, on pain of dethronement and excommunication; and Honorius III, Innocent III, Innocent IV, Alexander VI, and Clement VII all issued bulls - presumably infallible in Roman eyes - for the total extirpation of heretics.  Nor has Rome hesitated to enforce these decrees.  The Spanish Inquisition, for example, burnt alive 10,220 persons in its first twelve-month; and after the massacre of St. Bartholomew Gregory XIII, in words never since repudiated or renounced, urged Charles IX “to persevere in so pious and wholesome a measure, till his once most religious kingdom should be thoroughly purged of blasphemous heretics

 

 

TOLERANCE.  Now a most startling fact confronts us.  For four centuries we have lived in an era altogether exceptional, before which was blood, and after which will be blood again; and this era will not last.  The acceptance of Protestantism by half the governments of Europe robbed Rome of her sword, and paralysed her power to burn.  Yet, even so, she has drunk blood in secret since the Reformation.  Colonel Lemanoir, after demolishing the offices of the Inquisition in Madrid in 1809, reported as follows to Marshal Soult: “In the cells we found the remains of some who had died recently, whilst in others we found only skeletons, chained to the floor.  In others we found living victims of all ages and both sexes, young men and young women, and old men up to the age of seventy, but all as naked as the day they were born.  In another chamber we found all the instruments of torture that the genius of men or demons could invent  Identical dens were unearthed in Rome itself in 1848.  “I was present,” says Signor Bianchi, “when the prisons were visited. In one chamber, very wide and high in the roof, we found heaps of bones; and there was still to be seen two great furnaces filled with calcined bones.” It is said that the Jesuits’ oath to-day contains these words: - “I will, when opportunity presents, urge relentless war against all heretics, to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth; I will spare

neither age, sex, nor condition; I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive; and when the same cannot be done openly, I will use the poison-cup, or the bullet, or steel  Nevertheless, it is also true that a gracious respite granted to us by God has withheld Rome from open bloodshed for four hundred years.

 

 

BLOODSHED.  Consequently no intellect in the world to-day is less intoxicated or more wary than that of Rome; for she has slept off her deep potations of blood: but the respite will not last; at the End she is once again “DRUNK with the BLOOD of the saints

 

 

In the twentieth century Rome has re-affirmed her right to slaughter.  In 1901 the “Institutiones Juris,” published by the Papal press in Rome, with a warm approval from Leo XIII stamped upon its cover, laid it down that “by Divine right the Church may confiscate the property of heretics, imprison their persons, and condemned them to the flames  In 1908, in a work published by one of the Consultors of the Congregation of Rites at Rome, it is explicitly asserted that a heretic may not only be excommunicated, “but also justly be killed” (sed etiam juste occidi).  In 1909, for the first time for five or six centuries, the Pope laid a town (Adria) under interdict, during which all churches were closed, no masses were said, and the town was deprived of every vestige of worship by the thunderbolt of Papal anathema.  So obvious are the signs of recurring struggle that astute statesmen and historians, wholly ignorant of prophecy, have foretold it again and again. 

 

 

“The day is not far distant, and may be very near, when we shall have to fight the battle of the Reformation over again” (Sir Robert Peel).  “I do not pretend to be a prophet; but though not a prophet, I can see a very dark cloud on our horizon, and that cloud is coming from Rome. It is filled with tears of blood” (Abraham Lincoln).  “I am not one of those who think that the difficulties of religious strife are over, or that indifference is likely to spread and continue as enlightenment grows in civilised countries. Roman Catholics have never abandoned the right, when they think it expedient, of forcing their doctrines by every means in their power” (Mr. A. J. Balfour).  “The struggle ended in blood before, and it will end in blood again” (Prof. J. A. Froude).

 

 

Be it so: the blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the Church. “Thirty attempts,” says Mr. Chiniquy, “have been made to kill me; but I have ever remarked that the very day after I have been bruised and wounded, the number of converts has invariably increased  John 12: 24.  O for grace to say, with an old-time martyr, - “Can I die for Christ but once

 

 

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69

 

 

The Ascension

 

 

ASCENSION.  That we saw him go, that we have heard from him since, and that he has been seen in that other land, is the sole evidence we ever have of a friend’s existence on another continent.  Such is the evidence we have of Christ.  The crucifixion was public, the burial was public, the appearances after the resurrection were public, and as public as all the rest was the ascension: “as they were looking, He was taken up” (Acts 1: 9). While all eyes were calmly, attentively, lovingly turned towards Him as He speaks, He was slowly carried up into Heaven.  No eyes had seen Enoch go: Elijah went up in a flash - seen but by one: the calm, quiet convincing gaze of eleven sober men watched the Lord upward.  They saw Him go.  No fact could be more simple or sober or real.  As the Body had been physically handled in the upper room, so it went up, physically visible, until a cloud came between; as literal as the cloud, so literal was the body; and up to the moment that He disappeared behind the cloud, it was the actual Jesus who had talked and walked and eaten with them.  He had shown His power over the sea by walking on it, over the earth by raising the dead out of it, over Hades by leaving His own grave, and now over the air by rising up to God through it. “Who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind” (Ps. 104: 3).

 

 

DEPARTURE.  If the ascension did not happen, what did?  The Lord had risen; the tomb was empty; He had talked and eaten with more than five hundred people; He had been handled by reverent unbelief: - how then did He leave the earth?  If He left it by death, - the whole resurrection thus becoming meaningless, - if He wasted away with disease, fell once again into the grave, and was laid to rest by those who have since died for love of Him, how is it that there is not even the whisper of a tradition how and where He died?  We have the tomb of Abraham, in Hebron; of Mohammed, in Medina; of Napoleon, in Paris: where is the tomb of Jesus?  Again, if His grave, like that of Moses, was dug by God, in a sepulchre never seen by human eyes, and unknown to this day, how is it God has never told us so, as He did of the burial of Moses?  Has God let millions of the holiest lives ever since build themselves on a lie, and never broken the silence?  Again, is it conceivable that our Lord, the soul of purity and honour, allowed Himself during a storm - as some unbelievers suppose - to seem to disappear, in a kind of stage ascension, and then carefully kept up the deception until His death?  Could you believe that?  As risen from the dead, and therefore deathless and immortal, no other mode of leaving the world can be imagined than ascension.  The philosopher who tells of another world, and then falls into the grave, leaves us unconvinced: but when Christ tells us of another world, and then visibly departs into it, and is seen there (Acts 7: 55), and communicates with men from it (Rev. 2, 3.), we know we are not in the region of conjecture, but of fact; and in the presence of the only explanation which the facts will bear. 

 

 

FORETOLD.  The ascension, moreover, is a section of a coherent whole.  Our Lord had plainly foretold it. “What then if ye should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?” (John 6: 62).  “Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto Him that sent Me.  Ye shall seek Me” - as the prophet’s disciples sought Elijah - “and shall not find Me: and where I am, ye cannot come” – [i.e., until the time of your resurrection] (John 7: 33).  Why not?  Peter answers: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3: 21). Why ‘must’?  Because it needs be that Scriptures be fulfilled.  “Thou hast ascended on high” - so runs a passage which the Holy Spirit applies to Christ (Eph. 4: 7); “Thou hast received gifts for men” (Ps. 68: 18): for “He that descended,” Paul says, “is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens” (Eph. 4: 10); “who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven” (1 Pet. 3: 22); “a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Heb. 4: 14).  Christ has moved up from off this earthly globe, and passed into the real, sure, abiding portion of the universe; we are divided from that great world only by a cloud; up to the edge of the cloud human eyes followed the Lord, now as literally and as actually on the other side as ever He was on this; and how thin that cloud wears at times, and how quickly and suddenly we too may step behind it!

 

 

THE BLOOD.  What then is the deep significance of the ascension?  The High Priest, on entering the Holy of holies, was required to enter with blood, and to deposit it in the Sanctuary, so covering Israel’s approach to God.  Now “a spirit,” Jesus says of Himself, “hath not flesh and bones” - the blood is not in His resurrection body - “as ye see Me have” (Luke 24: 39).  As the Priest entered with the blood, in a bowl, separate from himself, so God “brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of the eternal covenant” (Heb. 13: 20); “who, through His own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place” (Heb. 9: 12).  That blood, in the immediate presence of God, is the silent witness of a slaughter for sin, - a capital punishment endured, - a law met and satisfied, - a wrath righteously quenched: the sinner can now penetrate to the very presence of God because he follows in the wake of the blood.  Heb. 7: 25.  Any man, guilty of any sin (save one), can now plead all the efficacy of the blood, and the plea has behind it the whole advocacy of Christ.

 

 

“If any man sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, BUT ALSO FOR THE WHOLE WORLD”

 (1 John 2: 1).

 

 

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70

 

 

The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day

 

 

THE SABBATH.  The Sabbath was a Jewish ordinance founded on (l) God’s after-creation rest, and on (2) the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.  “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Ex. 20: 11); and so Israel is commanded to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20: 8, 11).  No such command is recorded in the Bible as given to a Gentile nation: the Gentile was liable to its observance only when inside Israelitish gates (Ex. 20: 10).  (The Babylonian sabbath was not a day of the week, but of the month - the 7th, 14th, 2lst, and 28th of each month: so also (it is said) to-day Greeks observe Monday, Persians Tuesday, Assyrians Wednesday, Egyptians Thursday, and Turks Friday; and even the French Republic, on hygienic grounds, decreed one rest-day in seven.  These may be echoes of Eden; but that God’s sabbath was not enjoined on Adam, or ever kept by him, seems certain since God’s seventh day was Adam’s first.)

 

 

For the sabbath was a specifically Jewish ordinance.  “Thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5: 15).  Israel crossed the Red Sea on the sabbath:* immediately after, it was made binding on Israel - a statute to which the ‘remember’ of Ex. 20: 8 points back. Neh. 9: 13, 14.  So Israel had eight sabbaths - one weekly and seven others on specific dates, besides the sabbatic year; and sabbaths still to come (Matt. 24: 20 and Is. 66: 23) are for a future Age.  “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily ye shall keep My sabbaths: FOR IT IS A SIGN BETWEEN ME AND YOU throughout your generations” (Ex. 31: 13).

 

* It was a three days’ journey to the wilderness of the Red Sea (Ex. 3: 18), by which Israel ultimately journeyed (13: 18): so the lamb was slain on the fourteenth of the first month, and the Sea crossed on the seventeenth.  But Israel murmured for food after Elim (Ex. 16: 1, 2): the next day (the sixteenth of the second month) the manna fell, fell for six days, and then stopped for the Sabbath: therefore it must have first fallen on a Sunday, - the people must have murmured on a Saturday, - and reckoning backward, the date of the crossing fell on a Sabbath. “There” - at Marah - “he made for them a statute” - presumably the Sabbath, “and an ordinance” (Ex. 15: 25) - presumably the Passover. Ezek. 20: 10-12.

 

 

We now turn to the Lord’s Day.  The word ‘sabbath’ is never used in Scripture for the first day of the week; nor is there any hint of a change of days - one newly hallowed, and one now made unhallowed.  God is nowhere stated to have done this: no church has the power.  “The seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord thy God” (Ex. 20: 10).  BUT THE LORD’S DAY IS HONOURED FOR REASONS TOTALLY DISTINCT FROM THE SABBATIC.

 

 

REDEMPTION.  As Jehovah rested on the first day after creation, so He rested on the first day after redemption. “He that is entered into [God’s] rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4: 10): God now rests in the finished work of Christ; and as the ark rested on Ararat, after its strenuous salvation, on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, so the Lamb, slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the same month, rested on the seventeenth, redemption completed.  God had carried the redeemed beyond their Red Sea flood when the Lord’s Day dawned.

 

 

RESURRECTION.  The ‘firstfruits,’ and also ‘the Resurrection, first of the firstfruits,’ were offered on ‘the morrow after the sabbath’ (Lev. 23: 11): so Christ, ‘the first of the firstfruits,’ and the body of already risen saints (Matt. 27: 53), were both offered to the Lord on the Lord’s Day.  As eight resurrections are recorded in Scripture, so the eighth day, the day after the sabbath, is the day of resurrection, our Lord’s first day as the first-begotten from the dead.

 

 

PENTECOST.  Pentecost (meaning ‘fifty’) always fell fifty days after the Sunday preceding the Passover feast, that is, on the Lord’s Day.  Thus the Holy Ghost descended on the Lord’s Day: for “when the day of Pentecost was now come, suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2: 1).  The Church, by the descent of the Spirit, was born on the earth on the Lord’s Day; and John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day: for whereas the day of the Letter was the Seventh, the day of the Spirit is the First.

 

 

LIFE.  The First Day is supremely the day of the resurrection of dead souls.  On the eighth day Israel was circumcised: our Lord, appearing in His assemblies on the first and eighth days (John 20: 19, 26), now accomplishes, in far their vastest number, His circumcisions of the heart.  It is the day when Heaven’s joy is sevenfold, and when the Spirit’s regenerating power, put forth to the utmost, presents His birthday gifts to the risen Lord.

 

 

Thus the honouring of the Lord’s Day - its observance is nowhere commanded in the Scripture - is a practise (not a precept) sanctioned by the Holy Ghost: for “upon the first day of the week” the disciples “gathered together to break bread” (Acts 20: 7), and offered their substance to God (1 Cor. 16: 2).  Although all days are now fundamentally alike to the robust believer (Rom. 14: 2, 5), the First Day, as peculiarly attached to our Lord and His resurrection, it is permissive for us to honour, in a strictly non-legal sense.  But to cancel it, and to return to the Jewish Sabbath, is to put oneself back under the Law, with all its rigours and terrors.  “How turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you” (Gal. 4: 9).

 

 

The Sermon on the Mount is our Decalogue, the Gospels and Epistles our Law, and the Apocalypse our Prophets; “for ye are not under law” - the Decalogue was the summary and quintessence of the Law - “but under grace” (Rom. 6: 14): “let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow” - for sabbaths are part of the vanished Law - “of the things to come” (Col. 2: 16).  For we are “under law TO CHRIST” (1 Cor. 9: 21).

 

 

 

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71

 

 

Probation after Death

 

 

GOD’S CHARACTER.  ‘God is almighty’ - so runs one plea for probation after death: ‘He abhors sin, and He must triumph; therefore He will empty Hell, some time, by swinging open the door of mercy to all mankind - or else His character of goodness and love is destroyed  But a fatal objection lies against this plea.  The perfections of God have not prevented sin entering into the world, and remaining in it for sixty centuries; therefore a God of love can co-exist with a world of sin, for He has.  If God’s perfection allowed sin to enter the universe at all, why cannot His perfection allow it to stay, and why not allow it to stay for ever?  God’s absolute goodness does co-exist with a sinning world: there is no reason, therefore, why it should not co-exist with a sinning Hell.  ‘But’ - it may be said - ‘there are good reasons why sin should be permitted to exist now’: but that at once admits that God may allow, nay, does allow sin to exist for good and sufficient reasons.  But who knows what those reasons are?  Who can say that they are not eternal reasons?  But as long as the reasons persist, so will the sin.  If evil may wisely be permitted now, it may wisely be permitted for ever: if an eternal Hell is the ruin of God’s character, that character - I speak as a man - is already ruined.  But “God is light, AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL” (1 John 1: 5).

 

 

MAN’S CHARACTER.  ‘But another opportunity,’ - so runs a second plea - ‘would save many souls who did not, or could not, choose the right in this life’; that is, it is assumed that God has but to offer mercy, in order to empty Hell.  But how is it to be done?  It can only be by the appeals of the old Gospel, the exhibition of the old love; for God has no new pity to disclose, no new saving power to display: all that can be brought to bear on lost souls is that which has already been pressed to its utmost limit, and has failed.  The Gospel has used all its arguments and appeals, and it is a spent Gospel: the Spirit has used all the agencies at His command to move the heart, and He is a rejected Spirit: what can now change man’s hate to love?  Death works no magic: what is to make men love that which, by their very nature, they abhorred, and still abhor?  For there would be the same demand for righteousness, the same commanded renunciation of the world, the same stern prohibition of sin, the same offer of a salvation by mercy alone.  All that is abhorrent in the Gospel now would be abhorrent then. If men can reject God for forty years, they can reject Him for forty aeons, or for 40 millions of aeons; if they can trample on the blood of the cross for a generation, they can trample on it for a hundred generations: if all the love and wisdom and miracle of Jesus Christ, God incarnate preaching in person, could not open deaf ears, what could, on the other side of the grave?  But if probation is useless, God will not offer it: even now, “if they hear not Moses and the prophets, NEITHER WILL THEY BE PERSUADED, IF ONE RISE FROM THE DEAD” (Luke 16: 31).

 

 

PUNISHMENT.  ‘But punishment,’ - so may run the final plea - ‘will make men wise: an experience of Hell, short or long, will open the heart for appeals to which, here and now, it was deaf  Is this so?  The facts are against it.  Every conviction in the law courts makes a convict’s ultimate cure less likely.  It is said that for every adult criminal reformed by prison discipline, at least fifty go from bad to worse.  The successive judgments of God never subdued the heart of Cain - Pharoah - Ahab - Israel.  It was a chief complaint of Jehovah against His people that all His severe scourgings - now exercised in unmingled justice for nineteen hundred years - availed nothing.  Devils besought our Lord not to thrust them into the Abyss: no