Pamphlets

Table of Contents

1. 1 Samuel 1, 2 and 3
2. 1 Samuel 3
3. An Allegory: Things Supposed to Illustrate Things That Are
4. Some Pamphlets Related to Assembly Truth: From Egypt to Shiloh
5. The Atoning Death of the Son of God
6. The Burnt Offering
7. Chosen in Christ
8. Christ the Center; Or, Why Do We Meet in His Name Alone?
9. Christianity Begun
10. The Church, Its Ministry, and the Doctrines Taught
11. The Church of God as Found in the Scriptures: What Is the Church? What Is Its Ministry? What Is Its Destiny?
12. Cleansed by Blood, and Washed by Water
13. The Consecration of the Sons of Aaron
14. Continue Thou
15. A Few Remarks on a Review of the C.S. Tracts
16. The Day of Atonement
17. The Doctrines of the Salvation Army Compared With Scripture
18. The Doctrines Taught
19. Doors Shut and Lamps Put Out
20. The Effects of the Gospel
21. Election
22. Eve
23. Facts and Fruits of Paul's Gospel
24. First State of the Church
25. The First Years of Christianity: That Which Was From the Beginning
26. The Four Gospels
27. Fruit
28. Full Redemption
29. God for Us to the Very End
30. God Is Love
31. The Gospel of the Glory
32. The Government of the House of God, and the Place of the Assembly in a City
33. The Grace of God to a Collier With a Broken Leg
34. What is Grace?
35. Great Stones and Costly
36. The Great Supper: What It Cost
37. Hebrews 10
38. Hezekiah; Or, Brief Lessons on Church Truth
39. How Does the Believer Know That He Is Justified?
40. How May I Know That I Am Called to Preach the Gospel?
41. How the Lord Jesus Regarded the Scriptures
42. If You Knew the Gift of God!
43. Imputed Righteousness: What do the Scriptures teach?
44. Jesus on the Shore
45. Job's Conversion; Or, God the Justifier
46. Jonathan; Or, One Thing Lacking
47. Joseph, Type of the Risen Christ
48. The Jubilee of the Queen, and the Jubilee of God
49. The Book of Judges
50. Justification in the Risen Christ: Or the Faith Which Was Once Delivered to the Saints
51. Lessons of the Wilderness
52. Leviticus 2 and 23
53. The Live Bird Let Loose
54. The Lost Tribes of Israel
55. As It Was in the Days of Lot
56. The Meaning of the Word Shiloh
57. The Meat Offering
58. Mephibosheth. Lame on Both Feet; Or, the Kindness of God
59. An Address to the Mormons of Salt Lake City and Elsewhere
60. Mount Ararat; Or, Noah Raised up in the Ark From Among the Dead
61. Naaman the Leper Dipped Seven Times in Jordan
62. Nehemiah; Or, the Building of the Wall
63. As It Was in the Days of Noah
64. Now the Hammer and the Ax
65. The Order of Preaching, Worship, and Edification
66. The Passover
67. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
68. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
69. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
70. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
71. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
72. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
73. Paul's Defense of the Gospel
74. The Peace Offering
75. Perfection; Where Is It? and What Is It?
76. The Porter's Situation
77. The Preparation Day: Behold the Man
78. Present Troubles
79. The Promise of the Holy Ghost
80. Propitiation and Substitution
81. Rahab: Or, the Siege of Jericho
82. A Short Answer to Many Letters on the Ramsgate Matter
83. Rebecca
84. Redemption
85. Reply to Dr. Titcomb
86. The Rest, the Well, and the River
87. The Revival of Shiloh
88. Righteousness and Peace
89. The Righteousness of God
90. Ruth
91. Ruth; Or, Blessing and Rest
92. Samuel; Or, Recovery in the Last Days
93. A Seeming Difficulty
94. Shiloh
95. Shiloh as a Place
96. Shiloh in the Beginning
97. Shiloh in the Day of Failure
98. The Sin Offering
99. Solomon's Temple; Or, the Altar Equal to the Holiest
100. The Song of Shiloh
101. Then the Tug of War
102. The Two Husbands of Romans 7
103. Two Things Which God Has Joined Together
104. The Unsettled Question
105. Victory!
106. The Warning
107. What Does God Say to the Swearer?
108. What Is Good News to a Man Who Feels Himself Lost?
109. What Is the Church?
110. What Is the Gospel of God? And, Do You Believe God?
111. What Was the Sabbath? What Is the First Day of the Week, or the Lord's Day?
112. Who Is to Blame?
113. Worship; Or, One in Ten
114. You Will Never Make Your Peace With God
115. The Young Believer's Difficulties
116. The Young Convert's Inquiry as to Where He Should Go

1 Samuel 1, 2 and 3

It would be well now to read carefully these three chapters, so full of our subject, and compare them with Revelation 3:7-22. In the one case we have the closing scenes of Shiloh, in the other the closing scenes of Christendom. In both we are close on judgment. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see the solemn application to the very circumstances of this day.
Here then in 1 Samuel we have two families, both at Shiloh, the place where the Lord set His name at first. In one family there is nothing that God condemns; in the other, there is nothing that He approves. In the closing days of Christendom there is not one thing the Lord condemns in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13). In Laodicea there is not one thing that He approves (Rev. 3:14-19).
The very names of the two families at Shiloh are most significant; and in their meaning, and all else recorded respectively of them, we learn that it is not enough to be, as is said, on true ground, that is, professedly gathered to Christ, whose right it is, the true Shiloh, the true and only place He approves; but also, what is the real state of soul of those who outwardly are so gathered.
There is then the family of ELKANAH, and the family of ELI. Both are at Shiloh. Everything said in these chapters is about them at Shiloh. No one can deny or fail to admit there has been a most remarkable revival of this very truth, as to the only true place of worship and service of Christians, gathered to Christ, the true Shiloh, in these last fifty years.
As Elkanah is named first, we will first take his name. Elkanah is, “God has redeemed, possession of God, whom God created.” In this name all is of God. Redemption is an accomplished thing, God has redeemed us to Himself; we are His, and none shall pluck us out of His hand. We are His possession, we are not our own. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17); and that new creation is wholly of God. This very name Elkanah indicates the blessed truths God has restored in these last days.
And the name HANNAH is equally characteristic. “Grace and mercy.” Oh, the freeness of His favor, and the depths of His mercy!
In contrast with all this, ELI means “a foster son, adopted of the Lord”; and it is very remarkable that in Greek the word Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) means a similar thing! All this points out officialism, in place of the enjoyed relationship of a child born of God. Is there not a difference between God adopting the flesh, and imparting the divine nature as born of God?
The names of the sons of Eli are equally characteristic of that which is not approved of God.
HOPHNI means “Boxer, pugilist.” In Arabic, “To fill both hands full.”
PHINEHAS, “Mouth of brass.” This boldness may be for good, as in the case of another Phinehas; but what one sees and deplores in some who have taken a place at Shiloh, that is, professedly gathered to Christ, is just what answers to these names Instead of seeking to help and feed the whole church of God, wherever found, with the blessed truths of a full and eternal redemption — God’s unceasing love and care for His saints as His own possession — and that every believer is God’s new creation; instead of unfolding the riches of His grace and the depths of His mercy; instead of these things, nothing suits their nature more than to go into a village, or a town, and fight everybody and every sect like a boxing pugilist, with a mouth of brass that knows no shame. Such then are the names of the two families, both at Shiloh. And even in the family of Elkanah, PENINNAH the prosperous and faithful, was not so approved as Hannah, the feeble, yet daughter of grace and mercy. What warnings and divine teaching for us.
Let us now look at Hannah, for the Holy Spirit brings her out the most prominent. We see her at Shiloh, provoked by her adversary, because of her barrenness. She lays all before the Lord at Shiloh. There she weeps in the bitterness of her soul. It may be, my reader, you are barren and unfruitful in the things of the Lord. Have you ever wept in bitterness over this? She wept sore; have we? She asked at Shiloh for a man child, and she asked for this for Shiloh. Eli, the aged priest, knew nothing of all this; he saw, but did not understand; he thought she was drunken. Yes, there may be two parties at Shiloh, and they do not understand each other. Eli sits on a post, and Hannah weeps sore. But the request of the weeper is granted. She had poured out her soul at Shiloh before the Lord, and He had heard, and answered. Jesus says to His feeble, weeping Hannahs, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” (John 16:23). He for whom she had asked was born. “She bare a son, and called His name SAMUEL [asked of God], saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:20). Men delight in what is great and showy; not so the Lord. He says, “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it” (Rev. 3:8). Is this because thou art become great and strong, and hast done many mighty things? No; “for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name (Rev. 3:8). Is not this what the Lord approves in these very last days? Philadelphia (Rev. 3:8) is the answer.
In our lovely picture of the true Philadelphian, there are four things. Samuel is a little child. Jesus tells us there is no way of entrance but “as a little child” (Luke 18:17). The second thing is, Samuel is weaned before he is brought to Shiloh. What sorrow in the assembly caused by persons being brought in before they are weaned from the world! There was more weaning forty years ago.
The third thing was, Samuel was dedicated through death, the death of a bullock.
And the fourth mark of this true Philadelphian, was that he was a worshiper at Shiloh; “and he worshipped the Lord there” (1 Sam. 1:28). No doubt two parties, the approved and the disapproved, may both be at Shiloh; that is, both take the ground of their meeting, to be gathered to the Lord. How am I to know which is right? Here are four things to guide me: little, weaned, dedicated, and a worshiper. Do these marks answer to the state of our souls, or rather, does our state answer to these marks? Are we really little in our own eyes? If not, we are not the children of Hannah, grace and mercy. Are we weaned from the world? If not, it would be better to go to the church of the world, than bring the world to the Shiloh of God. Are we really dedicated by the death of Christ, of which the bullock was a type? Think of being crucified with Him. And lastly, Are we true worshipers in spirit and in truth? Do we delight in God, joy in God? What is the love of God to you? Is it so shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit given unto you, that in return you adore Him in holy peace? Oh, that these marks did more abound wherever souls are gathered to Him, whose right alone it is, the blessed Shiloh, and in that only place of peace and tranquility of soul.
Before we go on to the further characteristics of the two families at Shiloh, showing so distinctly what is pleasing to God at this very time, and what is not, let us ask ourselves, Are we real worshipers? can we sing the song of Shiloh? Yes.

1 Samuel 3

“And the child Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days: there was no open vision” (1 Sam. 3:1). It is so now. It is only as we are as little children we can really serve the Lord. And though there is no open vision, no further development, yet cannot we say that the Word of God is precious in these last, closing days of Christendom, as in those closing days of Shiloh? The eyes of Eli began to wax dim that he could not see. It is so wherever known evil is allowed or palliated. Dimness of perception of divine truth is sure to be the result. “And ere the lamp of God went out” (1 Sam. 3:3). Is it not a solemn thought that the bright testimony of the Holy Spirit will soon cease to shine in this poor world, before God shall give the rejecters up to dark and strong delusion? The night grows dark, already pagan ritualism covers the land with many a rite of Baal. Is this a time for indifference? Are the Elis and Samuels to lie down to dream, being neither cold nor hot? No, the voice of the Lord is heard, but not by Eli: “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 17). But he who allows the evil he condemns, has no ear to hear. Eli heard not that voice, though it had to say to him.
Samuel, the little, weaned, dedicated worshiper, heard. His ear was open, but at first he did not understand. Do we hear the Spirit say, Give out such a hymn; read such a portion of the word; or lead the assembly in prayer or worship? Well does the writer remember the first time the Spirit said to him, Read the first chapter of 2 Corinthians , and the thoughts that were then impressed on his heart, though much over forty years ago. Like Samuel, he did not then know the Lord after this manner Yes; if really waiting before the Lord, it is our privilege to be unmistakably guided by the Spirit, ever present with the saints on earth. But if we allow evil this cannot be; and the official priesthood never thus hear the voice. Nay, in poor, fallen Christendom, the real guidance of the Holy Spirit, as to what shall be done when gathered together, is never thought of. Oh, to be a little child, and with Samuel say, “Speak, for Thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:10). Now is it not most remarkable that the doom and judgment on the house of Eli is communicated to the child Samuel? And what is the sin that brings down this terrible judgment? Is it not repeated again, as we have seen, this one thing — the allowance of sin which he condemned? “And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever” (1 Sam. 3:14). Very affecting are the words of the aged Eli: “What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me” (1 Sam. 3:17). “And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Sam. 3:18). Yes, in many respects this seems to have been an amiable, aged priest. Was it not even human kindness, or parental kindness? He might call it love, as many have done in this day. They have called it love to allow and pander to the false doctrine and evil they condemn Have they not even slandered those who have sought to exclude the evil and give it no shelter? Oh, let us all take this solemn lesson of Eli’s house to heart! Remember, brethren in Christ, judgment will begin at the house of God, as it swept away the house of Eli at the close of the history of Shiloh.
We thus learn it is not enough to be at Shiloh. We must have the spirit of Samuel the little. Note these results: “Samuel grew” (1 Cor. 3:19). Where there is the suited condition of soul, suited to Shiloh, there will be real growth. “And the Lord was with him” (1 Sam. 3:19). Are you quite sure the Lord is with you? It is no Shiloh if He is not, for He is the true Shiloh. “And did let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19). It is so now, and will be to the end. (See Rev. 3:9.) Yes, all shall know this. “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh, by the word of the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:21). Nothing could be more cheering to the true Samuels in this day, though just at the end. Yes, up to the end, as at the beginning, the Lord will reveal Himself in Shiloh, in the place that He hath chosen. Wherever two or three are gathered to His name, there He will be, there He is. It is not where there is a splendid cathedral, or a splendid organ, or a gorgeous ritual, or priestly robes of cost! Not where riches and fashion are displayed. No, all this is Laodicean, and where that is, He reveals not Himself, but stands outside and knocks (Rev. 3).
Hold fast, then, this blessed fact: that to the very end, as the Lord appeared to Samuel in Shiloh, as He revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord, so He will now to the end. Let the house of Eli rail and misrepresent you, the Lord’s dear presence is enough the mind and heart to fill.
The house of Eli may often say, “Ebenezer” (1 Sam. 7:12), “hitherto the Lord hath helped us.” There is much of such boasting in Christendom. It is the spirit of Laodicea. Do not forget that the Philistines are not far off the same place. The Philistines, those who are in the land, but not of it, are gathering and preparing their forces. Shiloh was destroyed; Shiloh as a place came to an end. Samuel went to Ramah, his home — Ramah, “the high places.” Christendom will indeed be destroyed; but the church of God — Samuel, so to speak — will be caught up to the high places, and be seated around the throne of God in glory. From Ramah Samuel judged Israel (1 Sam. 7:17). Paul says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2).
We will close these brief remarks with a short review.
A redeemed people, not only sheltered by the blood, but brought out of Egypt.
They must also be brought in, through the Jordan, into the land.
Then, when they had rest and possession, the Lord placed His name in Shiloh.
For centuries Shiloh was almost forgotten.
The great revival of Shiloh in 1 Samuel 1-3. To pursue the type, we have Ruth, the bride before the reign.
Then Saul, head and shoulders above the rest. Then follows the reign of David.
Thus also the church is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb Brought out of darkness and slavery, and blest in Christ in the heavenlies. All this must be known before church position can be understood. The church, or even two or three, are now gathered to the risen Christ, the true Shiloh, He “whose it is.”
Blessed place of peaceful tranquility. This was practically lost and unknown for centuries. Then, as Shiloh was so remarkably revived in 1 Samuel. 1-3, so in these last few years the true principle of gathering together has been restored. That is, to Himself, the only One whose right it is. As there were two parties, or families, then, so again now. One who has allowed the evil they condemned, the other desiring to exclude all evil, in separation to Christ, the only Shiloh.
May the Lord apply His truth to us all. May Hannah’s song be ours, however reviled as exclusive. May we learn in this lesson what is pleasing to the Lord! May we know the Shiloh, Emmanuel, “He whose it is.” May we honor Him, cleave to Him, glorify Him, for He alone is worthy. “Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou.”
In the midst of the redeemed in glory, Thou shalt be the Shiloh. When Thou shalt come to this poor, sad earth, Thou, whose it is, shall have the glory. All nations shall worship Thee. Thine be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
God’s Center in Shiloh: Lessons for the Church Today

An Allegory: Things Supposed to Illustrate Things That Are

Some forty years ago, there was a serious outbreak of smallpox, and some scholars came from an infected house to a large school. Those who had the care of the children refused to examine whether there was smallpox in the house from which these children came, maintaining that if the smallpox was not in their school, they had nothing to do with its being in other houses, or in other places. The result was that a good many children left this school, and many parents refused to let their children go there. Finally, after forty years, this school decided to hold this principle, that it did not matter if children came from a house where most decided cases of smallpox were known to exist: if the children who came were themselves free from this severe disease, they should be received.
And strange to say, those who had left this school, and adopted the contrary principle, that is, who felt it would be utterly unsafe for the health of the school, to allow any scholars to come from infected houses, or to go to them, these were greatly blamed by the others, and great bitterness was shown towards all connected in any way with the school that desired to do their utmost to preserve their scholars and school from smallpox. And what is still more strange, many doctors also greatly blamed this great care, and thought it very foolish and narrow-minded to refuse to go to that school. Indeed, those who sought to exclude smallpox were quite despised and slandered for forty years.
Not long ago a person could hardly believe it possible, so he wrote a letter to one of the principal persons at this smallpox open school, and to his surprise he received a distinct answer in the affirmative. Yes, it was quite true, their principle of admission at the open school was, that if a scholar came from a place where he believed the smallpox was unmistakenly, providing this person was free from the disorder, even if as a day scholar he continued to actually live in the house where the smallpox was, still he should be admitted. Well, the exclusive school have been very sorry, and felt they could not mix with the open school: and for this alone they have had to suffer long and great reproach.
At a time like the present, when smallpox is raging, to which of these schools would you prefer sending your child? Is there anything very dreadful in seeking to preserve a school from the danger of smallpox? The exclusive school have not an unkind feeling towards those who carry on the open school. It is only this smallpox infection they feel they must by all means avoid. Are they not bound to do so, if they care for the children?
To many this allegory will be perfectly plain without one word of explanation. Some will say it is not true. Surely every Christian will say that deadly false doctrine, against the Person of Christ, is as serious and dangerous to the soul as smallpox is to the body. If this be allowed, then is not our allegory an exact picture of what has taken place for the last forty years? A deadly doctrine against Christ broke out like an epidemic. So serious was this, that one of the chief leaders at Bethesda, Bristol, said if it were as Mr. Newton taught, Christ would have needed a Savior! or words to that effect, and which was assuredly true. Bethesda refused to judge this false doctrine, refused to honestly separate from those who held it, or came from where it was held and taught, and greatly blamed those who did seek in every way to refuse all fellowship with it. We do not need here to repeat what thousands of Christians felt, and do still feel, to be shocking blasphemies against Christ. I never met a Christian yet who did not so judge when it was put before him.
I wish, however, to keep to this one point. Is my smallpox allegory a fair representation of the case? Many with Bethesda will say, Far from it. Many will say, “Bethesda has judged its past mistakes: has judged the evil doctrine of Mr. Newton, and is as clear of it as you are, and would no more receive from where it was held than you would. Never would we receive from an assembly where known false doctrine is held.” Many are deceived; dear sincere souls believe it is so. The Lord is my witness, I love them in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Oh how I have longed that it was true, and longed until I almost thought it was true, that they would not have fellowship with any coming from and being in fellowship where false doctrine was held. If this were true, why should they remain separate?
And here I would just remark, it is utterly untrue that those they call exclusive, have bitter feelings against those who take the open ground. We love all the Lord’s people amongst them; and we say, if you repent of your past actions, and now desire to exclude all connected, or in fellowship with false doctrine, then why are you not with us, seeking to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? (Eph. 4:3).
Is it true then, that Bethesda really does now receive from those in fellowship where those minister who teach errors? Certainly not, many will say. C. L., a Christian young man in London, being much perplexed as to this question, wrote to Bristol to inquire at the fountain head. He received the following:
New Orphan Houses, Ashley Down,
Bristol: 19th Dec. 1883.
Dear Sir,
In reply to your inquiry, the ground on which we receive to the Lord’s table is soundness in the faith, and consistency of life of the individual believer. We should not refuse to receive one whom we had reason to believe was personally sound in the faith and consistent in life merely because he, or she, was in fellowship with a body of Christians who would allow Mr. Newton to minister among them; just on the same principle that we should not refuse a person equally sound in faith and consistent in life simply because he, or she, came from a body of Christians amongst whom the late Mr. J. N. Darby had ministered, though on account of much more recent unsound teachings of the latter, we might well feel a priori greater hesitation.
I am, faithfully yours,
Signed. James Wright.
Now, passing by the false accusations against that honored servant of the Lord Jesus, J. N. Darby, suppose it were true that he also, as well as Mr. Newton, taught unsound doctrine against the blessed Lord, what then are the avowed principles of Bethesda to this very day? Are they not exactly the same as the supposed school that admits its scholars, if free themselves from smallpox, though they come and go to houses infected? Is not this utter heartlessness as to Christ? Should we speak of a man consistent in life because he pretends he is free from Unitarianism, and yet is in fellowship with them? This question is raised again in Christendom. J. N. Darby is with the Lord. Another has spoken out — I give one line, and such a line.
“To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord.” — C. H. S. (“Sword and Trowel,” p. 558.) These are weighty words, and we thank God that the writer has taken some action in accordance with them. Not so the defender of the open school. The editor of “The Christian,” speaking of Mr. Spurgeon, remarks, “He has taken action which we deeply regret,” (Nov. 18, 1887, p. 13). To the editor it is perfectly dreadful, because it would justify Mr. Darby in withdrawing from those who held or favored abominable, unsound doctrine. He says, “It is difficult to distinguish between excommunicating the Baptist Union, and excommunicating the churches represented in it. Nor is it very easy to discern the difference between this line of action and that of the followers of Mr. Darby in excluding from fellowship George Muller and the Bethesda meeting, etc. The argument practically is that all who are faithful and true to Christ ought also to withdraw. What would follow? That the field would be left in the hands of those whose light is darkness.... Mr. Spurgeon has made his statements, which we believe in the main to be true... and he has taken action which we deeply regret.”
Thus he deeply regrets Mr. Spurgeon’s action. Yes, this is sadly true. The leaders of this open school, open to unsound doctrine, deeply regret that J. N. D. withdrew from it, and deeply regret that Mr. Spurgeon should do the same thing! It would be difficult to conceive more utter indifference to Christ.
That association with evil is not only allowed, but advocated, may be seen in a letter by Mr. Groves, re-published in “The Christian” (Sept. 23, 1887), in which the writer says, “I would INFINITELY RATHER BEAR with all their evils than SEPARATE from THEIR GOOD.” Can words be plainer?
Is it not even worse than the school open to smallpox infection? For if the bad doctrine is inside, to withdraw from it, is to take action which is deeply regretted. It is well known that the partisans of false doctrine were in Bethesda, when we were compelled by their refusing to judge it, to withdraw from it. Yes, that is what we felt then, and still feel before the Lord. With this defender of Bethesda it is no question of Christ, but of men, be it Mr. Newton, or Mr. Darby, Mr. Spurgeon or Dr. Angus, and other doctors. May the Lord open the eyes of many sincere but deceived Christians.
To talk of Mr. Darby or Mr. Spurgeon excommunicating such men as George Willer, or Dr. Angus and others, is merely to throw dust in people’s eyes. They do no such thing: but in faithfulness to Christ purge themselves from all who identify themselves with false doctrine concerning Christ.
The Scripture is clear as to the path of a Christian in these circumstances. 2 Timothy contemplates a state of corruption so sad, that the faithful Christian can no longer purge out the leaven of evil. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. AND LET EVERY ONE THAT NAMETH THE NAME OF CHRIST DEPART FROM INIQUITY. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:19-21). Not that he will be alone, or seek isolation, but will seek to be in holiness, “with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). Then read the inspired description of the professing church at this hour (2 Tim. 3:1-5), “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” God says, “FROM SUCH TURN AWAY.” Read 2 John, “Whosoever transgresseth [or goeth beyond] and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.... If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” Are we to say, “Oh it will not do to obey these scriptures; think of what would follow if you did”? No, faith does not reason thus. Surely the reader will see the difference between arrogantly excommunicating others, and simply obeying the Word of God. There must be an undivided heart for Christ, that would follow Him at all cost. “Cost,” did I say? There can be no joy greater than pleasing Him. Yet true it must be at the cost of everything, to follow Christ, and obey from the heart His Word. If Mr. Spurgeon is with God, and his eye only on the glory of Christ, he will go through this hour of testing; and if he is not, he will break down. Nothing will do but uncompromising decision for Christ, and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Surely every true lover of Christ will be deeply thankful for the action of Mr. Spurgeon. Faithfulness to Christ is not bitterness against those that are His. Can any one see bitterness in either Mr. Darby or Mr. Spurgeon in refusing fellowship with the abettors of soul-destroying false doctrine? No, but Christ was more to them than union with those who would destroy the gospel. One is gone to his rest. His most private letters are now published which he wrote during the severe trial, when the storm of persecution burst upon him, for withdrawing from false practice and false doctrine. Read them, and see whether he breathed the spirit of rancor, or tender love even to those who so deeply erred.
Our prayer is that now the same spirit of holy tender love may continue to mark all our steps, and the steps of Mr. Spurgeon, if the same storm of persecution breaks upon him.
It was that very sentiment that guided my steps forty years ago, “To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.” And forty years’ experience has confirmed me in its truth. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10, 11).

Some Pamphlets Related to Assembly Truth: From Egypt to Shiloh

“But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first” (Jer. 7:12).
“For where two or three are gathered together to my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
Before we can understand the instruction given to us in these last days, contained in the deeply interesting subject of Shiloh, we must take a brief view of the dealings of God with His people Israel, to whom He appointed Shiloh as the only place where He set His name Their history, written for our instruction, is a type or figure of each believer’s history and salvation.

The Atoning Death of the Son of God

“Without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22
We shall find this is not a mere solitary text of Holy Scripture; but the basis of all Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. It is all-important, however, to notice the position man is in, since the fall, as recorded in Genesis 3: “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:23-24). Thus the head of the human race was driven out of the presence of God through sin. And the question is, What can give man liberty to enter that presence again?
The first man born of Eve, Cain, tried this principle. He tried to do his duty, tilled the land as he was commanded, and brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. But he entirely ignored the whole question of sin and the curse, and utterly set aside the necessity of the shedding of blood. Outwardly he seems an amiable man; and he comes to God, as some one has said, as if nothing were amiss. Just coming to Him as to a common Father, who was too kind to make any question as to sin. This is the principle of Unitarianism: God, the common Father of all mankind; and the setting aside the need of the shedding of blood. Abel, on the contrary, acknowledged the holy claims of God. He approached God through the death of a substitute. “He also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof” (Gen. 4:4). God refused the one and accepted the other, thus marking the only true way of approach. And let us also remember, however outwardly amiable the character of Cain had been, he murdered his brother Abel. He might build his city, adorn the world, and his sons seek to make that world as agreeable as possible; yet he was the wandering murderer; the vagabond; his sons the sons of the murderer; the curse of sin upon them, however they might seek to forget or deny those words; the doom of the sinner. “So He drove out the man” (Gen. 3:24). Yes, these root principles in these early histories illustrate the position of every human being on earth at this day.
The way of Cain is one of the marks of the last days. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11). Yes, God’s woe is surely pronounced upon all those who approach Him in the way of Cain; upon all who ignore man’s lost and guilty condition, and would come to God without the death of a substitute, as though He were the common Father of all mankind, and there was nothing amiss. No, man is not now as God made him, and placed him in paradise. He is fallen; he is guilty; he is driven out. However amiable, man is a murderer; we are all the sons of the murderers of the Son of God! Jews and Gentiles conspired to put Him to death. Woe to my reader if he denies his true condition and God’s remedy. There is no other.
The great truth of atonement, we shall find, does not depend on the meaning of a word. We will bring Scripture to show that it can only mean the real expiatory death of the holy substitute, the Son of God.
We propose to point out:
1. Some of the pictures, or types, of the atonement.
2. The promises of the atonement in the Psalms and the prophets.
3. The fulfillment of the fact of the atonement in the gospels.
4. The statement, and application of the atonement in the epistles. In a short pamphlet this can only be done very briefly.
First, The Pictures of the Atonement
“And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar” (Gen. 8:20). Now is it not remarkable that while the Lord fully recognized the utter evil of man, yet He accepted Noah’s offering, as He had Abel’s, before the flood? Thus blessings on this earth to man flow through the efficacy of Noah’s offering, when seen as it was, a picture of Christ. And when Abraham was tried, in the offering up his only begotten son, what a type of the great transaction on Calvary, when God gave up His beloved Son. Yes, those words of Abraham were then fulfilled: “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb” (Gen. 22:8). And God did. Hear him speak: “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). Isaac was spared. The ram was killed; offered up in his stead. “Jesus must needs suffer” (see Matt. 16:21). We have another picture of the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36) in the paschal lamb, when God brought Israel out of Egypt. That lamb must die. “The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses,” etc. (Ex. 12:6-8). Yes, the blood must be shed. “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). Thus we see in this picture, nothing can shelter from Divine judgment but the death of another: the blood of the substitute lamb. God says, “When I see the blood I will pass over.” Now look at Exodus more closely. What is the meaning of that tabernacle? We shall find the answer in Hebrews. But note this striking fact. Why is that altar with its grate, to receive the killed victim to be burnt for a sweet savor to God, placed at the door of the tabernacle? Is it not to teach in picture that there is no way to God but by the death of another? God has been pleased to give us a whole book describing the various offerings and service of Israel: the book of Leviticus . These are not the mere writings of Moses; but “the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him” (Lev. 1:1). Here God gives minute descriptions and instructions. The burnt-offering, the peace-offering, the sin-offering. In all these there must be the death of the victim to make atonement. Now, if these are not pictures of Christ, what are they? For in themselves God had no pleasure (Heb. 10). There was also the meat-offering, in which case a life was not offered. This evidently set forth the living person of the Holy One of God. The more He was tried in His own person, even by the fire of judgment, the sweeter the savor to God. It would be impossible in so short a paper to point out the precious distinctions in the offerings, precious because pointing to that which is precious in Christ. Beginning with the sweet savor of His offering Himself for us, and our acceptance in the sweet savor of Christ to God, and ending with the sin offering, consumed by fire, outside the camp. Christ forsaken of God during those hours of darkness on the cross; consumed, so to speak, by the fire of Divine judgment for us. Ever bearing in mind that God’s great lesson in all these offerings is this, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 1:11). How fully this agrees with those words, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). If, then, the atonement is the great picture lesson of all these offerings, it follows that in order to understand the atonement, Leviticus must be closely studied.
Once every year there was to be a great day, of atonement (Lev. 16). And don’t forget this is what Jehovah spake to Moses. Was Aaron even at liberty to come into the presence of God without blood? Far from it; the sin-offering must be killed. “He shall take of the blood of the bullock and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward; and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times” (Lev. 16:14). Oh, read carefully the whole chapter! What a distinction between these two goats. The one is killed; its blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat for atonement. It is the propitiation that reconciles the holy place and the tabernacle. Now the tabernacle was a figure of things in the heavens, as we learn in Hebrews 9:21-23, we thus see, that through the propitiation of the death of Jesus the glory of God is maintained in reconciling all things unto Himself by the blood of the cross: whether they be things in earth or in heaven (Col. 1:20). Propitiation is not substitution; but that aspect of the death of Christ which maintains the righteousness of God in showing mercy towards all.
The other goat is substitution clearly. There it stood, the substitute of the people. “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat: and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness,” etc. (Lev. 16:21-22). Here, then, is God’s picture of Christ bearing the sins of His people as their substitute; and to deny this is to charge God with folly. For if it is not this, it is a picture, or shadow, of nothing. We shall see shortly whether these beautiful pictures are not fully borne out in the New Testament.
Is it not strange that God should have, in such loving care, given us so many types of instruction so accurate? and yet men are so blind that they see nothing in them. But the truth is, if the atoning death of Jesus is not seen in them, nothing can be seen. What do those two birds in the cleansing of the leper mean if they do not set forth the death and resurrection of Christ? It is either the matchless wisdom of God, in setting forth in picture, that death by the one bird killed over running water, and the risen Christ, by the other bird, dipped in the blood of the dead one, and sprinkled seven times on the leper, to be cleansed, and then letting the live bird loose, the priest pronouncing him clean; or it is a mere formal ceremony. Great was the joy of the poor leper when he heard the words and saw the little bird loose. Greater still the joy of the burthened sinner when he hears the word of the Lord, and knows that he is now justified from all things; for God hath raised Jesus, His sinbearer, from the dead. Yes, volumes might be written on all the pictures God hath given of the atoning death of His eternal Son.
Whether it be the cleansing of the leper, the consecration of the Levites, or the priests, the blood of atonement must flow, must be shed. What streams of blood were shed for fifteen centuries! The strict observance of these laws of the offerings was what marked obedience in the good kings of Israel; and the neglect of these marked those that did evil in the sight of the Lord. For the laws of these sacrifices read Leviticus 4-7; the consecration of Aaron and his sons, Leviticus 8; 9. “So the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you” (Lev. 8:34). The cleansing of the leper, Leviticus 14. Nay, in one way or other the atoning offerings of the law form the chief subject of Leviticus , and a great portion of Numbers. And think of the thousands of victims offered in sacrifice by David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others; renewed again by the remnant when restored from captivity; and all this appointed by God. Do you say, How terrible this long story of atoning blood? Is not blood most loathsome? It is; but “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” If sins were as loathsome to us as to God, we should not then wonder at this long story of atoning blood. Now what can these vivid pictures of atoning blood point to, if not to the one atoning sacrifice of the Son of God?
We now turn to the —
Promises of the Atonement in the Psalms and the Prophets
There can be no doubt that Psalm 16 refers to the death and resurrection of Christ; for so is it applied both by Peter and Paul. Calm, precious rest in Jehovah, when, as man, the Holy One gave up His life. “For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” etc. (Psa. 16:10, 11). But, oh, that terrible cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psa. 22:1). Did not this unutterable anguish find its utterance on the cross? And up to Psa. 22:21 we hear the deep cry of the holy sin-bearer forsaken of God. (See also Psa. 35; 40; 55; 69, and many others.) The things written concerning Himself.
And in Isaiah do we not hear Jehovah, who clothes the heavens, say, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isa. 1:6)?” And then read His sufferings at the hands of His own nation as the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:1-3). But then note, deeper, yea, atoning, substitutionary suffering is foretold. Thus speaks the prophet more than seven hundred years before the Son of God was actually nailed to the cross by wicked hands, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.... The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.... For the transgression of my people was He stricken.... Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make HIS SOUL AN OFFERING FOR SIN, etc.... For He shall bear their iniquities.... He bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:5-12). Now, it is evident from these plain declarations that all the picture instructions of the atoning victims of the law pointed to this one sacrifice, to this one atoning victim, yet to come. And is not all this expressly applied to the Lord Jesus in Acts 8:35? Yes, from this very same scripture did Philip preach Jesus unto the Eunuch. Surely there is nothing to argue about; we must either believe God or make Him a liar. Such will be the discovery of Israel in the day of their gathering, when this very Redeemer comes to Zion. They will discover that He whom they had esteemed as a mere man, and therefore an imposter, stricken and smitten of God, was in very truth their true sin-bearer and substitute on the cross. This chapter describes their astonishment, and the next their joy.
Do you believe Jesus to be the true sin-bearer, as here declared by the Word of God? All turns on this, both to Israel and to you. It was clearly foretold in the prophets that Messiah should be cut off, and received up to God, though this should in nowise interfere with His future reign on earth, at the same time His eternal Godhead is maintained. Take this out of many scriptures: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (or the days of eternity)” (Mic. 5:2). Thus we have His birth at Bethlehem. But He goes to God, is to be ruler of Israel, and His eternal Godhead. You notice this would be all false if Jesus were only man. “Let God be true” (Rom. 3:4). So in that wondrous communication from God to Daniel, that within seventy weeks from the going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem — or four hundred and ninety years from the twentieth of Artaxerxes — reconciliation for iniquity should be made, everlasting righteousness brought in, and Messiah cut off. All this actually came to pass. Reconciliation for iniquity was made on the cross by the atoning death of the Son of God. Everlasting righteousness was brought in by His resurrection from the dead, and yet as Messiah He was cut off, and His reign postponed until after Jerusalem’s desolations. We now pass on to
The Fulfillment of the Fact of Atonement in the Gospels
How significant His precious name at His birth, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus (Savior): for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Such was to be the name of “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt. 1:22-23). One thing let us carefully notice — though God with us, “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). Sin and Satan were in this world, and he would not have a bit of it, no, not so much as a foot of it, where to lay his head. Satan sought to be as God. He sought the highest place; Jesus took the lowest, even unto death, the death of the cross. Satan sought hard to make Him assert His Godhead: “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matt. 4:3). But Satan could not move Him from His path of devoted humiliation, and dependence on God, and adherence to His Word. Note the craft of Satan; he now points to this very path of real humanity, in deepest humiliation, and says Jesus did not teach His Godhead, and therefore He was not God. Will you believe this deceitful lie of Satan? Oh, wondrous Emmanuel, God with us! yet clothed in such humility as had never been seen before; yet even at His baptism the three distinct persons in one Godhead are present; none can deny this. “The heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16, 17). How can we understand His humiliation unless we own that eternal glory from which He descended? Thus God speaks by the Apostle John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1, 3). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). What is here said of “Jesus,” “Immanuel,” “the Word”? Self-existent was the Word, yet distinct in person with God. Still He was ever eternally God, yet, distinct in person, eternally with God. The whole universe the work of His hands. The Word of God with us. Jesus, Savior. Such was that blessed One who gave Himself to be the Atoning victim on the cross. Yes, He could say, as no mere man could possibly say, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). On this occasion He owned His eternal divinity. If He had been only a man it was blasphemy, and the Jews would have been right in stoning Him (also John 10:30). Yes, there they again took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, and “because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God” (John 10:33). Yes, on His path of humiliation, which led to the cross, His Godhead could not be hid. The dead were raised by His word, the winds and waves obeyed the One that made them all. If only a man, the cross was evidently the death of an impostor. Truly God, eternally God, became flesh; truly man, and thus as Son of God, and Son of Man, He became the devoted victim to bear our sins. In these four gospels then read the accomplishment of the atonement for sins.
Did you say the many scenes of blood that shadowed this forth were loathsome? What was it to our precious Lord? See Him fall on its face, hear the cry of His heart, “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me” (Matt. 26:39). It was not possible, if the sinner must be saved; hence entire submission to the Father’s will. But none but the Father knows what He passed through at the prospect of being made sin for us. The torture of the cross was dreadful; the tender hands and feet nailed to the tree; and when the cross was lifted up and let fall in the hole dug to receive it, oh, the anguish! yet hush, hear those words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It may have been just at the moment of that cruel act. Oh, what hours of anguish! but those three hours of darkness, and forsaken of God. At last the moment came: “It is finished” (John 19:30). He bowed His head and died. And even then man, yes man, must pierce His side.
What is all this? Do the inspired epistles speak with certainty? Was this the atoning expiation for sins? Must He needs thus suffer? If this is salvation, what must be its character, temporary or eternal? The redemption thus accomplished? What questions! Let us turn to the epistles and inquire, and God grant that what we find there the reader may, through grace, believe.
The Statement and Application of The Atonement in the Epistles
Let the reader well note, that in the two epistles which speak of the atonement most fully, Romans and Hebrews, Jesus is “declared to be the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:4). But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). Surely we need not say, Such words as these could not be applied unless Jesus was essentially and eternally divine.
If we now call to mind the picture teaching of God in Leviticus on the day of atonement, we shall find in Romans both aspects of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus — the propitiation (Rom. 3) and the substitution (Rom. 4).
All the world, Jews and Gentiles, being proved guilty before God; “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); the righteousness of God in our justification is thus revealed. “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (or mercy-seat) through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, through the forbearance of God: to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26). How has God revealed His righteousness, whether in remitting sins before Christ died, or in justifying believers since? What is the mercy-seat? “Propitiation through faith in His blood” (Rom. 3:25). God sees that blood of propitiation, and He is righteous in the free favor of our justification. What is it, then, to disbelieve the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ? It is to disbelieve God; to deny that which He hath set forth. Thus the propitiation of Christ, His blood, brought before, and on the throne of God, is the only righteous ground on which God can show mercy to a lost world. That is how God explains it. How God is righteous.
We will now look at substitution; the truth pictured forth in the other, the people’s goat. This, as we saw, became the actual substitute of the people. All the sins and transgressions of the people once a year were laid upon it; transferred from them to it; and borne away, never to be seen again. Now, do the Scriptures teach that the Son of God actually took this place, of very substitute of His people? and that our sins were thus laid on Him, the atoning sin-bearing substitute? Why, this is the foundation of our justification. It is not only written how Abraham was accounted righteous through faith, “but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed (accounted), if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 4:24-5:1). Now, is not the real atoning substitution of Christ set before us here, as distinctly as His propitiation in Romans 3? Thus He was delivered for the very purpose of bearing our offenses, as the holy substitute; and was raised from the dead for the very purpose of our being accounted righteous. Justified on believing God, who thus gave Him to bear our offenses, and raised Him from the dead; all believers are thus accounted righteous before God; and being so, on the principle of faith, we have peace with God. Oh, blessed effect, or result, of faith! but note, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And see how this substitution is enforced, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY” (Rom. 5:6). Can this mean anything but what it says? Ah, when we were not only guilty, but without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. It is no doubt a great mistake to suppose, through sin having come in, God became our enemy; and that the atoning death of the Son of God was to reconcile God to us. The following verses teach the very contrary of this:”But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we (not God) were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:8-10). Thus we have the same two things in the atonement here as in the teaching of Christ (John 3). First, God’s righteousness in justifying the sinner must be maintained. The Son of Man must be lifted up; for God so loved the world. That love was thus shown in the lifting up of Jesus on the cross, as Moses lifted up the serpent of brass. So here the death of Christ for us. His atoning blood, by which we are justified from sins; His death, by which not God is reconciled to us, but we are reconciled to God. In all this, God commendeth His love toward us when we were enemies. This leads us to joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the reconciliation. God accepted the atonement, and proved His acceptance by raising up Jesus from among the dead. We receive the effect of the atonement, that is, reconciliation. Thus the atonement is the foundation of all truth and blessing in the epistle to the Romans Take it away, and the whole fabric falls to the ground.
In like manner, when the apostle declares the gospel he had preached to the Corinthians , he distinctly says it was this: “How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4). Christ the substitute then, bearing our sins in death, is the foundation of all he preached to the Corinthians . The distinct truth of His reconciliation is taught in 2 Corinthians 5. “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.... For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Oh, marvelous words of God! To the Galatians also the apostle writes of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1:4). Thus to them the atoning death of the Son of God was the only true foundation.
The same is revealed to be the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3-7). The same atoning blood is the foundation truth in the epistle to the Colossians, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:12-13). But how and in whom has all this been effected? “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). And what was the gospel Paul preached to the Thessalonians which produced such marked effects? Simply this: “That Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:3). Thus did the inspired apostles ever set forth the atoning death of the Son of God, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). In James there is nothing as to the atonement: that is not the subject of the epistle, but a holy life; justification before men; the fruit of faith. In Peter it is the great foundation truth again. The very sanctification of the Spirit is “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2). “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). God could not have used more distinct language to teach us the substitution of His beloved Son. It is just this, Do we believe God, or make Him a liar” (1 John 5:12)?
There is one peculiar effect of this atonement however only known, and understood, in the light as God is in the light. Whatever profession, the darkness of unbelief knows nothing of it. It is this, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is a statement so amazing that it has no parallel to illustrate it. No words can fully explain it; faith alone accepts it. It does not however mean that while we are here, sin is eradicated from the old nature. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). But as God said of the type, “When I see the blood” (Ex. 12:13), so here God sees the effect of that blood is to remove from His sight all our sins. It is not past, present, or future, but the infinite efficacy of that blood in the sight of God. But if a cleansed believer should sin? “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And 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 2:1-2). The relationship with the Father is thus sustained in so sad a case; our righteousness is still there, with the Father. But take away Jesus the propitiation, and then what are you — lost forever! Blessed be God, this can never be to those who can say, “He is the propitiation for our sins.” And now in the Revelation of Jesus Christ — His coming judgments and coming glories, what can all believers say? “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Ah! with all learned twisting of words, I solemnly ask the Unitarian, can you utter these words, Has Jesus washed you in His precious blood? And when the atoning Lamb of God shall take His place in the midst of the throne, oh, will you be able in that day to say, with the church of the first-born — oh, can you join that song saying — “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood” (Rev. 5:9)? Oh, how can the despiser and rejecter of pardon through that blood now, of peace through that blood now, ever sing then the new song of redemption glories! How can he either sit with this redeemed company, or stand with that innumerable multitude yet to come, who will be before the throne and before the Lamb, those arrayed in white robes? One of the elders asks, Who are they, and whence they came? and then answers, “These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). Oh, everlasting, fatal mistake, to reject the atoning death of the Son of God!
Having thus noticed in a general way how the atoning death of the Son of God forms the great theme of all Scripture, we would in conclusion call especial attention to the statement of that atonement, and its effect, on those who believe, in the epistle to the Hebrews. As we have already hinted, the glory of His person is first presented. God speaking in Him. The appointed Heir of all things. By whom also God made the universe. “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). Can these words be applied to a mere man? Impossible! What man could be the self-existent brightness of the glory of God? It would be nonsense to talk of any mere man upholding this universe. Or how could a mere man have purged our sins eighteen hundred years before we were born? No; the Son of God is before us, truly God — “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8); yet as truly man — “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9); and yet as truly the Jehovah of Genesis — “And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of Thy hands,” etc. (Heb. 1:10-12). All things shall be put under this Jehovah-Jesus. “But we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for (or by) the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the GRACE OF GOD should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). Please notice, then, that it was the free favor of God, grace — by which the Eternal Son came to die for us. Surely this is enough to melt our hearts. What, then, must be the character of that redemption accomplished by the death of an infinite being like the Son of God? It must be eternal, as repeatedly stated — “And being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). This will greatly help us, in studying the atonement, to see its perfect and eternal character, in contrast with the imperfect and temporary atonement under the law. At most its efficacy was yearly. Hebrews 9 contains the formal statement of the atonement of Christ. It is the question of what can bring the sinner into the holy presence of God. In the earthly tabernacle there was a veil which shut man out; and within that veil “the high priest alone entered once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people” (Heb. 9:7). There was no entrance without blood, and then no permanent abiding entrance. “The Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while, as the first tabernacle was yet standing” (Heb. 9:8), all those offerings, washings, etc., could not make the conscience perfect.
We must thus bear in mind, that entrance once a year into the holiest of an earthly tabernacle was a very feeble shadow of that which the Son of God came to open to the sinner, whose sins must otherwise have forever shut him out. “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). Not a place of worship on earth: the heavens opened to Him and to us. “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, BUT BY HIS OWN BLOOD, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:11-12). Then what the High Priest did as an imperfect shadow, for a moment, once a year, on the day of atonement, our great High Priest has done perfectly by entering heaven by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. This is an overwhelming statement. Do we believe it? “For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13-14). Here then is the statement of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. To deny it is simply infidelity. By His own blood He has obtained eternal redemption for us. All this through the eternal Spirit. Thus the distinct person of God the Holy Spirit is proved to be eternal, through whom the Son offered Himself; and it is also through that death, “they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15)”— all is thus eternal. He is the author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9); eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12); through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14); eternal inheritance. (Heb. 9:15). What a study. Every verse is full of living truth, because it is Christ. If then you reject the testimony of God to the blood, is there no remission, no forgiveness of sins? Impossible. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Is not this a solemn truth, not only to the rejecting Unitarian, but to anyone who puts anything whatever in the place of the shed blood of Christ? It is the very sentence of God. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). Now does not this show that the atoning work is done, the whole thing finished eternally? not like the offerings of the law, “nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the High Priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others. For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world” (Heb. 9:25-26). Thus to suppose another offering, or this continued or repeated, is to disbelieve the eternal efficacy of the one offering. But more, it is to suppose an impossibility; for if the offering is repeated, Christ would have to suffer again. Christ offered again to be of any value for the remission of sins, His blood must be shed again. “For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world.” There is now no holy place on earth. Christ has entered heaven itself, by His own blood having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Where then, pray, is the value of all the pretended offerings of Christ on the altar as a sacrifice, and expiating offering for the sins of the living and the dead? Plainly it is all not only a mistake, but a denial of the eternal efficacy of the one offering. A million masses are not worth a farthing unless the priest can assure me that he has shed the blood of the Son of God again; for without the shedding of his blood there is no remission, and unless He suffers the death of the cross again, there is no offering for sins; and this is doubly impossible. There is no more need of an offering, and death can have no more power over Him. “But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). It is not thus a question of words. This was the purpose for which the Son of God appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Did He fail? To offer another sacrifice is to say He did fail. Why should we doubt what God declares? Woe be to him who denies what God says. Thus in the perfect rest of faith we know: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:27-28). Can you thus say, He bore my sins; God is my Justifier; when Christ comes there is no question of sins for me? Think, to see the very One who bare our sins. Don’t alter these words. They do not say that judgment is appointed to ALL men, neither does it say He bare the sins of all; never does Scripture say He bears away the SINS of the world. But this is the question, Can you say, He bare my sins? “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” For such how can there be the judgment of those sins again?
We now come to the effect of the atonement on us who believe God (Heb. 10). There is what the sacrifices of the law could not do; there is what the one sacrifice of Christ has done: the first could not take away sins, could not make the comers thereunto perfect, or complete as to the conscience. If they could they would have ceased to be offered, “because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins” (Heb. 10:2). This, then, is the subject before us. The worshiper once purged has no more conscience of sins; plainly the blood of bulls and goats could not thus put away sins. This is granted as impossible, and therefore, which is very precious to our souls, God had no pleasure in those sacrifices which could not put away our sins. What a God we have to do with! He says, as it were, Such is my eternal love to you, I cannot have pleasure in those sacrifices that fail to present you in holiness without conscience of sins. He entirely took away that which could not take away our sins. “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second” (Heb. 10:9). It is important now to notice that the atonement of the Son of God was according to the will of God. God so loved. “Then said He, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). It is also by His will that we are sanctified or set apart to God, by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. This is the first effect of the atonement as applied to us. Through it, by the will of God, we are sanctified to Him. Then follows a very important verse: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Heb. 10:11). This was true of the many Jewish priests then, for the temple was still standing, and its daily sacrifices were being offered. At that time Christian worship was entirely heavenly. Where the priest was, there was the worship; and He had entered heaven itself, as we have seen. But what of the imitation temples in this day, and the many priests of man’s appointment, and the many pretended expiatory sacrifices offered daily? Let all the priests of the Greek and Roman churches, and their imitators in this land, stand up and hear this one sentence of the Word of God. All your pretended many offerings “can never take away sins.” What! are all these crowds wrong? Yes. “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool” (Heb. 10:12). What do these words mean? The word translated forever is not the one which means everlasting merely, but continuance. The one offering of Christ so perfect, He has never to rise up to offer another. Must it not be so if you think of the glory of His person? The I am; the first and the last; God over all blessed for evermore. To deny this is infidelity. And yet this man! The efficacy of the blood of a goat, or a bull, was temporary, and needed another. Oh, the wickedness of either denying the eternal efficacy of the blood of Christ like the Unitarian, or doubting it with the Ritualist. Truly Jesus may say again, “Ye do dishonor Me” (John 8:49). But now note the effect of this atonement. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). We have seen that sanctification, or separation, to God by His will was the first effect of the one offering: “Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once” (Heb. 10:10). But here we find the effect of His perfect work, His one offering, is equal to the cause. Is He seated in unclouded rest in continuance, after offering one sacrifice? By that one offering He hath perfected forever (the very same word) those that are sanctified. Thus as to liberty to enter the holiest, as to their acceptance through His one offering, all is perfect, in immutable continuance. Always the same. Note, there is no question here of our responsibility. That comes after, and is according to this perfect acceptance. But perfected forever is entirely the work of the Son doing the will of the Father. Now look at the redeemed, the people separated to God by this sacrifice. All their sins laid on Him, transferred to Him, borne by Him; and by one offering He hath perfected them forever, as to their sins, as true as to this now as it will be in the glory. The three persons in the Godhead engaged in this stupendous work; the will of God; the work of the Son; the witness of the Holy Spirit. Yes, “the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.... And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:15-17). Reader, are you a Christian, separated unto God by this sacrifice? Then do you believe God the Holy Spirit? He says, the Son of God hath perfected you forever. He says, God will remember your sins no more. Surely, if you believe this, then you can have no more conscience of sins, and no more need of a sacrifice for your sins.
Do you say, Does that mean that I shall never more be conscious of failure and sin? No, indeed not; for the nearer we are to God, the more conscious we are of failure. It means this: that all your sins having been laid on Jesus, and purged by His atoning death, God never charges one of them again to you. “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18). There can be no need of another offering if we believe God. It is no question of repeated offerings, or repeated sprinklings, or fresh applications. All that is Jewish, and has now vanished away. It is eternal salvation, and therefore perfect.
There will be constant, fresh applications of the water of the Word. And in the fatherly care of our God chastisements and restoration to communion if we fail; and in His governmental dealings with us confessions, repentance, and forgiveness; and, above all, the ever-loving, watchful advocateship of the Lord Jesus with the Father (Heb. 12; ¤ John 1:11), and constant diligence in holiness. (Heb. 12:14).
But all these flow from the perfect position, in which we stand forever perfected as to the conscience — always, continually perfected. This is His work, not ours. He hath forever perfected. How seldom we meet with anyone who really gives Him this glory! One says, “No, I cannot believe that; for the believer after all may be lost.” Another says, “No, I cannot believe that, because the Church says we need many continual sacrifices of Christ for the sins of the living and the dead.” Another says, “I never saw that before. I thought for every fresh sin there needed fresh blood.” If so, He would truly have to die afresh, to suffer often, since the foundation of the world. But oh, how sad, while the Unitarian pretends to be a Christian he denies the true atoning sacrifice of the Son of God altogether! “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). In this very epistle the Jews who had made the profession of Christianity are warned that if they gave it up, and despised the sacrifice of the Son of God by giving it up, and going back to the offerings of the law, they were assured there was no efficacy left, no possibility of restoration; there was nothing to look for but fearful judgments (Heb. 6:1-7; 10:26-30). Oh, Unitarian reader, pause before it be forever too late! Do not suppose the atoning death of the Son of God rests on a few isolated texts. It pervades all Scripture. Take it away, and there would be no foundation — no way for a poor guilty sinner like me to enter the holy presence of God. How can you be saved if you reject this eternal salvation, this eternal redemption, that forever perfects by this one offering for sins?
The peace that He has made by His blood is perfect peace. But it is astonishing how few Christians ever get hold of this divine truth. They look at themselves, and have no idea what that means — “For He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). He hath. They say, “Yes, I see it up to conversion; but what of sins since?” Were not all our sins future when He was offered for them, the sacrifice for sins? “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:28). And God says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). Is not this enough? Shall we not believe God? Again, remember this is no question of entrance into a place or temple of worship on earth. It is really the holiest of all, the very presence of God in heaven. Now then, reader, does the blood of Jesus give you boldness to enter? or do you need something else? No matter what it is; it would deny the eternal value of that one sacrifice. It is not that we hope to have, but “having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19). He having perfected us forever by His one offering, it is our present, immutable continuous privilege, having boldness to enter the holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS.
Purged worshipers, lift up your eyes to heaven; there is your holy place of worship; there is the great High Priest that purged your sins by His own blood. You have boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus. Dying Christian, thy spirit just departing — absent from the body, present with the Lord — thou hast boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus. Hark the assembling shout! the Lord Jesus comes quickly to receive His own to glory, raised in incorruptibility; or we who are alive and remain, changed in a moment. Enter the glory, ye myriads, for each one has boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus! Now we can say, “Unto Him that loveth us, and hath washed us from our sins in His own blood (see Rev. 1:5). And, poor, weary, heavy-laden, guilty sinner, He who gave His precious blood the propitiation for sins, has the right to say unto thee, “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest (see Matt. 11:28). “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

The Burnt Offering

In the offerings we get the purposes and provisions of God for His redeemed people — Christ revealing the heart of God, our Father, in meeting all our need. The very order of these offerings is blessed. The burnt-offering comes first; then the meat-offering; then the peace- offering; and, last, the sin and trespass offerings. Yes, the order suggests the purpose of God to have us unblameable before Him at whatever cost. We may compare these four offerings to a picture gallery. There is God’s end of that gallery, and there is man’s end afar off from God. God is revealed in what Christ is in the perfection of His Person and work, but in order that man, the sinner, may be brought to God, the Holy One must be offered a sacrifice for sin. Hence, in the application of the offerings to the sinner, or to man, the sin-offering (rather, the trespass-offering) comes first. In the Gospels we have, as it were, four distinct photographs of the Lord Jesus, and in these offerings distinct photographs or pictures of His work.
It will help us to understand the burnt-offering if we notice a few of the offerings, and the place they had from the beginning.
No sooner had our first parents sinned, than we read, “Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). What a picture in a few words of the purpose of God, namely, through death to find a clothing, even divine righteousness, for lost and naked man. Does it not point to Him whom God raised from the dead, “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification”?
In the offerings of the first sons of the human race we get what is, and what is not, acceptable to God. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: but unto Cain, and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Now what was the difference between the two? The principle of Cain was to approach God by his own works, as though nothing was amiss. The principle of Abel was to approach God by faith — in the death of a substitute. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts,” etc. Yes, God saw in that offering of Abel a type of the atoning death of His only-begotten Son, and therefore reckoned Abel righteous. We shall see throughout Scripture how God responds to faith in the offering. It was not what Cain and Abel were in their own persons, but it was their offerings. You may be as sincere and as religious as Cain; you may bring that for which you have labored, to the true God, and yet be rejected, as he was. There is no way by which you can be accepted but through the death of Jesus.
We will take another case. “God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me.” God said this because He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Is not this assuredly the true character of man? Man in the flesh is so bad, God can have no hope in him Death and the flood must pass upon the whole race. Noah and his family alone were saved through the judgment on the world. Believing the warning of God he became the heir of the righteousness which is by faith. On what principle then did God accept him, and bless him? Was it a new trial of man, or did God deal with him through the virtue of the sacrifice? When Noah and his family went forth from the ark, “Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor.” Now the great question is this: Will God act according to the savor of the offerings, or will He act towards man according to what man is? If improved, will God bless him? and if not, will He curse him? What does the Lord say on this point? “And the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth: neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease. And God blessed Noah and his sons.” How precious the ways of God in grace shine out here! As to man, there is evil in his heart from his youth. But the action of God flows from what the offering is to Him. Thus all blessing flows to us through the value, and sweet savor of the offering of Christ; yes, even all the earthly blessings man constantly enjoys, seed-time, harvest, all; but how little ran knows this! It is surely most important to understand this principle of the action of God toward us. “He that spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” We shall see the force of this if we turn to the trial of Abraham’s faith (Gen. 22). We must expect every bit of faith God gives to be tried. Abraham was commanded to offer up his son. God says, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Very wonderful was the obedience of faith: he rose up early in the morning. Very touching is the narrative. Then he took Isaac, and the wood, and the fire, and the knife; and all in faith that Isaac, though he die and be consumed on the altar, yet THEY shall return. And his faith looked forward. “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering so they went both of them together. And Abraham built an altar there” (probably the very place where the beloved Son of God was nailed to the cross), “and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” The son of Abraham was spared. God did not spare His Son! God did provide a lamb instead of Abraham’s son. “And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.” And, as in the case of Abel and Noah, God now blesses Abraham according to the value He sees in the offering as pointing to Christ. Man is a sinner. The death of the offering opens up the way for the sinner to God, and removes the barrier betwixt God and the sinner. Only let us remember, this could never be done perfectly by the blood of bulls and goats; these were only types and shadows, all pointing forward to the precious blood of Christ. The propitiatory death of Christ is the basis, and explanation of God’s righteousness in all His past, as well as present, dealings with man.
Let us now, in this light, look at the burnt-offering in Leviticus 1. In all these types it is the Lord that speaks; it is the Lord that reveals Himself — first in these types, and then in Jesus, the fulfillment of them. He spake from out of the tabernacle: the veil was not yet rent. The offering brought to the Lord, must (as it is written) be without spot. “If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord... if his offering be a burnt-sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.” What a picture of Him, who became a man — one of us — who came of His own voluntary will to offer Himself. Who, of all that ever trod this sin-defiled earth, was the One, the only One, without blemish? Need we say His name was Jesus! Infinite, yet voluntary love. As one has said, “Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Oh, the unknown depths of love, when He presented Himself at the door of the tabernacle to God in all the spotless purity and perfectness of divine love, and said, “Father, glorify Thy name.” That is the man, who presented Himself of His own voluntary will, to do the will of Him that sent Him, cost what it might. And was He not accepted for us? “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him.” We shall understand this better when we come to the sin-offering. There we shall see how Jesus became identified with us on the cross as the sin-offering, that we might be identified with Him in all the sweet savor of the burnt-offering. Only the absolute need of atonement must be seen even here, in order that we might be thus reconciled to God, and stand identified with Christ, faith, like the hand laid on the head of the victim, linking us with Christ, in all the sweet savor of His Person and work. Yet in order for this He must die, or we could never be thus one with Him. The grain of wheat must die or remain alone” (John 12:24). Thus God acts toward us, according to the value He sees in the perfect offering of Christ. “And it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him,” or he shall be accepted. Have you laid your hand on this, the firm and blessed ground of faith? He, who made atonement for me, has been accepted for me.
And now, can you say, “I am identified with Him, am one with Him”? Let us contemplate, meditate, on this type of the voluntary offering of Christ for us in all the infinite perfections of His blessed Person. This will bring out, more and more, the heart of God. His purpose is to have us in the likeness of His Son, the first-born among many brethren. His purpose is to bring us into favor in the Beloved. Oh, wondrous, infinite grace.
The offerer may bring a bullock, or a sheep, or goat, or a fowl, a turtledove, or young pigeon. But in either case there must be death. Cain’s offering, without the death of the atoning victim, cannot be accepted. However great or small our apprehension of Christ, there must be the recognized fact of the absolute need of His atonement.
Verse 5. The bullock must be killed before the Lord. The blood must be shed and sprinkled. There can be no approach to God but by the blood of Jesus. Let no man forget this. The blood gives us boldness to enter the holiest. To seek to enter in by any other way will surely be to be rejected, like Cain. Now note the particulars that the Holy Spirit brings before us. The burnt-offering is prepared. “And he shall flay the burnt-offering, and cut it into his pieces.” What a night was that, the night before Jesus was led to the cross! What sufferings known, and unknown to us! How He felt the parting; how He felt the betrayal; how He felt the denying and forsaking — the brutal mockery of the soldiers, and the intense hatred of devils and men! Oh, blessed Jesus, what a night was that to Thee!
But what was all this to the fire on the altar, the searching judgment of God, and yet to find all “of a sweet savor unto the Lord”! The victim had to be washed, to be a fit type of the Holy One of God. “His inwards and his legs shall he wash in water.” The inmost thoughts of His heart, as well as every step of His outward walk, all was divinely pure. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The head with all the parts were laid in order on the wood, that is, on the fire which is upon the altar. Yes, the head, all the majesty and glory of Immanuel laid on the wood, and the fire. What a sacrifice for a sweet savor. Thus we have the preciousness of the Person of Christ offered up on the altar, a sweet savor to God.
But what is the meaning of all this? It will surely again help us to remember, that all this is not redemption from Egypt, but God’s provision for a redeemed people. When this is clearly understood, the offerings become intensely interesting and most helpful. You say, When I first believed the gospel I knew I had redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; but when I think of all my failures since, how can I continue in the favor of God?
Now the very law of the burnt-offering meets this question of continuance. “This is the law of the burnt-offering: It is the burnt-offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (Lev. 6:9-13). Thus is our God teaching us, that He would make a provision for us, that our acceptance should be continuous in all the sweet savor of Christ. And we must not confound this with resurrection, for it is atonement; and the resurrection of Christ is not for atonement, but our complete justification. The hand was laid on the head of the burnt-offering for acceptance. It is our identification with Christ, in the sweet savor of His offering; and this continuous.
Oh, what amazing grace! not that it reaches to our blessings in the heavenlies in Christ; but here on this earth, all through this dark night until the morning break without a cloud, here we learn how we, from our redemption until we see His face, have become identified with Him continuously, in all His sweet savor.
Now if we turn to Hebrews 10 we shall see this most clearly. We learn that these ever repeated and continuous offerings could never in themselves perfect the worshiper. For if they could, they would have ceased to be offered. The Israelites were redeemed; they had crossed the Red Sea, but still there was ever the remembrance of sins, and the conscience was never perfected. These shadows could never satisfy the heart of God, nor perfect the worshiper. They served to point forward to One who came to accomplish the will of God.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once. This is not our redemption nor new birth, nor conversion, but our entire separation to God in all the sweet savor of the offering of Christ to God — all through that one same offering.
Now the offerings of the law could never give continued perfection. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” The sacrifices of the law are put in contrast, for nothing finite could be the image of that which is infinite. The work of the priests was never done. The work of Jesus is done: He is set down on the right hand of God. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever [or in unchanging continuity] them that are sanctified.”
Let us for the present dwell only on the burnt- offering aspect of this precious verse. Of His own voluntary will, as He says, “In burnt-offerings... Thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.” In all the spotless purity of His Person He has made atonement, and identified us with Himself in all the sweet savor of that offering, so that we are continuously perfected, all through this dark night until the blessed morning comes, when we, raised in glory, shall see Him as He is and be like Him.
Beloved reader, do you now see that this has not to do with your conversion, but with your whole path, from that moment to the end of your journey? Perhaps you say, “But if I should sin, what then?” We shall see when we come to the sin-offering. Or you may say, “If I find sin working within me, what then?” We shall see when we come to leprosy. You may indeed be amazed to find the whole range of your needs, food, failures, and sins, met in Christ as pictured in these types. And all to the glory of God, His portion, all a sweet savor to Him.
The burnt-offering, however, is the first picture in God’s gallery. Whatever comes after, this is the first thought of God, that we, the redeemed, shall be, in unchanging continuity, perfected by that one offering. And note; the Holy Spirit is a witness that this is so, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness.”
The mistake of many is this — that they have one great thing to do to attain to this perfection. Look again, is it what you have to do, or is it what He has done? “For by one offering HE HATH perfected forever them that are sanctified.” In the offering Christ is all. He came from the highest glory, and He presented Himself without spot to God. He was the priest, and He was the spotless victim. He offered Himself wholly a sweet savor to God to make atonement. The fire of divine judgment only brought out the sweeter savor to God. And God hath sanctified us, separated us, by that one offering. And He hath, by the one offering of Himself, perfected us, as to the conscience, in continuance, for that is the well-known meaning of this word translated “forever.”
Now have you the witness of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe His testimony to Jesus? Can the sweet savor of His Person who gave Himself for you ever change? And are you not only redeemed by the blood of Christ, which is the foundation of all, but are you sustained as a worshiper in all the unchanging value and perfection of that one sacrifice? The sweet savor of that one offering shall never cease. Perhaps the most daring wickedness of which man is capable, is to deny the everlasting efficacy of that one offering, and dare to offer a counterfeit, without blood, for the living and the dead. This was borne with during the dark ages, when men had not the Scriptures; but who, that has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can fail to see, that men now by crowds, who have the Holy Scriptures in their hands, are yet doing their utmost to setup again the counterfeit sacrifice of the Mass? This must be the prelude to the judgment of God on an apostate Christendom.
It is a solemn moment. Do you believe God whether in the typical teaching of Leviticus 1, or the Spirit’s explanation in Hebrews 10?
We may have little apprehension and weak faith; but notice, whether the man brought a bullock, a sheep, a goat, or a fowl, the same truth is presented. “It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.” Yes, such is the love of God our Father; He would have the feeblest, the weakest of His blood-bought children know, that they ARE, not may hope to be, but they are identified with His beloved Son in all the sweet savor of His work and Person. Such is our acceptance; such our unchanging perfection as to the conscience, or charge of sin or evil. This was the will of God. Christ came to do His will. His will is done. He hath forever perfected them that are sanctified.
The detail of God’s thoughts in the various applications of the burnt-offering are most precious. We may see some of these further on. Enough, perhaps, has been said to show the reader the contrast between the Passover and the burnt-offering. When we were first brought to God, it was like Israel redeemed from Egypt by the blood of the Lamb. But, after that, how much we have to learn of the riches of His grace in our wilderness journey. And how much is unfolded in the types of Leviticus . Even as to the great feasts of Jehovah, the passover comes first (Lev. 23).
The perfect order of the Word of God is most wonderful; often we fail to see it from the confusion of human thoughts. Who can tell out the blessedness of seeing the efficacy of the burnt-offering upon us all through our wilderness history? Well, we can only say we joy in such a God and Father. If we take the other offerings in their order, as meeting our every and daily need, we shall have still further cause to joy in God. We will turn next to the meat-offering.

Chosen in Christ

Ephesians 1:3-7
If we look back in the depths of eternity, before the foundations of the world; God was occupied with the very thought that the Holy Spirit is speaking to our souls to-night. Yes, here we go back before our conversion; before the death of the Lord Jesus; before His incarnation; before all God’s dealings with men for four thousand years; before Satan stepped into paradise; before Eve sinned. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. What can alter the purposes of God? Before all time began, God chose us in Him, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love.
Yes, He purposed to bring us into this wondrous place of acceptance. “before Him in love.” Such was the love of the Father to us, in, and from, eternity. “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” What a place to be before Him according to the love of His heart, “In love” — “accepted in the beloved.” Then “holy and without blame.” And so certain, that nothing can set aside the eternal purpose of God. Nay, it is even now accomplished, “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” He hath thus blessed us in Christ. It is as true that we are accepted, that He hath made us so, as that He chose us in Christ in Him, before the foundations of the world.
And now let us dwell a moment on the relationship He predestined to have us in, “Unto the adoption of CHILDREN by Jesus Christ.” Oh! how far nearer to Him, than the creature place that Adam stood in, even in paradise. Far nearer than Israel stood in, as a nation. Nearer than Abraham as the friend of God. Nearer far than angels now enjoy — they stand around His throne; but Jesus is gone to prepare a place for us, where we shall sit on thrones in the unclouded light of the glory of God, so near that the angelic myriads shall stand around that place of nearness. Yes, we are predestined to enjoy that wondrous place of oneness with the Son of His love, as children (sons) — “to the praise of the glory of His grace.”
And, now, if we pass on from this to 1 John 3, what joy to our hearts that nothing could satisfy the Father’s love, nothing less perfect than our being like the holy One for whom we wait. Presented to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. God could have no pleasure in those sacrifices which never took away sins. But now the eternal purpose, the dearest desire of His heart, is attained in our perfect acceptance in Christ, and likeness to Him.
If we turn to Daniel 7:9, we there see the Ancient of Days, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. So in Revelation 1, we behold the Lord Jesus, and “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.” The same emblem of spotless purity may be observed on the mount of transfiguration. “His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” But you may say, Can we, who have been such sinners, become like that: like Him, as He is? Yes, the same figures are used by the Spirit when He brings us to Christ. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
It is well for our hearts to rest in the absolute purpose of God. The redemption we have is the result of those purposes. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. As He is, so are we in this world. Let us then look down from on high, and see the church as God sees it, as He beholds it without spot accepted in the beloved. Our hearts cannot enter into the thought of being like Him, unless they now understand how He looks upon us. In the same whiteness, and likeness. Satan may rage.
Men may arise speaking perverse things. Unbelief may say all is going to pieces. Billows may swell mountains high. Let us never forget in spite of these things, that we were chosen in Christ before them all. May we be kept waiting for Him.
From Words of Faith, 1882, vol. 1, pp. 90, 91.

Christ the Center; Or, Why Do We Meet in His Name Alone?

This is a question often put to those who meet in the name of the Lord Jesus. Many have expressed a desire that a plain tract might be written on the subject. The following considerations are affectionately presented to all the beloved children of God
First. THE WORTHINESS OF CHRIST! It is “God who hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9, 11). Thus hath our blessed God and Father delighted to honor Him, who “is the head of the body, the Church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence” (Col. 1:18). In this name, so precious to every believer, did all Christians meet in the days of the apostles; and when the veil of the future was drawn aside, what did John, the servant of Jesus Christ, behold? When he saw Jesus Christ, he says, “His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:16-17). “A door was opened in heaven.” What a sight! The vision of the future glory of the Lamb in the midst of the millions and millions of the redeemed. A Lamb as it had been slain.
“And they sung a new song.” What will it be to be there; to hear that swell of joy unspeakable — to join that song? Not one redeemed to God by His blood will refuse to sing, “Thou art worthy.” Angelic hosts cry with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches... and honor, and glory, and blessing”; yea, all redeemed creation shall be heard saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever” (Rev. 5:6, 14). Thus shall our adorable Lord be adored, and owned in heaven and throughout all creation. This is God’s estimate of the risen Christ; who once died for our sins — the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. And thus shall God’s will be done in heaven. Should an anxious, troubled soul read these lines, note well that this is the redemption-glory of Christ. And who were those worshipping millions, redeemed by His blood? Dying thieves, Mary Magdalenes; sinners of the city. And is Jesus worthy of bringing such to glory? Yes, the most holy, holy, holy God says, He is worthy! and all creation shout, Amen. Oh, do you, my reader, now give God credit? Such is the worthiness of this risen Jesus, that God says, “Be it known unto you that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things; from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38). Thus salvation is wholly through Christ. Blessed are they who can say, “We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
I do not presume to be able to set forth, by pen or tongue, the glorious pre-eminence of Christ. I point to the Scriptures, that so clearly declare the worthiness of Christ. But many who read this paper will say, What true Christian doubts for a moment the worthiness of Christ, or the greatness of His exalted name? True, true, there is a chord in every Christian’s heart that responds to the name of Jesus. But the question is, how much or how great is that worthiness? There may be one thousand Christians in a town, or ten thousand in a city — I mean such as really have redemption through the blood of Christ; whose sins are forgiven. Now, if Jesus be worthy of the united praise and worship of all creation, if all the millions of the redeemed in heaven shall gather around His adorable person, then is He not worthy of the united worship of one thousand in a town, and ten thousand in a city, on earth? Surely in heaven every name and sect must fall. And why not on earth? It is a great mistake to suppose, then, that we separate from every name and sect because we think ourselves better than the dear children of God in those sects; far be the thought; no! it is because Jesus is worthy — yes, worthy the sacrifice of at once giving up every name and sect, and of gathering to His blessed name and person alone. Yes, my fellow believer, He is worthy that you, whoever you are, and to whatever sect you belong, He is worthy that you should own no other name but His. What must angels think, knowing and delighting, as they do, in the exalted name of Jesus, when they see our ways on earth? The divisions on earth must present a dark contrast to the unity of heaven. In many places all God’s redeemed people may be seen bearing various names; and not two even, or three, meet in the whole town in the name of Jesus alone. And yet, most assuredly, Jesus is worthy that every believer in the place should meet only in His name Now, if God’s will is so plainly done in heaven, by all gathering to the person of the Lamb, how can I pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven,” unless I am prepared to give up every name and sect on earth, as it is done in heaven? Would it not be more consistent to say — I have been in such a sect, and all my friends are there; excuse me, therefore, from doing Thy will on earth, as I shall do it, and as it is done, in heaven? Is it narrowness to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven? Is it too much to own the Lordship of Christ, to the glory of God the Father, and to own no other but Christ? God sets the highest value on the name of Jesus.
Man says it is no matter what name you bear. Every Christian who owns the Lordship of Jesus, who has visited the Romish places of worship on the continent, must have been deeply pained at the reverence paid to the name of the Virgin. And is not human nature the same everywhere? Is there not the same idolatrous tendency where any name is owned as the head of a sect? As that name is exalted, the name of Jesus is disowned, until at length it is a small matter to be a Christian, but a great one to belong to the sect. Surely this is wood, hay and stubble, that will not endure the coming day. In the days of the apostles Jesus was the name exalted above every name To exalt another, though it were a Paul, or a Cephas, was denounced by the Spirit of God as carnality and schism. Even to tolerate another name, or names, was virtually to lower the glorious Christ to the level of a mere man (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4-5).
Is it not the same now? Jesus is worthy of the united worship of the millions of the redeemed who shall be gathered in heaven; therefore He is worthy of the united praise and worship of all Christians now on earth. Whatever others may do — whether they own that name alone before the world or not, fellow-believer, if you desire to do the will of God your path is plain — give up every name and sect, and meet only in the name of Jesus, heaven’s exalted Lord. A question may now arise in the mind as to what order of church government is really according to the mind of God. This leads us to the second consideration.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, as the second reason why we meet in the name of the Lord Jesus alone. Before Jesus left this world, while in the midst of His sorrowing disciples, he said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17). The Lord Jesus solemnly promised that the Comforter or Guardian should teach us all things. Jesus says, “HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME” (John 15:26). Observe, Jesus did not promise an influence; but the real, divine person of the Holy Spirit; as real a person as Jesus. And as really as Jesus had testified of the Father, so really should the Spirit testify of Jesus. And further, that HE, the Holy Spirit, should guide us into all truth. “HE shall glorify ME” (John 16:13). This promise God has fulfilled. Jesus being glorified on high, God has sent the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4-38). Now, from that moment, we search in vain in the New Testament for any church government except the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit. As really as the blessed Jesus had been present with the disciples in the gospels, exactly so is the Holy Spirit present with the church in the Acts. Pentecost was a marvelous display of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. And again, “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Yes, so real was the presence of the Holy Spirit, that Peter, in the case of Ananias, said, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” etc. (vs. 3). And when the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell on them in like manner” (Acts 11:15). Also at Antioch (Acts 13:52). And how marked the guidance of the Spirit to the Apostle Paul and his companions, when “forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia,” and when they would have gone to Bithynia, “but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6-7). See also Acts 19:2. If we now turn to 1 Corinthians 12, the government of the Spirit in the Church is stated with the utmost clearness: “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”
This passage is often applied to the world, in violent opposition to that scripture which saith, “The world cannot receive Him, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him” (John 14:17). But whatever variety of gift in the Church, “all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11).
Now tell me what denomination thus owns the Spirit of God in our day. Nay, the moment any assembly of Christians do thus own the Spirit of God, that moment they cease to be a sect, or denomination; because the Holy Spirit would not honor any name but the name of Jesus. Now let us compare an assembly eighteen hundred years ago with a denominational assembly now, and this will be plain. All the Christians in a neighborhood assembled together in the name of Jesus; the Spirit gave diversities of gifts; some were gifted to preach, others to teach, others to exhort, and so on with all the various manifestations of the Spirit. And He, the Spirit, was really present in their midst, dividing to every man severally as He would. They speak two or three — if anything is revealed to another that sitteth by, the first holds his peace — and this is the order of God: as we read (1 Cor. 14:29-33), “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” When the sovereign guidance of the Spirit of God was owned, this was plainly the order.
Now let us enter an assembly belonging to any denomination of the present day. Tell me where is the Holy Spirit either expected or allowed to divide to every man severally, as He will? This may not be intentional the presidency of the Holy Spirit is forgotten. A man fills His place; and, whether led of, or happy in, the Spirit or not, he must occupy the time. This disowning of the personal presence and sovereign guidance of God the Holy Spirit is most sad every way. The diverse gifts are not exercised: the work of the ministry becomes a burthen to the one man. But more than all, God is disowned in the assembly for guidance in worship, and a human order, or, rather, every kind of human disorder, takes the place.
It may sound well to call it liberty of conscience; but where is the liberty of the Spirit of God, to use whom He will, for the edification of the Church of God? Is this a light matter? Was not the disowning the guidance and government of God by His people Israel, and the desire to have a man in God’s place, the first sad step in the downward path of that people? And what is the history of the prophets, but that of a few men (in the midst of general departure from God) still finding and holding fast this blessed reality — the presence of God? How solemn the teaching in the book of Jeremiah: he sat alone, yet called by the name of the Lord God of hosts. How sweet the words of the Lord to him: “Let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.” (See Jer. 15:16-21).
Such is the solemn yet blessed place of all, in these days, who have been led to own the real presence of the Holy Spirit in the assembly. The Lord’s words have indeed been found to be sweeter than man’s Oh, that all God’s dear children, in every denomination, knew the blessedness of unfeigned subjection of heart to the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where there is this, not in mere form, but in reality, He does testify of Christ in such a manner that no human wisdom can even imitate. Often the hymns by one, the prayers by others, and the reading of the Word, as led by the Holy Spirit, so manifest the divine guidance, and give such a sense of the presence of God, as can only be enjoyed where the Spirit of God is thus owned. I cannot then go where He is not owned whom the Father has sent to guide us and guard us and abide with us unto the end. It is no matter what may be substituted — whether the Pope, or the Emperor, or the Queen, or the Conference, or the minister — God is right, and man is wrong. It is not a question of opinion, but of owning or displacing the Holy Spirit, as the sovereign guide and ruler of the assembly. I have found the reality of His very presence, and for this I must be separate from every community — Greek, Romish, or Protestant, all alike -where He is not thus owned.
I now state the third reason why we meet in the name of Christ alone — THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH; or, more correctly, the unity of the one body. I am not aware that there is such a passage of Scripture as one Church; but there is “one body” (Eph. 4:4). The word translated Church simply means assembly. It is so used to describe a crowd of heathen, in Acts 19:32, 39. The Church of God is the assembly of God: saved persons in every place, who assemble, as such, to worship God; all their sins being put away forever (Heb. 10). Such an assembly they were not to forsake. No other assembly can possibly be called a Church or Assembly of God Nor could even such an assembly be truly called the Church of God, unless that assembly truly owned God the Holy Spirit, to guide and guard them, in all things, as the assemblies of God did in the days of the apostles. Take the following illustration: Suppose the Queen of England sends out a commander-in-chief to the British army in India, and that, for a time, the army puts itself entirely under his command; it could then be properly called the Queen’s army. But if that army were to set aside the commander-in-chief, and appoint another of their own; or if the army should divide into separate parts, each division appointing its own commander, each soldier might be still a British soldier, but could that divided army be correctly called the army of the Queen? Having set aside the authority of her Majesty’s appointed commander-in-chief, would not every division be in a state of mutiny, and would it not be disloyalty to join the ranks of any such mutinous division?
Now apply this to the Church or assembly of God. For a time the authority of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, was owned, just as the British army, for a time, owned the authority of the Queen’s commander-in-chief. Then the sovereign authority of the Spirit of God was set aside, and the authority of the Pope of Rome was put in the place of God the Holy Spirit. Can the Church of Rome, then, be called the true Church of God? Impossible! She has mutinied against God’s Commander-in-chief, the Holy Spirit. To join her ranks is disloyalty to Christ. But if I must declare the whole counsel of God, am I not compelled to adopt the same conclusions respecting every division of the professing Church?
Take the Greek Church: has it not set aside the command of the Holy Spirit? And though it put so high a person as the Emperor of all the Russias in the place of the Holy Spirit, yet would it not be mutiny to join its ranks? Take, again, what is called the Church of England: are we not compelled to acknowledge that the sovereign command of the blessed Spirit is entirely set aside? As in Russia so in England — the head of the world’s government is made the head of the Church; and, instead of the Holy Spirit being allowed to divide severally as He will, a prime minister, whatever his principles may be, can appoint a minister over a given town or village, and, according to this system, no other person ought dare to name the name of Christ in that so-called parish.
And, as I have before proved, every other division of the professing Church fails to recognize the personal government of the Holy Spirit, and sets up a government of its own; for though the union of Church and State be renounced, a “General Assembly,” or “General Conference,” or “Convention,” is not getting nearer true subjection to the Spirit; therefore, no division of the professing Church can be called the true Assembly or Church of God any more than a division of the British army which failed to recognize the commander-in-chief, and set up a commander of its own, could be called the true army of the Queen.
I am fully aware that the personal guidance of the blessed Spirit of God has been so long forgotten, that it is most difficult to make even Christians understand what is meant. Take another illustration: A certain statesman is announced to preside over a public meeting of the inhabitants of any given town. The meeting assembles; the statesman comes; he stands on the platform, but nobody recognizes him; he speaks, but still no one knows him Message after message is sent to his house, begging him to come; they then desire his influence, and not knowing his personal presence, they appoint some one else to preside. Such is a precise picture of the divisions of the present day. However we may have grieved and disowned the Spirit, still that precious promise is fulfilled, “And He (the Father) shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” Yes, as the statesman was present, though not known, when the letters were sent to his house, even so in the assembly of Christians, the Holy Spirit has come, is present at the very time prayer is being offered in ignorance, for Him to come from heaven. Yea, to hear many Christians pray, one would almost think that they were praying for an influence. Would it not be shocking to speak of God the Father as an influence? Would it not be most revolting to say the life of God the Son, on earth, was only an allegory or an influence? And is not God the Holy Spirit as real a person now on earth as Jesus was when on earth, and now is in heaven? What a commander is to an army, or a president is to a meeting, such is the Holy Spirit to the assembly of God — commanding, directing, using whom He will. Where He is not thus owned, no assembly, even of Christians, can be called God’s assembly; and hence from all such assemblies I must separate, if I would be loyal to God.
But it may be objected, Has there not been failure and division amongst those who professed to own the Spirit of God? Sadly true; but nothing could more clearly prove the truth of these statements respecting the Spirit’s presence.
What has been the cause of all the sorrow and division? The setting aside the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit. But to say that failure is a reason why any should not own the guidance of the Spirit in the assembly, or refer to it as an excuse for remaining where He is disowned, is like a person saying because he, or any other Christian, has failed in walk, that therefore he should, as an individual, cease to walk in the Spirit. Should not our past sins and failures make it the more watchful and earnest to walk in the Spirit? He alone is the safeguard of the Christian and the Church. Blessed Guardian! The source of every failure the Church has ever had has been by disowning the guidance of the Spirit: no matter what comes, if she only trusts her blessed Guardian, all is well. So with the Christian: if walking after the flesh a straw may cause a fall; but if walking in the Spirit, no matter what temptation, all is well. Every past failure, then, in the Church, or Assembly, calls for unfeigned subjection to the Spirit of God. What would you think of a man saying, Such a person, who professed to be a Christian, has failed, and has been found drunk in the streets; therefore I may remain a drunkard with safety? Is it not the same in principle to say, Such of the children of God have failed to keep the unity of the Spirit; therefore I may now remain where the Spirit is not owned? I beg of you, judge not this weighty question by the failure of men, but by the Word of God.
What then is the “one body”? (Eph. 4:4). The Church of Rome is not even the catholic church; mach less can she be the “one body.” Catholic means universal; so that the millions of the Greek and Anglican and other churches are so many millions of living witnesses against the catholicity of the Romish church. It cannot be either the one church or the “one body,” being but a division — and the same remarks apply to every other division.
“All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them; that they may be one, even as We are one” (John 17). These precious words of Jesus embrace every child of God during this dispensation. What then is the glory that the Father hath given to Jesus? He has “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:19-23). And again, “And he is the HEAD OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH; WHO IS THE BEGINNING, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). The glory, then, given to Jesus is given to Him AS THE RISEN CHRIST; and, as the risen Christ, He is the beginning and head of the body. Every member, then, of the one body must be risen with Christ. And thus, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, or a new creation. Now, does not Jesus say, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them”? And this is true of all that are His. Then every Christian is one with the risen Christ, in the highest glory; as it is written, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 2:6).
What a vast difference, then, there must be between a heavenly risen body and an earthly society The only earthly society that God ever had was the nation of the Jews. Even during the life-time of Christ, the little company or flock of disciples were of that nation. It was not until after His resurrection and ascension to glory, that the Holy Spirit could be given to form “the Church, which is his body.” This was the mystery kept hid from ages, that the earthly society, or nation of the Jews, should for a time be set aside; and that the Holy Spirit should gather out of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, a HEAVENLY BODY — and that this body should be joined to the head, in risen, highest glory; blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST” (Eph. 1:3). And note, all this is true of every child of God during this dispensation; because Christ says to the Father, “All Mine are Thine.” Wherever the child of God is, as to his body on earth, in spirit he is as really one in the risen Christ as a member of the human body is joined to the person whose it is. Yea, our oneness in Christ is not union, but perfect unity. As we could not say the union of the members of the human body, for all those members constitute one person, so also is the heavenly risen Christ. “For, as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free,” etc. “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 12:12-28). Certainly the Spirit uses the strongest possible words and the most striking figures to express this wondrous unity.
Compare the above passage with the following: “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30). It does not say we were one with Him during His life in the flesh — that were impossible. Had he not died, He must have remained alone (John 12:24). Earthly oneness of sinful men with a sinless Christ could not be; no, He must die, and has died for the sins of many; and having passed through death for them, as their substitute — having, through the shedding of His precious blood, paid their ransom, He has been raised from among the dead, and, as their surety, justified (Isa. 1:8). And all this for us; “Raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). And thus we are reckoned dead with Him, justified with Him, and one with Him in that risen, justified, sinless state. So that we are, not were, one with Him.
As a man is one person, though having many members, so is the risen Christ; though having many members on earth, yet all joined to, and one with, and in, Christ, the head, in heaven. “We are members of his body.” “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4; 5:30). What a wondrous new creation, new existence this is — translated into the kingdom of His dear Son — we are, not we shall be when we die. “Hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
It is the forgetting of this present reality, the oneness of the whole Church of God in the risen Christ in heavenly glory, that is one sad cause of the worldly systems and earthly divisions which men call churches. I often ask, “When you are in heaven, will you tolerate sects and divisions?” “Oh, dear, no!” is the reply. Christ will then be all. But are we not now raised with Him, and made to sit with (in) Him in heavenly places?” (Eph. 2:6). And is not Christ all now? (Col. 3:11). In the new creation there is neither Jew nor Greek, Romanist or Protestant, Independent or Methodist; oh, no! Christ is all. Old things ARE passed away; behold all things ARE become new, and all things of God. And this is true of every man in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). He is a new creature (i.e., new creation).
The risen body of Christ, then, is one, composed of all true believers out of every nation; a new creation from among the dead: raised together and joined together by God the Father (Eph. 2). Can never be separated (Rom. 8:39). There are no divisions in that heavenly body, neither indeed can be; for the old things are passed away. Blessed Jesus! Thy prayer is answered — “That all maybe one” (John 17). Yes, all who believe are one with Christ in the heavenly places.
What, then, is the will of God as to believers on earth? for, while one with Christ in heaven, we are still for a very little while absent from the Lord while here in the body. I do not wish to state opinions; but what is the mind of the Lord? Solemn question! May He give grace to do His precious will.
That God condemns division none would wish to deny who bow to His inspired Word. At the very first appearance or bud of divisions, the apostle says, “Now, I beseech you, brethren, BY THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you. Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:10). Surely I cannot mistake the mind of the Lord in this day, when every one saith, I am of Rome, I of the Greek, I of the Anglican, I of Wesley, etc., etc. God beseeches all believers, by the glory and pre-eminence of the name of the Lord Jesus, that there be no divisions. Not one name or division can God tolerate. To allow any name but His, is to lower His blessed name to the same level — I of Paul, and I of Christ. If it is thus God’s will that there should be no divisions, how can I belong to any, or in any way countenance any sect, without positive disobedience to God’s revealed mind? Do, my reader, answer that question in the presence of God, with His Word before you.
Lest there should be any mistake, the Spirit of God again speaks on the same subject: “For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, 1 am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos, are ye not carnal?” If it thus grieved the Spirit to say, “I am of Paul, or Apollos,” does it now please the Spirit to say, I am of Wesley, I of the Independents? Is this carnality, or is it spirituality? — does God approve or disapprove?
Yea, God could not speak more plainly, not only as to what He condemns, but also what His will is as to what is right: “That there should be no schism (or division) in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25). Man says there should be sects, and would have me join one or help to increase it. God says there should be none, for the body is one; shall I obey God or man? Judge ye.
What a blessed unity — one with the head above, and one with every member here below. Yes, every member — every Christian on earth. How precious the will of God: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 12:26-27). Surely, now, we have failed to own this wondrous unity. But let us not lower the standard. Let us not call evil good. Surely division is an evil, and a bitter thing in the sight of God. He even classes it with such sins as adultery, murder, and drunkenness (Gal. 5:17-21). The word translated heresies means sects. Oh, let us then return unto the Lord, with deep humiliation. Let us confess the common sin and shame of the divided Church.
We are called to heavenly oneness with the risen Christ. It is the will of God that “ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with ALL lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit,” etc. (Eph. 4:1, 4).
Would you, my fellow-believer, do the will of God? Here, then, is the blessed path: the unity of the Spirit. This must ever be to the head — Christ. The blessed Spirit gathers to the person of Christ; and where two or three are GATHERED (“together”) IN HIS NAME, there He is in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20). Man makes a meeting in what name He likes. It is division or scattering. The Spirit alone gathers to Christ. The two things are as different as the unity of heaven and the scattering of earth.
All believers are one in the risen Christ; and the will of Christ is that that unity should be manifested to the whole world. How deeply and touchingly this is seen in the present intercommunings of the Son with the Father: “That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE”; and again, “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that THE WORLD MAY KNOW that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me (John 17). Thus, instead of earthly divisions and discord, the blessed Lord would have us manifest to the world our oneness with Himself in glory. However we may have failed, I am not thereby excused from faithfulness to this risen Christ, and I cannot, therefore, be identified with anything that grieves Him, or is contrary to His mind. Sects and divisions have been shown to be utterly contrary to His will; therefore, I must separate from them all, if I would walk according to God’s Word. I can own no church but the one body; no principle of church government but that of the Holy Spirit; no name but that of the Lord Jesus Christ, alone head of the risen body, the Church of God.
The path may be difficult — but when was the path of faith easy? These are perilous times. Evil is called good: good evil: indifference neutrality, “Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that steepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:14).
The Lord is at hand, and He hath said, “Surely I come quickly.” How very soon the last sound of discord shall be heard! Oh, haste the day when the exalted Lord shall be forever owned and adored. Oh, my fellow-believers, with such a prospect shall we not, during this little while, seek to do His blessed will? He would have us separate ourselves and purge ourselves from every vessel of dishonor” (2 Tim. 2:19-21). He would have us gathered in His name (Matt. 18:20). Surely we need no argument in addition to our Lord’s revealed will.
I would add a few words, in conclusion, to those who are gathered (together unto) in the name of the Lord Jesus, desiring, in everything, to be subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let us remember, beloved brethren, that GOD has gathered us together in (unto) the name of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 18:20). That we have not met of our own will. That we have only to seek the glory of Christ, and to win souls to Him. Let us not be ashamed of His precious name, and the blessed place in which He has set us as witnesses of Him. Yea, let us rise as one man to make known the claims of Christ. But this can only be done in unshaken faith. There may be the name and form and not the power. When gathered (together unto) in the name of the Lord Jesus, do we always expect the Spirit to testify of Him? If men go to hear an eloquent preacher, they expect to hear him. Do we thus expect the teaching of the Spirit of God by the Word? God is pleased to use gifts, but His own presence is more than all gifts.
I am not speaking of a blind impulse, or of what some call man’s inward light. No. I ask, do we really believe in the presence of the divine person of the Holy Spirit? Then let not one rise to deliver his own thought, ready prepared as it were, and let not the weakest say, I am not fit to be used of God. Let there be a real yielding of ourselves to God; to be kept silent, or used to speak the words He shall give — it may be but the reading of a verse of Scripture. Have we not often felt more of the real power of God’s presence at such a time than we can possibly describe? How blessed to feel you are in His presence; to hear His words, as though He were speaking in an audible voice. Oh, may there be much fervent prayer that the guidance of the Spirit of God may be manifest — seen and felt in every gathering. Have faith, my brethren, in God.
To my brethren who are still in the sects of men, whether Roman, Greek, English, Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian, of whatever name, let me earnestly entreat you to seek divine guidance in the Scriptures of truth. My confidence is in God that He will, by this feeble paper, lead many of you to own the name of the Lord Jesus, in unfeigned subjection to the Spirit of God. We may never know each other here; but when we meet around the throne, then we shall not regret having left every sect and every name, and having been gathered (together) only in (unto) the name of the Lord Jesus. Do not suppose that I imply that the name of Jesus is not dear to all the children of God in the various divisions of the professing church. No; for to you who believe He is precious. But you are not gathered (together) in His name alone, as the one body of Christ. Each sect has some other name, founded on some other principle, which hinders all the children of God being gathered (together) with them, in contrast to the true ground of being gathered by the Spirit of God to the Name and Person of Christ. In thus gathering there is no barrier to any or all the children of God walking in subjection to the Holy Spirit.
Nor can such a gathering or Assembly of God be truly called a sect, any more than the Assembly of God in the days of the apostles could. Nor would I for a moment imply that my brethren in the various divisions deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. What I say is, that when you meet for worship or teaching you do not submit to the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to preside over the meeting, using whom He will, as in 1 Corinthians 12:14. You have departed from the Spirit’s rule, and have set up human order; and thus one member is burdened, and the others become mere listeners. There is work for every member, according to the measure of grace. All cannot speak in public; but cannot God use the feeblest attempts — a word by the way? Yea, often the prayer of a poor man, filled with the Spirit, is more blest to the saints of God than the eloquence of an Apollos.
May the Lord Himself lead you into unfeigned subjection to the Holy Spirit, according to His blessed Word.

Christianity Begun

“Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God”.
He had wrought redemption. They were no longer merely Jewish disciples, but for the first time He calls them His brethren. They were in the same relation to His Father and God in which He stood Himself one with Him in resurrection. These were their true Christian privileges, the true standing now of every believer, whether he knows it or not, for they knew it not. At that moment they had very sad hearts. Mary came and told the glad news. They were gathered together the same day at evening. They did not yet form the church, but they were the persons, and were together a striking figure of the church, as we shall soon see.
Being together, the doors being shut for fear of the Jews, “came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” What a picture of the assembly, as Jesus had said, “For where two or three are gathered together to My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
He had made peace by the blood of the cross — peace now flowed to them from the heart of God, from the lips of Jesus. Let us not forget this, the first word of resurrection, “Peace.” This characterizes Christianity peace with God, through the finished work of Christ. “He showed unto them His hands and His side. “It is finished,” He had said, and died. “Peace unto you.” He is risen from the dead.” Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” There could be no question as to whether it was the same Jesus. His hands and His side proved that. If we know how much was involved in His resurrection, surely we may well be glad also. Oh blessed beginning of Christianity! First words of the risen Savior, “Peace be unto you.” Still He speaks. Do you hear Him? Do you believe Him? Are you glad?
But note, He speaks again. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” As His missionaries, His servants sent forth, the very first qualification is “Peace.” This is a true mark of one sent of Christ, “Peace” — the peace of God, even as Jesus served and suffered in perfect peace, peace with God, and the peace of God. Thousands of ministers made by men are strangers to “peace”; but no man is a true minister of Christ without it. And as the new creation (see Rev. 3:14) had now begun, “He breathed on (into) them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Another qualification in order to go and proclaim the forgiveness of sins.
Luke continues the inspired narrative in the Acts. Forty days did Jesus remain, showing Himself to His chosen apostles, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, commanding them not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard from Me. They were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. At that time they had no idea of the church, or this present period of grace to the Gentiles, but were looking for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. He opens up quite another work for them — a work that they never fully understood or performed.
After the Holy Spirit should have come, He says, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” How little they, how little we, respond to the heart of Christ! And now instead of setting up the kingdom in Israel, “While they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received dim out of their sight.” There was the cloud, emblem of the divine presence, and He was taken from them. And while they gazed up into heaven, two heavenly witnesses assured them that, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Thus, if we think of Christianity (Christendom) as a kingdom, it is the kingdom in mystery, for the King is in heaven; hence, Matthew calls it the kingdom of heaven.
As a kingdom, while the King is in heaven, there are in it both wheat and tares; the children of God, and the children of the devil. In the kingdom is seen the work of man, and the work of Satan. But the church, the body of Christ, is quite another thing. What He builds shall stand forever. Jesus says, “I will build MY church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Let us keep these two things distinct, as we now enter more fully on “That which was from the beginning.” The greatest possible mistake is to presume that, that which man builds, is the same as that which Christ builds.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). Everything was now ready for the descent of the Holy. Spirit, that the church might be formed. He could not be thus given until Jesus was glorified. If the church had been an earthly society, seeking salvation, it might have been formed while Jesus was here. But redemption must be accomplished. Jesus must be raised from the dead and received up to glory, before He, the Spirit, could be sent to form the church. People have no idea what an entirely unknown and new thing the church was. There had been for centuries Jews and Gentiles, but now a third company is formed. The disciples then were all together in one place, when a mighty rushing sound from heaven was heard in Jerusalem, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And they were all, not merely the apostles, but they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and a marvelous miracle bore witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit. They began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Jews who came together, who were present in Jerusalem from various nations and heard them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. There was great wonder.
Peter, an unlettered fisherman, then stood up, and preached such a discourse as had never been heard on this earth. Fifty days before, this very Peter knew not the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead. He now opens the Scriptures, and preaches Jesus of Nazareth, the risen and exalted Lord, and Christ of God. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear... Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” This, then, is the first great truth, according to the promise of Jesus: the Holy Spirit is now come and convicts of this dreadful sin. They believed not on Him, but crucified and killed Him, whom God had sent from heaven. He whom this world has murdered, God has raised from the dead, and made both Lord and Christ. Conviction of this terrible sin seizes their hearts, and makes them cry out, “What shall we do?”
Is the reader unconverted? Do you know that you also belong to the world which has killed and rejected the Lord Jesus, now seated at the right hand of God? And what must they do? “Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”.
The very enemies, and murderers, must become the very disciples of Jesus, and they must fully confess this discipleship in baptism. What a complete and confessed change of mind, what self-judgment, for that is what the word translated ‘repent’ implies. “Then they that gladly received His word were baptized; and the same day there were added about three thousand souls.” They were deeply convicted of sin, they believed, were completely changed in mind, and showed it by being gladly baptized as the disciples of the crucified and risen Jesus, whom they had so lately rejected and murdered. All this was real matter of fact, confessed, and seen of all men. They were not ashamed to own Him Lord and Christ. Their sins were forgiven. They were gathered, and by the Holy Spirit added to, and formed the assembly of God. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers... And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house [or at home], did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”, or were being saved — that is, from day to day. All were added, but to what? evidently to that which the Holy Spirit was forming, not to different bodies or churches of men, but to the one only church of God.
It is important to notice the connection there was between repentance and baptism: so the Jews must have understood it. John preached, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And great multitudes went out to him, “and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:1-6).
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for [or unto] the remission of sins” and so forth. (Mark 1:4-5). Confession of sins was the Scripture ground of forgiveness from the days of ancient Job. “He looketh upon men; and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. “We see how this was in the end produced in Job. He says, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. And it was so.” When Job was brought to that point, instead of seeking to maintain his own righteousness, he now counted himself vile, completely changed his mind, in dust and ashes. There God met him in unhindered blessing (Job 33 and 42).
Was not baptism the outward profession of this entire change of mind? On the day of Pentecost there was a vast multitude of Jobs, so far as seeking to maintain their own religiousness, or righteousness. With astonishment they were convicted of the greatest sin a creature is capable of. They had rejected and murdered the Holy and the Just One. See how Peter, or rather the Holy Spirit, pressed this. In Acts 3 he says, “But ye denied the Holy One and the just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you: and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses”.
And then, after showing them that all this was what God had made known by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He calls upon them to repent, to entirely change their minds from the mad course they were pursuing; and as many as believed and did thus change their minds were baptized, and this was the evidence, or proof, of confession of sins. In the preaching then of Peter to the Jews, repentance, baptism, and forgiveness were most intimately connected in the name of Jesus. And they thus became the disciples of the crucified and risen Christ.
And when preaching the gospel to Jews, Mahomedans (Muslims), or heathens now, these things would be the same. We could not admit the repentance of a Jew to be genuine if he refused to be baptized.
It is somewhat different in an already baptized country. There is little or no connection there between repentance and baptism. Unconverted parents, who never have repented, bring their children to be baptized, but this is confusion. They are in the nominal profession of Christendom, and as such they must be dealt with in preaching. Practically they are much like circumcised Jews. But repentance there must be, and a repentance so deep as to set aside all hopes of improvement in self. Self must be counted vile, abhorred. But then this true repentance is scarcely known. It is most probable, from the subsequent history of Peter himself, that he may not have fully understood the repentance of a Jew, and his baptism unto a DEAD and risen Christ.
The death of Christ was the complete end of Judaism. Christ had been a Jew in the flesh. But now dead and risen He was a Jew in the flesh no more. Paul shows that we know Him no more as such. But then Judaism was God’s trial of man. Just so, but that trial was over in the rejection and murder of Jesus. The whole administration of that system of law, and trial of man. was over, abolished, and in every way a new thing had come in. Yes, so new that it is spoken of as new creation. If we only understood this, we should see how strikingly the figure of baptism shows the end of man, the first man in the death of Christ.
It was most important to show this first in Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, and to man under law. God in grace bore with the disciples, still clinging to the temple and its service. But now the great High Priest had passed into the heavens, of what value was the temple priesthood? And now, the one sacrifice, offered once, in continuance perfected the worshiper, what was the value of all the blood shed in the offerings of the law? Jesus was dead. There was the end of the ages of trial of man. The first man, under the most favorable circumstances at Jerusalem, is set aside forever. A new order has begun — a new creation, that which had been hid in God. The one purpose of His heart was now an accomplished fact.
These were the first days of the church. What a wonderful description we have of it in Acts 4:23-34, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own: but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.”

The Church, Its Ministry, and the Doctrines Taught

We have seen in the Acts that the church, or assembly of God, as distinct from the Jew and the Gentile, and yet composed of both, began on the day of Pentecost by the descent of the Holy Spirit; and that all through the Acts, all that were converted were added to that one and only church. Every local assembly, as Jerusalem, Antioch, Thessalonica, etc., formed the one assembly of God. These were gathered out of the world from Judaism — or heathenism — they were not of the world, but formed a new company, by the Holy Spirit. And there never had been such a company before. There had been individual believers, as Noah, Abraham, etc. There had been a nation, in a certain relation to Jehovah, as Israel. But the church was not a nation, but all the saved ones out of the nations.
What, then, is this new company thus formed by the Holy Spirit? In the Romans there is very little said on this: the church is not its theme, but the righteousness of God is the great subject of that epistle; man before God, and how God is righteous in justifying them that believe. We do however learn this, that “as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:4-5). And then all gifts, service, and work, is in accord with this entirely new position. This “one body” is IN Christ — every member of the one body is in Christ.
Now this could not be, as He tells us, until the grain of wheat had died. Until His death and resurrection He must remain alone (John 12:24). The believer is in Christ, who has died and forever put away his sins, and condemned his sin; and is now risen from the dead, and ascended on high. The ONE BODY of Christ is in Christ as risen from the dead. We are to minister to one another as members of the glorified Christ in heaven. We are to walk on earth as those who are risen with, and now in Christ, on high. We shall see more of this ONE BODY in other epistles. What a subject! And yet men can despise, and even deride it. Such seem to be given up to judicial blindness
We are also told that the mystery was kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25). And this is a fact, that there is not one word in the Old Testament about this “one body in Christ.” Now it is revealed in the New Testament scriptures, we may see figures of it in the Old, as Eve was the one wife of Adam. And it would seem that since the first days of the church until these last days, the mystery of the “one Body in Christ” has been almost lost. And many believers even now have no idea what the church, the one body, is.
Many, have a strange thought, that all sects form the one true church. But are all sects in Christ? Are all the millions of the Greek, Roman, and Protestant sects in Christ, risen from the dead and glorified? Are all these without condemnation, in Christ? No man would venture to say so.
But may there not be some individuals in all sects, or divisions, of Christendom in Christ? Surely this may be so. Then are not those individuals, if in Christ, justified from all things? Do not they form the one Body in Christ? They do; that is the very thing I want to show clearer. Thus, if the reader is in Christ, risen from the dead, he is a member of the one body, in Christ. But though he may be a pope, cardinal, archbishop, clergyman, or minister of any so-called church, yet if he is not in Christ risen, he has no more to say to the one body of Christ, or the true church of God, than a Mahomedan (Muslim). But if that be so, it is of very little value to belong to any of the so-called churches — Greek, Roman, etc. Just so. The question is this, not are you in the Church of Rome, or the Church of England, but are you in Christ?
And it does seem to me an important question, Does the Lord approve of my belonging to any division of Christendom? We shall find an answer to that question in 1 Corinthians 1-3. You will notice this epistle is addressed to the true church of God, and also shows the responsibility of all who profess the name of Christ. And do not forget the test, the only test, — in Christ. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified IN Christ Jesus, called to be saints [or, saints by calling], with all, that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). The church of God is composed, then, of those who are separated from the world, sanctified IN CHRIST JESUS; and all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus are responsible to hear. If, then, you are not sanctified in Christ Jesus, if you are not holy as in Him by calling, you have no part in the church of God, the one body, in Christ.
God permitted sectarianism to begin in those first years, so that He might speak His mind by the Holy Spirit on the subject. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions [or schisms] among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment... And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ... for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 1:10; 3:1, 3. See the whole context).
Thus we may even boast that we do the very thing that God in His word condemns Did you never meet a man that boasted that he belonged to the Church of Rome, or of England, or some other division? God says, I beseech you that you do not.
If we really know what the One Body of Christ is, and that we are in Christ, in the One Body, we really could not belong to any other body, be it Roman, or Protestant. The Lord restore this great truth to our souls more clearly. If the fact of divisions proves even Christians to be in a carnal or natural state, acting as men of the world, and forming schools of philosophy; and, as we have seen, all this is thoroughly disapproved of by the Holy Spirit, then, for the comfort of every believer in Christ, does the same word of God settle the question — that each and all believers in Christ form the one body in Christ. To put it still a little plainer, as God disapproves of all divisions, they cannot, as supposed, form the true church, or One Body in Christ. Can I then, if I am in the risen Christ, be assured that I am a member of the one only true body of Christ?
Let us hear the answer. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit ARE WE ALL baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit,” etc. (1 Cor. 12:12 to end). If, then, you are in Christ risen and glorified, you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the one body of Christ. This is a stupendous truth, and if known, error will drop off like autumn leaves.
Let us, now pass on to the epistle to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:1-18 we have the purpose of God; ch.1:19 to end, and chapter 2, — how that purpose has been accomplished. In chapter 3 the administration of that mystery committed to Paul; chapter 4, the church, the body of Christ chapter 5, the church as the bride of Christ.
But note again how all this is limited to those only in Christ, to the faithful in Christ (Eph. 1:1). They are blest with every spiritual blessing in Christ. They were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (vs. 4). God predestinated them unto the adoption of children unto Himself. It was His good pleasure, His delight, to have them to Himself. In Christ, the beloved, they are brought into favor. God said, as it were, I will have them in the same favor as my beloved Son. In Him they have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Yes, this was our God’s eternal purpose, and such is every saint in Christ. God accomplished this purpose by raising up His beloved Son from among the dead, and set Him, as Son of man, the new risen Man, at His own right hand in the heavenlies. Not now as Messiah on earth, but far above all principality and power. And all this as Head over all things to the church, which is His body: “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:18-23).
Then is revealed to us the riches of His grace in taking us poor sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, and, in pure love, grace, free favor, giving to us, whether Jews or Gentiles, the very same place as His beloved Son, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” All this is far beyond anything ever made known or promised before. Thus in the church, all distinction between Jew and Gentile was broken down; peace was made by the blood of the cross, and peace preached to all both far and near. Oh, the depths of His mercy, the riches of His grace!
The assembly — all who are in Christ — are the true saints of God, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Have we been raised from the dead with Christ? If not, we are not stones in this heavenly building. Thus it is nothing to be members of man’s churches, but everything to be in Christ.
Now the administration and revelation of this mystery was given to Paul (Eph. 3). It was hid from ages (Col. 1:26), and never made known: “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the joint body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”
This did sorely perplex the Jews, and fill them with hatred to Paul. It perplexed them, because every promise in the Old Testament, the Word of God, gave them a distinct place in the time of the kingdom; the coming time of this earth’s blessedness. They knew not of this period of mystery while their Messiah is cut off and has nothing.
Every word to them, as a nation, shall surely be fulfilled, but in its time, not now. It wounded their pride to hear that there was no distinction — that in the boundless grace of God, beyond all thought, Jew and Gentile formed the one new joint body of Christ. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the assembly the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
What must the church be in the sight of God, and in the sight of all angelic hosts! Is there any wonder that Satan should seek to deface it with all the divisions of Christendom?
Now Paul had very fully put before them what it is to be in Christ risen from the dead. Without this no soul is a member of “the one body in Christ.” But there is another thing equally important, and without which we cannot comprehend this wondrous purpose of God. For this he prays.
Our being in Christ is evidently all of God. And it is to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ that Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17. Now he bows his knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He longs that we may comprehend the subject before us: therefore he prays unto the Father, knowing the delight that the Father has in Christ and in us. He prays “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory.” The glory given unto His Son, and unto us. (See John 17:22.) According to this glory, that we might be
“strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height”.
So great is this mystery, this eternal purpose of God as to the church, that it is not enough to know what Christ has done for us, and what it is to be in Him risen from the dead, we need also to be strengthened with the Spirit, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. We are lost in the infinity of the purpose of God. And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Oh think of this amazing place of privilege the risen Man in the glory of God. “He is the head of the body the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” It pleased the fullness to dwell in Him. “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” And we are in Him, and He dwells in our hearts by faith. And all is grounded in love, the love of Christ unclouded and unchanging, filled with all the fullness of God. Well might the apostle bend the knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that we might comprehend all this. “Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages” — to the ages of ages.
Such was and is the church. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Yes, every believer in Christ, in every land. He may be down in some dark mine, or in some ship far away at sea, on a distant island, or in the center of a continent: he may know it or not, yet it is true. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ.” And just as with the human body, if members of the body joined to the head, we are members one of another. What a strange mistake to suppose that all sects compose this one body. We must see that it is only those who are in Christ. And note, Christ is in heaven; the church, then, His body, is not an earthly society, but joined to Him in heaven, though as to our persons we are on earth: A heavenly people on earth, but our politics are in heaven, and we are waiting for Him to come and take us there. Paul was a prisoner of the Lord for this very truth; had he circumcised the heathens who believed, and thus incorporated them with the national system of Israel, the offense of the cross would have ceased — the high priest might have become the pope.
But according to the eternal purpose of God, the church is separated from every worldly thing unto Himself. It is one, and its absolute unity excludes every imitation or competition. Is it a light matter to be treated with indifference? Paul says: “I... beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.” Note, it is not a question of mere agreement in opinion; but the entire state of soul: lowliness, meekness, long- suffering, forbearance. Lord, give us more of this. It is not a human organization, but “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” How important, then, to be quite sure that the unity we are seeking to keep is the unity of the Spirit. How am I to know this? What are the marks, the facts? These are the facts, the marks, the circles of unity:
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” One body excludes the idea of many Christian bodies, just as one Spirit excludes the idea of many Holy Spirits. The idea is repugnant in either case to Scripture. There is one body; we have not to make it, it is formed, it exists. How this has been forgotten. This one body is the first circle. “One body in Christ,” as we have seen. Then “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” “One Lord” excludes the many lords of the heathens. “One faith” excludes all schools of mere human thought. “One baptism” excludes the many baptisms of the law. The believer professed discipleship to the one Lord, by one baptism.
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The unity of the Godhead excludes all idolatry. One Father excludes all so-called holy fathers: and what need of them? How Satan has sought, by the help of men, to deface and to deny the unity during the dark ages of departure from the truth, as held in the first years of the church. But does not the truth remain the same? Do not the facts remain the same? We must remember that these three circles of unity refer to the true church of God as seen in the beginning.
Can the eternal purpose of God fail or change, as to the church? Can the love of Christ cease to His church? “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
If you are in Christ all this is certain to you as a member of His body, the church. Is it not most blessed? Though all unworthy in yourself, yet in Christ you are the object of the Father’s love, even as Christ — the unchanging object also of the love of Christ.
Just think, you are part of Himself, member of His body, the church for which He gave Himself to die, ever applying the water of the Word. He says “I come quickly.” As Eve was presented to Adam, the figure of Him that was to come, so surely shall the church, the heavenly Eve, be presented to Christ.
We will now inquire a little more fully as to what was the Christian ministry in the first years of the church. We know how men are educated and ordained by men now for the various churches of man. Was it so in the beginning? Assuredly not, for there were no such churches then. There was the one body of Christ, the church. And we may now look at Ephesians 4 as to the ministry Christ gave for His church. Verse 8 is a quotation from Psalm 68:18. And this is the ascension of Christ as man, victorious over the enemy. Hence, in the Psalm it is, “Thou hast received gifts in the man” (margin). That is, Christ has received gifts as man, having accomplished redemption and ascended up on high; so that true Christian ministry dates from the ascension of Christ. That poor rebellious sinners can thus be used of Christ, is a proof of the complete efficacy of His redemption work. As man on this earth, He descended into death and the grave for us; and now, as ascended in victory over Satan and sin and death, He gave gifts in men.
Individuals are His gifts. “And He gave some apostles; and some, prophets and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the, work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4).
These are not the sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit; but permanent gifts for the growth and edification of the body, the church. The apostles and prophets remain in their inspired writings, and, revelation being completed, we need no more.
There are two distinct gifts which remain, and are needed: the evangelist for the conversion of sinners, and adding to the building; and the pastor and teacher, which would mostly be the same gift, for building up, feeding,— and nurturing the body of Christ as here below. These are the abiding gifts of Christ; but not for any denomination or national organization, but “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” And not only this ministry, but that ministry was so exercised that we “speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Such then was ministry in the beginning. If a man was a gift from the ascended Christ, he was a gift for the body of Christ wherever he was. This did not hinder, but help and give opportunity for the manifestation of the Spirit, to be given to every man in the assembly used by Him. “Dividing to every man severally as He will.” (Read 1 Cor. 12.) The Spirit does not now work by the gifts of healing and miracles, which were for signs and witness in the beginning; but all that is needed for the increase and edifying of the Body of Christ remains We have seen the specimen of Church order and ministry in Acts 13. Let us then remember that the same Holy Spirit still remains to the end. He is as really present now as then, but we do not own Him — imperceptibly man takes His place, and some Christians are not ashamed to elect a president to take the very place of the Lord and of the Holy Spirit. Who can conceive the loss this is to modern Christendom. Some are so ignorant of His real presence on earth, that they pray for Him to come; others regard Him only as an influence. But who owns Him as acting here for the Lord, who is as truly present and acting by the Spirit, as if we saw Him?
It may be asked, but if confusion comes in, and many are found to speak to no profit must we not have order, and appoint a minister over the local Assembly, so as to avoid confusion? Is not all this fully anticipated? What will not man abuse? Very early in the first years this very confusion did actually come in at Corinth. Did the Holy Spirit appoint a minister over that assembly to correct the confusion? Never. No, the same order that we see in Acts 13:1-4 is directed to be carried out; “Let the prophets [such as speak to edification] speak two or three, and let the other judge... For ye may all prophecy one by one that all may learn, and all may be comforted, etc.” And Paul regards these things which he thus writes, as “the commandments of the Lord.” Now if this was the order of ministry and worship alone pleasing to the Lord, the very order He set up by the Holy Spirit in the first years, has He ever altered His mind for the Church?
We must admit that episcopacy, or a man-elected minister over an assembly, is the very opposite of the order of ministry here described in the beginning. Then when afterward did Christ set up that episcopacy, or one-man ministry? Can a single text be found for it in the New Testament? Is it not a great mistake? Is there any wonder, then, that what men call the Christian ministry is leading the Church to idolatry and infidelity? Can that be Christian ministry which is not of Christ? The Lord lead us back to His Word.

The Church of God as Found in the Scriptures: What Is the Church? What Is Its Ministry? What Is Its Destiny?

The first distinct intimation of the church we find in scripture is Matthew 16:18. Peter having confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), and Jesus having owned this as the revelation of the Father to him, He further said, “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter [a stone]; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Christ the Son of God, revealed of the Father, was the Rock, on which the church was to be built. Peter should be a stone in that then future building. That this is the clear meaning many other scriptures prove.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner” (Eph. 2:20). Is it not also quite clear that the church was then a future thing? “I will build my church”— Jesus did not say, “I have built,” or “I am building”; but I will build.
The next reference to the church is in Matthew 18:17. This also is evidently future; otherwise surely while the Lord was with His disciples, the case of an offending brother would have been laid before Himself.
“And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:17).
There are no other scriptures whatever that speak of the church until we come to the church’s birthday — Pentecost.
We may have to point out many types of the church, as the body and bride of Christ, in the Old Testament, but these could not be understood until it pleased God to reveal the joint body by the apostles and prophets of the New Testament (Eph. 3). No doubt my reader would like to ask many questions as we go through the Scriptures on this deeply interesting subject: I will anticipate those questions.
What then is the meaning of the word ἐκκλησία (ekkleesia), which we translate church?
By carefully examining every place in scripture where this word occurs, its plain meaning is ‘assembly.’ I will point out one or two instances in which it is even so translated, and cannot mean anything else. Turn to Acts 19:32, 39, 41. In each of these verses, the word translated ‘assembly’ is ekkleesia, and evidently means, a gathering of people together.
In Acts 19:37, “neither robbers of churches”.
This word “churches” evidently means heathen temples, or buildings. Is it the same word?
Oh no, this is quite another word altogether. There is no authority in scripture for calling a building a church. We should therefore never do so.
You said Pentecost was the church’s birthday. Is this clear in scripture?
This is a point of such importance that nothing could be made more clear in scripture. The disciples were to remain in Jerusalem, until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5). It was on the day of Pentecost: They were all with one accord in one place. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind... and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:1-4).
Acts 2 gives a full account of the first day of the church of God. It was the first announcement of the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ ascended up to God’s right hand. And God used this day’s preaching in the conversion of three thousand souls. These were all added: “and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common,” etc. (Acts 2:42-47).
What a wondrous new thing this was, the like of which had never taken place before. “And the Lord added to the church [or assembly] daily, such as should be saved.” All this was entirely of God. The Holy Spirit came down from heaven. The Lord added together. Thus this assembly on the very first day of its existence, was God’s assembly. It could not be thus baptized by the Holy Spirit until the Holy Spirit was given; and He could not be given until Jesus was glorified (John 7:39). And Jesus could not as our Substitute and representative be glorified until He had glorified God on the cross; then the Father must straightway glorify Him, by raising Him not only from the dead but by receiving Him to glory. When all this was done, the church was built. We shall see shortly in the Epistles, how the church is linked with the glory of God.
But were none saved, then, before Christ arose from the dead, and the Holy Spirit was thus sent down? And if they did not belong to the church of God, what were they then? Certainly, all who believed the promise of God were saved, or justified by faith, but they were and remained, saved individuals; saved Jews, or saved Gentiles. But now “There is neither Jew nor Greek... for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:18). Then if Pentecost was the first day of the church, and it was formed by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, what is the subsequent history of the Acts of the Apostles?
The Acts are really the acts of the Holy Spirit, how He acted in gathering the predestined church out of the world. He used a variety of instruments; but you will find, as you read the history of this wondrous assembly that wherever the Holy Spirit acted, it was to form the one assembly of God. Power, the power of God, not of man, is seen everywhere. In Acts 3 there is a man who could say, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:7); but such was the power displayed in the name of Jesus, that all Jerusalem is stirred to its center. And though all combined against the holy One of God, yet none could deny the power of God.
The church was the display of the power of God. Let us listen to the voice of prayer, at the church’s first prayer meeting recorded in the Acts:
“... And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child [or servant] Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. And the multitudes of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 7:24-13).
What a scene this was! one assembly, one heart, one purpose, the glory of Jesus! The Holy Spirit present. Surely it makes one sigh to compare this with the present state of Christendom. How could this assembly withstand the hatred and opposition of the whole world? God was with them — the divine person of the Holy Spirit.
It is of all importance to notice this in the history of the assembly of God in the Acts. The Holy Spirit is always present to guide the assembly — this fact is the foundation of the church’s constitution as seen on earth.
Peter said to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” (Acts 2:3). Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51). The Spirit said unto Peter, “Behold three men seek thee, arise therefore, and get thee down and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them” (Acts 10:19).
And after the conversion of the Gentiles, and the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit on them, Peter says, “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting” (Acts 11:12). In Acts 11 The believing Gentiles were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the assembly of God at Antioch. In Acts 13 the Holy Spirit takes the same place of divine guidance in the assembly at Antioch. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2). “So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed” (Acts 13:4).
When a question of great moment had to be settled by the assembly at Jerusalem, the presence of the Holy Spirit was again distinctly recognized — “for it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, etc.” (Acts 15:28). Even the apostles were guided by this divine person, “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6, 7).
Thus we see the assembly of God, throughout its history in the Acts, under the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sad failure as to this was distinctly foretold (Acts 20:28-30). Yea, the apostle himself failed (Acts 21:4). But the failure of man does not alter the truth of God. Christ is glorified; the Holy Spirit is sent down; and He remains with the church. Oh, how has Christendom utterly failed to own the divine presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit! I beg of you, my reader, to compare your own condition and associations with the Acts as to this. The church, or assembly, of God is one, as gathered together by the Lord. Sects or divisions are not of God, but carnal and of man. Is that clearly revealed in the Word of God? Nothing can be more so; read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-5: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions [or sects], are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:3).
Oh let us own the exceeding wickedness of sectarianism; and let us return unto our God with confession and humiliation. How fearfully has Christendom departed from that beautiful scene when “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32)!
One object — the glory of Christ; and all filled with the Holy Spirit. Compare this, say, with a so-called Liberation meeting!! But enough — can God approve of this wicked strife? What do the Epistles teach as to the church? They address the children of God now, as the one assembly of God: “Unto the church [or assembly] of God which is at Corinth,” etc. (1 Cor. 1:2). “Unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father, etc.” (1 Thess. 1:1).
This wondrous assembly we find was chosen of God in Christ before the foundation of the world, and blest of God with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6-7).
All this is more fully unfolded, the eye being fixed on Christ, in Ephesians 1. There we see Him raised from among the dead, and placed as the risen man, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things, to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:21-23).
But had He not always this glory? Doubtless He had in His own eternal Godhead. As the eternal Son He had glory with the Father before the world began. But now as man, the second Adam — the man who died for our sins, according to the scriptures — the Substitute forsaken of God on the cross — having glorified God there, having finished the work given Him to do; God has given Him, as man, this highest place above all things. The universe under His feet. But all this “to us-ward who believe” (Eph. 1:19); all this as head of the church, His body.
We have seen the person of the Holy Spirit in the Acts, in His own divine sovereignty, as the foundation of all church constitution on earth, we now look up and see the Lord of glory, the head of the church, far above all, in heaven. Surely, then, the most worthy of mankind alone can form the church of God? If you read Ephesians 2 you will be amazed to find the opposite of this to be the case. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), “children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3).
These are the very persons whom God has quickened together with Christ; and has given to them the wondrous place of oneness with Him, in all that exalted glory. This is altogether of God — God’s new creation. Yes, the assembly of God is God’s new creation. And the once rejected Jesus, now Lord of all glory, “He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
Note, He is head of the body, not the different bodies, not the different regiments of Christendom, nor religious bodies of the so-called church. No, all this is not in Scripture, not of God; it is entirely of man, or Satan, who never ceases to deface the assembly of God, the one body of Christ. Do not help him a bit in this work.
This wondrous display of richest grace is far beyond all human thought. Just think of these words, if you have the discernment of the Spirit, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12).
Is not this wondrous? Just as all the members of the human body are joined to the head, and form one man, or one body; so also all who believe are joined to Christ, raised from the dead far above all, and form the one Christ! But do you say that all who are saved now on earth, form the one body of Christ, and every case of true conversion to God — is it possible that all the saved belong to this one body? What, we all? Let Scripture speak: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
This is the church of God as found in Scripture. And this is the church of God, because it is entirely of God. Read the next verses, “God hath set the members every one in the body, as it hath pleased Him” (1 Cor. 12:14-27). “That there should be no schism in the body” (1 Cor. 12:25). “God hath tempered the body together” (1 Cor. 12:24). “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 12:27).
“Let us with all lowliness of mind own all this. There is ONE BODY and ONE SPIRIT” (Eph. 4:4), “ONE LORD” (Eph. 4:5), “one faith, one baptism: one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:6). Carefully study the context of these words, Ephesians 4:1-6. The effect is marvelous when the soul gets hold of this great fact (long lost, but true), that there is one body, even as there is one Lord and one God; and that in scripture two or more bodies cannot be found. And above all that, this one body is of God; God’s workmanship. Then it is found, that all sectarianism is direct opposition to God.
I grant this is a tremendous discovery; that so much that we have been proud of, is sin and rebellion against God. But evidently it is so. In deep humiliation let us own it. The one assembly of God is also presented in scripture as the bride of Christ, the wife of the Lamb. Grace beyond all human thought. Here we find the outflow of the affections of Christ as man. And though this mystery of divine love was kept hid until revealed to the apostles and prophets of the church, it is fully stated in Ephesians 3, yet many were the precious figures of this that went before.
So early as in paradise, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18).
God in His own love would give Adam an object on which his love might be placed. And thus, in this figure of Him that was to come, God sets forth His own eternal purpose; to build the church, the one body, the bride; that the Man up there in the glory shall not be alone but shall have an object in which the infinite love of His own heart shall have its eternal delight. And was not the way in which God formed the woman most significant? Adam was laid in deep sleep — type of the depths of death to which Jesus must descend to redeem His bride. Of that dead rib, in figure, the living woman was built. It was to that awakened or risen Adam, the woman, one with himself, was presented. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23).
There were many beautiful creatures in paradise; but only one made meet for the affections of Adam. God only built one Eve, God only builds one bride for Christ. Oh what a thought, what a fact, that “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). “Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30).
It is blessed to gaze on Christ, the object of the believer’s love, but that is not the thought here. The assembly of God, the bride of Christ, is the object of His love, of His delight. Have you passed from death unto life? then you form part of that one body, one assembly of God, bride of Christ, object of His love. Think; object of the love of Christ!
In the call of Rebecca also we have a striking illustration of the bride of Christ. Isaac must first be offered up, and received in figure from the dead; Sarah, the Jewish economy, be set aside. Then the father Abraham, sends Eliezer from Canaan to the far country to fetch a bride for Isaac, the risen son from the dead, in figure. Jewels first are given to Rebecca, and raiment, then she gladly leaves all to go to meet the bridegroom whom not having seen she loves. Then the meeting. And then is she the possessed object of Isaac’s love. Again there is one bride. Just so when God had actually received His beloved Son from the dead; offered up for us, and could not be spared; then received to the heavenly Canaan; then God the Father sent the Holy Spirit, to this far country, to fetch a bride for Christ. Jewels first, the righteousness of God established by the death of the cross; and then raiment — Christ raised from the dead our righteousness; and all given to, and put upon the believer: and then farewell; separation from all below. And, like Eliezer, the Holy Spirit leads the bride along to meet the heavenly Bridegroom. The church of the scriptures is found waiting and looking for Christ, the second time unto salvation. And, oh, the meeting! As Isaac lifted up his eyes, so the loving eyes of Jesus are looking for us, His bride. And we shall soon, like Rebecca, lift up our eyes. We shall see Him as He is and be like Him. This joyful theme I leave until we arrive at the third part of our subject — the destiny of the church.
One more interesting figure in the Old Testament — Ruth. God is pleased by these His own figures, to give us understanding of this great reality, the church, the bride of Christ. Here is one who by nature was a stranger to the covenant and promise; death also was written upon her house. A Moabitess, and her own husband dead. Most touchingly does her history illustrate the grace of Christ in bringing a soul to Himself. She is brought by Naomi in bitterness of soul to the fields of Boaz. My reader may remember the bitterness of those days in which he was led by the Spirit to Christ. But oh, how welcome in the fields of Boaz! Is she thirsty? let her drink. Is she hungry? let her eat. Does she glean? let fall handfuls on purpose for her. Such is the grace of our precious Jesus. Are you but a gleaner lately bowed in bitterness at the sense of your own lost condition? Ah, how welcome to Christ! Are you thirsty? welcome to the water of life. Are you hungry? welcome to the bread of life. Has He not let handfuls fall on your path on purpose? But far more than this was to follow, “My daughter shall I not seek rest for thee?” (Ruth 3:1).
And now she is identified with Boaz in the figure of death — she lay at his feet; and what the other kinsman could not do, Boaz did. He redeemed her to be his bride. And all the elders bare witness. Once the object of the gleaning kindness of Boaz, now the object of his bridal love. A welcome stranger, now the most honored place on earth, the loved bride of Boaz, and the (great grand) mother of David.
Has not God thus dealt with us? He would not have us be merely welcome gleaners in the fields of Christ; but one with Him, bride of the Lamb. There was but one Ruth; there is but one church, one body, one bride. May I ask, then, have all Christians to leave the different churches of men; such as Romanism, Anglicanism, Wesleyanism, etc., and to form one church, and so make one body, one assembly?
Many have thought so, but it is a most unscriptural mistake. As we have already seen, the church of God is not a thing of man’s making. It is wholly of God. Eve did not make herself. It is remarkable that at Corinth, where there was most failure and division, in that very epistle we learn that all believers are baptized into one body. Let this great truth be only received in faith that all believers now are baptized into one body; and that this is of God; and the effect is sure to be that instead of fleshly boasting we shall be deeply ashamed of sectarianism. And the believer who receives this truth can no longer belong to a sect, cost what it may. Only let the Word of God have its authority, then how can I deliberately do that which is in direct opposition to God?
In the Acts of the Holy Spirit then, we have the history, how God set up the church in the beginning of its days. Then in the Epistles we have the wondrous revelation what the church is.
Before we look at its ministry. There are two things found in Scripture I desire to call your attention to — the Lord’s supper is one of them. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17). Is not this the perfect communion of the one body of Christ — each believer introduced into the same fellowship of divine blessing? And does not this separate us from the world? “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils” (1 Cor. 10:21). This communion is further explained, as received from the Lord by Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11. What impresses me in this distinct full explanation of remembering Jesus, and showing forth His death until He comes is this; that it is the act of the whole one assembly of God. There is neither a priest with his mass, nor a minister with his sacrament. Either the one or the other would entirely set aside the very act of communion. The Romish priest, the ritualist, with all his imitations of Rome, or the presiding minister at his sacrament; all this is not in scripture, and we must admit that it is all of human origin. Not one bit of scripture can I find for a shred of it. Oh what sad human interference; yea, what assumption for any man thus to act without the word of the Lord!
The second thing I would notice is this — Does the Scripture foretell the failure of the Church of God on earth in outward testimony? There are sad and abundant proofs that failure did set in even during the lives of the apostles. (See 1 Cor. 11:18-21.) Shameful evils, divisions, and drunkenness, and the Lord’s hand in judgments, because they had not humbled themselves. In Titus, unruly vain talkers, etc., are found and rebuked. Terrible failures in 2 Peter 2, and in Jude, are spoken of. But this is not all; the Spirit accurately describes the fearful apostasy of the last days of this church-time or period (2 Tim. 3). “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Tim. 3:1). Read the description of these days. We may say those days unto the end of the chapter.
It may be asked, If God set up the one assembly of God, one church, one body, then is not the church of Rome that one church, and ought we not all to belong to her? If the church of Rome is the church of God as found in the scriptures, then undoubtedly we ought to belong to her. But is this the case? I am not aware of one single particular in which the church of Rome is the same, or like the church of God as found in Scripture. At a future time, if the Lord will, I may compare the church of God with the church of Rome. Professing Christendom, as was foretold by the Lord, has become a great tree, and evil men lodge in its branches. It has become the great house of 2 Timothy 2.
If this is so, what instructions has the child of God for his path in these last days? Is he to remain in fellowship with all this evil, or is he to separate himself from the evil?
Hear the answer of God: “The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge [or separate] himself from these, he shall a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use,” etc. (2 Tim. 2:19-21). And again, “From such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). The path of the obedient Christian need not be more plain. Hatred and persecution it must bring (2 Tim. 3:12), as all have found it who have obeyed these divine instructions for our days.
I now return to the church of God as found in the Scriptures.
What is its Ministry?
I just remind my reader that in looking carefully at the history of the church in the Acts, we found one all-important fact as to Ministry — the divine presence of the person of the Holy Spirit. Bearing that fact well in mind I ask your attention to the three chapters on ministry, that God has been pleased to give us, with other scriptures (1 Cor. 12; 13; 14). Will you read these chapters, before we proceed? Observe this is the very subject. 1 Corinthians 12 Contains the great principles of the christian ministry; 1 Corinthians 13, the spirit in which that ministry should be exercised; and 1 Corinthians 14, those ministries in exercise. The Spirit of God will not lower or degrade the person of Jesus — a most important test in these days. And again, no one can truly maintain the Lordship of Jesus but by the Holy Spirit. Great care is then taken to show that the various gifts of ministry are not held by one man! There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; different ministries, but the same Lord; diversities of operations, but it is the same God that worketh all in all. And then, after enumerating different gifts, the divine sovereignty and guidance of the Holy Spirit is maintained. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11). Thus we have the constitution of the church as to ministry — Jesus, Lord on high; the Holy Spirit using the gifts as He will on earth. It may be said, Some of those gifts are no longer manifested now. True; He divideth severally as He will, then and now.
This then is the principle of ministry as set up of God, the ministry that is of God. “And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers,” etc., etc. (1 Cor. 12:28). I do not however find such a thought, that God set up one man to be the minister or priest of the assembly.
Now that is important, as we wish to learn all that scripture brings before us on this subject.
Then we have the place that love, charity, has in christian ministry (1 Cor. 13). May it have its place in every line of this paper!
The principle then before us is plainly this, that the Holy Spirit is in the church, using the different gifts severally as He will. All of God, but on earth the order of the Holy Spirit. There was confusion: alas, what will man not spoil? (See 1 Cor. 14:26.) But still the same order of God by the Holy Spirit is enforced. God did not say, My order has failed, now set one man to be the minister. No; but, “Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted,” etc. (1 Cor. 14:29-35). “And these are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).
Now this is God’s only order of ministry, and He is not the author of confusion; compare this with Ephesians 4:7-16. Here the ascended Christ, far above all heavens, “gave some apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). And these were to continue. These are the gifts of Christ, and the Holy Spirit divideth severally to every man as He will. Do not forget the personal presence of the Holy Spirit.
But do we not read in the Acts that Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every city (Acts 14:23)? And that Titus was to do the same; was in fact delegated to do so (Titus 1:5). I have read all this, but I have never read of Paul, Barnabas, or Titus, ordaining a pastor, or an evangelist, or a teacher. These are the gifts of the ascended Christ. And even when the apostles were here, we have not the slightest hint of the ordination of any of these. The only thing at all like it was when Paul and Barnabas themselves, who had long been most eminent gifts of Christ, were commended to a special evangelical tour, separated and sent by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2).
But do you mean that there is no authority in the Scriptures for the ordination of a pastor over a church?
Most certainly. There is not such a thought in Scripture. It is entirely human invention. Elders, or bishops, were ordained. For an elder and a bishop is the same thing, that is clear from Titus 1:5-7. The same person is an elder in verse 5 and bishop in verse 7.
Eldership was an office; pastors, and teachers, evangelists, are gifts. I speak of Scripture — I know nothing else. Again, in scripture an elder is never the same as teacher, pastor, or evangelist. The elders of the church at Ephesus were bishops (episkopos), and as such, overseers, and were to feed the church of God.
But does not the word “feed” imply that they were teachers?
This word poimaino, translated feed, is used by the Spirit eleven times in the New Testament: Matthew 2:6; Luke 17:7; John 21:16; Acts 20:28 Cor. 9:7; 1 Peter 5:2; Jude 12; Rev. 2:27; 7:17; 12:5; 19:15. A careful examination of these and their contexts will show that it is not the imparting of spiritual food so much, if at all, that is meant, but shepherding, more in the sense of ruling.
Elders, then, were brethren gifted with wisdom to shepherd or rule the church of God. An elder thus gifted and qualified to rule, must rule well his own house. And one thing they were needed for, was to stop the mouths of vain talkers. This being the sense of the word, then in Jude 12 “feeding themselves” would rather be ruling themselves — democracy. One of the dark signs of the last days. The very opposite of knowing or discerning them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. In short, the “unruly” (Titus 1:10-13) are to be rebuked.
And might not the same person be an elder and also a teacher?
Certainly, just as the same person may be a draper and a grocer. But that does not prove, that a grocer is a draper. Peter was both elder and teacher (1 Peter 5:1). Thus while qualified persons were ordained or appointed to shepherd or rule the assembly in every city by the apostles or their delegates (Titus 1:5) (and it is true that such persons might or might not be also gifted of Christ to evangelize or teach) yet in scripture we never find the shadow of an interference either to ordain or to hinder any such gifts of the ascended Christ; as teachers, evangelists, pastors, etc.
Is there such an instance to be found?
Not one. To do so, two things must be interfered with; the administration of the Lord in glory, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the assembly.
Well, this is very solemn; are you quite sure there is no Scripture authority for the modern ordination of a priest, clergyman, or minister?
Not a single text.
Does not Acts 6 give such authority?
No, not the least. These men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, were simply appointed to serve tables, or take care of the poor. Not a thought of ordaining them as modern pastors over churches. As with the elders, these servants of the assembly might be also gifted of Christ to preach the word. Some were so, but these were never ordained to preach; not such a thought. The thing is monstrous; if we see a teacher, pastor or evangelist gifted of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach and teach Christ, for the church or any man to ordain or appoint such a person, would be to set aside as insufficient the act of Christ. Surely to recognize, becomes the whole church of God. For recognition of Christ’s gifts to His church is obedience to Him. And not to recognize a gift of Christ is disobedience to Christ.
But does not Acts 13 afford some authority for ordaining a minister or pastor over a church? Is it not often quoted for that purpose?
Read the whole passage: now is there such a thought in it as ordaining a clergyman or minister over a church, or parish? These dear devoted men were already fully recognized teachers — Barnabas and Saul. And these were appointed by the Holy Spirit to a special work, or journey; and, as such, solemnly commended by the church at Antioch. It is very strange that so many take this matter for granted, without ever searching the Word of God.
Is there no other scripture that seems to favor the practice of ordaining one person, to be the minister over a church?
There cannot be one. It is impossible for God to contradict Himself, and if we own the constitution of the church which is of God; that is, the Lordship of Jesus (Christ) and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, and the distributing severally as He will; those gifted to speak to the edification of the assembly, to speak two or three, the rest to judge, etc.; the moment you introduce the clergyman, or a minister, having the Reverend pre-eminence over the assembly, you immediately set aside both the presence of the Holy Spirit and the godly liberty of the gifts of Christ to speak two or three. In fact it is utterly impossible for God’s order, according to His Word, and man’s order set up since; to stand together. One man cannot have the pre-eminence, and the Holy Spirit be free to use whom He will.
Well, all this is amazing; but do the upholders of the clerical or episcopal system really know that it has no authority in the Word of God?
Strange to say, they do; and the best and latest writer on episcopacy fully admits that it is nowhere found in Scripture.
Then where is it found?
In tradition; the traditional history. Some say it must have begun just at the close of apostolic times; some, later.
But if there be no evidence of it in apostolic times, then what of apostolic episcopal succession?
All vanishes. How can there be a succession of what did not begin?
But some say it began before the death of the Apostle John, in Asia Minor; and that he must have approved of it.
But does the Scripture say this system of one man having the pre-eminence over the assembly began in the days of John? that is the question.
It does, it does. John wrote an inspired epistle, on account of this, and on the very subject. We shall therefore soon see whether he approved or not of the first person that assumed the position taken by the clergyman or minister over a church, (3 John). Truly John approves of the well-beloved Gaius, found walking in the truth. He has no greater joy than that the children of God should walk in the truth. He says, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren (3 John 1, 5). These brethren were such as went forth FOR CHRIST’S NAME SAKE, taking nothing of the Gentiles, and they had borne witness of the charity of Gaius before the assembly or church. Now if you bear in mind the truth, and the constitution of the church, the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit in sending those brethren, gifts of Christ, in His name, in keeping with the truth as to this, Gaius had gladly received the visit of these ministering brethren, in the charity inculcated, as to this very thing in 1 Corinthians 13. Walking in the truth, he owned the order of God. And John says, “We therefore ought to receive such that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth (3 John 1, 8). Oh, how sweet is this fellowship in the ministry of the truth! “Let the prophets speak two or three (1 Cor. 14:29)” had long been the command of Christ, and so we ought to receive these dear gifted brethren who come in the name of Christ, and have fellowship in the truth. This was christian ministry as instituted of God: “We therefore ought to receive such.” Now we have another character, and John says, “I wrote unto the assembly: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them receiveth us not” (3 John 1, 9). Now study these words; here is a man who takes the place of pre-eminence over the church, or assembly. But to do this, he must resist the Holy Spirit; he must refuse liberty of ministry, yes, even if it be the aged and beloved Apostle John, and brethren with him The very first development of clericalism proves, unanswerably, that it must resist and set aside the order of God. Did the inspired John approve of this first appearance of clericalism? He says, “Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us, with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the assembly” (3 John 1, 10). Thank God we have the strongest possible disapproval of clericalism in these inspired words. And I ask, Do not these words faithfully describe the proud spirit of clerical pretensions to this very day?
It is too true; but surely you would not say that every ordained minister over a church has the spirit of Diotrephes, the first to assume this place?
Far from it; many a dear humble servant of the Lord groans in that false position. But what we learn from this scripture is, that every one that takes this position of ministerial pre-eminence is in direct opposition to the mind and Word of God. Diotrephes could not maintain that position and receive the brethren, neither can any clergyman of minister maintain his position and receive the brethren as the gifts of Christ, to be used by the Holy Spirit in the church.
But are not clergymen and ministers receiving eminent evangelists? and is not God using these in conversions?
That is so, and God is using them in proportion as they lay aside the sectarian and clerical position. Nay, is not the Lord even by all this rebuking clerical assumption? A noticeable fact must here be named- God has been pleased to restore to the church the knowledge of His own order of church constitution and ministry — the personal presence of the Holy Spirit, and the liberty of christian ministry, to serve alone the Lord Christ. And though like the remnant in the days of Nehemiah, this feeble remnant whom the Lord has been pleased thus to bless, are conscious of much failure, yet God has been pleased to be with them. And this feeble remnant have proved the all sufficiency of God; and to this feeble and unworthy little flock God has restored the full gospel of His grace. And what is the result, at this present moment? The whole mass of the clergy of every sect under the sun are arrayed in determined hostility.
Pamphlet, and book, and tract, teems from the press! full of gross misrepresentation. Yes, and nothing more common than for the clergy to be preaching the very truth God has restored by these weak dependent brethren, while they denounce with prating words, like Diotrephes, the brethren whom they cannot receive, and maintain their clerical position. The third epistle of John exactly describes the whole struggle of to-day. On the one side, there are a few like Gaius, who have learned to obey the commands of Christ as to ministry; on the other hand, there is the whole body of the clergy determined to resist the order of God’s Word and maintain that human order of ministry begun by Diotrephes: in many cases, doubtless, ignorantly. The Word of God calls one of these principles good; the other He calls evil. Surely it must be good to obey God, and no less certain is it evil to follow man.
But you allow elders were ordained, if pastors, teachers or evangelists never were?
Yes, just so.
Then why does not the assembly ordain them now?
Simply because the assembly did not do so then, but the apostles or those they delegated to do so (Titus 1:5). We nowhere read that the church ordained elders. How plain would be our path it we really were subject to the Word of God! Never were human pretensions found more utterly wanting, when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, than the claims of the ordained ministry when thus tested by the Word of God. And equally so as to this, whether we apply the word to Romanism, or Protestantism — what utter departure from the order of God!
Not only so, but men have the audacity to ridicule God’s order, nay, to call it confusion and discord; and to pride themselves with this humanly ordained ministry as if it were the church itself; and to talk of it just as though it could be traced in succession from the apostles; when not only did the apostles not practice it, but the very last of them, the beloved John, we have heard denouncing it in the strongest possible terms.
But if the episcopal establishment (i.e., the Church of England) has no authority in the Word of God for the ordination of their clergy, and it is clear they have not the least, then where do they get their authority from?
Clearly not from God; but from the world — from the State — indeed it is the world. And to call it the church is to use words calculated to deceive. It is the world divided into parishes, over which a clergyman is ordained. Is this the church of God? Compare it with the church of God as found in the scriptures; and compare its ministry, with the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit. I ask, is there any safety in such a system of the world, unfairly called the church? Oh, is there any wonder that its members are going so fast to Rome, having never known the presence of the Holy Spirit? and never allowed Christ to give, and the Spirit to use, His gifts, as He will? But having adopted the Diotrephes ministry, as handed down from Rome, there is no remedy, there is no hope, but to withdraw yourselves from that form of godliness without the power.
The clerical order has been, from its first development, the greatest lever of Satan for evil in Christendom. Oh, my brethren in Christ, come out of her. Let us return to the Lord. It is yet true that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is present. We can testify to the truth of this promise. We have been now, some of us, gathered together in His blessed name some thirty, some forty, and some, more years; and, blessed be the name of the Lord, we have found His presence more than all the ordained ministry in the world. He is enough, the mind and heart to fill. Ebenezer, Hallelujah. Oh how we long that you should share the deep joy of His presence with us. We assure you one hour in His dear presence makes more than up for all the misrepresentations heaped upon us.
If you return to the truth of the scriptures no doubt you will suffer persecution, but no pen can tell the blessedness, and deliverance, and deep enjoyment, of communion with Christ that is the portion of every child of God gathered together truly to Christ, in (unto) His precious name (Matt. 18:20).
Do you think it is a light matter to refuse the gifts of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit in the assembly; and to set up in its place an ordained man — be that man who he may! Can you thus grieve and quench the Spirit, and not suffer in soul? Impossible.
Oh, fellow Christians, awake, awake, to these solemn truths. Search the scriptures. Will you? Will you obey them? Do you own their authority? God give you decision and purpose of heart. I write to you thus in the love of Christ. I long for your deliverance, and am not ignorant of Satan’s devices to keep you where you are. I write strongly, but there is power in truth to the children of God.
Just think, if all the believers in your town were gathered together in (unto) the name of the Lord Jesus, truly owning Him as Lord, and all filled with the Holy Spirit, all of one mind and soul, each having one object -the glory of Christ — no clerical hindrance to the gifts of Christ, the Spirit using all the gifts in divine power, sectarianism not received — abhorred; tell me now, what would be the effect on the world of all this? The gifts are so rejected and disallowed, that we can form no idea how many are laid aside now. I heard of one minister in Ireland saying lately, he had found forty evangelists in what he called his church! All these had been dormant. Oh, can you conceive anything so dreadful, so hindering, as this ordained ministry received from Rome?
One question more, Is it not said that Timothy was ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians?
Certainly not in scripture, but in a note which has been added to the end of 2 Timothy. It is impossible that this could be true. It would not only have entirely set aside the order of God; but when the apostles sent for the elders (Acts 20), there is not the slightest allusion to such a person as the bishop of Ephesus; and there must have been, had such been the case.
Well, but he might have been after this time?
Then he could not have been the first, for the elders are called bishops as we have seen. It was evidently another name for the office of elder. We must conclude then, the more we search the scriptures, the more evident it becomes that the whole pretensions of episcopacy have no foundation in the Word of God.
Only once more. Is it not true, that the episcopacy is found in the most early church history?
It is. And what does this prove? That the most early so-called church history, is the history of that ecclesiastical system which so soon entirely set aside the order of ministry we find in scripture. The one is of God, and found in His Word; the other of man, and found in his history. Which shall we follow?
Many of these remarks apply to the episcopacy, falsely called the church — whether of Rome, or England. But what of all the various bodies of Dissenters?
I am not aware that any of them has returned to the scriptural order and constitution of the assembly of God and its ministry. Is the presence of the Holy Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will, owned in any denomination?
Well, but the church elects its own pastor or minister. Is this anywhere found in scripture?
Nowhere. The ministers are Christ’s gifts to the assembly; and is the assembly to elect whether they shall have a gift from Christ? The glory of Christ and the heavenly dignity of the christian ministry is lost in such a carnal system. I do not mean the painful scenes that occur at such elections — rejections and splits — but merely to the principle of daring to call in question the prerogative of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit; failure there is everywhere, but man’s failure does not alter God’s principles. It is, too, in vain to try to find the order of God, as found in Scripture, in Wesleyan organization. Do we find a conference in scripture daring to dictate where the gifts of Christ shall be placed? God may be working by one of His servants in such a town, the conference says, No you must obey us, not God, you must leave that town and go to such a place. Can you show me anything like this in the word? Impossible. Not even an apostle ever dare so set aside the administration of Christ.
But do not these people pray to be guided by the Holy Spirit in appointing the ministers?
Yes, indeed, they do; and what must such prayer be to God? Asking God to guide them in acting in direct opposition to His Word.
I ask, now, is there any wonder that the most spiritual in all these human systems, are leaving them; and are being gathered together, in (unto) the name of the Lord Jesus; a feeble despised remnant making no pretensions to be the church of God? But this they are; they are gathered together, as at the beginning, and owning nothing, but what they find in the Word of God. Do you say, I own I see the truth of all this thus brought before me, and I admit how utterly wrong my position is, but I have been trained
to it; I am in it? What can I do? There is my family, my needs; and all my friends would turn against me if I walked according to the Word of God. I know all that, but Satan will try to magnify these difficulties. Is not God for us, greater than all these difficulties? I feel for you; I pray for you; God will be with you in His own path. (See Psa. 119:59-60.)
All are moving; either to infidelity, entirely setting aside the authority of God’s Word; to Rome, and dark superstition; or to the path of Christ as at the beginning. We now turn to our third inquiry:
What Is the Church’s Destiny?
We must be most careful not to confound this with Israel’s future destiny, as foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. No doubt every promise to Israel shall be strictly fulfilled, although they are for the present set aside, as we learn in Romans 11. I name this because of the common mistake of placing the church in the position of Israel.
All the promises to the church are heavenly, while the promises to Israel are earthly. The confounding these two destinies has led to the mistaken expectation that it is the church that is to be the means of the world’s conversion to Christ. The gathering or forming the church is a special work, occupying a special period of time, a parenthesis in Israel’s history: known unto our God is that moment, when the church will be complete. Then will be fulfilled that promise of Christ, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3). This is in blessed keeping with the first type of the church, when paradise was prepared, and Adam was there, and God brought Eve unto the man Has not our adorable Jesus gone up on high to prepare a place that the desire of His heart may be fulfilled? as He says, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me” (John 17:24). What a destiny! with Him; where He is. The second Adam, the second Eve. We are assured by revelation from our dear Lord, that He will come Himself. He will not send His angels for us — this He will do for the elect Jews, for the earthly kingdom — but the Lord Himself shall come for us from heaven, whether we are alive and remain to that moment, or whether we are asleep. Yes, He who came down to Calvary’s cross will also come in the clouds for us. He died for us; He comes for us; oh, what love is this! No judgment for our sins; no, He has borne the utmost due to us, and now He is coming without sin unto salvation.
One more precious fact, “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be LIKE HIM; for we shall see Him as he is” (1 John 3:2). What a destiny! to be like Him. In the full image of the heavenly man in glory — holy, pure, incorruptible! We are now accepted in the Beloved; the whole value of His person and work reckoned to us; reckoned dead with Him, and risen in Him, one with Him. But actually, and everlastingly, to be like Him! Do not our souls long for this? and can we not say, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psa. 17:15)? But, oh, most wondrous fact, is not this the language of Christ Himself? So really we are one with Him, that His own resurrection was but the first-fruits. And it will be when His body, the church, raised from the dust, or changed in a moment, and the millions of the redeemed meet Him in His own likeness; then shall He see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied; sweetly shall we share His joy. From eternity has He looked forward to that moment, now so near, when the bride shall be presented to Himself: and when it comes, do we not hear Him up there in the heavens saying, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone,” etc. (Song of Sol. 2:10-13). “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Sol. 2:13). And again, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (Song of Sol. 4:7). The Holy Spirit must use sweetest poetry to express the heart of Christ.
Such is the joy and love of that Man in the glory. Is it not wondrous that the glorified One should thus be waiting and longing for us? He has not only loved the church, and given Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, but there is yet the presentation so dear to His own heart, “that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). This is the sure destiny of the church of God; the certain result of His work on the cross. “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in His sight” (Col. 1:22). “Who shall also confirm you unto the end,... blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:8). “To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thess. 3:13). Thus we learn the settled purpose of God to fulfill the desire of Christ. We shall see Him as He is: we shall be like Him. We shall be unblameable in holiness, in spotless purity. Then shall the heart of our eternal lover be satisfied. Oh, think of Him thus! Do not merely read these burning words of scripture, but in them see your Lord; He who will come quickly to call you away. Ah, this world’s cold wintry blast will be over and gone. No more groaning over inbred sin, no more conflict, no more sins and failure, no more sorrows; all, all gone. And if the church is thus the object fitted to be the delight of Christ through eternal days, as Eve was the object of the love of Adam, and one with himself, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, ought not then Christ to be the one object of His church now? He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The same love that we shall enjoy in that unsullied and eternal brightness, is the love wherewith He loves us now in this world’s night of darkness. Oh, let our hearts rest in His precious love. Oh, the riches of His grace, to give such vile worms a destiny so glorious. The new creation of God, pure and holy. Members of His body, of His bone, and of His flesh. I gaze on that risen Man in the glory, and can say, I shall be like Him. What can I desire more?
Does scripture unfold anything further as to the church’s destiny, after it is caught up to meet and be with the Lord as described in 1 Thessalonians 4? Where will the church be in that hour of temptation, coming on the earth? And in that time of tribulation such as never was, and never shall be after? and when Christendom or Babylon is destroyed? and during the millennial kingdom of Israel on earth? Through all this, what is the church’s destiny? Is it made known?
It is. After the close of its history on earth, and the outward testimony of the professing church is set aside, spued out of his mouth, the veil is thrown aside. Heaven is opened to our view. The redeemed are represented, by four-and-twenty elders. God rests — sat on the throne. The saints rest — they sit on thrones around the throne of God. When seraphim and cherubim, the four living ones, give glory to Him that sat on the throne, the redeemed reply with worship to God, as the Creator of all things (Rev. 4).
The Man in the glory has waited until His redeemed ones, gathered up at His coming, are there with Him, then He will be known to be worthy to take the book of counsels and judgments out of the right hand of God — emblem of divine power. What a sight is that! look at it. The Man, the Lamb as it had been slain, worthy to go up to God — Himself God — and take from His right hand the book. The glorified Man thus becomes the executor of divine power and judgments. Up to this point, He sat on the Father’s throne; now He is seen in the center of the throne — the first preparatory act, for subduing of all things to Himself. This calls out the new song of the redeemed; and the loud saying of the angelic myriads. The redeemed become deeply interested in the future circles of redemption — as the corrected translation of Revelations 5:9-10 — not ‘us,’ but ‘them’.
Wondrous chapter, revealing the association of the saints with Christ, during the period of woes, on this earth afterward described. There they remain during the opening of the seals, the blast of the trumpets, the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath on the earth, the sudden resurrection of the Roman Empire, the utter apostasy of Babylon the Great, the full ripened wickedness of Christendom, and its fearful overthrow and destruction. Then the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready (Rev. 19). This glorious event having taken place, the Lord Jesus will come in judgment on the living nations. All that have been beheaded for the Word of God during this time of dreadful infidel wickedness will now be raised from among the dead, and form part of the first resurrection, its full complement.
Then the millennium, the one thousand years of blessedness, begins. After which the judgment of the dead, and then the eternal state.
The church is found in intelligent worship, during all these events, from the beginning of the judgments or before, until the marriage of the Lamb. What a destiny! all clearly revealed in the Word of God. But all heavenly, and of God. Nothing earthly or of man This is very marked, even during the millennial reign. I invite close attention to this important fact very fully explained in Revelation 21:9 to 22:6. “Come hither,” says one of the seven angels, “I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9). And what did he show John? “That great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:10). What a contrast this will be to what is now seen on earth! Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven— what purity! “from God.” Do you, my reader, belong to this heavenly bride that will be from God, and “having the glory of God” (Rev. 21:11)? This language could not be applied to angel or archangel, principalities or powers “Having the glory of God!” oh, wondrous grace! And her light like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. What a change from this sinful state, to unclouded purity, in all its unsullied clearness! The wall, great and high, speaks of the perfect security of the bride during this time of reign, and putting all things under His feet.
The gates of the city — place of administration — show the wondrous part the church will have in the administration of the world to come; and this though in connection with the earthly people of restored Israel. Every precious stone is named to show forth the glory of this building of God: it is a perfect vast cube, heavenly perfection: also a perfect square (Rev. 21:16). Divinely perfect whether viewed in the heavens or from the earth. The city pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the street of the city pure gold, as it were transparent glass. Inherent, absolute, stainless, purity, and divine righteousness. Constituted the righteousness of God and nothing without to defile. All transparent purity, within and without — thus shall we be the righteousness of God. What a destiny! No temple there. The Lord God and the Lamb shall be there. Still the Lamb — forever the Lamb All, all, we owe to the once bleeding Lamb. No need now of sun or moon, or creation-comforts: “For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). What a home above, and all is as certain, nay, more certain, than that the morrow’s sun shall light the eastern hills. Every moment bringing us, yea, bringing the whole church of God, nearer this place prepared, this home above of peace and love.
Students of the book are aware that the eternal state is described in Revelation 21:1-8. Is the destiny of the bride revealed there? Her destiny in the eternal state!
Oh yes, when the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea, she is described as the same holy city, new Jerusalem, entirely of God, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband — forever the bride of the Lamb. What an eternity awaits us! Evil having been put down, all is happy subjection to God! There is now no wall, no gates. The administration is over, all is now eternal rest with God. The eternal destiny of the church is to be the tabernacle of God. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men. Such is a very brief outline of the destiny of the church of God, the bride of the Lamb. May our blessed Lord use these few thoughts to lead His children to search the scriptures in the presence of God; in wholehearted dependence on the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Thus we have found the church of the scriptures to be the church of God, composed of every believer born of God since God began the church at Pentecost. And that all believers are now baptized into the one body of Christ. And that to use the word church, as meaning any worldly system, as that of Rome, or England, is not only unscriptural, but calculated to deceive souls.
We have found that true Christian ministry is direct from Christ, the ascended head of the church; that these gifts of Christ were never ordained, even by the apostles, and never should be ordained by men. To do so is to set aside the high privilege and administration of Christ. We have found no authority in the Word of God for such a person as a clergyman or minister, over either a parish or a church.
We have found that the constitution of the church was, first, the personal presence of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, He using whom He will of the gifts in the assembly. And though all Christendom has set aside the church constitution as found in Scripture, yet we find no reason why we should give up the Word of God to follow the traditions of men.
We have found the first man who did refuse the order of God in the fellowship and ministry of his brethren, in order to establish his own clerical pre-eminence, was strongly condemned by the inspired Apostle John. We have found that the dreams of men, as to the church being an improver of this present evil world, to be all false. That the destiny of the church is entirely heavenly. And it will soon be taken away from this dark night of sin and sorrow. The home above is prepared; the Man in the glory is waiting the moment when He shall rise and call us up to the skies. As Isaac waited for his Rebecca, so waits our precious Lord. Soon we shall meet, to part no more. Forever with the Lord.

Cleansed by Blood, and Washed by Water

In Psalm 51 you will find the deep need of a soul that has found itself ruined and vile, utterly without power in the hour of temptation. How deep the sense of guilt and sin; and yet the cry for mercy according to what God is!
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make one to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.”
These are the earnest desires of a sin-burdened soul — the groans of a broken heart that longs for holiness and purity. For cleansing and purging: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” And much more: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Guilty, guilty, oh, wash me whiter than snow! Here is full unreserved confession to God, and faith looks only to Him. Here is man’s need — your need and mine, as God sees it — our very condition by nature.
Now if we turn to that day when God shall gather His ancient people from all countries, we find an answer to every cry and desire in this psalm.
“And I will sanctify My great name which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God: In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded” (Ezek. 36:23-33).
“Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you.”
All help comes from God: cleansing, a new heart, and the Holy Spirit. This is the purpose of God for His name’s sake. How precious the “I wills” of God! “I will take you.” Yes, from His own heart’s free grace He will do all this for Israel. And is He not the same blessed God now? Poor helpless, sin-burdened soul, He says, I will cleanse thee, and thou shalt be clean. How very striking are the words of Jesus to Nicodemus “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again [or wholly afresh] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And again, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” There must be a pure and holy new creation.
And this is the work of God, entirely of God. “I will cleanse,” “I will give a new heart.” There must be a holy new nature. Only, note, this does not alter the flesh. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This solemn distinction of the two natures is our blessed Lord’s first elementary lesson. If this lesson is not learned, nothing can be clearly known. Truly the new quickening birth is by the Holy Spirit — “born of the Spirit.” And the thing signified by water is the word: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
But it is important to inquire why our blessed Lord used the term water. “Except a man be born of water.” Does it not express the holy requirements of God? There must be a nature suited to Himself.
Now let us look at a few of the types, where water was used for cleansing: indeed, let us notice the relative place in these figures of water, the blood, and oil. Suppose we look at Christ and believers, in the figures of Aaron and his sons in the day of their consecration. In Leviticus 8:6: “Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water.” Then from vss. 7-12 it is all Aaron alone. And he put upon HIM the coat and girded HIM... And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him to sanctify him. Thus, if we look at Jesus alone in this type, it is the water and the oil; the washing in water, then the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He was the sinless One, the washing with water marked His intrinsic purity. He needed no atoning blood. It was this that so surprised John — that the Holy One should come to be baptized. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. And John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest thou to Me? And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then He suffered him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:13-17). He fulfilled this beautiful type of the law. He was baptized with water: and at this John might well marvel. But immediately he was anointed with the Holy Spirit. And God bore witness that He was the Holy One: “my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” From His pierced side there flowed blood and water — blood to atone, and water to cleanse. But you notice He was in His own essential being all that God could require — the Beloved Son. This gives great force to the expression, “Except a man be born of water.” He must have a wholly new nature — the very nature of the Beloved Son, the second Adam.
Turn back to Leviticus 8. If Aaron typifies the holy, holy One, who needed no sin-offering, the One on whom the Father could look with perfect delight, and on whom the Holy Spirit could descend; then when Aaron and his sons present Christ and believers, a sin-offering must be offered. Until the cross He, the corn of wheat, remained alone. Then He became sin for us. The holy, holy One, who knew no sin, was made sin the us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Look at Jesus in that figure; Aaron and his sons lai d their hands on the sin-offering; and all this bearing the wrath due to our sins, in order that we might be one with Him in all the sweet savor to God of the burnt offering.
For again, in the next place, the ram of burnt offering is brought; and Aaron and his sons all lay their hands upon its head. Now look at Jesus the accepted of God; and then meditate on the wondrous fact, that all believers are perfectly identified with Him in all His acceptance before God. Nay, still more, the Lamb of consecration is now brought, and Aaron and his sons lay their hands on the head of it also. Oh, look again at Jesus consecrated to the Father: and are we perfectly identified with Him in His consecration? It is even so. By what power, or value, or merit can we possibly be thus identified with Him in His consecration to God? By the power, the value, the merit of His blood. The blood of consecration was first put upon Aaron’s right ear, thumb, and great toe; and then put upon his sons. To have His eternally — loved many brethren He must pass through death. And the power, the value, the merit of His blood must be upon them; yes, is upon us. As the blood was put — upon ALL the sons of Aaron, so the value of the blood is reckoned to all believers.
Now, note, this consecration was never repeated; and if the infinite value of the blood of Christ be upon us, our consecration can never cease and can never therefore be repeated. Then follows the anointing oil, or rather the oil and the blood, sprinkled upon Aaron and his sons. Thus all believers are anointed with the Holy Spirit, the distinguishing mark of Christianity. Blessed abiding witness of the value of the blood of Jesus! Thus we have the divine order: the water, the blood, the oil. It is our complete consecration. Born of water and Spirit, the Holy Spirit using the word to quicken us — to give us an entirely new nature, and to wash the from all defilement by the washing of water by the finite value of the precious death, the blood, of Jesus put upon us once and forever. Then the anointing with the Holy Spirit.
In the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus 14 the divine order is very striking. There is first the ground on which the leper can be cleansed. There are two birds; the one is killed over running water, the other is dipped in the blood of the dead bird, and that blood sprinkled on the leper. Precious figure! Jesus must die, and must rise again, and His resurrection applies the value of His blood, as the only basis on which the Sinner can be cleansed. But now note the order of the cleansing. Read Leviticus 14:8-20. Again we find, first the water, then the blood, then the oil. Twice is he to be washed with water. The holy pure requirements of God are thus confirmed in the type. Then the precious offerings that set forth the perfections of Christ are taken, and he is presented with the whole value of these before the Lord. How far have we got? The believer thus typified, is to be washed with water; he must be cleansed from all defilement. He must be presented to God with all the perfections of the work and person of Christ. Yea, we are thus presented.
Then the blood is to be put upon his right ear, thumb, and toe. The value of the atoning blood of Jesus put upon him. And then the oil is to be put upon the blood. Thus again the type sets before us the water, the blood, and the Holy Spirit. Oh, meditate on the completeness of this wondrous type!
And now look through this Book of Leviticus , and you will find every possible defilement must be washed by water. Even so every possible defilement to the believer, must be met by the washing of water by the Word.
Read also in NumBERS 19, the water of purification. What a lesson of washing by water! Blessed fact, that water derives all its virtue from death. So the water of the word derives all its value from the death of Christ. “In the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col. 1:22). We now turn to another scripture of great moment — Leviticus 16 — the great day of atonement.
Even here the priest that brings the blood within the veil must first wash in water. Nay, more, “He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil, and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not.”
Yes; such must he be who should come and offer himself without spot to God. He must be pure and holy. Yea, from the fire of the altar he must be the sweet savor unto God. The cloud — emblem of the divine presence — must cover the mercy-seat. Oh, what wondrous shadows of Christ!
I want my reader to fix his thoughts on two things specially in this chapter. The value of the blood before God, or propitiation, and the transfer of the believer’s sins to Christ, or substitution. There are two goats to set forth these two things. One is offered as a sin-offering, and its blood is sprinkled on the golden mercy-seat before the eye of God.
We have seen, and fully admit as proved, that there are repeated washings of water. Now our solemn inquiry: is, Are there, or can there be, repeated applications of the blood? How long does that blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat remain’? The last verse of this chapter answers the question “An atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” Then there required a fresh application of the blood of the goat once every year? Certainly.
Note, there is no transfer of sins to the sin-offering of propitiation here. No hand of identification was laid upon its head. In propitiation it is what the blood is to God, turning the throne of righteous judgment into the mercy-seat. God meets a world in righteous mercy. Jesus is a propitiation for our sins, and not only so, but for the whole world.
Now look at the other goat — the azazel — the live goat. “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Nothing could more distinctly set before us the transfer of all our sins to Christ, the Substitute. This is substitution. There is perhaps not a more fatal mistake in modern theology than the confounding of these two truths together. It deceives those who have not faith, and it robs the true believer of the overwhelming comfort this fact gives, namely, that all his sins and guilt were transferred to Christ and borne away, never to be remembered against him forever. But to say that Christ bore the sins of the world — that the sins of all men were transferred to Christ — is to imply that all men therefore must be saved; or that His death has been in vain. I need not say that Scripture never makes such a mistake. Scripture presents Christ as the propitiation of the whole world, so that God in divine righteousness proclaims mercy and forgiveness to every man. But the transfer of sins is never applied in Scripture except to those who believe, where, so to speak, the hand of faith is laid on His precious head, as the hand was laid upon the goat I make these remarks, so that shortly we may have the full unhindered testimony of God’s Word to our souls.
One word more. Had this transfer of all the sins of Israel to be repeated? It had to be repeated once every year. And in cases of individual sins, had thereto be a fresh sin-offering? Undoubtedly, as Leviticus 5 fully states.
Then would not all this prove, one may ask, that the modern thought of constant fresh applications of the blood of Christ is correct and scriptural?
Let us turn to the New Testament and inquire. Will you read Hebrews 9 and 10? First, it is fully admitted that under the law there was this constant repetition, a remembrance of sins once every year; and the reason why is given: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” Now, do these chapters present the sacrifice of Christ in comparison, or in contrast, with the offerings of the law? If in comparison, then clearly there must be frequent applications of the blood of Christ to the believer, and for precisely the same reason. It is like saying, For it is impossible that the blood of Christ should take away sins! Indeed, this is exactly what Satan and unbelief are saying.
But nothing can be more clear than that these chapters present the one sacrifice of Christ in direct contrast with the often repeated sacrifices of the law. The offerings of old could never bring man into the presence of God. The veil shut him out; the Holy Spirit signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest. Now the veil is rent, and we have boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Then the sacrifices of the law could not really take away sins even for a year. Now the one offering of Christ hath forever perfected them that are sanctified.
Look at the sprinkled blood on the mercy-seat of old. Twelve months pass over, and it loses its value; there must be a fresh application of blood. But let faith look at the blood of Jesus before God; now say, twelve months pass over, has it lost its value? Twelve years, twelve thousand, twelve millions, eternity — has it lost its value? Must there be a fresh application of blood before God? Oh, my soul, wilt thou give up the everlasting efficacy of that precious blood? I may need to come boldly again and again to that throne of grace, but to say there needs or can be a fresh application of the blood of Christ is to overthrow the very foundation of Christianity. No! the one offering perfects in perpetuity all that are sanctified.
Let us now look at Jesus as the believer’s substitute. As all the sins of Israel were confessed over and laid upon the azazel — the scape-goat, we now see Christ once offered to bear the sins of many What a wondrous reality this is! All my sins and iniquities transferred to Christ, borne away by Him, never to be remembered against me! All this is made true to my soul the moment by faith I layer my hand on that dear head of Thine. Is this true for twelve months? Does this work of my Jesus-substitute then fail? and then require a fresh work, a fresh application? Oh! my reader; would you thus deny the everlasting value of the blood of Jesus? A fresh application of the substitution of Christ bearing all or any of our sins transferred to him! The thing is impossible. It would make His death of no more value than the blood of a goat! Again and again may the word be applied to my heart and conscience, revealing to my soul the all-stupendous fact that all my sins were transferred to my holy Substitute on the cross. Oh, soul-sustaining truth!
We have then two things certain and everlasting: the blood of Jesus before God, never, never losing its efficacy-never, never needing repetition; and the sins of believers once transferred to Him put away forever.
In all the believer’s sins being transferred to Christ the Substitute, the blood must be as perfect and everlasting in its efficacy for us as it is before God; and if all our sins have thus been transferred, there remains none for which there can be a fresh death or application.
And now, whether in the cleansing; of the leper, or the consecration of the priest, where the blood was put upon the person, there was not repetition. The oil was put upon the blood. This is a third important aspect of the blood of Jesus. In the first, it was before God; in the second, it is for us, in our stead; in the third, it is upon us, the whole value of the blood is put upon us: placed to our account. Now if the blood of Jesus never can lose its value before God, nor for us in our stead; neither can it lose its value upon us. And if it can never lose its value, there need be, there can be, no fresh application of it. A fresh application implies it has lost its value. To doubt this is to doubt the infinite perfections of the person and value of the work of Christ.
This is very wonderful; yes, so wonderful that it must be entirely of God. The believer, then, must be clean every whit in God’s sight. That is just what he is, and he need not wash, save his feet. The blood is ever before God: therefore we can come boldly to the mercy-seat. All our sins have been transferred, laid on Christ, borne away. God has put the same blood upon us, the infinite value of the sacrifice of Christ upon us. As to the believer who sees this, and understands these three aspects of the death of Christ, he must know that, though an unworthy sinner in himself, yet cleansed by the blood of Christ, he is whiter than snow in God’s sight-without spot, made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. No doubt this was the faith once delivered to the saints a long time ago. Oh, if believers were but in that light now, clear and bright! A change now from Christendom to Christianity, is almost as great as it was of old from Judaism to Christ.
In the blessed Lord’s commission to Paul we read — “He was sent to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, by faith that is in Me” (Acts 26:18). Oh, how much of that light, the true knowledge of God, has been obscured by the traditions of men! There was then the complete turning from ignorance to God, to the full knowledge of God in Christ, and of the believer’s standing in Him. Thus one can give “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” etc. (Col. 1:12). All this could not possibly be, if we were imperfectly cleansed from sins, and needed further applications of the blood of Christ. And that this is a present thing is evident: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises [or virtues] of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Much depends on whether my reader enjoys that marvelous light, in all its clear brightness, or not. If you do, if You have God’s thoughts as to the blood of Christ before Him on the mercy-seat, and His thought of that sacrifice as the Substitute for you, you must see all your sins have been transferred to Christ, and forever gone; and more, His thought about the whole value of that precious blood upon you forever. Then you must see in this wondrous light that all your sins are gone as to their guilt, and that that blood thus cleanses you from all sin. And if so, there can be no repetition, or fresh application, of the blood of Christ.
And to this agree the words of the Spirit through John: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (John 1:7). Must it not be so? The blood before God; the blood for us; the blood on us; the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. God sees the blood, and sins cannot be reckoned to us they have been borne by Jesus. That blood — ever the same in infinite value; ever on us; ever before God -cleanseth us from all sin.” It cleanseth, in the sense that we are perfected forever, in perpetuity, by that one offering. To make this a matter of work or attainment on our part would be to deny the work of Christ. He hath perfected in perpetuity. It is the abstract statement of the value of His blood, in the light. And if we are there, in the light, walking in it, we shall have this blessed certainty.
But perhaps my reader will say, I have been told that verse means this — that if “a believer sins, he must come to God again, as he came at first, for a fresh application of the blood of Christ; and it will cleanse him again from his sins.”
Now read the verse carefully. There is no question here of “if we sin,” that is, if we do not walk in the light”; but “if we walk in the light.” We will look at that question, “if we sin,” shortly. It is of all moment rightly to divide the Word of God.
If I said, “The gas lights this room,” this would not mean it is gone out, and needs a fresh application, needs lighting again. If I said, “The sun shines in the heavens, dispelling all darkness,” this would not mean there needs a fresh application of the sun’s light to do so. Nay, such has been the misuse of this precious verse that some have fallen into the fatal error, that if a believer sins he is no longer a child of God. But more of this presently.
A blind man could not see that the gas lit the room, or that the sun lights the heavens. If a man is in darkness, he cannot see this wondrous truth, that the blood of Jesus puts away sins, cleanses from all sin. As “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat... And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Even so have all our sins been transferred to Jesus. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:5-11). “So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many.” “But this man, after He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” Oh, if in the light we see Him there by faith; His work done, never to be repeated. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” In this full, complete, everlasting sense, if we are in the light, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship in this one with another; and the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin.
But my reader may say, This wondrous work was accomplished before we were born.
Yes. Then all our iniquities, from our birth to our departure from this sinful world, were transferred to Jesus on the cross. To the believer this is surely true, or who can be saved? And when is all this made true to the believer? As the hand of Aaron was laid, in identification, on the head of the goat, so the moment the Holy Spirit imparts faith to the soul, there is complete identification with Christ. Then we receive, in living power in our souls, the blessed fact that all our sins have been transferred to Christ, never, never again to be laid to our charge. Nay, much more than this, we are reckoned dead with Christ, and risen with Him. And as all our iniquities have been transferred to Him on the cross, so now we are accepted in Him, identified with Him in all that He is, risen Christ, at God’s right hand.
The doctrine of a fresh application of the blood — a doctrine nowhere taught in Scripture, but taught by men — sets all this aside, and reduces ancient Christianity into modern Judaism.
Neither must we read “cleanseth from all sin” as if it meant an unfinished continuous process, like a woman washing a garment, or a man scouring a pack of wool. This is the Romish view of the work of Christ. If that woman is still washing the spots of dirt out of the garment, then she has not really perfected it. This error robs Christ of the glory of His finished work, and needs for the Romanist a purgatory hereafter, and for others a purgatory here. An anxious soul, that cannot say, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” if he cannot say this, in the light, then he must be in purgatory, in the dark. Oh, my reader, if in the dark, you are tormented with uncertainty as to your sins. If in the light, you know the blood of Jesus Christ has washed them all away; they are all gone. Which is it? This is the true standing of every believer in the light before God, washed in the blood whiter than snow.
Perhaps my reader will say, I had thought these verses in 1 John very difficult.
Indeed, tell me your difficulties.
Well, am I to understand by the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all sin, that therefore we have no longer a sinful nature? That we have here be low a pure sinless nature, our old sinful nature changed, or sin eradicated?
How could you have had such a thought? Do you not see verse 8 expressly corrects that mistake? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Do you not find these words to be truth? “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”: and again, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other (John 3:6; Gal. 5:7).
But how can we be forever perfected, if there is still a sinful nature?
Because that sinful nature has been fully judged: “God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin [or by a sacrifice for sin], condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3).
Then we may fully own the truth, as to the unchanged old nature, sin in the flesh; knowing that all this has been judged on the cross?
Certainly, and instead of difficulty, this gives blessed relief to the soul.
Well, one more, indeed the great difficulty to many. If the Christian should sin, does he then lose all this wondrous value of the blood of Christ? is he no longer a child of God? has the blood of Christ to be applied afresh?
Why these very verses answer with the utmost clearness each of these questions. And note, these truths are not given that we may sin; and God forbid that I should write one line that we may be careless in our walk: “My children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And 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.” Even in this extreme case there is no thought of a fresh application of the blood. If the believer sins, does he lose the value of the blood? Oh no, He who died for our sins is our advocate, patron, solicitor — the One who undertakes the whole case of our restoration; as we see in that beautiful figure, when He took the basin and poured water, and washed His disciples’ feet. But it does not say Advocate with God, but with the FATHER. Oh, what this speaks! The relationship is still there. Not a sinner before God, to be saved again; but a fallen child, to be restored to the Father; and by Jesus Christ the righteous? Yes, He is still thy subsisting righteousness with the Father, and He is — not He must die again to be — He is the propitiation for our sins. This forever decides the question of a fresh application of the blood. He is the propitiation. With the Jew the blood of the goat was needed once a year to be repeated on the propitiatory mercy-seat. Not so the blood of His Son; once shed, it is forever before God. Have you sinned? Come boldly to that propitiatory, that throne of grace. Oh, the claims of that blood for us before God! Fearful is the error of admitting for a moment the thought that there needs a fresh application of blood.
What! was that sin, which breaks your heart in sorrow and contrition, transferred to Christ on the cross? Is that precious blood on the mercy-seat before the eye of God? Is that blood also on you, as we saw in the cleansing of the leper? Need you more? Need you a fresh application of blood? Does God need more than the death of His Son? Will He deny the claims of that precious blood? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Yes, whatever dishonoring thoughts we may have had of the blood of Christ, God is faithful to its infinite value and unchanging claims. Therefore sins confessed are sins forgiven. Thus, through confession, the believer is restore to communion; not through a fresh application of the blood, but because the blood is ever before God. And surely God is faithful to forgive the sins which have been once transferred to Christ, and borne by Him. Oh, my soul, what a provision God has made in His own Son.
Well, my reader may say, all this is very different from what I have been taught. I have been told that to walk in the light was a very great attainment, in fact only attained by very few; and that those few were so cleansed by the blood of Jesus that they were sinless, sin in some way being eradicated. Now I see that to walk in the light is the normal or true place of every child of God; and that the blood of Jesus presents him before God whiter than snow. Though in himself he still finds sin, yea, needs one in the presence of God to be his patron or advocate when he sins, the righteous One, the propitiation; and all he needs he has in Christ. Well, the fact is I am amazed and filled with comfort. Christ is the rock; and the soul built on Him, evidently, never can be moved.
But I should like to name some other difficulties that have been presented to me. I would now briefly refer to the Romanist’s view of salvation through Christ. The way to heaven is thus described: “Suppose a traveler, going towards a magnificent city where his family and a brilliant fortune await him, between him and the city there is a fathomless abyss, and impervious darkness covers his way. This traveler has neither guide nor light; over this abyss there is only a small plank, narrow and very unsteady, and there is no other way by which he can reach the city.” Then follows the use of the Decalogue (that is, the 10 commandments) to help the poor souls across.
What a picture! Is it true? Is the Romanist in impervious darkness, without a guide, without light, and to him Christ a narrow unsteady plank across the bottomless abyss? Well, you say, I have not been brought up exactly in that impervious darkness. But really, I must say, not much better. The sum of the preaching I have heard is this: salvation by Christ is a sand-bank; to-day it is high above water mark, and all is safe; to-morrow the waves of temptation and dark billows of sin may have swept it away, and I, poor soul, may sink in the unfathomable depths of perdition. And I have been taught to regard as the most dangerous error the doctrine of the believer as a stone built on Christ the immovable rock. Now for the strengthening of my faith. in Christ, and the value of His precious blood, I will put out some of my old difficulties, and, I may say, the present difficulties of thousands I live and believe to be Christians. This is one. I have known many most zealous members of the professing church, who appeared, so far as one could see, to be sincere Christians; yet at last they have been found to be practicing sin, have fallen away, given up all profession, and have never, to their dying day, been restored. Does not this look like the Roman Catholic unsteady plank, or with some Protestants the shifting sand-bank? How is this?
Let the same epistle answer: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). The parable of the sower also shows the same thing. Out of four parts that appear to receive the truth, only one receives it in the prepared heart; and, understanding it, brings forth fruit. It is not the assent of the intellect, but the reception of Christ in the heart by faith. Have you thus received Christ? If you have, you will no doubt continue; if you have not, you will sooner or later fall away. How plain the truth of God!
Will you now turn to 1 John 3? In chapter 2 we have seen the remedy and provision if any man sin. Most comforting to my soul! Now we read: “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not... He that committed, sin is of the devil... Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” Now these passages not only take away the comfort of the former, but they terribly affright many a sincere soul. I have sinned, therefore I am not a Christian at all, I am of the devil. This terror of soul arises from two mistakes; the not seeing the two natures. The new nature, that which is born of God, surely sinneth not. And again, a mistranslation in these verses. It should be, “He that practiceth sin is of the devil.” In each case it is “practiceth sin.” And there were those Nicolaitanes, who were openly practicing sin, and yet pretending to be Christians. In the very twelve, we have a notable instance of the difference. Judas practiced sin; he sought opportunity to betray Christ; and. he was of the devil. When Peter sinned, sad as it was, yet did that look of Jesus say, There Peter, you have denied Me; you may go; you are of the devil now? What a contrast! Just such a contrast is there betwixt the believer if he sins in chapter 2, and the practicer of sin in chapter 3. It is not a difficulty, but a solemn heart-searching truth.
Will you now turn to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27? Does this not look like the unsteady plank, or the moving sand-bank? What! a man may be a preacher to others, and yet himself a castaway.
Terrible as this is, doubtless there are instances all around. But notice this chapter, and this epistle, is not so much about salvation, but service, ministry, and church order. And surely the Holy Spirit well knew what the future clergy would be. One of the most godly of the reformers said of the clergy in his day, “Whose god was their belly, and whose religion was the kitchen.” I trust there is much change for the better. Perhaps no class of men have pampered the body more than the clergy; so that there is not a solemn warning of Scripture more needed than this. But because the Holy Spirit foresaw the worldliness of a hired clergy, and forewarned the godly minister of Christ of the need of keeping the body under, I cannot see for a moment that this touches the security of the true Christian, having eternal redemption through the blood of Christ. It does prove this, that preaching to others is no security. Judas again may be cited in proof. He was of the devil, and became reprobate.
Well, I confess I do not see anything here to shake the confidence of the believer in the blood ever before God for him; and the certainty that all his sins were transferred to Christ; and that the blood is upon him; and the Holy Spirit bearing witness, not to his feelings, but to the efficacy of that blood, in putting away all sins; and more, that if he sins, Jesus the righteous One is his Advocate on high; and that, he having eternal life, God is still his Father.
Will you now turn to Hebrews 6:1-6? “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Oh, the darkness and difficulty many have through misuse of these verses! Surely then they must misunderstand them altogether.
Now, clearly, if these verses mean that a believer, who has eternal life, and is forever perfected by the one offering of Christ, may nevertheless fall away; then they also prove the impossibility of such an one ever being restored to repentance. Now this would prove too much, both for the men of the unsteady plank, and the men of the moving sand-bank; but what do they mean? If you look at the context you learn in the end of Hebrews 5 that the believing Hebrews had not gone on to perfection, or full mature Christian truth. They were still occupied with truths known by them as Jews, such as repeatedly laying again the foundation of repentance, like the yearly day of atonement; of the doctrine of baptisms or frequent washings of water, as the priests, and believing priests, were still practicing; the laying on of hands on the head of goats and bullocks, etc. Remember, the temple was still standing, and the multitude of them that believed more or less were practicing its rites and occupied with its doctrines. As for resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, all these had had their place; but now believers were to go onto perfection, to the full developed Christian truth. And this the apostle does in this Epistle, showing that Christian truth is in direct contrast with the old shadows of the law. And in these very verses the contrast is sharp and striking. The very plan of Judaism, or the law, was constant renewals. If a man sinned, he must bring a fresh victim. His hand must be laid upon it; it must be killed. There must be a fresh application of blood, and his relationship with God (such as it was) is renewed or restored. For a man to leave the one infinite sacrifice of Christ, and go back to the offerings of the law for restoration in case of sin or defilement, nothing could be more certain than that such restoration was now impossible. There was great temptation to do so while the temple was standing. No doubt some who had been brought into all the outward privileges of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Christian church did so go back. Repetition was quite right before the one sacrifice had been offered; but now, to give up Christ — and not only give Him up but to go back to the very murderers of Jesus, to account Him an impostor as they did — and again to seek renewals by the offerings and rites of the law, renewals to crucify to themselves afresh the Son of God, and to put Him to an open shame. I fail to see the trace of a contradiction here to the precious truths we have been considering in 1 John.
You say you have been greatly troubled about this scripture: tell me, Does it apply to you? Have you given up the one offering of Christ and gone back to the offerings of the law? Have you laid your hand on the head of a goat or a bullock? True, you may have had all the advantages of a Christian education; yes, some eye may rest on this paper, who has willfully given up the one sacrifice of Christ, and gone to infidelity or ritualism. Oh! have you thus closed your eyes and refused the truth as it is in Jesus? If this is the case, no words can describe your dreadful condition. I think I hear you say, I never understood it a bit; I have been totally misled about it.
The apostle now goes on to contrast fully developed Christian truth with Judaism; imperfect priesthood with the perfect priesthood of Christ; the imperfect offerings of the law, which could never take away sins, with the one offering of Jesus, which forever perfects all that are sanctified by it.
Oh! stay; this brings us to that other scripture, such a terror to many. “If we sin willfully” (Heb. 10:26-31).
Now, what is this willful sin? Is it not this: As he that despised Moses’ law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment is ne worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing? Is not this again the Hebrew who, by professed faith in the blood of the Son of God, had been outwardly separated from the Jewish sacrifices to Christ, and who now willfully despises the sacrifice of the Son of God, and by going back to open sin tramples Him under foot? Can there be anything but vengeance for such an one? Have you done this? Have you gone from Christ? Do you despise and trample under-foot the Son of God? Undoubtedly, to give up Christ and go after flesh, and the world, is the same thing in principle now.
I grant that the ritualist, in going to the Mass, is doing as much so as he can. But the sin of apostasy, willfully rejecting and despising Christ, cannot be the sin of a believer, who clings to Him as his Advocate with the Father. Therefore this sin of the apostate Jew, or the modern despiser of Christ, has nothing to say to the security of the believer, as a stone built on the immovable Rock, and that rock is Christ.
Where have been my eyes, my reader may say? I fear in the dark; and darkness and light make all the difference in reading the Word of God.
I will only bring one more scripture — 2 Peter 2:20, 22. Now here it seems evident that there are some who had escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And they have known the way of righteousness, yet the latter end with them is worse than the beginning.
This is a very solemn chapter. But “there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you,” etc. Their character is described at full length. For a time these false teachers had escaped the corruptions of the world, as we have seen. This must be so. They would not have been received into the professing church if they had not been outwardly moral. “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Now is it not sad to use this scripture which thus so solemnly describes false teachers as dogs and swine, who thus return to their own evil ways, as if it described true Christians, the sheep of Christ? This wresting of Scripture, however, will not shake the foundation of the believer, and that foundation is Christ the rock. Surely no person who thus misuses this scripture can have read the first and last verses of the chapter. Nay; read the whole chapter. Oh! poor soul, tossed by false teaching, look up! the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all sin. Your sins have all been transferred to Him. God is your justifier. Nothing shall separate you from the love of Christ.
But, to return, What is the meaning of “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?” This brings us to the washing of water by the word. “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25). “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” Is it not remarkable that we rarely hear a single reference to this washing of water by the word? If we remember how the types abound with the washing of water, surely there must be truth of great practical importance signified in them. Let us then inquire what is the meaning of the washing of water that preceded the blood, as in the consecration of the priest; and the frequent washings after the blood was put upon him God had no purpose of restoring man’s fallen sinful nature, as we have seen, but giving him a wholly new nature, pure and holy. The Lord announced this fact to Nicodemus, that man must be born wholly anew. And hence water is used as the express figure of this needed purity of the new birth, or new nature. Only the Lord carefully excludes the idea that water imparts this new life: “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” You could not say, That which is born of water is water.
There is no ground in the Scriptures for the modern error, that (literal) water is the instrument used by the Spirit to effect this new life. The Word of God leaves no possibility of mistake as to this. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). Are we born by the water of baptism? No! By what then? By the Word of God. Even as Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me HATH EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Could words be more plain, or more certain? Study this verse well, and then tell me, is it not sad for men to alter all this, and to say baptism and water do all that? I will not copy the dreadful words that even Christian men try to justify in their catechisms. Oh, let us return to the Word of God. A careful examination of John 3 will convince you that there is no direct reference to baptism in the words, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus had not the remotest idea of Christian baptism, or its meaning; and yet, if he had only remembered Ezekiel 36:22-36, he would have well understood that, when God shall bring his nation into the kingdom or reign of God, the very things that Jesus had now said to him were distinctly foretold there. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you,” and so forth. It is quite true that baptism, as a figure, gives a deeper and fuller meaning to the wondrous truth of salvation by Christ’s death. As Jesus said, “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” He must die. We must be identified with Him in that death; that the new life must be wholly new to us, even the life of the risen Christ. This is beautifully set forth in baptism; see Romans 6 and Colossians 2.
Have you ever felt the joy of knowing that the eternal life given to you is the eternal life of that risen Man in the glory of God? Oh, how safe your life, hid with Christ in God! and because He lives, we live also. Can He die gain? Once He died to put away our sins; but, now He lives evermore.
We will now consider the washing with water after the blood. We have seen the washing of water before the blood was put upon the leper or the priest, showing the absolute need of purification from all defilement. But after this, and the blood was put upon the priest, and the holy anointing oil was put upon the blood, then, even after this holy consecration, the sanctified priest, or priests, must wash their hands and feet whenever they go into the tabernacle or near the altar; they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not” (Ex. 30:17-20). The purification must be maintained or continued; and is not this the washing of the feet in John 13?
And if we read through Leviticus , we find that for every possible defilement there must be washing with water. Most profitable would it be to examine all this in detail, but this would require a volume instead of a tract.
Now what is the voice of the Spirit to us in this washing by water after the precious blood of Christ has forever perfected us; our sins transferred to Him; and the infinite value of His blood transferred to us, put upon us; and we sealed, anointed by the Holy Spirit?
You will find, that just as there was the appointed washing, from every variety of uncleanness, to Israel; there is a precept for every possible failure or defilement of the Christian What water is to the body, the word is to our spiritual walk. Israel were called to this ceremonial cleansing and holiness, as the redeemed of Jehovah, from Egypt, because he was Holy (Lev. 11:44, 45). So speaketh the word to us, “But as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:5); quoting this very text from Leviticus 11.
Thus sanctification by the Word, washing of water by the Word, is to be to us what literal water was to them. What simple figures our God has been pleased to give us! What a marked difference the use of water makes! You see a poor neglected child, washed, perhaps, once a month, and poorly fed. See another one clean, and well nourished with food. What a difference frequent washing and nutritious food make! Have you seen the photograph of a lost child, taken from the streets, before and after a couple of years’ washing and feeding? It scarcely looks like the same. Are you aware there would be as striking a difference in many a Christian if he were brought to the constant application of the water of the Word, at the same time the soul feeding on Christ in the Word?
You see a Christian plunged in business, worldliness, and politics — perhaps once a month a little washing for a sacrament — so full of the world, that there is little room for Christ. He gets more and more wretched, scarce knows whether he is saved or not. Suppose the word of Christ comes with power to his soul. He does not doubt the atonement. He does rest in Christ. But all spiritual life is stunted and drooping. Let the Spirit of Christ apply such a word as this — “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15). He awakes to the fact that he is loving the world, and linking himself with it: and all the while that world hates Christ! Ah, never did a London Arab need water more than he finds he needs the Word. Thus the water of the word sanctifies him, cleanses him, from the inconsistent associations and spirit of this world. “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” Oh, how we all need this long-forgotten washing of water by the Word! To be clean every wit, may we now yield our feet to be washed with water by the precious Lord. The blood can never lose its efficacy, can never be repeated, or freshly applied. Such a thought is Judaism. But for practical righteousness, for consistency of walk, we need the water of the Word at every step. There is no holiness of walk without it. And yet many who teach a kind of holiness seem to know nothing of the washing of water; yea, even put the blood in the place of the water of the Word, and so deny the finished work of Christ, the full value of that one offering by which He hath forever perfected them that are sanctified. It is because we are forever perfected by that one offering, that we are now called to walk as He walked.
The priest had to wash his own feet; the Lord of glory is girded to wash ours. Shall we refuse Him? Lord, apply Thy Word to our walk and ways. When we read that Word in His presence, every verse is as water to cleanse us from the defilements by the way.
I thank God our Father that many are yearning more after holiness; but let them seek to be sanctified by the word of truth. Satan will take care to bring false teachers into that holiness-movement, teachers that will call sin holiness. Mark ye, much that is highly esteemed is condemned by the word. I would note sectarianism. (See 1 Cor. 3:1-3). Yet it is not long since a teacher of holiness rejoiced that his teaching had never led a single soul to give up this carnality — the sin of sectarianism. Not one through his teaching had given up the sin or his sect. Yea, at a large “holiness” convention an anti-Holy Spirit meeting was to be held each night; a committee was to take care that the Holy Spirit should not have liberty to use whom He would in the assembly, according to the word or God (2 Cor. 12). None were to speak but those permitted by the anti-Holy Spirit committee. Oh, beware of such holiness as this! No one can conceive the rubbish and defilement that needs washing away by the water of the Word. The blood is still before God; the believer is accepted in Christ. Nothing can touch that. But oh, our ways! Fellow Christians, awake! awake! Let everything be tried and cleansed by the water of the Word. Remember the yearning claim of Christ, “Sanctify them by thy word; thy word is truth.” Is anything more needed at this moment than the washing of water by the Word?
I press this on my own soul, I press it on my brethren in Christ. while rejoicing in the one offering by which we are forever perfected, are we not in danger of neglecting the precepts of the Word? The Lord bring every line with power to our souls, and to Him be all praise!

The Consecration of the Sons of Aaron

That there is much precious teaching, real food for the soul, in the typical teaching of the offerings, no Christian can doubt, yet in no part of Scripture do we need more humble dependence on the Holy Spirit. Serious mistakes may be made by pressing one aspect of their teaching; mistakes that may tend to destroy the very characteristics of Christianity, instead of helping us to understand the varied perfections of Christ, and our peculiar identification with Him. Now while the atonement of Christ is the alone ground of reconciliation to God, whether of Israel or the Church; yet it would be a grave mistake to seek to deduce from this, or any other type, that the standing of an Israelite before the death and resurrection of Christ, and the standing of a Christian since, is the same.
We shall understand the teaching of the lessons of the day of atonement better, if we first meditate on the consecration of “Aaron and his sons” (Ex. 39). If we read Hebrews 2:10-13, we need have no question that Aaron and his sons then, typify Christ and His brethren now. We see Him crowned with glory, and bringing many sons to glory. “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” and so forth. This was the substance of the glad tidings sent by Mary to His disciples, on the very morn of His resurrection. Now with the New Testament certainty, that we are brought by His resurrection into the same standing and relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us now seek to drink in the teaching of the type of consecration.
Now notice at the end of Exodus 28:40, that garments for glory and beauty, were to be made for both Aaron and his sons. In verse 41 They were to be put on both Aaron and his sons: “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother... and his sons WITH HIM.” Now, as we shall find throughout the types, Aaron and his sons typify Christ and His brethren, or the church. And the people typify the nation of Israel, whether before the church or after. Is there not wonderful grace shown to the church? May our hearts bow in worship. Is this how God sees us, one with His Son, clothed in the same glory and beauty? Note, this is peculiar to Aaron and his sons. These garments were not put upon the people. “And thou shalt anoint them.” Thus we are anointed with Christ. The same Holy Spirit that was upon Him, the holy One, is now on us as one with Him. “All of one.” Thus these sons were consecrated and sanctified with Aaron, and thus are we consecrated with Christ.
They were brought into the same standing as Aaron; we are brought into the same standing as Christ. Oh, how precious the lessons of the offerings. Never do we find the people brought into the same standing. What distinct pictures of the Christian’s peculiar privileges. Not one of the people share these privileges. No doubt many things are common to both Christians and to Israel. In each case there must be the new birth, there must be the same one offering of Christ fulfilling all the types of the law. Still there is throughout this chapter, Exodus 29, identification between Aaron and his sons. In verse 4 Aaron and his sons are brought to the door of the tabernacle. “And shalt wash them with water.” It is a wonderful thing for us to be, as to the new nature, pure and holy. To have a nature that delights in God, and to do His will, even as Christ the holy One, delighted to do His will. “Which thing is true in him and in you” (1 John 2:8). This is wonderful association with Christ. Aaron is then to be clothed first (vss. 5-6). Then he is anointed. And afterward his sons were to be clothed and consecrated. It was not until Christ arose from the dead that the disciples could be in the new creation, and the Holy Spirit descend on them, consequent on His ascension and glory. Gladly our hearts soar to Thee, Thou pre-eminent, blessed Lord. But oh, let us not doubt the place of glory into which we are brought, one with our Aaron, the risen Christ.
“Thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.” And thus Christ and we are consecrated worshipping priests. Oh, wondrous grace, one with our Aaron passed into the heavens.
By what means then are we brought into this identification with Christ — one with Him, clothed with glory and beauty? The offerings will help as to that all important question.
First, the sin-offering of Exodus 29:10-14. “And Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.” No doubt it is the same sin-offering that will be the ground or means by which Israel will be brought into their standing (Isa. 53; 54). It is the same sin-offering by which we are brought to God, in our standing. But this is far from saying the standing of Israel and the church is the same. The solemn lesson here is this, that as Aaron and his sons were perfectly identified by the laying on of hands, so the holy One had to become perfectly identified with us, made sin for us. He must on the cross become one with us, bearing our sin, in order that we might be one with Him in all the sweet savor of His Person and offering to God. Note well now in this lesson of consecration, the identification is complete in both, in all the cases. The hands of Aaron and his sons were laid on the bullock, the sin-offering. “And Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram (vs.15). This is the burnt-offering, “And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt-offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” The atoning work was His alone. He alone endured the wrath of God due to us: but then it was that we might be taken into favor in Himself, the Beloved. Is it not wonderful! In this picture we see the purpose of God. He says, as it were, as Aaron and his sons were identified in the laying on of hands, with the sweet savor of the burnt-offering, so all typified by the sons of Aaron, that is Christians, are identified, made one with Christ in all the sweet savor of His Person and work before God. This goes far beyond standing before the throne of God. It is as He is, so are we in this world. Yes, God says, so to speak, I will have My delight in you, though it cost Me the death of My Son. Oh, think, what the Son is to the Father: such are we — one with Him, identified with Him, in all the ineffable delight of the Father. Who but God could have such thoughts, and who but He could give such pictures?
Again, there is another ram; the ram of consecration. Here is also the same identification, “And Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram (vs.19). The blood of this ram is put alike on the right ear of Aaron and his sons. “Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.” What perfect association with Christ. The ear as an emblem of hearing and obedience; the thumb of the right hand, service and action; and the right foot, the emblem of walk. All connected with Him. After the blood, the oil is sprinkled We are anointed with Him according to the value of His blood. The very garments of Aaron’s sons were sprinkled with him. Thus are we identified with Christ; in all our obedience, service, walk, that is, as seen of God, and we should be seen in this world by men, as one with Christ.
This offering also partakes of the character of the peace-offering, and Aaron and all his sons feed in communion. “And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” What a picture this is of the identification, the oneness of Christ and His brethren now. “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”
No doubt the privileges of the congregation of Israel were great, and will yet be greater. They might see the sons of Aaron associated with him, and here was a standing, a peculiar place of oneness; but it was a place the people could never take, a feast of which they could never partake. Of Aaron identified with his sons, it was said, “And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy (vs.33). Thus however great the privileges of Israel as a nation, they never come into the standing of the sons of Aaron. The Scripture everywhere guards against such a thought, as that the standing of the church and that of Israel is the same.
They will be born again. They will be saved by the same atoning death of Jesus. But have we at all understood our peculiar standing and privileges? We are brought into favor in, and with Him, the Beloved; clothed in glory and beauty with Him; anointed with Him; separated, consecrated, eating with Him. And, precious grace, He is not ashamed to call us brethren. We shall, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understand these pictures of God better if we look at each of the offerings separately. We will, if it please God, next look at the day of atonement. The Lord give us grace to walk according to our consecration.

Continue Thou

2 Timothy 3:14, and 2 Timothy 4:1-5
How wonderful is the word of the Lord, when we hear Him speaking to us! In these verses He speaks, then, two things. Let us hearken to Him. They are His words by the Spirit in the midst of the circumstances of these last days. The evil is fully described, then the word is, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Yes, the Lord says, “Continue thou.” Satan would say continuance is all over now, evil so abounds there is nothing left, and thus fill our hearts with gloom and unbelief. The Lord speaks at such a time, at this time, “Continue thou.”
If Timothy had learned the things in which he was to continue by the Spirit’s teaching from Paul, have we not learned the same truths by the same Spirit in the Word? Are they the theories of men, or have we not been gathered to the Person of the Lord Jesus, by the Holy Spirit? Have we not been separated from every organization of men to own the authority and presence of the Lord Jesus in the assembly? Have we not been assured of this? Do we not know who has taught us what the church, His body, is to Him?
Well do I remember the morning when the Lord opened my eyes to see by faith, and own HIMSELF in the midst of the few gathered to His name. And as so many years have passed on, years of failure on my part, since that day, yet I can say His presence in the midst of His saints has been more and more precious to my soul. And are we to give all this up, all the precious things we have learned and enjoyed for forty or fifty years? No! No! Sweet to our souls are the words, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned.” Yes, the word from our Lord is, “Continue.” And that word is spoken to us in the midst of all the evil of these last days. That word from the Lord is enough for us. Nothing must be given up that we have learned from Him. He says, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Let us remember that long after these last days evils had been described, and told in these two Epistles of Timothy, the Holy Spirit left on record that wonderful chapter, John 17. Words spoken before He departed, but how they do reveal the desires of the Lord for those the Father hath given to Him! Surely the tender desires of Christ for us repeat the word “Continue.” Yes, the more we know the changeless love of His dear heart, the more shall we also desire to “continue in the things which thou hast learned.” Do these desires of Christ give us the thought, now that evil and failure have come in, that we should sink into individuality, and cease to manifest to the world even our oneness with Him, and with each other? Individual faithfulness there must be: and also individual responsibility there is in the very midst of the evil to “continue in the things which we have learned.”
Now let us note the beautiful order of these verses in 2 Timothy. First, the instruction to “continue,” and then, secondly, the charge to do the work of the evangelist — to preach the word, and so forth. We must not reverse this order. Poor and feeble though we be, the Lord has given us a great responsibility to the whole church of God. What a time for faith. Oh, to rise above all the present efforts of Satan! Yes, to rise up to the gulf-stream of the love of Christ to the whole church. And the love of God to flow through us also in the gospel to the whole world.
Continuance in the things that we have learned: not a Jot of the precious testimony given up; and then, dear brethren, a wider range of preaching the word, and the work of an evangelist. Should we not in principle go into a town or village as Timothy? What is there in that town for us? The church of God, and the world. How little we rise up to this. We have seen in John 17 how the Lord’s heart takes in all the Father hath given to Him! And this after all the evil had come in to the professing church. Should not we also then in the love of Christ take in all that are His? He will show us how, while purging ourselves from vessels of dishonor, at the same time to serve all in love that are His. But the one word I heard the Lord as it were speaking to us all, in the midst of the present confusion and effort of the enemy, is “Continue.” May that word long — yea, ever — abide in our hearts.
From Words of Faith, 1882, vol. 1, pp. 45-47. m

A Few Remarks on a Review of the C.S. Tracts

Whatever may be the merits of this Review, there is no disguise as to its object. The aim is avowedly to stop the circulation of the “C. S.” Tracts. We seek to put them down,” is the emphatic protest of the writer, and a perusal of the Review will convince every candid mind that he is in earnest. The whole weight of the authority of the “Record” is brought to bear against the Tracts; but is the authority of the Word of God used with the same power and effect?
I shall not allude at length to the sectarian strictures contained in the Review. It might assuredly be urged that the writer makes a very humbling confession in stating that those to whom he alludes “have weakened most of the existing churches by enticing away many of their best members.” If the position held by some Christians “without the camp” be so untenable from Scripture, how is it that the best members of the existing churches have thus been convinced and enticed?
But that is not the question. Such names as “Plymouth Brethren,” “Sects,” “our own Church,” are not in Scripture. I, as a Christian, can never acknowledge them. Their use is condemned in the First Epistle to the Corinthians . “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13). “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? (1 Cor. 3:3-5).
May the Lord grant to his children, everywhere, to understand that word, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph. 4:5, 6).
Again, with the writer’s personal remarks on the author of the Tracts, I have still less to do. It is of very little consequence whether he be approved or not of men. “To his own master he standeth or falleth.” “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.”
Again, it is of very little consequence whether the Tracts themselves be deemed “exceeding poor, dogmatic, and self-assertive in the extreme,” or altogether deficient as literary productions. But it is of the utmost consequence — when millions of such tracts are circulated, with the professed object of declaring to poor sinners “the unsearchable riches of Christ” — that it should be a settled point whether they are sound in doctrine, whether able to bear the light of the inspired Word of God. The criticism of man is worthless. Let that light shine upon them; if they reflect it not, then let them be at once destroyed. In a day like the present, when many thousands are exhibiting great anxiety to hear the Gospel, it is of the highest importance that the seed sown broadcast should be “incorruptible seed, by the Word of God”; and that the doctrine and practice taught should be in accordance with the mind of the Spirit. The sinner needs the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24); young believers, “the sincere milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2); confirmed Christians, “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17) whom to know is life eternal.
Leaving aside, therefore, any personal questions as to “sects” and individuals, let us examine a few of the arguments which are brought forward in the Review to confirm the protest of the writer.
The first objection raised is, that the Tracts contain another gospel. And why? Because they emphatically declare the truth that God is for us, that it is God that justifieth? But these are the very words of the Spirit: “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth (Rom. 8:31-33). And these words undoubtedly contain the sum of the whole teaching given us in this wonderful chapter — itself a comprehensive summary of the preceding seven chapters, a conclusive settlement of the whole question of justification. True, these words of our God, so full, so free, so glorious, are in some cases set before the poor anxious soul without much comment or theological discussion. True, they assure the sinner of the free pardon which God has bestowed for Christ’s sake. “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” And because of this simple declaration of the “exceeding riches of the grace of God,” it is alleged that pardon is taught in the Tracts as the whole truth of the Gospel.
“Mere pardon,” says the writer, “is not justification.” Assuredly, it is not; but do the Tracts assert that it is? Emphatically, no; they prove the very contrary. On reference to one of them it will be found that the reviewer’s statement is without foundation.
In the tract entitled “Imputed Righteousness,” the subject of pardon and justification is fully treated. It is positively stated what are the grounds of pardon, and what of justification — pages 8-9, and passim. The scriptural character of the definitions and arguments there used will at once commend itself to the student of the Word. What, then, becomes of the assertion that the other half of the Gospel is concealed or denied?
The fact is, the other half of the Gospel — justification — is proclaimed in the Tracts, and it is the real point at issue. This point, then, should be tested by Scripture. The reviewer complains that “the righteousness of Christ is shut out altogether as an element of justification.” Advisedly it is, for the very term, “righteousness of Christ,” is nowhere to be found in the Scripture, nor is even the thought expressed by such words found in connection with justification.
We find “justified by His blood,” “justified freely by his grace” (the grace of God) “justified by faith,” “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,” but nowhere, justified by the “righteousness of Christ.” Hence, before receiving such a term, we should inquire what is the thought conveyed in it? What is it connected with? Whence does it spring? The Word of God giving us no clue to it, we are reduced to search into the thoughts of men; and alas! what a labyrinth of darkness, falsehood, conceit, and self-righteousness are we at once involved in!
The very teaching so fully laid down in the Epistle to the Galatians as to the question of Law and Gospel, is at once ignored by the thoughts of men here introduced. It is the old story of going back to the Law and mixing it up with the precious Gospel; the very thing which the Spirit expressly condemns: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal. 5:1-4). Here lies the whole root of the matter, and here it is that the fallacy of the writer’s argument is so forcibly brought out. He says: “It is no part of his (“C. S.’s”) Gospel that the law has a precept as well as a penalty. He does not teach that after I have been punished (in my Surety) for all the breaches I have made in the law, and thus so far stand clear with it, the law still has a demand upon me, and that for a perfect obedience. I was bound not only not to break, but perfectly to keep the law, the whole law.” But where is it stated in Scripture, that I, a sinner of the Gentiles, was bound to keep the law? This is a mere assumption, and one of the most subtle ever devised by Satan to enslave the minds of believers, and bring them into the bondage of a “ministration of condemnation and death.”
Assuming, however, for a moment, this, the writer’s own position, let his words speak for themselves. “After I have been punished (in my Surety) etc., the law has still a demand on me, and that for a perfect obedience.” But if I have been thus punished, what further demand can the law have upon me? In accordance with the writer’s words, what is punished in my Surety is disobedience to law. That punishment once borne, what hath law to do with me? To say that, after the punishment has been borne, something else is still required, is a perfect contradiction of words. The only possible relationship which law can have to me is that of condemnation. This condemnation once removed, I am freed from bondage. To analyze the Reviewer’s principle, is at once to show its absurdity. He speaks of the law having “a precept as well as a penalty.” This is quite true, but the penalty is only the consequence of the broken precept. The two cannot go together. I cannot have to do at the same time with both precept and penalty; that is, I cannot have to obey the precept and to suffer the penalty. If I have kept the precept, the penalty cannot touch me; if I break the precept the penalty alone remains, and it must be borne. Once borne, I, assuredly, stand in the same relation to the precept as though I had never transgressed against it. A SUBSTITUTE can take up both positions. He can obey the precept and He can suffer the penalty for my disobedience; but if he thus act, then my disobedience is blotted out. It would be a violation of the principles of righteousness to require me then to keep the precept.
The law was given to Israel, as in the 20th of Exodus, but not until after they had undertaken, as in the 19th chapter, to keep it. It was never given to the Gentile at all; for the Gentile was never placed in the position to say, as Israel did, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). And it is here that we should learn “rightly to divide the word of truth.” That Word always treats man as responsible for the measure of light given to him; but it never carries him beyond that measure. This is forcibly shown in the first three chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. There the Gentile responsibility is declared, and also that of the Jew. They both end in guilt before God, but the measure of responsibility is not altered. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law (Rom. 2:12). “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). This was dealing with Israel, the chosen people. The law was added “because of transgression,” not that Israel should keep it, for God knew he could not keep it; and, accordingly, provision was immediately made for atonement in the typical sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood. But sin, by the commandment, became exceeding sinful; and God in His grace — in order to clear the consciences of His believing children — showed forth, through the types, the one sacrifice by which sin was to be put away.
There is not a word in Scripture which can be brought to support the assumption that I, a sinner of the Gentiles, “am bound to keep the law.” In order, accordingly, to give it weight, recourse is had to the expedient of misquoting Scripture in the most extraordinary way. Is this ignorance? or is it willful, unblushing denial of the Word of God? The whole argument is based upon this statement, “I am bound to keep the law,” and this statement is confirmed by the following words: “We must continue to do all things that are written in the book of the law.” But whence this quotation? And what saith the Scripture? “CURSED is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Here is the true nature of the sinner’s relationship to law. It does not speak of binding him; it sets a curse before him — nothing but a curse; because the law never can appear otherwise in connection with the sinner. Not that the law itself is made death unto me. That is clearly taught in the 3rd of Romans. But while the law is holy, just, and good, I am a sinner; and every thought, every word, every deed is lawlessness (ἀνομία). As a sinner, I can’t be bound to keep it; it is an impossibility, and God does not require of me an impossibility. He sets his law before me that I may see the immeasurable distance which separates one from the fulfillment of His will towards me as a creature. “Moreover, the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:20, 21). But does this make void the law of God? Nay, it establishes the law. It proves it to be “holy, just, and good”; it utterly condemns the sinner; his very righteousnesses are as filthy rags; it puts him at once under the curse, and thus its holiness is more than ever revealed. Hence it becomes requisite that it should be hidden in Christ, who alone can fulfill it; and this is the true meaning of the type referred to by the writer. Here we have the Lord Jesus, the Savior, taking up the double position which the writer endeavors to thrust upon the sinner. He is both the lawkeeper and the sin-bearer; but in quite a different sense to that assumed in the Review. In 2 Corinthians 3, the subject is explained. The tables of stone are alluded to as part of the “ministration of death.” It was glorious, but it was to be done away by that which excelleth in glory, “the ministration of the Spirit.” Accordingly, when the second tables of stone are given, the Lord proclaims his mercy, grace, and longsuffering (Ex. 34). The tables are hidden in the ark, the type of the Lord Jesus, in whom the law is magnified indeed and made honorable. But this is not all; He takes “the ministration of death written and engraven on stones,” and buries it in his own death (Eph. 2:15), and thus “brings life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Not only does He fulfill all righteousness, but He, the just One, bears the penalty of the unjust, and thus becomes “the end of law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
It is never said in Scripture that “the righteousness of Christ” is imputed to me instead of my unrighteousness; but faith is imputed for righteousness (Rom. 4). The Review states that God proves He is a justifier as well as a just God. This would reverse the order in Scripture, where it is stated that God is just while He justifies. The Gospel proclaims God to be a justifier (Rom. 1:16; Acts 13:38, 39). What is proved in Roman 3 is God’s righteousness in justifying the sinner. His righteousness in having shown forbearance, forgiven (passed over) the sins that are past, is now declared by the fact that His Son is “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.” The death of Christ proves that God is “just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” Thus believers exhibit, they are “made, the righteousness of God.”
Having misquoted Scripture to establish a false position, the writer brings the believing child of God under law, even after admitting that the curse has been removed. Having, against Scripture, placed him there, the term “righteousness of Christ” is imagined to save the poor soul from the fearful bondage into which it has been brought. It is quite admitted by him that the death of Christ cleanseth the soul from guilt, but once delivered from guilt, is that soul to be put under law? The Scripture saith, No: “Ye are not under law, but under grace.” I am quite aware that, in reply to this, a long statement would be made as to the difference between the moral law, the ceremonial law, and (some would add) the ten commandments, as distinct from moral law. But where are such distinctions alluded to in Scripture? They are the inventions of human theology. The fact is, what is generally understood by moral law, or the ten commandments, is that which bringeth the curse by making sin exceeding sinful; what is included under the idea of the ceremonial law, is only a type of the perfect deliverance from that very curse — the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus, the Savior. To separate the two ideas is to annul the teaching of Scripture. The ceremonial law, so called, would never have been given, but for the impossibility of a sinner’s keeping the moral law. This is forcibly shown throughout the Epistles.
Doubtless, it is the want of understanding what law really is, which is at the root of half the false teaching and perversion of the Scriptures, which now so widely prevail.
It is quite a mistake to think that a sense of true deliverance from the curse and bondage of the law tends to bring dishonor upon it. The very contrary is the fact. The more I value the wondrous work of Christ, and understand from what terrible depths He hath delivered me, the more do I honor the law which in Him alone was magnified and made honorable. Again, in proportion as I realize that I am delivered from the curse of the law, shall I glorify the Lord Jesus, who was “made of a woman, made under law, to redeem them that were under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Such are the plain statements of Scripture as to law, and when some of the early Christians are led away by the subtlety of false teachers to return to the bondage of that which pronounces a curse, they are warned by the apostle: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3). Returning to the law, after having been redeemed by Christ, is merely the result of the subtle workings of self-righteousness in the flesh. It is an attempt to patch up the old garment with new materials, vainly imagining that I can “keep the law” to a certain extent, and that where I fail, Christ kept it for me! But this feeling takes no account of the word of Scripture: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all” (James 2:10). This is a fearful self-deception as to the real nature of sin, and of its complete dominion over the old Adam; a proportionate ignorance of grace, and an entire denial of the resurrection life described Romans 6, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 2 — that resurrection life which is the fruit of the glorious resurrection of Christ, and through which power is given to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. “Therefore if any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). And this brings us to the true point of justification. Speaking of the law the apostle says, “That which was ordained to life I found to be unto death.” That is, sin, that it may appear exceeding sinful, worketh death in me by that which is good. What then? am I to put myself under that by which sin works unto death, that I may hear those fearful words: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them?” No. The ministration of death (or the dispensation of the law — that which proves death to be the righteous wages of sin) is done away, and a new principle brought out in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, “who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The Apostle John, who is especially used by the Spirit to convey to us that the Son of God brings life down from heaven to man, is inspired with these words; “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
What a comprehensive contrast between law and grace! The believer is taken out of sin, out of law, out of self, and by grace “chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world — that he should be holy and without blame before God in love.”
What are we by nature? “Children of wrath even as others.” But the Lord takes my place in that wrath: “He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The Scripture never says, “He was made to keep the law, for me,” but, “He was made sin.” He entered into my very condition — He took my place as a sinner — He, the spotless Lamb of God, “He bare our sins in His own body on the tree”; He descended into the deep billows of wrath which should have overwhelmed me, and thus He paid the wages of sin. But is this all? No! From those fearful depths He is raised by the glory of the Father, and I, once dead in trespasses and sins, am quickened together with Him in resurrection life. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
This is the true position of the believer; not a future possibility, but a present fact. “In whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8, 9).
I am justified by the blood of Christ; but this is not sufficient for the grace and love of God. He is not content with mere pardon and justification from sin. He wants me in His own presence; not at some future time, when this body of sin and death has crumbled to dust; but now, in this present wilderness, even now He wants me in His blessed; presence by faith, and therefore He saith: “Even when we were dead in sins He HATH quickened us together with Christ, and HATH raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 2:5, 6). And therefore I have life given to me; quite a distinct thing from pardon — life eternal in Christ. “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life” — not a life subject to law, but life in Christ — a justified life — that is, a life taken out of the grave, the sure wages of sin — a life henceforth which is sinless in the sight of God; nay, more: a life bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again.” Henceforth, then, “because I live, ye shall live also.” Again, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 5:17).
That new nature, given me out of death, on the other side of resurrection, in the Heavenlies — that new nature knows no law: no “law of commandments contained in ordinances.” It is all love. “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
The law saith, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God”; but I love Him because He first loved me; blessed principle of our God himself, who is the Author of salvation, and wins my heart instead of binding my conscience.
The law saith, “Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal.” But I love my brother and I love all men — how then can I commit murder? I abstain from this because of love — therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Nay, love goes further, much further than law. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it,” and we therefore ought so to love the brethren even as Christ loved us. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). That holy law of God, which in the flesh I can never reach, that which pronounces a curse against me in the old Adam, I have power to fulfill it in the risen Christ — the last Adam, the Lord from heaven, who is now in heaven and “ever liveth to make intercession for us,” “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). This is the living, almighty power so gloriously described in Ephesians: “That ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under His feet and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:18-23). The blessed One who bare our sins in His own body on the tree, is now raised — Himself, a quickening, a life-giving Spirit — to the right hand of God “expecting until His enemies be made His footstool.” It is the life of Jesus (Christ) at the right hand of God, which in this sense saves us; as in Romans 5:8-10: “But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Not His obedience to the law given to Israel, or to any moral law by which an earthly creature should be governed. Do I then take no account of His precious life here? Far be the thought! He did delight in the law of God. His meat and His drink were to do His Father’s will. And if I am a child of God, the same result should mark my life. But in this obedience He bore no burden for me; for He was essentially the OBEDIENT ONE. Could it have been otherwise (I speak with reverence), He never could have atoned for sin. The Lamb that is offered in sacrifice must be spotless, a beautiful type of Him “who offered Himself to God without spot” (Heb. 9:14). He was obedient throughout, obedient unto death, and “as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.” For what we need is Christ in all His fullness, and what God provided for us is this unspeakable gift of His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased — the Anointed One, Christ Jesus, “who loved me and gave HIMSELF for me.” He enters into the whole condition of man, takes up the whole of God’s dealings with man; nothing too great, nothing too small for that blessed Christ. In Him are centered all the counsels of eternal wisdom. “All things were created by Him and for Him; He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” In Him “mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” He is the very Word of God, and, when He passed by the nature of angels and took on Him the seed of Abraham, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” He, the Lord from heaven, dwelt on the earth, but Adam (the man of the earth) rejects Him and nails Him to the cross; “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15). Through death He delivers, through death He is raised in the power of an endless life, crowned with honor and glory — the head of a new, an everlasting creation, into which every sinner saved by grace is born again of the Spirit; the chief corner stone of that heavenly temple which is now being reared in the heavenlies stone upon stone, dovetailed one with another, “according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.”
This is the truth which is so much needed in these days: so terribly has it been lost sight of, that earnest men, Christians, are asking themselves what it all means, and it is quite the exception to find one who even theoretically admits that this is a truth of God to be now realized. As Israel of old, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” They admit that the death of Christ is the only atonement for guilt, but they ignore the glorious facts which flow from His resurrection. Justified from guilt by the blood of Christ, they put themselves under law — that is, under a curse — and then content themselves with saying that the “righteousness of Christ” is a plea before God that the law has been kept for them. What is the consequence? Why, the very worldliness which prevails so terribly among Christians. The law, as spiritually interpreted by the Lord, is rejected altogether by those who assume such an anxiety about law. War is sanctioned, worldly amusements countenanced, and those words in Matthew, generally known as the sermon on the Mount, are discarded altogether as being too spiritual for human fulfillment, and are therefore left to the Lord Jesus. He indeed carried them out to the letter; but His wonderful grace in obedience becomes a snare, and is made an excuse for every sad departure from His spiritual precepts, as explained to Israel.
And yet the Word of God is full of the most positive assurances that now, even now, we are in Christ Jesus, “created in righteousness and true holiness.” The power of Christ’s resurrection is what the Spirit brings before us as the true ground of justification of life. “For He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The apprehension of this resurrection life is what the apostle is striving for: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:11). The earnest desire of the true Christian is that he may attain to this resurrection; not that he doubts — but that his heart is filled with the desire, the longing that Jesus may soon appear, and “change this vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:21). This is the hope of the true Christian: “waiting for the Son of God from heaven, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). He groans within himself, “waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23). “Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2). Meanwhile, “our life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).
Believer, this is the place God hath assigned to thee. “Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” quickened together and sitting with Him in the heavenlies, resting peacefully on the assurance of our God, “who HATH delivered us from the power of darkness, and HATH translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). This is thy place before God, dear believer, and in this He bids thee rejoice evermore; and again I say rejoice. In the joy which thy heart shall thus feel, thou shalt pour it out in utterance of praise and thanksgiving to Him “who hath called thee out of darkness into His marvelous light”; that in that light you may even now taste the precious, the unspeakable gift of Christ, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).
This is the justification of life set before us in the Word of God. “We rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” As strangers and pilgrims we abstain from fleshly lusts; “for the grace of God, which bringeth salvation (not the law) hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11, 14). O that this hope, my fellow believer, may purify thee, even as He is pure; and when He cometh again thou shalt not be “ashamed before Him at His coming.” Only receive His word in simplicity. Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and quickened you together with Him, and you shalt find joy and peace in believing; yea, “the peace of God which passeth understanding.” No more troubled with the fear of death or the bondage of law, your poor heart will be filled with praise and thanksgiving; and, above all, power will be given you in the risen Christ, to walk in fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). You shall not want any law to keep you from sin, and bind you with the dread of a penalty and a curse. Sin is hateful to your new nature, as it is to your risen Lord. The world will have no attractions for you. Christ once crucified, but now raised in power and glory, will engross your thoughts, your desires, your love. Walking in the Spirit, you shall bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:22-26). Being made conformable to the death of Christ unto all that is of the flesh and of the world, your soul shall live in the presence of thy God, subduing the evil tendencies of the old Adam, dying daily to the flesh, by the power of resurrection life “which is hid with Christ in God.”
Married to this living Christ, as taught in Romans 7, you shall delight in Him, whom having not seen we love, hourly waiting and watching for the resurrection morn, when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). I say watching, hourly waiting for this glorious time, for the apostle adds, “Wherefore comfort (exhort) one another with these words.”
O may the dear children of God everywhere be led to see from His sure word of prophecy, that this is the hope of the Church — this, the gift of God through the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come.” Believer, watch for that day — and again I say, Watch.
And YOU, sinner, with your poor soul hiding from God because of guilt, hear you the word which He, in His long suffering, adds to the cry of the Spirit and of the bride, “And let him that is athirst come, and WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take of the water of life freely.” This is the message of our God to you: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39). “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “For there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” And you, even you, now dead in trespasses and sins, but then through faith justified, and in Him sanctified forever, even YOU shall then join in the cry: “EVEN so, COME, LORD JESUS.” Amen.

The Day of Atonement

We have seen in the consecration of the sons of Aaron, that identification or association with Aaron was the leading lesson, or thought, typical of the church’s oneness with Christ. Now, identification is not the subject here. In consecration, the hands of Aaron and his sons in every case were laid on the head of the offering. On the day of atonement this was not the case in one instance.
We must, however, notice the fact, that sin was found even in the sons of Aaron. “And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord and died.”
It was on this occasion, the day of atonement was instituted. Thus, if the sons of Aaron typify the brethren of Christ, the church, as distinct from the people of Israel, the fact is brought before us, that the believer now may sin. We need not say that this is fully recognized in the New Testament; and to say that we have no sin, is to deceive ourselves, and to deny the truth. And further, as in this type both the sons of Aaron and the people of Israel were redeemed from Egypt, before the day of atonement, so we must look on atonement here, as bearing on those who have redemption, who are saved, as truly as Israel had been saved from Egypt.
There is a great amount of instruction in these types that can only be understood and enjoyed when we see that it is meeting the claims of a holy God, and our real need after we have redemption through the blood of Jesus. One may say, I know I had redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of my sins, when I first believed; but what about my sins and failures since then, since I was a Christian? All these pictures will answer your question.
Do you now see the reason why the day of atonement is named in connection with the sin of the sons of Aaron? We will now look at the chapter (Lev. 16), and then at its application in the New Testament.
The first question is, How can the holy character of God be maintained in the midst of such sons of Aaron, such a people as Israel, and indeed in a universe where sin still is? We might apply it to ourselves in this way. How can God be righteous, in accounting such as we find ourselves to be, as blameless in His sight? He who undertakes this matter must himself be pure. Aaron must not come into the holy place without a sin-offering. He must be clothed with holy garments, he must wash his flesh and so put them on. In all this he must typify the holy One of God — the only sinless, pure One, who could undertake to maintain the righteousness of God, in accounting us righteous in His sight. The holy One needed no sin-offering for Himself, He needed no new birth for Himself, no washing of water by the word; He was intrinsically in Himself all that these figures meant. Then the house of Aaron has the first place. “And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.” There is then this difference: a bullock for the house of Aaron, and a goat for the people. (Compare vss. 6, 15.) Thus we have, first, God’s claims met for the church, and then for the people, or the future kingdom of Israel.
Let us not forget that this is not for redemption, but for the continued unchangeable reconciliation by atonement, of those who are already redeemed by the same one infinite sacrifice.
Another important distinction is this, the difference between propitiation and substitution. One goat could not show this distinction. There are then two goats to be presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat,” or the Azazel. Both these goats point, as shadows, to Christ, but each in a different way. The one is by death, a sin-offering; the other is presented alive, as we shall see, the substitute of the people.
First then, we have the bullock for Aaron and his house; and his house is reckoned as himself. And he “shall make an atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin-offering which is for himself.” Before he enters with the blood, he must “take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands, full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, etc.” Such an One was required to be made a sin-offering. The more He was tried by the fire of the altar, divine righteous judgment, the more He was beaten small, and the sweeter the inimitable sweet savor to God. And such was Jesus. The cloud of His preciousness covered the mercy-seat before the blood was placed there, before the eye of God.
The ONE equal with God humbled Himself to take this place. The blood of the bullock was now to be sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, and before it seven times. That mercy-seat was of gold, emblem of divine righteousness. What a picture is the throne of divine righteousness, covered with all the divine perfectness of Christ, and on that, now the mercy-seat, is the blood of expiation. This is that which sustains all the new relationships of God, whether with the church now, or Israel in days past, and to come; yea, with the universe of which the tabernacle is a type. How could God be just and holy to dwell in a universe defiled with sin, or how could He be just, and yet the Justifier of the sinner? The blood on the mercy-seat is the answer. The need of death, the shed blood before God, was alike required, whether for the house of Aaron, or for the people — for the church, or for Israel.
The expiation by the Son of God establishes the righteousness of God, and His judgment of sin. Atonement has been made, the blood has been shed. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” The same was done with the blood of the goat for the people, as with the bullock for the house of Aaron; and the reconciliation extended to the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation. And when he had made an end of reconciliation, we get another subject. “He shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away, etc.” The sins of Israel were thus transferred to the goat, once a year. And looking as we do at Israel’s history, it is God’s type for us: they were the sins of a redeemed people, thus transferred to the goat once a year.
Let us now turn to the New Testament, and behold the Lamb of God as far more than fulfilling all these various shadows. With the Israelite there was always a troubled conscience. He was redeemed from Egypt, and the year’s sins were transferred to the goat; still he was not fit to enter the most holy presence of God: “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” No, all the blood that constantly flowed, and the blood of atonement once a year, could not perfect the conscience (Heb. 9:7-9).
The way was not yet opened into the holy presence of God. This was Jewish ground; and we must confess that a great many are still on the same ground, or standing. The standing or place of an Israelite was shut out, not fit to enter the holiest. The standing of a Christian is in direct contrast with this. Christ has come, and by “His own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” By one sacrifice for sins, He has both opened the way for us into the presence of God, and by that same one sacrifice separated us to God, or sanctified us; and further, He has forever made us fit for that holy place. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Thus the contrast is very striking. The Israelite was never perfected; the Christian is forever perfected. With the Israelite, sins were constantly remembered, and required another day of atonement. With the Christian now, it is the exact opposite: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10). The Israelite required ever-renewed sacrifices; with the Christian “there is no more offering for sin.”
On which ground is the reader: shut out, unfit to enter in; or having boldness to enter, and not only fit, but forever fit, for the holy, holy presence of God?
Do you say, How can this possibly be? I know my past sins were forgiven when I first believed, like Israel when brought out of Egypt; but what about my sins since, and if I fail or sin now, do not I need? Need what? Another sacrifice? Surely not. Look at Jesus as the propitiation; He has fully glorified God, fully maintained the righteousness of God. And on this very ground you can come to the Father, even God your Father, and confess your sins; and there on the ground of what Christ has done once, not on the ground of another sacrifice, or an imitation sacrifice, you find forgiveness and restoration to communion with God your Father. (See 1 John 1:9; 2:1, 2). Now, if you look at Jesus as your substitute, were only your past sins transferred to Him on the cross, or the sins of one year? That was so with the Israelite. That is not so with the one who now believes God, who “raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offenses.” Surely our offenses include all, from first to last: and therefore for all our sins was He “raised again for our justification.” Do we enter into these things? Do we really believe God? Then we can truly say, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Would you not now like to look at the offerings a little more closely in detail?

The Doctrines of the Salvation Army Compared With Scripture

Young Christian—Good morning, my aged friend, Evangelist. I am glad to see you, as I am thinking of joining the Salvation Army, and I should be very thankful of your judgment on this matter. I really desire to do the will of God; and especially I do wish to obtain the holiness they preach of so much.
Evangelist—If I can, by the help of the Holy Spirit, aid you in reference to such a serious step, it will give me the greatest pleasure. What are their doctrines? What do they say of Christ? Do they teach you to believe implicitly His blessed words? Do they teach justification by faith? Do they believe in His finished work? Do they believe in the eternal redemption of all believers by His blood? Do they believe what Jesus says about eternal life? Do they believe the grace of God, the free, unmerited favor of God? Do they teach you to obey Christ? Do they believe the Lord Jesus, as to the necessity of the new birth?
Young Christian—You astonish me, to ask such questions; surely they believe and teach all these, or it would be a bad look-out for me to join them. But here is the very book; see you! “The Doctrines and Discipline of the Salvation Army.” By the General. Head-quarters.
Evangelist—That is the very book that will answer all these questions. Well, sit you down, and take the book in your hand; and I will sit down, with God’s word in my hand; and let us calmly, in the fear of the Lord, examine all these questions. Now read on, until we come to these important, vital questions.
Young Christian—Read section 1: “God.” Section 2: “Jesus Christ is God.” Section 3: “The fall: How we became sinners.” Have you anything to say as to all this?
Evangelist—I am thankful to hear very much you have read. So far, I judge, even Roman Catholics would agree: indeed all Christians. The true divinity of Christ is of great, of all, importance, and also the true personality and Godhead of the Holy Spirit; only, if you look at page 3, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as an object of worship. I do not find that in the scriptures. What is your next section on?
Young Christian—Redemption is the next, page 15. I will read on. “1. What is the meaning of redemption? Redemption means to redeem, or deliver, from bondage by sacrifice. To get out of pawn by payment of a price. So Christ seeks to redeem our souls from the claims of the broken law, and from sin, and Satan, and hell, by the payment of His own blood.” Is not this strictly according to Scripture?
Evangelist—I have not so read it. What I read is this: “but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). There is a great difference between Christ seeking to redeem us, and having obtained eternal redemption for us. My soul rests on the blessed fact that He came to do the Father’s will; and He has done it, never to be repeated. “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others,” etc. (Heb. 9:25, 26). Yes, the work is done, the will of God is done: “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). He is not seeking to do it. “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). It may well suit Rome to say He is seeking to do it, and thus make way, by-and-by, for the sacrifice of the Mass, in which He seems to be seeking to redeem us. No, He is not now seeking to redeem — the work is finished; He has SAT DOWN. According to Rome, it is not finished, but is repeated, or continued, in the sacrifice of the Mass. I am anxious we should see distinctly to which side the Salvation Army leans — to Rome, or to the finished work of Christ, unchanging and immutable. Yes, “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). Read Hebrews 9; 10 May I ask, Do you find anything in the writings of the Army about ETERNAL redemption, or being “perfected Forever?”
Young Christian—No, I cannot say that I do. But surely they fully accept the truth of the finished work of Christ! I will read on. 2. “What does God seek to accomplish for our race in the work of redemption?” Does the scripture speak of the redemption of our race, that is, all men?
Evangelist—Certainly not. Only we must remember the difference between being bought and redeemed. A slave may be bought, and still be a slave. But to be redeemed, is to be not only bought, but actually brought out of slavery into freedom. Redemption of the race is again the doctrine of Rome, not of the scriptures. As the propitiation, Christ died for the world. God is glorified in proclaiming pardon to all, “unto all, and upon all, them that believe... being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:22-24). Who are these — the race? Are they justified? “In whom we have [the saints in Christ at Colosse] redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14; Eph. 1:7). Can the race say this? Can any unconverted man say that he has redemption through the blood of Christ?
Young Christian—No, I see that: if all the world were redeemed, all would be delivered from the slavery of sin, and it is plain they are not. It seems almost to make redemption nothing, to say the race is redeemed. It is a most blessed thing for a believer to know that he has eternal redemption. Somehow, I think I should not like to give that up. But what is this (page 16)? 6. “What is the meaning of the word ATONEMENT? The word means, ‘at-one-ment,’ and it signifies the way which Jesus Christ opened, in order that God and man, now separated by sin, may be re-united, and made one again.” Is this so? It sounds strange.
Evangelist—This is remarkable. Why it is the very doctrine of Rome again. I have just been reading it in Dr. Dollinger, perhaps the clearest writer the Church of Rome has. It really sets aside true expiation for sin. The word ‘atonement’ is never found in the New Testament, except once, and that is a mistranslation (Rom. 5:11). We could not receive the atonement, but we do receive its effect — reconciliation. I could understand it, if a Roman Catholic had written this; but surely the writer knows that ‘at-one-ment’ is English, and that the Hebrew word is caphar. It is found ninety-eight times in the Old Testament. Get your Hebrew Concordance, and find me one single instance where it can mean ‘at-one-ment,’ or union of two persons, as God and man. It means, “to cover”; hence it is used in the covering the ark (Gen. 32:20). But in its connections, as you may see in Exodus and Leviticus , it can only mean real expiation for sin; types of the expiatory death of Jesus putting away our sins — covering them by that death, to be seen no more. All these types were needed, to show the infinite value of that expiation. It is Christ on the cross, forsaken of God. See Daniel 9:24: “To make reconciliation [the same word as is translated “atonement” elsewhere in the Old Testament] for iniquity.”
Can this possibly mean ‘at-one-ment’? And so in many other cases. We are reconciled, brought back to God, as the effect of the atonement. But this is not sinful man at one with God; but his sins, borne in awful judgment on the cross, once.
Young Christian—But there are many scriptures quoted, and if the Army believes them, they must hold expiation.
Evangelist—That looks so, but do you not see the false definition? ‘At-one-ment’ perverts every passage, as these scriptures do not mean that at all; just as the redemption of the race perverts its true meaning for those who are believers. There are many precious scriptures quoted, and much truth also, but so mixed up, exactly as it is in the records of the Council of Trent, and by Roman Catholic writers. I am astonished at the similarity in some cases.
Young Christian—Well, to return (see page 19). Why, a number of scriptures are given to prove that Christ is the Redeemer of the race! How are these perverted? I will read a few -those passages which are quoted of Christ as being the Redeemer of the race: —”Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things,” etc. (1 Peter 1:18, 19). “For ye are bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). “In whom WE have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). “Feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). “For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev. 5:9).
Evangelist—Is it not most careless, or willful misapplication of scripture, to say that these scriptures speak of the redemption of the race? Clearly each text, and its context, speaks of believers only — the church of God redeemed out of the race. And this is a specimen of the utter carelessness, or ignorance, with which the Word of God is dealt with. No intelligent Christian will doubt for a moment that, by the propitiatory death of Christ, God was so glorified as to sin, that the mercy-seat was opened to the whole world, and pardon proclaimed, through Jesus, to every creature. But not one scripture can be found that speaks distinctly of substitution for SINS, or redemption, that does not strictly refer only to believers. Read carefully Isaiah 53:5-6,8,11-12; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 15:3; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 1:3; 9:27-28, and many others. Indeed, could there be worse confusion than to speak of the church of God as the human race? No doubt this is the principle on which Rome acts, and all who copy Rome. Hence the whole population is regarded as the church; not so by the Word of God.
Young Christian—Then, if I understand you, through the death of Jesus pardon is preached to all, and all who believe are surely pardoned and justified; and they only can say, “We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14); and they alone compose the church.
Evangelist—Certainly; search through each epistle, and see if this is not so. Well, we now come to
Election
Will you read through this article. It is exactly as might be expected, just what a Romanist would write, word for word, except those awful words you read (page 34). Surely no Romanist would go so far. “We know He (God) hates sin, and we believe that He is doing His utmost to get people saved from committing it; and we know also that He fails, because He has such a wretched, cowardly set of soldiers to fight for Him. With true soldiers, and plenty of them, we have every reason to conclude that He would soon drive sin out of the world. Let us help Him.” I solemnly ask, Is this holy reverence of God, or is it dreadful profanity? God is represented as a poor thing, that fails to do what He wants to do, for want of a better army. And are you going to join this profanity? No wonder that the writer should sneer at Election, and mix it up with the supposed human doctrine of reprobation, which the evangelists, that he most opposes, do not teach. I do not feel it would be profitable to follow him in these perversions of holy scripture on this subject.
Young Christian—But what do evangelical Christians teach on this subject — what do you believe?
Evangelist—All that God has spoken — both that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16); and also that “God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, etc. (Eph. 1:4). The Arminian seems to believe only one of these truths; the Calvinist only the other; but, as a Christian, I surely believe both. As I have lately written a tract on “Election,” I would refer you to that small pamphlet. The gospel supper was ample, and all were invited, but all refused. Then infinite, sovereign grace compels some, even the most hell-deserving, to come in. Oh, the riches of His grace!
Young Christian—We will now read section 8, page 38 — THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Evangelist—Do you not observe the same mistake again? It is to the race, not to the church; indeed the writer seems entirely ignorant of what Jesus said, when He promised to send the Holy Spirit — “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him (John 14:17). Neither does he seem to have the least idea that the Holy Spirit came, consequent on the finished work of redemption, to form the church, the body of Christ, on earth (John 7:39; Acts 2:1-4 Cor. 12:13). “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). But, my young friend, are you willing to give all this up?
Young Christian—Well, I must confess there is very much I do not yet understand as to the distinction between the church and the race, or world; and also as to the Holy Spirit.
Evangelist—I do not doubt that; but is that any reason why you should turn your back on the Word of God, and plunge into such ignorance of its truths as this book displays?
Young Christian—But let us now come to a foundation question. I see we have omitted section 6 — “THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST” — page 24. I will read it.
Evangelist—Indeed the finished work of Christ — my precious Savior, Jesus — is what my soul rests upon, for time and for eternity — my only foundation. Take away this, and I have nothing. “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus said it, and bowed His head, and gave up the Spirit. Yes, so finished is that work the Father gave Him to do, that He, “When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). Yes, “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1). God hath raised Him from the dead, in proof that His work is finished; so that He is raised for our justification. (See Rom. 4:24, 25).
And God says, “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:17). Read Hebrews 10:12-17. But as Rome throws a doubt on all this, I shall not be surprised if the writer does the same thing. With Rome, Christ offered an imperfect sacrifice, that still needed man’s penance, and the repeated, or continued, sacrifices of the Mass. But read on.
Young Christian—I am almost ashamed to read such words, they really do seem to throw a slight on the finished work of Christ. 1. “You will sometimes hear people talk about the finished work of Christ. What is meant by it? That Christ, when He died on the cross, put Himself in the place of the sinner, and bore the exact amount of punishment which he deserved, thus actually paying the debt that the sinner owed divine justice. And if the sinner will only believe this, he is forever free from the claims of the law, and can never be brought into condemnation, either here or hereafter. Is this so? We think not.” Well, I must say, this seems to me dreadful.
Evangelist—These words do not truthfully represent the way in which the gospel is preached; or, if evangelists use the paying of a debt, it is used to illustrate our sins. Forgiveness of sins is preached to sinners: “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things,” etc. (Acts 13:38, 39); stripped of such words as merely throw dust in the eyes, such as the “exact amount of punishment,” words which no Christian should use of the infinite atonement of Christ. Let us, then, put it thus: I, as a sinner, deserving to be cast into hell, believe that God laid all my sins on Jesus; that He bare them in His own body on the tree; that for my sake, bearing my iniquities, He was forsaken of God. He bore the whole judgment and wrath of God due to me, in my stead. My sins were all transferred to Him, as in figure the sins of Israel were all transferred to the goat on the day of atonement (Lev. 16). I am sure that God has accepted that one infinite sacrifice, in that He has raised up Jesus from the dead for the express purpose of my justification. Did He thus put Himself in my place on the cross? Is this so? The writer answers, “We think not.” I do not believe him, nor all his Romish reasons for saying, “We think not.” Believing God, I have peace with God. Believing the writer, I should sink into Romish darkness and despair. I say Romish, for there is not an argument used here on these foundation points that is not to be found in the records of the Council of Trent, or other Romish works.
There is not a Jesuit in England that will not be delighted thus to see the finished work of Christ set aside. Once receive the blessed testimony of Scripture, that the believer is forever perfected by the one infinite sacrifice of Christ, and the Church of Rome and the Salvation Army crumble to the dust. Again, I ask, will you give up the finished work of Christ to join the Salvation Army? I do not pursue the reasons why they reject the doctrine of “the literal payment of the sinner’s debt”; or, in other words, the very real substitution of Christ for my sins. It is enough for me that it is the only scriptural foundation for my salvation.
Young Christian—Well, it is indeed terrible to set aside the real substitution of Christ for our sins, call them debts, or what you like; and certainly this is so. And yet, you see, on page 26 they speak of their “correct view of the atonement,” that the sacrifice of Christ “did make it possible for the love and pity of God to flow out to man, by forgiving all those who repent, and return in confidence to Him,” etc. And they still say, further, “The alone ground, or merit, of our salvation, from first to last, is to be ascribed to the love of God, as displayed in the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
Evangelist—All this looks very fair, but, as with Rome, it is entirely neutralized by other deadly errors. The sacrifice of Christ is said to be of infinite value; and then, instead of presenting the believer forever perfected, as Hebrews 10, as we have seen, it reduces His sacrifice to the lowest possible value. It just, or barely, along with man’s repentance, makes it possible for God to save the believer. It is the exact opposite of Hebrews 9; 10 Then, again, the love of God, displayed in the sacrifice of Christ, is not in scripture the alone ground, or merit, of our salvation; it is that atoning death, not merely displaying the love, but meeting also all the righteous claims of God on both our sin and sins! It is the mixture of truth with error that makes these doctrines so dangerous. You will see this, if we read
Conditions of Salvation
Young Christian—I will do so. Page 43.
Evangelist—Is not much of this in direct contrast with Scripture? And does not the writer take distinct side with Rome, and reject the blessed truth of justification by faith, as restored at the Reformation?
Is not repentance put as the condition, or price, of salvation? Repentance is first; the blood of Christ, second (page 45): “A thorough repentance brings a complete forgiveness” (page 47). Thus repentance leads to the goodness of God, and a man believing he has repented enough, may then believe he is saved; if thorough, God will forgive him By this device of Satan, millions are kept in uncertainty.
Young Christian—But did not the apostles preach the same way?
Evangelist—No, the very opposite. They taught that it is the goodness of God that leadeth to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Did Peter preach repentance first, or the goodness of God in sending Jesus — His death and resurrection? He preached that God had raised up from the dead that same Jesus whom they had rejected and crucified. “God hath made that same Jesus... both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). The Holy Spirit used this to convict them of the dreadful sin they had committed; and they said, “What shall we do? (Acts 2:37). After this repentance comes in its true place, or order. “THEN Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.... Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:38:41). Now, is not this the order? The earth rejected Christ -the dead, risen, and ascended Savior — first. Then the Holy Spirit, convicting of sin; this leads to repentance and confession of Christ in baptism. But their repentance was evidently a complete change of mind, and a judging of themselves, and all they had done: this will produce self-abhorrence, but also an entire change of mind about God. On the one hand, there was their own wickedness, which they looked at with horror; on the other, God’s goodness in their forgiveness, which filled their hearts with gladness. But all this was not through feelings of their own, but by receiving his word. As Peter says, long after this: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God,” etc. (1 Peter 1:23).
Young Christian—I never thought before of the order and place of repentance. Is the same order always observed by the apostles?
Evangelist—Invariably it is so. Christ is preached first. “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:5). And what wondrous effects were produced by that preaching! And note, it is the one sinner who had professed to believe the gospel that is commanded to repent of his wickedness. So Philip to the eunuch: he “opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). He did not begin by preaching repentance as the price of salvation. So in Paul’s conversion, Christ reveals Himself to him; repentance followed, no doubt. So to Cornelius and his company; Peter preaches Jesus to them, and then says, “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Yet this is expressly declared to be how God granted to these Gentiles repentance unto life (Acts 11:18). Surely this is conclusive. Read also carefully Paul’s celebrated preaching at Antioch (Acts 13). Again, it is God sent Jesus — His rejection, death, and resurrection; then forgiveness of sins proclaimed to all, and all that believe declared to be justified from all things (Acts 13:38, 39). Compare also his preaching at Philippi (Acts 16:14-40). Did he tell the jailer, that before he could preach Jesus to him, or forgiveness of sins, he must repent first? No doubt he did repent, but the message from God was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). But in Acts 17:2, 3, the manner of Paul’s preaching is distinctly named. Is it not reasoning with them out of the Scriptures? — “Opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and have risen from the dead; and that this Jesus [Savior] whom I preach unto you is Christ. And some of them believed” (Acts 17:4). If we would see the effect of this manner of preaching Christ, we only need to read 1 Thessalonianns 1. See what repentance — what a change of mind! — “Turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven” (1 Thess. 1:9, 10).
Young Christian—But do you mean that Paul did not preach repentance?
Evangelist—Far from it. See the very chapter before us, He says to Athenian worshipers of idols, “but now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30). But please notice, is this the beginning, or the end, of this discourse? Is it put as cause, or effect? Before be announces God’s command to men to repent, he had so fully preached the gospel, as usual, that they said, “He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because be preached unto them [repentance? No, but first] Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18). Yes, this is the divine order — Jesus and the resurrection; forgiveness of sins through Jesus; then God’s command to all men to repent.
Young Christian—But what would you make of the great commission of Christ, in Luke 24:45-47? Were not the apostles to preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem?
Evangelist—I am thankful you have referred me to that scripture. If we follow this order, all is right; if we reverse it, as Rome and the Army, by placing penance, or the penitent form, first, then all is wrong, as we shall be sure to try to rest in the sufficiency of our penance, or repentance, first, in order to believe in Christ. Now note the order — it is the risen Christ that speaks: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” This is the first part of the commission — to show to souls what is written as to the necessity of the death; and not only the death, but the resurrection, of Jesus from the dead. This the Army never does first. Then the second part is — “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations,” etc. (Luke 24:47). Let this order be observed, and then we cannot press true repentance and forgiveness too much. But as Rome denies the free grace of God, by putting penance the first, as a condition of the favor of God; so the Army puts the penance, or penitent form. The result is, their faith rests, first, in their repentance; then, secondly, in the blood of Jesus Christ. Thus they say, “The faith that saves a sinner speaks in this wise: God has promised to forgive those that repent, and come to Him, through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. I repent, and come to Him, trusting only to the blood of Jesus Christ for mercy,” etc. I repent: this is the foundation; all that is said of Christ comes on this, or after this. And note, this is not merely defended in a sentence or two; but perhaps there is not a more able or bitter denial of the free grace of God, in print, than an article bearing the name of Mrs. Booth: “Dealing with an Anxious Soul.” She speaks of the bitter consequences of directing a soul to Christ, as having paid their debt, and done everything for them. The conditions of salvation now are just the same as under law, the forsaking of all evil, turning the face toward God, And intensely desiring His favor and love, as to be willing to give up all evil, as a condition of attaining it. That Christ only “did His own work, not mine... but I nowhere read that He repented, and turned to God, and did works meet for repentance, and believed so for me. This He commands every soul to do for itself, or perish” (pages 76, 77). Eternal salvation, as wrought on the cross, is entirely ignored. “And until a soul is willing to let Him save it from sin, He cannot save it.”
Note Mrs. Booth’s “Conditions of Salvation:” “Observe here what a deal has to be done in the soul before it can receive forgiveness of sins. Its eyes must be opened — to what? Its own sinfulness, and danger, and misery. Then, under the sight of this, it must be turned right round from the embrace or desire of evil, to the embrace or desire of righteousness (though yet powerless to do, it must choose and desire righteousness). The attitude of the WILL MUST CHANGE with respect to evil and good. It must turn round from the one to the other in purpose and desire. Then it must be turned from committal to the power of Satan unto God. It must abjure Satan as its rightful sovereign, and at least WILL to put itself under the power of God — and all this in order that it may receive forgiveness of sins.”
Young Christian - But does not all this take place at the new birth?
Evangelist—Truly it does. The Holy Spirit using the preaching of Christ, as we find in the Acts and epistles. But note the difference. The scriptures make all this the effect of the gospel by the Spirit. Mrs. Booth makes it the work of the dead sinner, and she actually adds, “This is made an absolute condition of its receiving forgiveness of sins” (page 80). Further, in her attack on justification by faith, she says, “Therefore, when Paul speaks of faith only being necessary to a sinner’s justification, he must always assume that these conditions are complied with.” And when a soul is turned from darkness to light, then it is to be the privilege and joy to point him to the Lamb of God!! And we are to beware of the opposite of this, as, “with this untempered slime of the old serpent half the superstructure of the professing church is joined together” (Page 79). I can only understand this article as hatred to the gospel of the free grace of God. But to return to your book — “Doctrines of the Salvation Army.”
Young Christian - Yes, I shall be glad if you will turn to page 46. You have expressed the thought that these doctrines are essentially the same as those of Rome. Can you prove it?
Evangelist—If you look carefully at that page, you find three-fourths to be sugar, that the deadly poison of Rome, at the bottom, may be swallowed unperceived. In No. 13, the death of Christ is the only ground of faith for a sinner before God. Very sweet, and also its answer. Then (No. 14) what is the meaning of the passage, “faith is counted [or] imputed to him for righteousness”? (Rom. 4:5, 22). I suppose few Protestants would care to object to the answer: “These expressions simply mean that, being without any righteousness in which to appear before God, He accepts our faith in Christ instead. That is, that as God treated Christ as the sinner for our sakes, so He treats those who believe on Him as though they were righteous, for His sake.” This is not, however, as Scripture puts this great question. In this explanation it is something of our own — “our faith” that God accepts. In the Word it is not so; but God has accepted Christ, and the work He has accomplished; and it is believing THAT. It is believing, in this case, not Christ, but believing GOD, “that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” It is thus we are justified, or accounted, reckoned, righteous before God; and on this ground we have peace (Rom. 4:24, 25). God raising Christ from the dead for our justification, is a very different thing from accepting our faith.
Young Christian—That is very important. If Christ was raised from the dead for our justification, it is strange that that is entirely omitted in their doctrine. But now for the poison.
Evangelist—You will now read No. 15, page 46. “Is there not another higher meaning than this?” Yes. These (Rom. 4:5), and kindred passages, also teach that faith is counted for righteousness, because it is God’s means of making us actually righteous. In this sense we are justified, that is, made just by faith.”
This is the exact doctrine of Rome: “The sole formal cause is the justice (righteousness) of God; not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He maketh us just.” (Council of Trent, sess. 6, chap. 7.) Thus the doctrine of the Army and of Rome is identical. Now compare this with Romans 3:19-24. Here we are all guilty; and the righteousness of God is what He is, through and by the redemption and propitiation of Christ. God is righteous in justifying us freely, not by any conditions imposed on us, but by His free, unmerited favor. “Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Could there be a more flat contradiction to the Word of God? The scripture says the righteousness of God is what He is, and how He is just, and the Justifier. Rome and the Army say the opposite. It is not what God is, but what we are, “made just.” And note, everything in Rome and the Army rests on this setting aside the true doctrine of justification by faith.
Young Christian—You surprise me. Do you mean to say that they deny that beautiful definition of justification in the Thirty-nine Articles?
Evangelist—Entirely. There it is truly said, “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith,” etc. They say we are made just, and if you read Romans 4 you will see which is the truth, not one word about our being made just. There is a singular audacity in this book of doctrine. Scripture is quoted to prove the very opposite of its plain meaning. Study carefully this text, which is said to mean, “We are justified, that is, made just.” “But to him that worketh not, but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). Then read the full proof of this. Abraham and David believed God. Faith was reckoned for righteousness. Abraham believed the promise of God. Righteousness was reckoned unto him We believe the promise of God has been fulfilled. We believe God has raised up from the dead the very One, Jesus our Lord, “who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Righteousness is reckoned to us — that is, we are accounted righteous before God. This being the case, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus faith rests in God, through the finished work of Christ. Nothing of the kind, say Rome and the Army; and they practically set aside this blessed truth, so fully set forth in this scripture, by teaching it is not at all what Christ is to us, but God’s way of actually making us righteous. In this sense we are justified, not made just by faith. Thus the eye of faith is directed to self, as the higher meaning of justification. But the absurdity of this doctrine will be seen in the next section.
The Forgiveness of Sins
Young Christian—I will read it.
1. “What is justification? The act wherein God, for Christ’s sake, pardons our sins, and receives us into His favor. 2. Do pardon and justification mean the same blessing? Yes, always in the Bible, when used in reference to our salvation,” etc.
Evangelist—Here, observe, all is confusion, and contradiction to what has gone before. Is forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake the same as being made actually righteous, made just, by faith? Neither is it at all true that pardon and justification always mean the same thing, as stated here. Justification includes pardon, but goes beyond it. Hear how David describes it: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4:7). But is that all? No; he goes on: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). And again, what is justification of life? (Rom. 5:18). Though our life has been forfeited through sin, as explained in Romans 5:12, yet now we have another life, a justified life, even the eternal life of the risen Christ — the same life as that risen Man seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high; and to every believer, looked at as in Him, there is no condemnation. In Him, nothing to forgive, nothing to condemn (Rom. 8:1). Justification reaches up to that point. It must be perfect, for whatever is of God must be perfect, and it is God that justifieth. Oh, the riches of His grace — free, unmerited grace! I shall not be surprised to find in this book, as with Rome, that justification is an imperfect thing, and may greatly be improved by our own holiness — just as we find it in the Council of Trent.
Young Christian—But do we not fail? May not a believer, in a moment of temptation, even commit sin?
Evangelist—Indeed he may; that we know, as to our walk, to our deep sorrow. But the question is this: Has that sin still to be condemned, judged, on us; or has it been judged, condemned, and borne by Jesus, our propitiation? Our justification is of God. The risen Christ is our righteousness — nothing can ever touch that. As to our walk and communion, and our Father’s discipline, we need constant confession and forgiveness; and, through the intercession of our Advocate with the Father, this will always be the case, if we sin (1 John 2:1, 2). But this must not be confounded with the believer’s complete justification in the risen Christ. How little the difference between these two things is understood — our acceptance in Christ, and our walking acceptably to Him!
Young Christian—What, in a word, is the difference, then, on the subject of salvation between the Army and the Word of God?
Evangelist—The Scriptures represent the grace of God bringing salvation to all men, and grace teaches godliness, etc. (Titus 2:11, 12). The Army teaches, as we have seen, an act of their own will, their own repentance brings salvation. “A thorough repentance brings a complete forgiveness” (page 47).
Young Christian - Well, I hope to search the scriptures on this most important subject. I will now read the section on Conversion, page 49. Do you think they are sound and scriptural as to the new birth?
Evangelist—I am compelled, in faithfulness, to say, on the new birth they are most unsound; indeed, though they quote the very Scriptures that speak of it, yet they misunderstand, or misapply, them. With them, as with Rome, again, there is no new birth, no real new creation, but a change of the old man. “He makes him a new creature.” “It is like being made over again; like becoming a new creature; like being born again... It is very imperfect.” “Regeneration is the change of our nature... is a change in our character,” etc. Yet all, bear in mind, very imperfect, sin still left hanging about the soul (page 50).
Young Christian—Tell, what, then, is the scripture truth as to this foundation doctrine of the new birth?
Evangelist—We will take the very first scripture they quote. (2 Cor. 5:17). “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” And notice the next words, which they do not quote — “and all things are of God (2 Cor. 5:18). Is this like being made over again, etc., and very imperfect? It is charging imperfection on God! for whatever the new birth, or new creation, is, it is wholly of God. If I take an old watch to the first firm in Liverpool, and I say, I want a new watch; and they, instead of this, make the old watch up over again, and give it a new start, if even a new cover; that would be the old made over again. They might give it a good polish, but would that be wholly a new watch, a new creation, or the old thing, still very imperfect? It might be like a new one, like the new birth, as they say. Would it not be a disgrace to the firm? Is it not, then, a disgrace to any man thus to misrepresent God? The new birth is that which is born of the Spirit. Is that imperfect? It is not the old watch made over again, the flesh made over again. Read the words of Jesus: “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; And that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit (John 3:6). Not a thought of the flesh being changed, but an entirely new birth of the Spirit, A new heart, as in the scripture plainly referred to (Ezek. 36:26). And so, in 2 Corinthians 5, is it the old watch made over again? The old things are passed away, like an old watch that will not go, and behold, all things are become new; and all things are of God. No; the patchwork, the imperfect work, of the Army, being like a new creation is utterly false. It is the old watch made over again, that will not go. But the most serious thing is, that it so dishonors God. Can He do that which is imperfect? It is God who has begotten us again (1 Peter 1:3). And again, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). Satan may say, “Do not believe it is of God, and so incorruptible. No, it is corruptible, imperfect, sin hangs about it, and you may soon loose it.” Am I to believe Satan? God forbid. The new creation, or new birth, is of God, and therefore perfect. “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). It is not the will of the flesh, the will of man, turning itself to God; it is not of man, and imperfect. No, the sons of God are those “which were born, not of blood, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, nor of the WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD" (John 1:13). Indeed, the patchwork, like being born again of the Army, is as opposed to Scripture as darkness is to light. It is darkness; and I grant, how great and how common in this day is that darkness! How few in this day hold the true scriptural doctrine, that the new birth is not the improvement of the old nature, the flesh, but a wholly new creation, and that of God; and therefore the child partakes of the divine nature. One would think that every Christian would see that the child always has the nature of the parent. How fully this is brought out in John’s first epistle (1 John 3:9): “Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin [or practice sin]; for his seed remaineth in him; and be cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This could have positively no meaning whatever, if the new birth is not of God, but of man’s will, and therefore imperfect. But, oh, how blessed, looked at as the new creation, wholly of God, born of God, having the divine nature. What a motive for holiness is here given! The Father is holy — it would surely be blasphemy to say He could practice sin. Thus, as born of Him, we have His nature, and as such cannot practice sin; and therefore, they who practice sin are not born of God. Many other scriptures show the believer to be a responsible person, who has yet to contend with the flesh in him, and to gain the victory through faith.
Young Christian—That just brings us to the question I desire to be clear upon above all others — “holiness,” as taught by the Salvation Army. But perhaps, before we enter upon it, we might stop here for the present. I should like prayerfully to consider all you have brought before me. It certainly seems very serious to put repentance before Christ, and forgiveness of sins and faith — the very reverse of scripture; and then to explain away true justification by faith in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. According to this, a sinner is only justified so far as he is actually righteous. And then to say that the new birth, or new creation, is “very imperfect.” It certainly seems like taking away all that is essentially christian on these points. I am therefore most anxious to know if their teaching on holiness is scriptural, or not.
Evangelist—As to all that has come before us, I only ask you to compare the doctrine of the Army with the Word of God, even with the texts they themselves quote, or misquote. I have said I will not go over their profane way of handling the Scriptures on Election. The same method of perversion would enable them to prove anything, or disprove every truth of God’s holy word. For the present, then, farewell. In our next conversation, if the Lord will, we will compare their teaching on “Holiness” with the Word of God. We hope also, to examine other doctrines — such as their denial of the two natures, or the fact of the old nature remaining in the believer; eternal life as the present possession of the believer, etc. In all things may our God give us, by the Holy Spirit, unfeigned subjection to His word.
Holiness
Evangelist—Good morning, my young friend. I hope you have well and prayerfully considered the great truths on which we conversed lately — especially the important truths of justification by faith, the finished work of Christ, and the true doctrine of the new birth. I do not forget your desire for holiness, and that was your chief object in thinking to join the Salvation Army; but I am sure, if we have not right views of these foundation truths, we shall never have right thoughts of holiness.
Young Chrsitian—I am glad to have the opportunity of freely conversing with you again; and more so, because I see your object is not to attack the Salvation Army, but to defend the truth from the attacks of the Army.
Evangelist—It is exactly so. I assure you I desire, by the help of the Lord, to keep you from the fatal mistakes and false teaching of the Army on almost every revealed truth. Then let us understand: I trust you have believed God, as we have seen in Romans 4:24-25; Acts 13:38-39, and that you know you are, on the testimony of God, justified from all things; and being justified, accounted righteous before God, you have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Have these glad tidings been applied to your soul by the Holy Spirit?
Young Christian—Yes, yes, bless God, they have, or I should not be a Christian — should I?
Evangelist—Quite true. Then it would not be a light matter for you to give up simple faith in the finished work of Christ; His actual, infinite substitution for your very sins, and His actual resurrection for your justification. For my part I rest on this for eternity.
Young Christian—And so do I; and I am sure God, as you said, is my Justifier, and therefore my justification is perfect. Oh, what blessed peace!
Evangelist—I rejoice to hear you thus speak. My reason for asking these questions is this: it is no use going on to the question of Holiness, or Sanctification, until you are quite sure you are a saved Christian. This being settled, and quite sure, then the first, or next, question is this: What is a Christian — holy, or unholy?
Young Christian—What is that? Holy, or unholy? I want to be holy in my walk.
Evangelist—Surely you do, and so does every Christian. But I will illustrate what I mean. You say, I am quite sure I am an Englishman — I was born, as to my nationality an Englishman. But could you then say, I am most anxious to be an Englishman; I am thinking of joining some society to be an Englishman? Or take another illustration. A man says, I know with certainty that I am a soldier -I know the day I was enlisted; I wear the uniform: but, oh, I do so long to be a soldier. Would not the desire to be an Englishman, or a soldier, be a total mistake? If the one said, I long to acquit myself as an Englishman: or, I wish, said the other, to be an efficient soldier of Her Majesty’s army — very, very good. This, my young friend, was the mistake of the early earnest Jesuits. This is the mistake of the Salvation Army. They do not know what a Christian is; they are like the man longing to be a soldier, when he is one. They first charge God with effecting a very imperfect work in regeneration (page 50). They then try to ridicule the scriptural doctrine of the two natures (pages 51 to 56); and then, from page 59 to 91, they tell you what Holiness, or Sanctification, is, and how it is to be obtained. The whole thing is as great a mistake as the soldier seeking how he may get to be a soldier.
Young Christian—I do assure you this is very new to me; do try to make it as plain as you can. Is not a Christian called to be holy?
Evangelist—Just as a soldier is called to be an efficient soldier. But he must be, and is, a soldier by calling or enlistment first. Just as the Englishman is called to act as an Englishman; but he must be an Englishman first by birth or adoption. Let us now turn to scripture. We will take the apostleship of Paul to explain this matter. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). Do you notice the words, “to be,” are in italics; that is, they are not in the original. The literal translation is this — “an apostle by calling,” just like the soldier, “a soldier by enlistment, or calling.” Paul was not enlisted by the Lord to attain to apostleship at some future time, but he was there and then constituted an apostle. Surely he was called to act as such. Now look at Romans 1:7: “To ALL that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints, etc.” It is the same here in the original; that is, just as with Paul being an apostle by calling — not called to attain to it; so here they were saints, “holy ones,”— for that is the meaning of “saints”— by calling. Thus, then when God calls or separates a sinner to Himself, He constitutes him there and then a holy one by that very act of separation. An Englishman, then, is so by birth. A Christian is holy by the new birth. In neither case is this a matter of attainment; and you will find the same truth in many other scriptures. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2). It should be, “saints (holy ones), by calling.” This must be so, as they are sanctified in Christ Jesus. “With all the saints [holy ones] which are in all Achaia” (2 Cor. 1:1). “To the holy ones which are at Ephesus” (Eph. 1:1). So at Philippi, at Colosse, etc.
Young Christian—I begin to see it. They — that is, all Christians -are looked at as in Christ. Tell me, is this perfection in which they stand as sanctified in Christ Jesus so complete as to fit them for heaven? And is this true of all Christians?
Evangelist—It is written, “Giving thanks unto the FATHER, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). “And you... hath he reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in His sight” (Col. 1:21-22). “And ye are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). Such is the standing of every regenerate soul in Christ, although the General calls it “very imperfect.” The dying thief did not find it very imperfect. “To-day,” says Jesus to him, “shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Young Christian—What is the difference, then, between the scriptures and the Salvation Army?
Evangelist—In the scriptures all Christians are born of God, and are made the partakers of the divine nature. And because they are born of God, they must have a standard of walk, or practical holiness, suited to their new holy nature. With the Army, both the nature and the standard is imperfect. We have seen, regeneration, though of God, is very imperfect, they say. And now I ask you to read their standard of holiness (page 63).
Young Christian—I will begin with this question:
“What is sinless perfection? Such a state as that of Adam before his fall, wherein, he being a perfect creature, was enabled to render a perfect obedience to the perfect law of God.”
“Is it possible to attain to sinless perfection in this life? No! An imperfect creature cannot perfectly obey a perfect law, and man being imperfect, both in body and in mind, is plainly unable to keep the perfect law of God.”
“Does God require obedience to a law, the keeping of which He knows to be utterly impossible? No. We cannot imagine a benevolent Being requiring from us that which is impossible, and then condemning us for not doing it, etc.”
“What, then, is the law that He expects us to keep?”
“The law of love, as laid down and described by Jesus Christ, when He said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;’ or, in other words, love and serve God according to your knowledge and ability, and He will be satisfied” (page 63).
Evangelist—I ask you, did you ever read anything more contrary to scripture than this? And this the vaunted holiness of the Army! God is too good to expect anybody to keep the law. Yes, a standard lower than the law. What would the Apostle James say to this? And a man doing the best he could, and God would be satisfied? Would he not say, If he offend in one point, he is guilty of all?” (James 2:10). The finished work of Christ is thus set aside, that which presents the believer holy and unblameable before God. And what have you instead of this? — a man doing his best, and God will be satisfied! Dare you trust your salvation to such teaching as this?
Young Christian—Indeed I dare not. But tell me, since the Christian is born of God, and has the nature of God his Father, and is meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, what is his standard of practical holiness?
Evangelist—Turn with me to a few scriptures, and you will see that the standard to a Christian who is born of God is far higher than the law. In Matthew 5 you will find the standard of the law fully explained, up to verse 43. Then the Lord Jesus says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, etc.... That ye may be THE CHILDREN of YOUR FATHER which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:44-45). Thus grace is seen to be a much higher standard than law. The law was a righteous rule for man in the flesh, but grace is the display of the Father. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Oh, compare this with God not even expecting man to keep the law, but doing the best he can, and God will be satisfied! Again, “As obedient children.... But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy; and if ye call on the Father,” etc. (1 Peter 1:14-16). “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ, also hath loved us” (Eph. 5:1). Look where you will, it is the relationship that gives the responsibility and the standard of obedience. And the power for that holy obedience is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2-4). Surely it is not worth while to wade through all this reasoning how to obtain this sanctification; such a holiness, that is even below the standard of the law, is not worth having.
Young Christian—But while they take so low a standard here — the lowest I ever heard of, except the Jesuits — yet they speak in other parts as if sanctification meant the very eradication of sin from the old nature. Do they not quote very blessed scriptures?
Evangelist—The scriptures are surely all right; but it is what they say about them that is all wrong. Their doctrine is the restoration of man to his Adam state. As in many places, page 77 is occupied in showing how man may get back to that state. They seem to have no knowledge of the infinitely superior place the believer has in Christ. (See Eph. 1:1-12.)
You will also notice that most scriptures they quote, as describing a sanctification to be attained to, is the sanctified condition of all believers, such as Romans 6:6-11; Ephesians 5:25-27. Do not these scriptures describe the blessed position of all believers? Are not all believers addressed, “Elect of God, holy and beloved” (Col. 3:12)?” and every exhortation to practical holiness is on the ground that they “have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:9-12).
Young Christian—But would you not say that the Holy Spirit is a seal, or witness, to our devotedness and perfect love to God?
Evangelist—Nowhere in scripture. No, He is a witness of the finished work of Christ, and that by it we are forever perfected (Heb. 10:12-15). If I, then, seek for the Holy Spirit to bear witness to my self-righteousness, or my devotedness, I must set aside the infinite and eternal value of the one sacrifice of Christ. And this is the tendency of all this self-occupancy, called entire sanctification. And finding, when thus occupied with self, still much imperfection — indeed, nothing else in the flesh — then, as we have seen, the standard of holiness must be lowered — yes, even below the law!
Young Christian—Really it would seem as if the whole thing was a system of error. A very imperfect regeneration; an imperfect justification; the finished, infinite, all-sufficient work of Christ set aside; and, as with Rome, only justified as far as we are made just. But now, granted that the scripture doctrine is the opposite of all this — born of God; partakers of the divine nature; reckoned righteous before God, through our Lord Jesus Christ by faith, by grace, and not by works; sealed by the Holy Spirit, He dwelling in us — what should be the character of our obedience?
Evangelist—Just that to which we are sanctified, or set apart: “Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:2). Thus the Spirit separates us, ALL believers, to the obedience of Christ. Now the obedience of Christ, surely, was not like the obedience of the Army, to a lower standard than the law: it was the obedience of delight to do the will of God; not merely doing the will of God, but delighting to do it. And, oh, what that will involve! Is this your standard of holiness — delighting to do the will of the Father, your Father? You may live to have three children. Let us say, John delights to do your will, you are so dear to him James barely does your will, because of your authority. Peter says it is a matter of indifference, and yet is constantly talking of his great goodness, devotedness, and sacrifice. Now which is most like the obedience of our blessed Lord? And which is most unlike Him?
Young Christian - Certainly John is most like Jesus, in all His delight of heart to His Father’s will, and Peter most unlike Him. But what has this to do with the Salvation Army? Do they not teach the most implicit obedience?
Evangelist—Yes, they teach in these books sent to me unquestioning, absolute obedience. But to whom — to Christ, or to the General? If the General orders a sanctified officer from one place to another, he must instantly obey. If he orders him to a town, he must not preach until he gets orders from head-quarters. He or she must not marry without the consent of the General. Obedience to THIS MAN must be absolute, exactly after the model of the Jesuits. But with all this talk about entire sanctification, or holiness, what is the measure of obedience to be rendered by the Army to Christ in His word? I crave your attention to that question. No one who reads with reverence the Word of God can question that baptism is commanded by the Lord.
Now note section 26. “3. Does the Army consider Baptism as a duty that must be performed?”
“DECIDEDLY NOT. The Army only considers one baptism essential to salvation, and that is, THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST.” Think of this, dear young Christian. Are you to obey Christ? “DECIDEDLY NOT.” You are to act as the Army considers, treating Christ with indifference! If this be their holiness, the less of it you have the better.
Young Christian—You must misunderstand them. How could any person having the least pretension to Christianity speak in this manner? Can you give another instance of such disrespect for Christ?
Evangelist—I am sorry to say the whole thing is in direct opposition to the express teaching of Christ. Did He not forbid His disciples to act as the kingdoms of this world, in taking the place of lordship over one another? Jesus said, “It shall not be so among you” (Matt. 20:26). The General says it shall be so, and obedience to this unscriptural, forbidden lordship over a vast Army shall be a great fruit of your entire sanctification. Here you have pages of instruction of obedience to the antichristian lordship of the General.
Now we will compare this with the way the Lord’s dying request is treated. Was there not one request, above all others, that our precious Jesus gave, a few hours before He died for our sins? Oh, how tender the love that said, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Now read section. 26. “8. What is the teaching of the Army on the subject of the Lord’s Supper?”
“When such an ordinance is helpful to the faith of our soldiers, we recommend its adoption.” Is there anything in print to surpass this for wickedness? The audacity for a mere man to tell his soldiers that when it is helpful to obey Christ, he recommends them to do it!
“7. Is the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper essential to membership of the Army, or salvation? Certainly not, etc.” Put this plainly. Is loving obedience to the tender request of Jesus necessary to membership in the Army? Certainly not! Is it not evident, with such awful principles as these, the quotation of scriptures that speak of real holiness is only a blind?
Young Christian - I must say that is dreadful; and, just think, I was about to join all this. How different from the obedience of Christ! That is a precious thought, or rather scripture. It is beautiful to have Christ as our copy and example. But now, tell me, do we not often fail? Nay, in our obedience, do we ever come up to our copy? Like a child writing a copy, can we say we are like Him, then, if we fail?
Evangelist—Oh, how perfect is the Word of God! You notice, we are not only sanctified by the Spirit unto obedience of Christ, but also unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The heart delights in holiness, delights to do the will of Christ. But we fail; and note, as the sprinkled blood of the type was on the mercy-seat a year, so the blood of Jesus, sprinkled on the mercy-seat, is ever there; and we know, that our failings and sins were met by that blood. Yes if we are in the light, we know that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.
Young Christian—I am glad you refer to that scripture. Does it mean, if we sin, the blood cleanses us again; or does it mean a certain class of holy persons, and the blood of Christ has eradicated all sin from them, even from their flesh, or old nature?
Evangelist—Let us read it carefully. Note, it does not say, if we sin, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Clearly it is not a question of cleansing us afresh if we sin — that thought is not in the text at all; but if we are in the light of God, this fact is then known in happy fellowship. The glorious characteristic of the blood of Jesus Christ, is, that all sin is gone, that is, is not imputed to us. The very next verse proves it cannot mean that sin is eradicated from our old nature. It is, however, judged, even the sin of our nature, so as never to be reckoned to us; as is distinctly taught in Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21. But you will see the Spirit distinctly guards against the false doctrine of our having sin eradicated from our nature, in the very next verse: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
Young Christian—I will read you what is said (page 86) on this very verse. He describes the folly of those who believe their sins were imputed to Christ — then says, “By this they mean that, no matter how worldly, selfish, or even devilish, they may actually be, their sins were so dealt with by Christ, that they are not imputed to them, and that, therefore, while full of sin, they are WITHOUT SIN.”
“Actually, this doctrine is known as perfection in Christ; and it states that when God looks at His children, He looks at them through His Son, and cannot, or does not, or will not, see their sins.... Now John says in this text, to those who hold these views [note, he says John says], ‘If any man say he has no sin, when he is actually committing sin... he is deceiving himself, and the truth is not in him.’“
Evangelist—It is very sad for me to have to ask, but really is not this intentional perversion of scripture? John says, “If WE say that WE have no sin, WE deceive OURSELVES, and the truth is not in us (¤ John 8). The writer knew that the beloved John did not practice sin every day, as the result of believing the love of God in giving His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. No, John declares that such as practice sin are of the devil. Yet John does say, If WE say we are without sin. But the writer does not scruple to alter the text of holy scripture, and make John say, “If any man say he has no sin, he deceives himself,” etc. I do not remember reading a more shocking perversion of scripture. It is a difficulty which none of the teachers of this doctrine can get over — that John should put himself in this place. Surely any Christian who knows the plague of his own heart will say the same thing. The whole passage is a most deadly attack on the solemn truth that our sins were borne by Jesus. He implies that to believe this, is to lead people to practice sin. It is the charge the haters of the grace of God have ever made.
Young Christian—I certainly can have no confidence in the reasonings of a man that can pervert scripture in that manner It is quite plain now, that, while our sins are cleansed, so as never to be laid to our charge, by the blood of Jesus once shed, once sprinkled; yet, if we boast of ourselves as though we had no sin left to watch against in our old nature, it is simply to deceive ourselves. I am afraid I am taking up too much time. But there is just one more subject I should like us to look at, and that is ETERNAL LIFE — eternal life as the gift of God. Can it be possessed here now in this world? The preachers of the gospel I have heard always told me that Jesus meant what He said. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting [eternal] life.” “He that believeth on the Son, HATH eternal life” (John 3:16-36). Then, again, Jesus speaks so plainly and assuringly: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, HATH everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Over and over again Jesus says so (John 6:47). “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish,” etc. (John 10:28). He says to the Father, “As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him” (John 17:2). And the Holy Spirit tells us, that to doubt this word of God is to make Him a liar. “And this is the record, that God HATH given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and be that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE” (1 John 5:10-13).
Evangelist—Well, all this is plain enough, is it not? Jesus assures us of all this. How can we doubt the blessed fact? And note, it is while He is away that He says, “because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19). “The GIFT of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23). Yes, it is His gift, in free, unmerited grace. We do not deserve it, or merit it, but we have it on the double testimony — the word of Jesus, and the record of God; and all is written that we may know we have eternal life. The life of the risen Jesus must be eternal, and He is the eternal life we have. But does the Army deny this?
Young Christian—Well, will you look at section 22? What do you think this means? “and that He gives these FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS eternal life when this short life is over, and that they shall never perish.”
“God may agree to give eternal life to those who are His sheep, who are faithful, who persevere.”
Evangelist—I see it is most sad; the true grace of God is entirely set aside, and the record of God is entirely denied; as John says, they make God a liar by denying the present possession of eternal life. Nothing can be more blessed than to believe Jesus, and thus know that we have not a life that may be lost, or perish, in a day; but eternal life. And they try to make it appear that those who do believe God, think that by believing they perform an act that secures to them eternal life. This is not so. For instance, if you, out of pure kindness, give a poor man a hundred pound note, and you assure him its value is a hundred pounds — he believes your word. Would his believing you be the performing of an act that secured the note and its value? It is true he believes you once and forever, and begins to enjoy it. It is also true, that if he did not believe you, but some one persuaded him it was a fictitious note, he would then have rejected it. I know many who call themselves Christians would try to persuade you, so to speak, that the note was not worth half so much as it says. They would say, No, it is not eternal life; that you may have in heaven, if you deserve it by faithfulness. Jesus says it is eternal; they say it is not, it is only temporal, and may be lost at any time.
Young Christian—Stay; I think I have seen a tract, written by an ADMIRAL for the Army, sent out from head-quarters, in which eternal life is spoken of as fictitious life!
Evangelist—Is it possible? I never heard of such a thing; it is often explained away, to the great loss of souls. But let us look at your tract.
Young Christian—Here is the tract: “An Answer to a Question by Admiral Fishbourne” (page 7). He says, “The greatest crimes and sins that have scandalized the reformed church, have been enacted under cover of this fictitious eternal life.” Again, speaking of “tens of thousands... who are living in gross sin, seeking to shelter themselves under the idea of this fictitious eternal life” (page 13).
Evangelist—Let me read the connection. It seems that the Admiral feels quite sure that those who believe the record of God, and the words of Jesus, and know that they have eternal life, which he calls FICTITIOUS ETERNAL LIFE, live in gross sin. Now, even amongst Christians, there are comparatively few that fully believe Jesus as to this one point, and know that they have eternal life. And I would ask the Admiral, did he ever know one that was living in gross sin that enjoyed the blessed certainty that he had eternal life? Oh, let us flee from these defiling errors, and cling, in childlike simplicity, to the teaching and words of Christ: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent me, HATH everlasting life” (John 5:24). Blessed Jesus, I rest on Thy precious words. I do not think there would be any profit in following further the various wanderings of the Army’s doctrine — their setting aside all that God has been pleased to restore to His people, in these days, as to the coming of the Lord Jesus to take His saints, etc. If the Lord will, you will find papers in “Things New and Old” (1884) on the connection there is between true practical holiness and the second coming of Christ, as connected in scripture. I know it is often said the Army is doing a great deal of good, and many souls are converted through them. I can only say, I have made many inquiries, and have not found them, but who would limit the grace of God with them, or in Rome? Outward reformation there may be, but can the soul rest on that? Was there not this amongst the Jesuits? Indeed, there is a great similarity between them, both in doctrine and practice. After three hundred years, they have succeeded in filling the country again with flags, and banners, and processions. And where have the Romanists opposed them? It is a vast confederacy under military organization, and may one day prove itself a powerful ally of Rome.
Young Christian—I can, only thank you for pointing out to me these great and dangerous errors, but more especially for leading me to Christ. I do desire to know more and more of that “obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5); to delight to do the will of God, and ever to rest in the finished work of Christ, whoever may set it aside. To think that I was about to give up the only sure foundation! I thank God for His deliverance.

The Doctrines Taught

We have already looked at the starting-point, THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, inspired in the full sense of God speaking to us, “Thus saith the Lord.” It must be evident, then, that without ‘this starting-point, we have no basis. If God has not spoken, all is blank uncertainty. But since God has spoken, we need no man, or church, to tell us, that what He has said is true. What then were the doctrines taught?
Let us begin with the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. What was that death to the apostles, and the early church, as seen in their inspired writings? We read, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). The more we meditate on these words, the more wonderful they seem. Think how those scriptures of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets, bring before us this great fact, that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. What victims had been offered in sacrifice, from Abel downwards to the lamb that must be killed, before Israel could be redeemed from Egypt! There was no escape from judgment and slavery until that lamb was killed. Then what blood had to be shed to make it possible for man to be kept in relation with Jehovah in the wilderness, and in, the land! There was no approach to God but by blood.
The faith of Abraham was expressed in those wonderful words, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb.” Yes, Jehovah Jireh, the Lord, will see, or provide. The faith of the early church was, that the Lord has seen to it: God has provided His Lamb. “Behold the Lamb of God that beareth away the sin of the world.” Behold the living Person of the Son of God, God’s Lamb. God has seen to man’s deepest need: God has provided. The doctrine of the First Years of Christianity, all centered in Him, God’s Lamb. Not man’s Lamb; not man’s providing, but the sent One of God. The Holy One was delivered for our offenses, and was raised from the dead “for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice, all was divine certainty. The whole church of God had peace with God; and this peace was made by the very blood of Christ. “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight” (Col. 1:20-22).
Thus they HAD peace with God; and that peace was made by the blood of the cross. They had not one thing to do to make their peace with God. Jesus had made that peace by His own blood; they had been enemies, but they now were reconciled. What was the object of Jesus in dying, as to all believers? Through death to “present all believers holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in His sight.
Such was the value of the atoning death of Christ to all believers in the First Years of Christianity, and such their knowledge of God. And they had such certainty as to the value of the redemption blood of Christ, that they could so peacefully give thanks. Just hear them. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12-14). Oh, what precious certainty they had in those First Years! How seldom do we see anything like it now. What a separate people they were from the dark, doubting, guilty world around them. They were meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love, in whom, in Christ, they had redemption. Sins were all forgiven. Ah, it was something worth while to be a Christian in those First Years. What completeness, was it not? As it is written, “And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
In those years they had a very exalted conception of the glory of the Person of the Son of God, as giving infinite value to His atoning sacrifice.”Who being the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). That is the starting-point in the Hebrews — the finished work. He has done the work on the cross that puts away our sins forever. The proof of this is clear. He SITS, His work being done, on the right hand of the Majesty on high. There is very little notice taken of this in these last years. It is very important to remember this, when we think of priesthood, or of worship. God has seen to it, God has provided His Lamb. The work that puts away our sins is done. God has accepted that work, and that Person who has done it to His own right hand. What rest to the soul this gave in those First Years.
Another thing was then revealed: that while the offerings of the law could never rend the veil, and bring poor sinful man into the presence of God, Christ having come, by the one offering of Himself on the cross, the veil was rent; sins were purged. The way into the holiest was then opened, and all this was eternal: not for a year, but for eternity. This is all opened up to us in Hebrews 9. For this purpose He appeared “to put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself.”
No person bearing the name of Christ ever thought of questioning the purpose of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the bearing the real judgment of God on sins. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:27, 28). Thus the true doctrine of the First Years was this, That Christ came in the end of the world, or at the end of all the ages of the trial of man; that He undertook to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. This will be yet seen in the new heavens and the new earth, that He undertook and bore the judgment of divine wrath due to the sins of many for this purpose He was offered, the sacrifice for sins, When He appears a second time, there will be no question of sins for those who wait for Him.
All this is abundantly confirmed and applied in the next chapter, Hebrews 10. God could never be satisfied with those many sacrifices of the law which could never purge the conscience from sins. The Son of God says, “Lo I come to do Thy will, O God.” The Son of God came, He offered Himself once the sacrifice for sins, and then in continuance sat down on the right hand of God. Now what was the effect of this one sacrifice to all believers as revealed in the First Years of Christianity?
“By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
This fact is of such immense importance, that we read further, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us,” etc. It was very blessed when men believed this witness of the Holy Spirit; that God in infinite love had sent His Son, in the body prepared for Him, that He might put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; that the Son had done this, and that as to all charge of sins against the believer, the Holy Spirit was Himself a witness, that all believers separated to God by the death of His Son, were perfected forever, or in continuance. Ah, when men no longer believed the witness of the Holy Spirit, then they invented masses, penances, fresh sprinklings, etc., until the witness of the Holy Spirit as to the efficacy of that one sacrifice was forgotten.
Oh the folly, with such scriptures before us, of again offering sacrifices for the living and the dead, that can never take away sins. If we would enjoy peace with God, we must turn away from all these inventions of men, and go back to that which was in the beginning. What folly it is if you are in the dark, to think you must have a priest as dark as yourself, to: offer a mass. There was no such priest, and no such mass in the First Years of Christianity. No, then it was distinctly understood that God said, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” As many as were in the light had fellowship with one another. They knew the whole matter of sins was settled forever, that the blood of God’s dear Son cleansed them from all sin.
It is manifest from the very opening chapters of the history of the sons of fallen Adam, that there could be no approach to God most holy but by the death of a Substitute. Thus Abel came before God through the death of the lamb. Thus did Noah worship God as he stepped out of the ark. Thus did Abraham also through the sacrifice on his altar. Thus only could Israel be redeemed from Egypt by the death of the lamb. It must be killed and its blood sprinkled. And thus for forty years was the lesson taught in sacrifices in the wilderness: that without the shedding of blood was no remission. Yea, for fifteen hundred years this great truth was set forth in every sacrifice on the brazen altar, that death alone can put away sin. And yet all these sacrifices could not in themselves put away sins. All pointed forward to that one Sacrifice that puts away sins forever.
In the prophets they read of a person who should be wounded for transgressions, bruised for iniquities; a Person on whom Jehovah would lay iniquities: One whom the Lord should bruise. (See Isa. 53.) That Person they distinctly taught was Jesus, the Son of God (Acts 8). In a word, the one only foundation of the church of God, then was that “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins”; and that this redemption was not for a time only, but was eternal redemption (Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:12). This great foundation truth runs through the Epistles. All believers then could say, “unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Soon all the redeemed will be gathered around the Lamb in the midst of the throne; yea, and all angelic hosts will say with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”
Reader, are you quite sure you have that “redemption through His blood” here? Then you may be assured you will sing His everlasting praise there. But if not, to whom can you look for forgiveness of sins?

Doors Shut and Lamps Put Out

In reading the Old Testament histories it is important to remember that these things happened, and are recorded, for our admonition. In looking, then, at the history of Judah, during the reign of Aha, we see the most fearful results of backsliding from God. “He burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen” (2 Chron. 28). How terrible! Man cannot turn from God, but be must turn to Satan. “He sacrificed also, and burnt incense in high places” (2 Chron. 28:4). And the nation went with him in this worship of devils. He was delivered into the hand of the king of Syria, and into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with great slaughter, “because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 28:6). Having thus departed from Jehovah, he still adds to his wickedness, in looking to the world to help him. “At that time did king Aha send unto the kings of Assyria to help him” (2 Chron. 28:16). Instead of help, there is only increasing distress — Judah was brought very low. He then proceeded further in wickedness. “For Aha took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria; but he helped him not” (2 Chron. 28:21). How rapid the downward course! “And in the time of his distress did be trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Aha” (2 Chron. 28:22). And this is the downward course of every heart that departs from the living God. Sin cannot be played with. May the Lord use these solemn scriptures, in awakening the spirit of watchfulness, and dependence, in every child of God who shall read these lines. “He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel” (2 Chron. 28:23). Who can tell where departure from God may lead to? Note the sad climax in the downward course of Aha, “And Aha gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 28:24). This was the sad course of Judah’s backsliding — the true picture of every heart that departs from God.
One of the first steps, then, in this downward progress was, the burning the little ones of Judah in the fire of Moloch. Oh, fearful thought to a parent’s heart: the backsliding sin and worldliness of the believer now, may, unless grace prevent, sacrifice his children to everlasting burnings! The true path of faith is very narrow and strait. Satan’s world lies all around on every side. To turn aside is to lead my children into the paths of the destroyer. Oh! think of this, ye parents who take your children to the world’s concerts, and amusements; and think of this as those little eyes watch your ways at home. I believe we cannot depart one step from God without affecting our children. It is no use in such a case to pray for their conversion; this only hardens their hearts, if we ourselves are leading them into the paths of Satan.
As with the history of God’s nation then, so in the history of his children now; departure from him must bring misery and sorrow. The nakedness and captivity of Judah, is a most striking picture of the spiritual condition of the wanderer in heart from God. The captives were indeed restored to the city of palm trees, Jericho. It was beautiful to the eye, but it was the city of the curse (Josh. 6:26). It is so with the child of God. If Satan has ensnared you, no matter what the circumstances, on earth, surrounded with beauty and plenty, yet it is the city of the curse. It is truly awful when the child of God, instead of returning to his Father, still plunges on in wilfulness and sin: he may seek help from the world, but all is in vain. The Lord brings him low; and in the time of distress, to still go on trespassing against God his Father! Such we know is the course of man’s desperately wicked heart. Oh! how true this picture is! When the child of God looks for help to this or that, he finds ruin instead of remedy. Then the progress is rapid. A portion of time for prayer, or reading, or the means of grace, as we say, is given up to business or pleasure. The prevailing passion of the mind begins to get a fast hold in secret over the person; sin now gets such power, that soon the climax is reached; real worship is given up; the doors are shut, and the lamps are put out: and all this may take place, and yet a great show of outward religion. “He shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 28:24). What numbers of the real children of God in this day are in a similar condition, instead of enjoying unhindered worship in the full light of the presence of God, with them it is as though the doors were shut and the lamps put out.
This then, was the state of backsliding Judah, when the history of God’s restoration by Hezekiah began. One would have thought the case utterly hopeless. The confession of Hezekiah is very bitter: “For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of THE LORD OUR GOD, and have forsaken Him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel,” etc. (2 Chron. 29:6-9). Thus he bows, and the priests and Levites with him, before the chastening hand of God. This blessed brokenness of heart before the Lord is a sure sign of restoration.
These words may describe the state of my reader. You may remember the days of your spiritual youth, when the presence of your God and Father was your home and joy; in the light of that presence, you then knew that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed you from all sin. Oh, how sweet it was to pour out your heart to God in praise and thanksgiving. Well, Now! How is it Now? You may be as busy with outward religion as Aha. But have you in secret been turned after sin, the world, or Satan? Is your heart and your eye off the Lord? Is it dark? Have you shut the door practically of the Lord’s presence? the happy, holy liberty of entering with boldness, by the blood of Jesus, into the holiest, within the veil? Is this your place of worship? Hebrews 10:1-23. Or, as to the enjoyment of your soul: Is the door shut and the lamps put out? My reader may say, “This is all true, but it comes very far short of my case. I seem to have gone the whole length of Judah’s sin and departure. My backsliding began so imperceptibly, I was not aware until my poor heart was ensnared with idols. I turned away from the Lord. I gave up prayer, for I could not bear to keep up a false appearance. I plunged into sin, and, oh! the anguish and misery, no words can describe it; since then everything has seemed to go against me. Nothing can give me relief or comfort. I have tried the world in every form, but it helped me not. Truly I am brought low, so low that I have no hope now of being better.” If this should be the state of my reader, may God now deal with him as He dealt with backsliding Judah. As surely as He dealt in chastening with His people then, so surely must He chasten the wandering child now. May there be the same bowing of heart in brokenness before Him. Oh, broken-hearted one, thou mayest boldly come before the throne of grace: there the doors are open and the lamps are lit (Heb. 4:16).
This subject demands plain words. It is no mere theory — sin is a reality; temptation is a reality; human weakness is a reality; backsliding is a reality. But, blessed be God, His grace is a reality that abounds beyond it all.
Man would have said, The work of restoration must begin with breaking in pieces the idols, and in correcting the outward things. God’s work of restoration begins in the holiest. I believe this is a deeply important principle. The real work of restoration must begin in the presence of God, who is still the Father of the wayward child. However the nation had disowned Jehovah-God, He did not disown the relation in which He stood to them. However the child of God now may disown and dishonor the relationship of a child, God can never disown the relationship of FATHER. I never saw this so forcibly as the other day. I found my fellow-traveler on the rails was, and had long been, in deep distress of soul. He had been a Christian many years; and, a happy worshiper within the veil, had long enjoyed the blessed relationship of a child in the Father’s presence. But be had been overcome by sin and plunged in despair. Oh! what need we have of constant, watchful dependence on God. Well, I tried in every way to comfort him in the way my God had often comforted me; but all in vain. He got no relief. I could not understand the case, until one sentence explained it all. He said, “I want to come before God as a sinner, and feel my sin before God!” The thought came with such force — this is nothing else but wanting God to deny his relationship AS FATHER. I tried to show him that, while a sinning Jew of old could most properly say, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), and so an awakened sinner now; but that the sinning child may, and must, come, not as a sinner bearing guilt and condemnation, before God, but as a failing child, in full confidence, to a still ever-loving Father. If the believer sin, the New Testament does not say he has an advocate with God. No; but, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1, 2). What matchless grace is this! What a relationship! Nothing can break it! It is the knowledge of this relationship, even when the believer has sinned, that breaks the heart and restores the soul. Jesus is the propitiation. He has stood my surety, bearing my guilt and condemnation, before God. He has felt my sins before God; has borne them — so borne them, as to cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Psa. 22:1; Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). In that place as a sinner before God I, as His redeemed child, can never come. To go back and, as an unconverted sinner, cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and try to feel my guilt as a sinner before God, surely this must be to set aside the full value of the atonement, and, so to speak, seek one’s own condemnation. Is there any wonder, then, that God cannot own this ground. It would deny entirely the basis on which the Christian now stands as a child. If I could for once stand again before God as a guilty, condemned sinner, I should be lost. For Christ could not die for me again. Once, more blessed truth, He has borne my sin and died for me. I am, by His death, reconciled to God. He is now always my Father. And my only true place before Him, even if I should have sinned, is as a confessing child. I believe it is ignorance of this relationship that keeps numbers in bondage and misery.
To return to our chapter, then. It is most remarkable that the work of restoration begins in the house of the Lord. “And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord (2 Chron. 29:16). “Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify; and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the Lord” (2 Chron. 29:17). My fellow-believer, we have a Great High Priest, who rose from the dead on the first day of the week, yea, the first of months to us, and appeared again unto His weak and timid ones on the eighth day. That blessed High Priest is gone into the inner place of the house of the Lord. I speak not of a place of worship on earth. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which were the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). Oh! my fellow-believer, has sin made you groan? Look up; there is the Living One, once pierced, once dead for your sins. God Most Holy, thy Father, sees that body once broken on the cross, and hears the pleadings of thy righteous Advocate. Oh! how little the backslider thinks of this wondrous One in brightest glory as He pleads for him. But such is the case. And where is the man on earth that could approach this inner place of living light and holiness, but through the living intercession, and precious death, of this glorified Surety-Man, Christ the Lord.
Oh! ye wanderers, ye fallen ones, ye sorrowing, desolate backsliders, the innermost place of His holy presence is opened to you by the presence of Him who bare your sins. Pure grace has thrown open the doors, and a Father’s loving welcome awaits you. There all is light. I think I hear one say, Impossible! I have sinned too deeply. How can I be happy in such holiness and light? For it often happens that a backsliding child of God would own the fullness of grace to an unconverted sinner, and yet, as a child, or, rather, forgetting he is a child of grace, tries hard to find something to bring to God for restoration. But what was the next step in Judah’s restoration? “Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he-goats, for a sin-offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah: and he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the Lord” (2 Chron. 29:20, 21). It was not three, five, or six, but the Hebrew number of perfection, seven, of each kind, that were killed, and their blood sprinkled upon the altar. How much depends on our receiving the testimony of God, to the perfect value of the one offering prefigured by these sacrifices. This is the only ground of restoration and worship. The moment I believe it my soul is restored. The testimony of God was very clearly expressed in these shadows. “The king and the congregation laid their hands upon them” (2 Chron. 29:23). The goats for the sin-offering showing identification, as God had directed in the law. And his words were most plain. “And it shall be forgiven them” (Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35). They knew it was so; for why should they doubt the Word of God? And when the wanderer is thus brought back to God his Father, the Word of God to him is quite as plain. “And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Why, then, should he doubt it? “From all sin.” These are wondrous words of comfort. “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David, king of Israel” (2 Chron. 29:27). What a change! Thus is the deep need of the soul met; not by looking at self — not by improvements of self. But God sets before us the one offering of Christ. The burnt offering sets forth the perfectness of His spotless person, and the devotedness of His heart in voluntarily offering Himself up to God. And just as we see this, the song of the Lord begins and continues. And the result is, bowing of heart in worship. What is there to hinder joy and worship, when I see that He loved me and gave Himself for me — that He has met all my sins perfectly — not some of them, but all of them — that He has identified Himself with me. Yes, it is Christ that the Spirit sets before the backslider, and the moment He is seen again, the soul sings for joy Think how deeply Judah had sunk; and yet now see the effect of these sacrifices, which were but shadows. What joy and profound worship! My fellow-believer, however far thou mayest have wandered, there is surely virtue in the precious blood to bring you, a purged worshiper, into the very presence of God. There is something unspeakably sweet, when the restored soul bows and worships. And now they consecrated themselves and came with thank offerings. Surely nothing is more sweet to our God than thanksgiving. He would have our hearts filled with joy. Does not the rejoicing of Hezekiah and all Judah put us to shame They only had the shadows — offerings that pointed forward; but we have the full knowledge of the true offering of the body of Christ; and yet how little real joy, and worship, and thanksgiving. Yea, many Christians never know the joy and certainty that these Jews had.
The next step (2 Chron. 30) is the celebration of the passover — the feeding on the lamb in remembrance of redemption. Thus “They did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 30:22). What a sight this was, to see backsliding Judah feeding on the Lamb with great gladness. Does it not show us that Christ is not only the object of faith to the one that has wandered, but at once the food of the soul. Nothing yet about fruit or works. It is all Christ. “So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 30:26). Oh what volumes of wondrous grace does all this speak to the poor backslider! The Lord’s presence is still open. The precious blood still speaks perfect peace. The post goes in all haste to invite to come and feed on the Lamb of God. They eat other seven days. Yes, He who is our perfect offering is also our perfect food. We need nothing more than His blood to take away our sins. We need nothing more than His own person to feed our souls. “Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves” (2 Chron. 31:1). This is God’s order. The heart of a wandering child must be broken by the gracious, yet chastening, hand of his Father (Heb. 12:5-8). The soul must be brought into His presence, in the full apprehension of the perfect value of the blood of Jesus. Then filled with joy, then worship and adore. Then feed on Christ with gladness of heart. And then — but not until then — when all this is finished -they brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, “until they had utterly destroyed them all” (2 Chron. 31:1). It is only in the presence of God, feeding on Christ, with joy and gladness, that I can get strength to break in pieces every idol in which my heart might trust. Grace first spreads the feast. “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?” (John 21:15). Man would say to the backslider, Lovest thou Jesus? If so, come and dine in His presence. Not so the ways of our precious Lord with His weak one. Thus was Peter’s self-trust broken to pieces. Confession there must be. It was when the children of Judah kept the feast that they made confession to the Lord God of their fathers (2 Chron. 30).
It is the knowledge of this precious grace of God that gives strength to bring forth fruits. The wandering child has no more power to bring forth fruit than the dead sinner. Fruit can only spring from an ungrieved spirit in communion with Christ. It was so in 2 Chronicles 31. The sacrifices being finished, the soul filled with joy, the joy of communion and worship. The idols are broken to pieces, and then there is abundance of fruits. “And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children brought in abundance of the first fruits” (2 Chron. 31:5). Yea, such was the greatness of the store that the first fruits had to be laid in heaps. “And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps they blessed the Lord and his people Israel (2 Chron. 31:8). Thus these chapters set before us in type God’s gracious dealings with his wandering child. The priesthood of Jesus within the vail for us. Based on the full value of His blood meeting all our sins, past, present, and future — all borne, perfectly borne by Him. The soul that is brought to understand this, in the presence of God, is filled with love, joy, and worship; yea, feeds with unspeakable joy on Christ the Lamb of God. This gives power for practical sanctification. And in separation to God every idol is broken to pieces. All was barrenness and darkness; all now is light and fruitfulness. Oh wanderer! God is still thy Father — His presence still thy home. Jesus still pleads for you. The blood still speaks peace. Still he says, Come and dine. Oh ponder this unchangeable love! Return to thy Father: thou wilt find Him as ready to receive you as in the days of thy first love. The more thy heart rests in His grace, the more freely canst thou confess all to Him. His joy shall be thy strength, and in it shalt thou break every idol. And thus feeding on Him, and abiding in His presence, fruit shall abound to His praise.
It is very instructive to notice the teaching in these chapters, after Judah’s restoration and blessing. “After these things, and the establishment thereof” (2 Chron. 32:1). Well, one would have thought all was ended — the idols broken, and abundance of fruits and good works. So might the child of God think when restored to full joy and communion, feeding on Christ, separated from every idol, and walking with God, abounding in every good work, entering with holy boldness within the veil, his soul dwelling on the precious blood of infinite value, overwhelmed with a sense of the greatness of the finished work of Christ, until he bows in adoring worship, yea, with untold gladness, feeding on the precious Lamb. But ah! “After these things, and the establishment thereof.” Yes, after he is established in the unspeakable grace of God, even then, as one may say, begins the tug of war. “Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself” (2 Chron. 32:1). This is important to bear in mind. In like manner, often in seasons of sweetest enjoyment, Satan is bringing up his hosts to encamp around us, to watch every opportunity to win us to himself. It is very strange, but oft we find it so, that we are more off our guard at such a time of blessing than any other. Now, “when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes, and his mighty men, to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city, and they did help him.” (2 Chron. 32:3). Child of God, do not mistake, Satan means to fight. He can bring hosts of wicked spirits against you (Eph. 6). He can bring bands of men against you (Job 1). He can harass with evil thoughts like fiery darts. Wouldest thou conquer like Hezekiah? Cut off, then, the enemies’ supplies. How sadly the believer may minister to the adversary by supplying him with weapons of temptation. Ah! why shouldest thou supply water to the kings of Assyria? As the people stopped all the fountains, they said, “Why shall the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” (2 Chron. 32:4). And beware lest when Satan comes he should find much opportunity of tempting and harassing you. Whatever gives a handle to Satan, cut it off. “Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken” (2 Chron. 32:5). In times of conflict, what need of being strengthened with might in the inner man! In this day, the wall of separation between the world and the church has been sadly broken down. If the soul would have the victory, this wall must be rebuilt. Yes, as they “raised it up to the towers” (2 Chron. 32:5),” so the believer must build the wall of separation up to the very watch towers: and, like Habakkuk, we need to sit on those watch towers, yea, watch against all conformity to the world (Rom. 12).
The words of Hezekiah are very beautiful here. “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid or dismayed, for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him; for there be more with us than with him. With him is an arm of the flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron. 32:7, 8). And if they thus rested in his words may we not rest ourselves on the words of God? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). This is the great anchor of the soul when passing through conflict — “God is for us.” If we compare this account, in the book of Chronicles, with the account in 2 Kings 18, we find that the best side is chronicled. In the Kings we see what Hezekiah was in himself. The treasures of the sanctuary were given to the king of Assyria; yea, he even “cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it unto the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 18:15, 16). In the Chronicles we see rather what God records about him. Precious grace! while our sins and failures are blotted out, the gift of a cup of cold water in His name is chronicled above. Ye are they who have continued with me in my temptation, said he to them who were too sleepy to watch one hour.
The stopping of the watercourses, the building of the wall, the confidence of faith: these are the points the Spirit chronicles of Hezekiah. Yet after this came the hosts of Sennacherib to invade Jerusalem. Isaiah, who prophesied at this time, gives a full account of the rage and blasphemy of this enemy of God. Let not the child of God put off the armor and suppose the battle is over — we wrestle with wicked spirits in heavenly places. Hezekiah wrestled with wicked men in earthly places. His conflict was but a type of ours. The cities of Judah were taken (Isa. 36:1). This looked very sad after such joy and worship. And sad indeed is the havoc Satan often makes, even amongst the most spiritual children of God. Hezekiah had given way in the matter of the gold of the pillars. Gold covering the stone and the wood was a striking type of Christ, our covering and righteousness. Now, as we are seen of God as to our standing, covered with Christ, “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10),” so practically should we before men put on the Lord Jesus. But only let us give way to Satan the least by putting off Christ, and we shall find instead of this satisfying the devil, he instantly takes advantage, and redoubles the attack. Suppose the believer finds himself in worldly company, he feels beneath the surface there is enmity against Christ. To put on Christ would give offense — Satan whispers, “You had better not name Christ here.” If you listen you fail, and will assuredly receive damage. Which of us has not found this so to our cost? Boldly, yet meekly, to have put on Christ would have secured victory.
This is a very common temptation. Satan seeks first to get our thoughts off Christ, and then, so occupied with ourselves and our failings, that he may persuade us to make less and less profession of the blessed Lord we love. Faith he cannot destroy; whatever advantages he gets, still, with the real child of God, there is trust in Him. This enraged Rabshakeh to madness; he says, “What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?” (Isa. 36:4). Oh! terrible is the host of hell that Satan brings at such a time, to try the faith of the child of God. What threatening, crying, blaspheming, and hoaxing. Rabshakeh’s rage is an exact picture of Satan’s enmity. “Answer him not” (Isa. 36:21),” was the command of Hezekiah. All do not pass through this storm and tempest. It is well for those that do, to remember the trial of their faith is more precious than gold. When the wicked infidel letter was read to the king, he “went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord” (Isa. 37:14). These are two points of immense value to the tried soul seen in the conduct of Hezekiah during this fierce trial. “Answer him not, and spread it before the Lord.”
Silence and Prayer.
When Satan throws out a flood of infidel questions, answer him not, but spread all out before the Lord. Nothing can, at such a time, sustain the soul, but the most entire dependence on God. As Rabshakeh spake of the nations around, so Satan points to this one and that; they once professed to be the servants of God, and where are they? and you are no better, he says; you had better give up all profession of Christ and make a covenant with me — “cast off the restraint of Christ.” Answer him not; get before God in prayer. The prayer of this tried soul is very beautiful: “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art God, even Thou alone” (Isa. 37:15). Oh! it is a blessed place to get before the mercy-seat, and contemplate God there. “Incline Thine ear, O Lord, and hear: open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God,” etc. (Isa. 37:16-20). And the Lord did hear, and did save, and did deliver. The angel of the Lord smote the camp of the Assyrian. Oh! what a relief to the tossed soul when thus brought through torrents of temptation. But the progress of a child of God does not end here. He may have learned the value of redemption; he may have been restored by the intercession of his Advocate to communion in the very innermost presence of God. He may have long fed on Christ, the bread of life. He may have then broken the idols to pieces. He may have abounded in good works. He may then have passed through fiery trial. All this Hezekiah had passed through in the type; but the death lesson had yet to be learned. And so with the Christian: he may have passed through all this, and yet the death lesson of the old man not yet learned. Read, now, Isaiah 38. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death, and the word of the Lord to him is, Thou shalt die and not live (Isa. 38:1). Yes, and after all the blessed enjoyment of Christ we have been speaking of, to find nothing in self, the old man, but corruption and death. This, indeed, makes the believer, who has not learned the death and resurrection lesson, cry out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? Ah! old me, old I, must die, must perish, must be turned to the wall. Poor Hezekiah, he turned his face to the wall and wept sore. Like Job of old, this brings out the leaven of self-righteousness. “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight; and Hezekiah wept sore” (Isa. 38:3). Oh, and it is sore work to learn fairly the death lesson of the flesh. The rage of Rabshakeh without is but a mere trifle compared with the full discovery of the death within. What mourning and pining in secret. For peace, Hezekiah had great bitterness. A new third day life of fifteen years is granted Hezekiah. In a word, death and resurrection is the solemn, yet precious, lesson of this chapter. This history reminds one of the order of the Epistle to the Romans After righteousness, redemption, and justification have been dealt with, in Romans 3-5, still the death and resurrection lessons of Romans 6-7 are needed to introduce us to the full blessed truth of no condemnation in Christ (Rom. 8). I have no hesitation in saying, that though this death and resurrection lesson is the most difficult to learn, alas! how few do learn it; yet it is the most blessed lesson of the Spirit of God. It is truly blessed to learn the value of that precious blood that brings us to God. To feed on Christ with joy and gladness; thus to have strength to break in pieces the idols, and so to taste the sweetness of restoring grace, as to abound in good works. To be sustained of God when passing through fierce conflict. But to learn that we are dead with Christ, and risen with Him; and that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). And that if thus justified there can be no condemnation and no separation. Oh! my fellow Christian, this, THIS is the lesson God the Holy Spirit would have you to learn; and this forgotten truth is the very foundation of Christian doctrine, as taught in the New Testament. Do read Romans 6; 7, and ponder what is involved in being dead with Christ and risen with Him. This is the heavenly key that unlocks all gospel truth. True certain peace with God cannot be enjoyed where this is not known. No longer under law — the power of death — but under grace, bringing forth fruit to God through the power of the risen life. “Dead with Christ” (Rom. 6:8). “Risen with Christ” (Col. 2:12). Ah! this gives peace that the rage of the adversary can never shake.
But as my object in writing this paper was chiefly to address the backslider, if such should be my reader, let me take you by the hand, and lead you into the presence of your Father. You may be ready to say, “It is of no use; it is all darkness. My sun has gone down in the sun-dial of backsliding Ahaz ten degrees.” Well, God shall give you this sign — He shall bring it back. Just as we know that it is not the sun that actually goes down, but the world that turns away from the sun, so is it with the Christian now: Jesus, his Sun of Righteousness, is ever the same; it is himself that turns away: and according to the degree of his backsliding, so is the darkness of his night. He restoreth my soul, and all is light. Come, then. You have wandered; you have sinned. Worship given up; doors shut and lamps put out. I would not hide the fact; sin against God as your Father makes sin more fearful. Do you feel this? The sorrows of Judah were a faithful picture of your own in departing from Christ. But look now within the veil. What an Advocate! “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). It does not say, If any man reform, and deserves an advocate. No; if. And what an if! “If any man sin.” Boundless grace, thus to meet the need of the fallen one! “And He is the propitiation for our sins.” God can never forget Calvary. He who bled and died is the living, tender Advocate. Hark! He pleads His blood. God is faithful to the full value of that precious blood. Oh! what shall hinder now the full outpouring of your heart in confession? He waits, He delights, to forgive. The love of God — the tenderness, the blood of Christ. Do you confess? Jesus claims thy forgiveness. God is faithful. Oh! Have you confessed to Him? Then, on the certainty of the faithfulness of God, thou art pardoned and cleansed (1 John 1:9). Remember the seven bullocks. Oh! ponder well the sacrifice of Jesus — that one perfect offering for sins — all thy sins. Think of that voluntary love. I think the song of the Lord begins in thy heart. Yes, thou mayest sing again, and bow thy head in worship, thanksgiving, and praise. Thou, restored one, art welcome to God. The table is spread. Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19 Cor. 11:24). In sweet communion, feed on the Lamb. Yea, feed again, again. Is thy heart filled with Christ? Oh! still with gladness feed again; abide in Him. Now break the idols. Follow Jesus, heart and soul. Snap goes a band that held you to the world — down goes an idol that drew your heart from Christ. Strike again, and do not spare. God give you entire separation to Himself! And now for fruits. He claims you, body, soul, and spirit. Give all to Him. Seek His glory alone. Seek to please Him — the obedience of faith — the service of love. Oh, how sweet! But take care be not puffed up: torrents of temptation lie before you. You have to march straight through hosts of raging men and devils — men and devils who hate your Christ and hate His truth. Answer them not. Be much in prayer. There is no safety but in entire dependence on God. “With us is the Lord our God” (2 Chron. 32:8).
Human resolutions may all fail in the hour of temptation; but God will never fail the soul that trusts in Him. What calm peace this gives, thus to know God is for us, and God is with us. This can never be enjoyed with a bad conscience. Surely the thought is horrible; allowing known evil and God for us — God with us. What! the child of God cherish one secret sin, and have God approve. Impossible the thought!
Let not my reader mistake: if thou wouldst have victory over the enemy, not one idol must be allowed. Your heart must lean on none but God. “Be strong and courageous; be not afraid nor dismayed” (2 Chron. 32:7). Satan may come like Sennacherib against you: he may roar about past failure: he may seek to frighten with present danger. Poor trembling one, keep up heart; God is for you, God is with you. Ah! and if He turns thy face to the wall, and shows you the deep corruption of thy old nature, even this shall work for thy richest good. It is hard work to fairly give up the life of the old man. “Remember now, O Lord,” says Hezekiah, “I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight: and Hezekiah wept sore” (Isa. 38:3). This may be, too, the struggling in my reader’s heart. If so, no wonder you should, for peace, have great bitterness. No pen can describe the pang of that heart, which, while sincerely seeking to be righteous, finds only corruption, like the boil of Hezekiah.
Poor leper! there is no relief but in owning thyself a leper all over. In our old man, human nature — yes, boasted human nature, morally speaking, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, there is no soundness — all is ruin: wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores. The blessed cross of Christ is the end of this ruin, and His grave its burial. Has my reader well pondered this fact, that God is perfectly justified by the death of Christ, on the cross, in dealing in unbounded grace and mercy. Even the believer that has long traveled the journey, does well to ponder this fact. If God reckons you dead and buried with Christ, is not that enough? Is it not the end of your old self before God — the full end of sin and the curse? The judgment of the most holy God fully borne in death, by Jesus the spotless Lamb of God. If all this is put to the account of the weakest believer, then as to condemnation, he no longer exists. He has been condemned, and put to death, in the person of his substitute. But this is not all. If the death of Christ is the end of my old Adam nature, the resurrection of Christ is the beginning of my new nature. How simple God’s gospel is; how opposite to man’s confusion. Dead with Christ, risen with Christ. These two facts settle everything, as to standing, hope, and walk. As to standing, the believer is simply as Christ is — once dead, now alive forever; once condemned, now no condemnation. Yea, the resurrection of one could not take place, except as the guarantee of the other. Risen with Christ. Sin, death, and condemnation left forever behind Is not this so of Christ? Then is it not so with my reader, if risen with Him? What a justification is this; how infinitely beyond mere pardon! Our sins are forgiven for His name’s sake. This is blessed. But to be risen with Christ, one with Him, complete in Him. As He is, so are we in this world — justified as He is justified; both of one, he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified. If you ask what is justification, Scripture replies, Dead and risen with Christ (Rom. 6; 7). And therefore there is now no condemnation. “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33). Yes, my reader, if you clearly understand what it is to be risen with Christ, death and judgment behind you, as to your standing; it must be the standing of Christ; not as keeping the law on earth, but as risen and in heaven. Where this true simple doctrine of justification by death, and oneness with Christ in resurrection, is not known, all is pitiable confusion. Men will even tell you, though you break the law, yet Christ kept it, and therefore this justifies you — that is, Christ keeping the law justifies you in breaking it. This seems to me to be sheer nonsense, and worse. Where does the scripture speak of Christ keeping the law as a substitute, that the believer, though breaking it, may be justified? I ask, Where? The whole theory is false and unscriptural, and they who teach it cannot appeal to scripture, but to mere human opinion for proof. If I am under the law at all, its authority cannot be maintained except by cursing me. It saith to all that are under it, “The soul that sinneth shall surely die” (Ezek. 18:20). Yes, dead with Christ, risen with Christ. This is the believer’s standing, justified from all that he was; and justified forever in all that he now is, as a new creature in Christ Jesus.
And this, too, is the base of his hopes. He cannot hope for the improvement of that which is ruined and dead, nor does he. No, he waits for the risen Christ, and longs for that day of redemption when, fashioned like Him, he shall see Him as He is, and be like Him. “And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Yes, my reader, so far from the moral law being thy rule of life, it will be found as God describes it — the rule of death (2 Cor. 3:7). As a young man said to me the other night, “I have been trying for twenty-five years to keep the law, as I was told I must, and I have only got worse. I have resolved and prayed when I arose in the morning, and before night I have felt myself so bad that I have been almost in despair.” And is not this the general effect of modern preaching? Now the rule of walk is — dead with Christ, risen with Christ. And most certainly the power of walk is the Spirit of God. But this walk in the Spirit cannot be, if you are put under law, as says the scripture, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law” (Gal. 5:18). But my reader may say, What has all this to do with me as a restored backslider? It has this to do with you: if you allow false teachers to put you under law, you are sure to backslide again. Here are the two things: man would lead you under the law, the Spirit would lead you to Christ. If under law, you break it, and are again entangled in bondage; if led of the Spirit, you bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. Do you ask, “Then am I to break the law? do you mean that I am at liberty to sin?” Far be the thought. (See Rom. 6.) Dead with Christ, risen with Christ. Are you dead with Christ, that you may sin? are you risen with Him that you may sin? The precious pattern and example, Christ! does looking to Him teach you to sin? Dead and risen one, the Spirit leads you to Christ as a new creature, Christ is thy delight. What was the rule of His holy life? The Father’s will. Not merely the law. The law did not command the scenes of Calvary; yet even there the beloved one could say, “Lo, I come to do Thy will” (Heb. 10:9). Let your eye rest on that blessed obedient Holy One. May the Spirit of God keep you pressing toward that mark. I ask, is this antinomianism? Then give me more of it. It is the path that shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day — the path ever hated by man; but blessed are the feet that walk therein.
Dead with Christ, risen with Christ. Lowest thoughts of self, highest thoughts of Christ. As a child of Adam, nothing but sin in me, but dead and buried; as a child of God, risen with Christ, His nature mine, His life mine, Himself mine, my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification, my redemption, my all and in all!
But oh! His love, His love to me, once lost, now found; once dead, now alive again. He loved me and gave Himself for me. Does my heart know His love? Then shall not His will be my delight? How sweet the obedience of faith that works by love! Can we not say we love Him because He first loved us. If there be no power for obedience in that law which could only curse me if I were under it; yet there is power in the blessed Comforter sustaining the heart, in the sweet sense of this grace and love. Oh! my reader, are you redeemed by the blood of Him who loved you, and gave Himself for you? Then he claims thy whole heart, He has given you a new nature, that delights in Himself; He has given you His Holy Spirit, the source and power of fruit to God. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 2:1-3). If ye live in the Spirit, then walk in the Spirit. There can be no enjoyment of communion with God unless we are thus walking in holiness, and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. while the old nature is turned with its face to the wall, may we learn to walk softly and meekly, in watchfulness and prayer, in unfeigned dependence on God, knowing truly our own weakness, but proving also the power of His Spirit; may we be kept from the ways of this evil world, the corruption of our old evil nature, and even from the ways of the professing Church; and thus, “with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (see 2 Cor. 3:18).

The Effects of the Gospel

We have dwelt on the facts of the Gospel in Acts 17, so very contrary to all human plans and theology. As Paul opened the Scriptures, it was not to show what man must do, as in the law of old, but what Christ must needs do: that Christ must needs suffer, and rise again from the dead, and that this Jesus whom he preached is Christ. Let us now see what was the effect of this singular preaching. Did you ever hear preaching of this kind — not a word about what you must do, but all about what Jesus has done?
Let us go back to those early years when Paul, fresh from the heavenly vision, having seen the glorified Jesus, who must, and had died for his sins according to the Scriptures. No doubt the certainty in his own soul carried great weight with it. He was sure he had the authority of God.
Three poor men arrive in the rich, populous, wicked heathen city of Thessalonica. They had been treated as dangerous vagabonds at another city, and were sore with stripes; and so poor and friendless they seem, that they have to labor night and day to get bread.
They had no authority from man nor from the Roman state. They were the disciples of a Man who had been executed in the most degraded and cruel manner There was a Jews’ meeting room, or synagogue, in that city in those days, in which the law of God was read. There was often speaking in that synagogue, but always teaching what man was to do to attain to righteousness; not one speaker or hearer had ever been known to attain to righteousness before God.
For three sabbath days these poor men went into that synagogue. Never had such preaching been heard in that city before. It was a strange contrast to all that had ever been heard there. It was not what they must do, as we have seen, not one word of the kind; yet it was just the thing needed. Many felt they needed salvation first, and fruits would follow. All that is said, however, is that they believed the preaching, and consorted with Paul and Silas — a great multitude. These poor men soon had to flee for their lives as usual from the cruel hatred of the Jews, who could not endure such doctrine. They would rather seek after righteousness by their own works.
God ordered that an inspired letter was sent by these poor men to all these believers, as soon as they had heard from them. And as this is just a sample of the effect of the preaching of Paul, and others with him, in the First Years of Christianity, it is a great privilege to have such an inspired letter, showing the immediate effects of the true gospel in those days. This Assembly at Thessalonica does not seem to have had any further human help until Timothy was sent to see how they did (1 Thess. 3:2).
So that all we read of are the effects of a few weeks’ preaching in a heathen city, given up to demon worship. We shall also find in this letter a good outline of the teaching of the apostle to such as are saved.
The first thing that strikes one is, that all these believers are at once brought into the position of the Assembly in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. This Assembly was gathered out from Jews and Gentiles by these few weeks’ preaching. This, as we see elsewhere, was the work of the Holy Spirit. There are no jarring sects or parties, but the one Assembly in that city, and in such a blessed relationship in the Father and in Jesus Christ. And their condition was such that Paul could give thanks to God always for them all, making mention of them in his prayers.
And what was the effect of this singular preaching as to good works? He says: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1 Thess. 1). It must be right seed that produced such fruit as this. There could be no uncertainty as to their election of God. For the gospel he preached, so different from anything ever heard before, was not “in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.
Now this is never the case where a mixture of law and grace is preached, but it is always a vague hope, and all is uncertainty. No such uncertainty accompanied the true gospel in those first years. The full assurance of salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit always leads the happy believer to long to make it known to others.
Thus, though the apostle had to leave them, yet the word of the Lord sounded out from them over a larger district than all Yorkshire. And note another effect. These poor heathen were turned to God, from idols, “to serve the living and the true God.” Was not this wonderful? Did not God set His seal to His gospel in this marvelous result?
But were there no worldly advantages held out to these first Christians? Not a single earthly advantage, but the very opposite. It was “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come”.
They, as everywhere, received the word in much affliction and persecution, and with only one hope before them, the return of the Lord Jesus, the coming of the Lord. Nay, Paul himself had no other hope, as he says: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”
Oh, those first years: how different from these last days! One marked difference was this: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God,” etc. Is it not generally the opposite of this now? Doctrines are believed, because certain men teach them. What should we think of a child, if a father sent him a letter, and he said, “I will believe it if the servants say it is so”?
Let it not be supposed from the gospel preached — of salvation entirely through what Christ had done — that when these hearers were born again, were saved, were justified forever from all things, that they were not then taught to walk as children of God. No, Paul says: “As ye know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.” As he says elsewhere: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works,” etc. (Titus 3:8). The order is this: first, the grace of God bringeth salvation to all men; secondly, this teaches us to lead a holy life; and thirdly, to look for the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord. (See Titus 2:11, 12, 13.) How simple this was in the first years.
Such was the order, and such the effect in Thessalonica. First, the free sovereign favor of God, bringing salvation; all accomplished by Christ, not a word of doing or law-keeping. Secondly, they were, when saved, exhorted to walk worthy of God, who has called them unto His kingdom and glory. And thirdly, they were separated to God to wait for Jesus from heaven. And the power of the truth was so great that it spread in all directions.
The more we study this epistle to these young converts from Jews and Gentiles, the more wonderful we see the effects of the gospel Paul preached. Just a few weeks’ preaching, and a multitude of believers was the result, and every one of them in holy separation to Christ. Is there any town or city now on this earth, that answers to this? With all the vast machinery and privileges of these last days, can we find even a village where ALL the believers are separated, gathered to Christ; with no sect or party in it, but all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all enjoying the full assurance of faith, all waiting for Jesus from heaven? Where shall we look for the Christianity of these first years? How many cities may be found where there is not one believer really separated to the name and Person of Christ, and not one really waiting for Him from heaven; where it would be difficult to find anything that really answers to the first years? We must own the truth of this.
The Holy Spirit has not left on record the manner or order of their meetings for worship or teaching. We may, however, learn from Acts 17, that soon after their conversion, Paul and his companions had to escape by night (vs. 10). Neither do they seem to have had the least help from any other servants of the risen Christ, except the visit of Timothy (1 Thess. 3:1, 2). Yet there were those among themselves which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.
And they were to esteem them very highly. And they were enabled to edify one another (1 Thess. 2:11-14). We shall find this in keeping with other epistles we may shortly notice.
Thus though we have not an exact description of a meeting for worship and edification, yet they had both, without the arrangements of modern Christendom. And it would be a most important inquiry, to examine the Acts and the epistles, to see what we can learn as to the way in which the Assemblies came together in the First Years of Christianity. Have you ever done this, beloved reader? We are so liable to take for granted that what each of us has been brought up in, is the right and scriptural thing, without ever comparing it with the Word of God. At present our inquiry is more connected with the effect of a full unconditional gospel such as Paul the apostle preached. We have seen the effect to be marvelous.

Election

“Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rom. 9:15).
It is not for the sake of controversy, or to examine or defend human opinions on this deeply interesting subject, that we take it up; but with a sincere desire to help perplexed souls. A few days ago we received a letter from such an one, and as it is a fair sample of the effect of mere doctrinal teaching, we will give extracts. The writer says, “I have been greatly distressed about “election.” I know I am a sinner, and as such quite undone and lost, and that there is nothing in me to recommend me to God. I want to be saved. I am often in great fear lest the Lord should come for His people, and leave me behind. I know that the Bible says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, but I have heard it said, that it is not scriptural to say that Christ died for the sins of all men; and if He did not die for all, how can I believe He died for me? Because it is no use to believe — I could not believe without a firm foundation for faith to rest upon; I mean, if He did not die for me, how could I believe it? If you knew how very anxious I am, I think you would feel for me, and try to answer me. What I want to know is this — how can persons know that the Lord Jesus Christ died for them personally, when there is nothing in them to make it likely?... As I write, I feel how hopeless it is to try anymore. I cannot help feeling in despair about it, because I have gone on so long, and have years ago professed to be a Christian... I fear I am like the ground spoken of in Hebrews 6, that only bears “thorns and briars.” If you think there is any hope for me, do try and help me.”
Is it not most sad for a person to go on in this state of perplexity year after year? It is not often we meet with the same depth of anxiety, but this letter truly expresses the perplexity of great numbers. We are convinced that the root of all this confusion of mind and distress of soul, is occupancy with self. Here is evidently a quickened soul, finding nothing but thorns and briars in the flesh, or old self. Not one bit of good in self that could have been a motive for Christ to die for. However painful it may be, this lesson must be learned; sooner or later the quickened soul must be brought to say, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18). And there is no help found for the flesh in scripture; so we cannot help the writer of the letter; it is not, Who shall help me? but, “O wretched man that I am! WHO SHALL DELIVER ME from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). The Lord Jesus is not revealed as the helper of the flesh, but as the complete Deliverer, bringing us into a new creation, giving us eternal life, a new nature, and the Holy Spirit. (Compare Rom. 7:18-24 with Rom. 8:1-4).
Before we look at the important subject of “Election,” we feel it would be well to examine the difficulties of the writer. We believe it is a sure mark of the work of the Holy Spirit to be able truly to say, “I am a sinner, undone and lost.” Can the reader say this, whether of sinful self or religious self? Have you tried, until you are undone, lost? This is a fearful word, yet it was for such alone that Jesus died. He “came to seek and to save that which was lost. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” The joy of Jesus is this, “I have found My sheep which was lost.” If, then, the writer of the letter, or the reader of this paper, has discovered that he is lost, ungodly, without strength, then it is clear from scripture that Jesus died for you; He came to seek and to save you.
We will pass over for the moment “other things, such as strong Calvinists hold,” which had always been such a hindrance. More of this by-and-by. Most assuredly the Lord Jesus is coming to take His people, and no pen can describe how terrible it will be to be left behind. With such a certainty, believing the scriptures which announce the coming of the Lord, we do not wonder at those words, “I want to be saved.” These are not the words of the self-righteous, or of the careless professor, or the language of the infidel; clearly not. But, reader, can you say they are your words? The Lord is certainly coming quickly to take His people — He says so. Can you say, with the writer of the letter, “I want to be saved. I am often in great fear lest the Lord should come for His people, and leave me behind”? If you know you are saved, you cannot say so: your privilege is to wait for Him from heaven. Do you say, I do not know I am saved, and I do not want to be, and I am not afraid to be left behind? Then really you are self-righteous, careless, or an infidel. But to return to the letter.
The writer says, “‘I know that the Bible says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.’“ The scripture says this, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31). It is not enough to know that the Bible says so; the devils know that well enough, and the infidel knows that. But does the writer know that God says so — that it is God speaking to us in the Bible? Now, if God says so, is it not true? Then if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as a lost sinner, God speaks to you; He says you shall be saved. Do you doubt Him? The jailor understood it to mean just what God said, and he was baptized at once. He raised no questions; “he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” If he believed and rejoiced, why should you doubt?
“But,” says the writer, “I have heard it said that it is not scriptural to say that Christ died for the sins of all men, and if He did not die for all, how can I believe He died for me?” etc. It is perfectly true the scriptures never speak of the death of Christ as the substitute, or for the sins of all men. Yet this was no hindrance to the apostles proclaiming the gospel of forgiveness of sins unto all, with the assurance of God that all who believe are justified from all things. There can be no question that this was the character of the gospel Paul preached. He so preached to the multitude at Antioch. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38). Here, then, is a distinct message, direct from God, of forgiveness of sins to all men, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And the question is simply this — Do you believe God? If so, it is most certain that you are justified from all things — you are accounted righteous before God. And you know it is so, for God says it.
But you say, “How am I to know personally that Christ was the Substitute for my sins? If He were not the Substitute of all men, how am I to know that He was so for my sins?” We will tell you shortly; only note first, if the scriptures did teach that He was the Substitute of all men, you would be far more uncertain; for it is evident many are not saved, and therefore, if He had been the Substitute of all, and yet many of these were forever lost, then His dying for your sins would have been no security of your salvation, for after all you might be lost. Surely the scripture truth is better, that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of MANY” — “having obtained eternal redemption for us.” And that “by one offering He hath perfected forever THEM that are sanctified.” God says, “And THEIR sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12). Thus the scripture doctrine of the one sacrifice of Christ for the sins of many has secured for them eternal redemption, while the human doctrine that Christ was the substitute (or sacrifice) for the sins of all, secures nothing! And hence all the make-weights of sacramental and ritualistic religion of men.
Much of this doctrinal confusion arises from not seeing the order and distinction of propitiation and substitution. On the day of atonement the order was this: first, the blood sprinkled on the golden mercy-seat; then, afterward, the sins of the people put upon the substitute (Lev. 16). Propitiation first, then substitution; both, doubtless, pointing to the one sacrifice of Christ. But the first thing to be secured was the righteousness of God in showing mercy. How could He be a just God and a Savior? Now, as the victim must be killed, and its blood brought into the most holy, and sprinkled on the mercy-seat before God, so Jesus glorified God by His death. His blood was thus brought before God — sprinkled before Him. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [or mercy-seat], through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God: to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26). Now in this aspect Christ died for all; so that mercy and forgiveness is proclaimed to all. It is of immense importance to see this, “even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, UNTO ALL, and upon all, them that believe, for there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22). This is important foundation truth. Such is the value of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, that the mercy-seat is open to all, without any difference; and God is just, and the Justifier of all that believe. The efficacy of that atonement, even the righteousness of God, is upon all who believe. God is righteous, is just, is glorified in meeting all, for there is no difference, at that propitiatory mercy-seat. There is no uncertainty about this as to the propitiation. “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Before, then, we go on to the death of the Lord Jesus as our Substitute, do we own the deep need of that atoning death, to maintain the gory and righteousness of God, in proclaiming mercy to all? And, further, this mercy-seat is open to all, without any difference — the propitiation for the whole world. These are the very words of Jesus: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” So far, then, all is clear: the righteousness of God is revealed in the glad tidings of God to every sinner on earth, for also as to them there is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Is the writer of the letter a sinner? Then clearly the righteousness of God proclaims forgiveness of sins to you. Do you believe God? Has this amazing love of God in the gift of His Son, that death on the cross as the propitiation for the whole world, and pardon through that precious blood — oh, has this goodness of God led you to repentance? Have you come, as a lost, undone sinner, to that mercy-seat open to all? Do you believe God? Then God says you are “justified from all things.” How simple. Are you a sinner? Then forgiveness is proclaimed to you. Do you believe it? If you believe God, you may now go on to the second aspect of the death of Christ, and there see Him, the Substitute of His people, bearing their sins in His body on the cross (see 1 Peter 2:24).
This was typified by the people’s goat, the people’s substitute. Read Leviticus 16:20-22. The sins of the people are transferred to the goat — all the iniquities of the children of Israel are laid on him — and the goat bears them away, to be remembered no more. Now it is clear that if the Lord Jesus thus bore the sins of all men; or, if all the sins of all men were laid upon Him, and borne away, to be remembered no more, then all men would be saved. But the scripture never says so. As in the type the substitute bearing away sins was limited to the children of Israel, so the true substitution of Jesus is limited to those who believe and are saved. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” His “blood was shed for many.” “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many “ Thus, while the death of Christ, as the propitiation, is for the whole world, and God is infinitely glorified in proclaiming mercy to all, and there are no bounds to His love in the gift of His Son, that whosoever believeth should be saved; yet, as Substitute, the sins of all men were not laid on Him, and therefore it does not follow that all will be saved.
We now take up the writer’s inquiry, “If Christ did not die for the sins of all men, how am Ito know He died for me — that He was my Substitute? And how am I to know that my very sins are forgiven, to be remembered no more?” This being settled, the way will be clear for the full consideration of the important subject of Election.
We have seen that on the day of atonement one goat typified the death of Christ, meeting the righteousness of God, and glorifying Him in showing mercy to the whole world; and the other goat, Jesus, the Substitute of His people’s sins. The glory of God has surely the first place, and then the sinner’s need is fully and forever met. The scriptures speak of Jesus as the propitiation for the whole world, and also the bearer of the sins of many; the righteousness of God set forth in that propitiation in Romans 3:21-26; the substitution of Jesus for His people’s sins in Romans 4:24, 25; and the effect of knowing and believing this in Romans 5:1-3. We have also seen that the mere human tradition that Jesus died for the sins of all men gives no comfort, for all men are not saved. Then the solemn inquiry is this — How am Ito know that Jesus died for my sins?
The answer is in these words, “But for us also, to whom it (righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24, 25). Righteousness is declared to be imputed unto us if we believe God, or, believing God, who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. We observe, even here, it is God revealed to our souls to faith, God who raised up Jesus. We can never know that our sins are forgiven by looking at Jesus on the cross now: He is not now on the cross. If He be on the cross now, there is no forgiveness. Satan knows this, and therefore multiplies pictures and images of Jesus on the cross. He has died once on the cross, or there could be no salvation. But if He is not risen from the dead, your faith is vain, and ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:14). With a Christ on the cross there could be no salvation. Now, who gave His Son? God. Who provided the Lamb, the atoning propitiation? God. Who so loved the world? God. Who has accepted the one sacrifice? God. Who raised the Holy, Righteous One from the dead? God. Who proclaims forgiveness of sins through that glorified Christ? God. Who declares all that believe are justified? God. Who is the Justifier, that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead? God. If you believe God, then it is most certain that you are one whose sins Jesus bore on the cross once, but who can die and suffer for them no more. God has declared them put away as to any charge on you again, or on Him who bore them in His own body on the tree. If you believe God, then, you say, looking up at that Man in the glory, “Who was delivered FOR OUR offenses, and was raised again FOR OUR justification.” Jesus, the Substitute; Jesus risen, the Representative. As a believer you can now see your sins were transferred to Jesus when He was delivered for our offenses, and as the goat bare them away, no more to be brought back, so Jesus was raised from the dead, and our sins can no more be laid to our charge; thus, accounted righteous on the principle of faith, we have peace with God. The believer knows this is true of him individually, because it is true of all who believe God, and therefore must be true of him.
Some of our readers may say, This is hardly what we expected, it seems to us like setting aside Election. Indeed it is not. If, instead of reasoning, we simply bow to scripture, we shall find these two things run on together -man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty.
On God’s part infinite wrath against sin, and infinite love to the sinner, have been revealed in the death of Jesus. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:9-14-6. Read also John 3:14-16). Is not God’s love toward the world fully declared by the Lord Jesus? He must be lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” These are the words of Him who cannot lie — who is the truth. This, then, was God’s distinct purpose in the propitiation of the Lord. Jesus. The bitten Israelite had not to inquire, How am I to know that Moses lifted up the serpent personally for me? No; for it came to pass that whosoever looked, lived. Is it not even so of Jesus, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life?
Now, would it not be most monstrous to say that man is not responsible to believe God? What, not to believe such revealed love, and forgiveness of sins preached through Jesus?
But can the grace of God toward all men, and Election, both be true? Certainly, and equally true, because both are revealed in the Word of God. The supper was a great supper, and many were bidden; all refused, and made their excuse — not one accepted; but all were not compelled to come in. Here is the whole question in this well-known parable (Luke 14:16).
The fact is, man is so desperately wicked, that left to his own free choice, he will not believe God; he will not come to the great supper of God’s salvation; he will not receive Christ as his Savior. God did not make him so. Man’s condition is the result of his own sin. He believed Satan, and disbelieved God. However light man may make of sin, his own condition of hatred to God is the proof of the terribleness of sin. It would enlarge our subject beyond our limits, or we might see how, when the world had become utterly corrupt before God, when left to itself, that but one family was saved in the ark. We might then see how man’s free choice built its tower of Babel, and, though they were dispersed, they soon sank into idolatry and wickedness. Then, how God took out one man, and said, I will bless this man Abram. Neither would it be possible to deny that God made him the father of the elect nation of Israel. Strange to say, no one seems to deny this, or that there are elect angels. What men do so hate is the election of the predestined children of God.
We will come, then, to the teaching of the New Testament on this subject. As we said, man left to his own free, natural choice, will not have Christ. He must be born again. This was found to be so, even of Israel, in the most favorable circumstances. God sent His Son to His own elect nation, to those whose prophets had foretold Him; and what do we read? “He came unto His own, and His own received him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons 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 1:11-13).
Man has thus been tested. God was in Christ, inviting man, reconciling, not imputing trespasses unto them, but they received Him not. Nay, from the manger to the cross, man’s hatred and rejection grew worse and worse. And the new birth by the Spirit explains how any believed on Him, and were saved. By man’s free, natural choice, not one received Him, though, on God’s part, all was infinite love and grace.
Jesus, in the midst of rejection, had perfect rest of heart in the Father’s will. What words are these? — “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out.” (John 6:37). Again, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which path sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day... Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” “As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him.” “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.” What calm repose in the midst of such billows of human hatred and rejection! He knew the righteous Father, and He knew that not one of those the Father had given Him would be lost.
Are not both things, then, equally true — that all that the Father gives to Him shall come to Him, and also, he that cometh to Jesus shall in nowise be cast out? The gospel is thus freely preached to all — “That through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, etc.”; then we read, “and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:38, 39, 48). Why should we take one of these truths, and not the other? or, why should we seek to alter either? Some would say, Do not preach the gospel to all, only to the elect. Paul preached it to all alike, and declared that all who believe are justified. Others would alter the latter, and say, As many as believe are then ordained to eternal life. But it is not so; “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Surely we have no right to alter God’s word to suit human opinions. And yet there is nothing to hinder a truly anxious soul, for forgiveness is preached to all, and all who believe are justified; and further, they have clearly been ordained to eternal life, for none else will believe -none else will come to Him that they might have life.
“God NOW commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Men will not either believe what God says, or repent. If God had therefore left the matter in uncertainty, so to speak, to man’s free choice only, and man so desperately wicked that he will not have the salvation of God, then evidently none would have been saved. If we turn, however, to some verses expressly concerning God’s elect, we shall find that this is not, and cannot be, the case.
Let us carefully note that it is not a question of persons merely, but that God had a most wonderful purpose. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” Is not this wondrous, that out of a world which has killed the Holy One, and rejected the very mercy of God, and when He might justly have left all to perish everlastingly, that God has taken out of them those whom He foreknew, and predestinated them to such glory as to be conformed to the image of His Son? Surely this must astonish angels. Thus, after man’s rejection, we have salvation absolutely of God. The source entirely of God. “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom be justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30). To accomplish this purpose of infinite grace He spared not His own Son. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” This amazing truth bows the heart in profound worship. What a golden chain-predestinated, called, justified, glorified! All of God — accomplished by the death and resurrection of His own Son. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again,” etc.” What a joy to know that God is thus for us, and that He cannot change!
Nothing can separate us from His eternal love in Christ Jesus. But does not this imply that God has predestinated some to be lost? Certainly not. There is no such thought in scripture. The reason why some perish is their own deliberate rejection of the truth. Scripture is quite plain and clear on both these points.
First, as to them that perish, it is, “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10, and read carefully the context). Could words be plainer than these? If the reader shall perish everlastingly, then remember, it is BECAUSE you received not the love of the truth. Yes, God is love, and you would not believe Him. You may ask, But if I am saved, is the reason as distinctly stated? Indeed it is; these are the words, “Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). Thus all supposed merit is taken from man. If left to his own free choice, he deliberately rejects and despises the gospel of God; and the reason why any are saved, is the sovereign choice of God. Such is the distinct teaching of the Word of God, whether we believe it or not.
We are very sorry that such dreadful things have been said as those the writer of the letter refers to. There is no such thought in scripture as that God had created some that He might be glorified in their destruction. As to such cases as, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, we will look at these presently, if the Lord will. No doubt very erroneous things are said about such scriptures. In the meantime we fail to see how the truth of God’s abounding, sovereign, electing grace can, for a moment, discourage an anxious, thirsty soul, for to such the gospel of God’s free, present, and eternal forgiveness is preached. And God declares all that believe are justified from all things. The whole world still rejects Jesus, as they did at the Jews’ feast in John 7; but did He not, on the last day, that great day of the feast, stand up in the midst of the rejecters, and cry? Yes, Jesus “cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” Yes, in the midst of the rejection of this day also, if there be only one man that thirsteth, there is the evidence; yes, if this is the reader’s case, there is the evidence of the Spirit’s work in your soul. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to create this thirst for Jesus. Come, then, to His bosom; oh, yes, Come to me, He says, and drink. And this is not all: “He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:3, 8). We will now examine some scriptures concerning which strange mistakes have been made (Rom. 9-11). These chapters are given to explain what appears like a contradiction. The present dispensation of the grace of God, which makes no difference between Jews and Gentiles, would seem to those ignorant of dispensational truth as a contradiction to the abounding national promises to Israel, in the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets. All are now found guilty, both Jews and Gentiles; and the righteousness of God is revealed to all alike in the gospel. These chapters explain that this is only for a time. And more, that God is now acting in sovereign, electing grace; and not only so, but that He has done so from the beginning.
No one can deny that it was an act of sovereign choice when God called Abram, and said unto him, I will bless thee. So again, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” God did choose Isaac; He did not choose Ishmael. These are undeniable facts. This is still more distinctly stated as to Jacob and Esau. Let us read the verse carefully. It is sometimes said that it was written before they were born, that God hated Esau, and loved Jacob; but this is not so. “But when Rebekah. also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth); it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” It was said unto her — unto Rebekah — The elder shall serve the younger. (See Gen. 25:23). But it was more than thirteen hundred years after this that it was written, even in the very last prophet, Malachi, “as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Surely God’s love to Jacob did not lessen the wickedness of Esau in despising his birthright. Now what is there for man to carp at here, except his own ignorance? How often has this scripture ignorantly (it may be) been misquoted as though it was written before Esau was born, that God hated him, but, when examined, it is found to be altogether different. This does not deny, or alter the fact, that all the natural seed of Abraham were not called to inherit the blessing. Ishmael was not chosen, Isaac was: “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” So Jacob, being unborn, was elected to the blessing. These are simple facts, and to deny the sovereign right of choice to God, would be to set aside God altogether. Equally true is it that the Spirit of God, writing about these two men as men, and their posterity, hundreds of years after, one of whom greatly valued the blessing, and the other most shamefully despised it, says distinctly that God did not approve of or love these two men both alike. “Is there unrighteousness with God? God: forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Can anything be more blessed than this? Man will have no mercy on himself. Man goes marching to everlasting woe. Thousands around us may be seen doing this-old and young. It is a dreadful fact. What, that tottering old man, just about to pass forever from this scene, with eternity before him, has he no compassion on himself? No, none. He spurns and rejects the love of God. He will have the world; he will have sin. His whole will is against God. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” This is grace, the free favor of God. He showeth mercy to the man that has no mercy for himself. It is not man, the sinner, that chooses God, but God that chooses the sinner. There can be no question as to this, even as Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). What a spring of everlasting joy to our souls then! It is God that showeth mercy. Dear Christian reader, ponder this well. Thus in every way it is not what we are to God; neither is it our willing, or running, for our running is only to do evil (Rom. 3:10-19). It is God that showeth mercy; to whom He will show mercy, or all must perish. No man is found that has mercy on his own soul. God hath chosen those who never would have chosen Him. Oh, the riches of His grace! He hath chosen us when obstinate, ignorant, hell-deserving sinners; and as objects of His mercy, has brought us into His everlasting favor.
Yes, the objector may say, but this scripture not only says, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,” but it also says, “and whom he will he hardeneth.” What about Pharaoh? As this is a butt against which the infidel knocks his poor head, let us carefully examine what is written concerning Pharaoh. “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Who was this Pharaoh that was raised up to such world-wide notoriety, and on whom fell so heavily the judgment of God? For it is indeed written of him that God hardened his heart; and whom He will He hardeneth. One verse of scripture will bring this’ man in his true character before us. “And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2). Here, then, we have a bold infidel king, who defies the living God, who lifts up his voice and puny arm to resist God in the deliverance of His chosen people. Was God unrighteous in punishing this daring rebel against His government and authority? Would it even be consistent for any earthly government to tolerate such a daring rebel? Now, what sheer ignorance it is to make a difficulty about the punishment of this blasphemer against God! And note, the Pharaohs were the most cruel despots the world ever saw. One was the wholesale murderer of babes. Oh, those cruel words of his! “If it be a son, then ye shall kill him” (Ex. 1:16). Was it not in righteousness that God destroyed such human monsters? “God heard their groaning. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them,” etc. (Ex. 3:7). What a record of the kindness of God in delivering from the cruel oppressor; and yet the natural man sees nothing in God to admire!
We are ashamed to give an illustration, the thing is so plain; but suppose an infidel blasphemer were to get such power in any country, that he openly defied the government of that country, and he and his followers went about slaying every male infant in the land; would there be loud complaint if that government destroyed such a monster? Not only did one murder the infants of Israel, but the other rejected the message of God. It is not a little remarkable that these are the exact sins also of the Jews at this day. They too have given up the Lord Jesus to be crucified; and more, have rejected the message of God. They, too, are given up for the present to hardness of heart. It was not for that awful murder: for that cross which manifested man’s deepest wickedness, brought out God’s richest grace-free, full, ever lasting forgiveness to those who had put to death the Lord Jesus. They would not believe the message of mercy. No, after such wickedness, they went about to establish their own righteousness!!
But what is the meaning of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh? We shall understand this better by turning to another Pharaoh that is about to appear in this world, and to the certain doom of the many Pharaohs of that day; nay, do not such Pharaohs already abound? The daring wickedness of this coming wicked one will be terrible, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God.” (Read 2 Thess. 2:4-12.) Oh, how many shall be deceived by him! and just as Pharaoh rejected the message of God, so do these; and “because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Thus God hardens the heart, gives it up to strong delusion; and why? Because His message of love has been rejected. This is a solemn question for the times in which we live. Are there not many would-be Pharaohs? Plainly this world is as guilty of the murder of Jesus as Pharaoh was guilty of the murder of the infants. Are there not many who are saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?... I know not the Lord.” Is not this the very sin that marks these last days? Disputing the authority of the Word of God; and this is equally true of the infidel and the professedly religious. The infidel so hates the truth, that he would destroy it if he could. And, oh, how many secretly say, Who is the Lord that I should obey His word? — we will not hear Him, but we will hear what we call the church! We will not believe the free forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus. We will not believe that His one sacrifice forever perfects those that are sanctified by His one offering; but we will have priests of our own, who shall again continually offer sacrifices that can never take away sins. Yes, all this terrible wickedness is after Pharaoh. Who is the Lord that we should hear His words? This religious rejection of the truth is growing stronger, and will end, as foretold, in everlasting destruction.
Thus not a sentence of God’s word shall fail. It is most blessedly true that He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy; and it is also solemnly true that whom He will He hardeneth. Ah, should a careless despiser of His grace read this, beware lest He take you away with His stroke! Remember, it is not God electing you to be lost, but your own willful, wicked determination to reject His truth. And before you lay down this paper, the church of God may be taken away, and you may be left to be given up to strong delusion to believe a lie. Nay, take care that you are not even now believing a lie. Oh, how long has God borne with the willful wickedness of man in mercy! as it is written, “What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory.” Thus the despising, defiant Pharaohs prepare themselves for everlasting woe, and God deals with them as they deserve in righteousness. If He dealt with all personally in righteousness, all must he lost. But He can, yes, does, exercise His blessed prerogative, “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy.”
And note, it is not written that He makes one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor. It is an ignorant, if not worse, mistake to say so. What is written is this, that He is sovereign, that is, that He hath power to do so — has right to do so. Now, is it not evident, as we are all by nature rebels, sinners, rejecters of God, and despisers of His grace, that if God left us all to our own free will, and dealt with us as we deserve in absolute righteousness, we should all have perished, and thus Christ would have died in vain? Surely, then, it should bow every believer’s heart in worship, that “He hath mercy on whom He will.” Oh, how blessed! when we should never have chosen God, God hath chosen us in Christ before the world began.
We now turn to the Word of God, and our inquiry is this: To what hath the Father in eternity chosen us in Christ? To what is the church elected? That the election of the church was in the beginning in eternity is most certain from scripture. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13, 14). Thus the ultimate purpose of God was, that these chosen ones should obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a salvation! What a purpose! Chosen from the beginning. The Holy Spirit, the blessed One by which they were sanctified, as to the new birth, separation to God, and growth in grace — “Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.”
It may be asked, How could the apostle thus give thanks for these Thessalonian believers? How did he know their election of God? He tells us, “Knowing, brethren, beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance... And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost” (1 Thess. 1:5, 6). Further marks of their election of God were found in that the word of the Lord was spread abroad by them, and they were turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven. Here were the proofs of their election of God. Beloved reader, can you say it is so with you? Has the gospel that Paul preached ever come with power to your soul? You will find the gospel that he preached to them in Acts 17:2-4. Has the Holy Spirit ever made known to you the deep need of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus? The blessed news that through Him is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins — that all who believe God are justified from all things? Have you received the word with joy of the Holy Spirit? Have you cast in your lot with the Lord’s people, following the Lord as they did? Is that word of the Lord so precious to you, that it is your delight to be making it known all around? Have you been turned to God from all the idols to which your heart once clung, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven? If you can say, through the amazing grace of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, all this is true of you, then these are the same marks as those by which Paul knew their election of God.
All this is so entirely contrary to the natural man, that it must be of God. You would, like the world around, have refused to have received the love of the truth, that you might be saved, if God had not from the beginning chosen you to salvation. To God be all the praise; to you rest and peace. Before we look at the purpose of God expressly as to the church, we will turn to another scripture that may give strength and comfort to the individual believer.
We will take a scripture in that epistle which describes man’s utterly lost and guilty condition before God, and also treats especially of the righteousness of God in the sinner’s redemption through the blood of Jesus, and His complete justification by His resurrection from the dead.
Here it is found that man is saved and justified on the ground of the free favor of God. Now, from such a company, where all were alike guilty, what a revelation of infinite grace is this! “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” This was the predestined thought of God — I will have a company out of that world of vile sinners, who shall be like my Son. He shall be the firstborn among them; yes, they shall be conformed to the image of my Son! (See Rom. 8:29-39.) And let it not be surmised that this means that God predestined them after they believed the call, or because they believed it. No, that would be no predestination, as is further shown in the next verse, that the predestination surely was before the call. “Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Now bear in mind, that if God had dealt in righteousness personally with every one of these, they must, as enemies, ungodly, and despisers of God, have perished everlastingly. All, therefore, was pure grace to these. “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy.” “What shall we say to these things; if God be for us, who can be against us?” Yes, if such a God as this be for us — “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all... who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is be that condemneth? It is Christ that died, etc.” Let us pause, and contemplate God predestinating poor ungodly sinners to be conformed to the image of His Son— even now accounted righteous before Him without condemnation. To accomplish this in righteousness, He spared not His own Son. Nothing can separate us from such love as this. Shall we say it is dangerous for the believer to be acquainted with all this?
We will now turn to another epistle, where the church of God is especially revealed; and that, not only what it will be, but what it is even now, seen in its heavenly character. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who HATH blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). What a rebuke to unbelief is this statement! How clear, present, and certain! What a bright contrast with the dark human thought that we shall only get to know at the day of judgment whether we shall obtain such heavenly blessings! Yes, it is all ours now. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us thus in the heavenlies in Him. And note, all this is according to plan and purpose. “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Have you ever thought of these words? How far do they take us back? Are we chosen in Christ because of something in our own history or circumstances? No, farther back. We were chosen in Him before the formation of this world in its present state, and before the introduction of sin. Farther back still. When were the foundations of the world laid? We read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” What vast ages this may have been before the six days’ formation of this earth for man, we know not. Men, with all their learning, can only measure time; they have no language to explain eternity: that laying of the foundations — that creation of the heaven and the earth in that vast unknown, “in the beginning.” Yet the heavenly blessing of the church is, “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Men love to speculate about past ages, but here is no room for speculation, but the distinct revelation, that the church, that we who have redemption in Christ through His blood, were chosen in Him before those ages began.
Further, notice, this is not so much a question of the election of persons, though it surely is that, for what would the church, the body of Christ, be, without persons, individual members of that one body? But this wondrous epistle reveals what God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in eternity chose us to and for. “That we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love,” none but God could have conceived such a thought, yet was it His pleasure in eternity! How soon will it be realized in all its fullness by us, even as we are seen by Him now in the Beloved! “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself.” Surely every sentence is full of infinite love. What a contrast to the blessing of Israel as a nation on earth! We were thus predestinated to the higher relationship “of children.” Do our souls enter into this, that God would have us in the blessed relationship of children (of sons), and “according to the good pleasure of His will”? How sweet it was to Jesus to reveal the Father’s joy in receiving His long-lost son, in that precious parable of the prodigal son! Oh, that this short paper may be used to lead the “children” to meditate on every sentence of this chapter. Think that the place given us is “to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Yes, when God is known, then we see how suited to Him is the infinite extent of His grace. The free favor of God, in every sense, is altogether beyond all human thought. We can only understand it by seeing where Christ is, and what is His future glory; and then the overwhelming thought that we are in Him, and all is ours. Yes, all is so suited, so worthy of God. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). Oh, do we believe these weighty, soul-sustaining words? Let not Satan be listened to for a moment, that if we believe these plain statements of God’s blessed Word that we have been predestinated to such unspeakable blessings in Christ before the world began, then it implies that others have been predestinated to be damned. (The writer refers to the erroneous doctrine of John Calvin that there is an election of reprobation.) No, no, there is not such a thought in the holy word of God: we have seen that their everlasting judgment is “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” This is as clear as that our salvation, vast and wonderful as it is, is “because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation” (2 Thess. 2:10-13).
Oh, how sad that so many should deny the grace of God, the free, unmerited favor of God, in thus choosing us in Christ from eternity! Be it remembered, that if He had left us to our own free choice, all must have been lost, since all in their natural state reject the grace of God. Man in his natural unbelief will seek to be saved by his own works, will gladly accept any false religion of ritualism and ceremonies. He will seek and go about to establish his own righteousness when he has none. But if the writer of the letter, or the reader of this paper, has been led, as a lost and guilty sinner, to accept Christ, and to believe God, who raised Him from among the dead, then rest assured that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy, and without blame before Him in love. Thus may our hearts rest in the eternal love of God in Christ, from which nothing can separate us.

Eve

In Genesis 2, we have the first Adam as a figure of Him that was to come. God placed him in paradise, the garden of Eden. And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” How wonderfully this reveals the thought of God in eternity: His purpose that the Last Adam, now in the paradise of God, should not be alone. We then see how God formed the creatures, and brought them unto Adam, and how Adam gave them their names But there was not a help meet for him in paradise; not one suited to him; not one like him; not one of the same nature that corresponded to him. The animals were with him in paradise, companions we may say; but there was no real correspondence. No creature was of his nature meet for him; no creature meet to be ONE with Adam.
Note, this was absolutely the case until “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” It is quite true we could not have seen this hidden type of Christ and the Church, if the Holy Spirit had not revealed it in Ephesians 5:30. Now all is clear.
There was no Eve until Adam had been laid in the figure of death: the deep sleep. Until then he was alone, though in the midst of all creation. The Lord Jesus tells us the very same thing: speaking of Himself, He says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). He was there with his disciples, or in heaven in the midst of angelic hosts; but, as to His nature, He was and must be forever alone, unless He die, and be raised from the dead.
The moment Eve saw Adam she was like him, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. It will be so with the second Eve, the one Bride of Christ: when she shall be presented to Him she will be glorious; yea, the moment we see Him, we shall be like Him (Eph. 5:26; 1 John 3:2). There was no Eve until Adam in figure died and rose again. Then she corresponded perfectly to Adam: was part of himself. There was only one meet to be so. And the New Testament carries all this out fully as to the Church, the Bride of Christ. To faith, all is now sure; but the presentation in the perfect likeness of Christ has not yet come. Surely all this should prepare us to find something marvelously new and different when Christ, the last Adam had died, and had risen from the dead. And that something is new; that new creation is the Church of God, one with Christ, the Head in heaven. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Thus was Eve meet to be Adam’s companion and a help meet in the paradise of Eden. And all this was the work of God, according to His own purpose.
And is it so, are all believers, according to the purpose of God, made meet for the paradise of God? Yes, we can all give “thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). As this is the first figure of the Church, it is well to note how all is of God. And this answers to Ephesians 1; 2.
Just as Eve was one with Adam, blest in and with him with every blessing in the earthly paradise, it was God who thus blessed her, and thus placed her the one bride of Adam, who had been dead in figure and was alive again: all was of God — so now of all the saints of God —
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. But all, all is of God. Did God raise Adam from his deep sleep? Then “what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward, who believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies...And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:19-23).
And then the same blessed God hath raised us up from the dead: “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” etc. (Eph. 2:5-6).
Yes, the first thought of God in giving His Son, was that He might not remain alone, the Man in the glory of the heavenly paradise; but that He should have a Bride, the Church, in His own perfect likeness. Sins and sin forever passed away, she should share in His glory forever with and like Him — having His own sinless perfection, His own very nature. Oh what will it be to be the companion of the last Adam in eternal glory, in every way corresponding to Him, as Eve to Adam! No other creature in the universe is to have or can have this place. We will next go on in our meditations to the second figure or picture of the Bride of Christ. Can you, reader, recognize the hand of God (as in the picture we have looked at for a moment), in your new creation? Then dwell on the purpose of God as to your eternal future.

Facts and Fruits of Paul's Gospel

What did Paul preach? What produced such must do? Or did he preach what Christ had done? Did he preach baptism as a means of regeneration, or of salvation? No; baptism had no place in the gospel he preached (1 Cor. 1:17). Did he preach that all men were under the law, and that they must be justified by either keeping the law, or by some one keeping it for them, any way that they must be justified on the principle of the law? No; we do not find such a thought.
Let us keep close to the facts — his preaching as commissioned from the heavenly vision, by the Lord Himself, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in his epistles. You will notice in his manner of preaching that there was not one word of what man was required to do. Men were treated as lost, and Paul had a message from God for them: “Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
Not a word about all men being under the law and that Christ must needs keep it for them. The very Jews of the synagogue, who were seeking to be justified by keeping the law, needed an entire change of mind, repentance; and the facts that Paul preached, produced that repentance. The mass of them rejected this gospel and these facts with scorn, just as those now who say they are Jews, that is under law, and are not, will reject these facts of the gospel, which were told out in the First Years of Christianity.
Study these three facts: 1St fact, “Christ must needs have suffered.” 2nd fact, “And risen again from the dead.” And the third fact, “That this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” These three facts formed the base or foundation of all Paul’s preaching. And they were not hearsay facts: he had not been taught them by others. But he had seen this very crucified Jesus in that heavenly vision of glory above all created light.
It is no little privilege to have the true gospel thus direct from the man who received it in the heavenly vision — a man who could not be mistaken. In 1 Corinthians 15, he gives an account of the gospel he preached to them: it is as ever the same: “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” And that others as well as himself had seen Him after His resurrection: “So we preach, and so ye believed.” If Christ was not risen, then he was a false witness, and they had believed in vain, and were still in their sins.
These were not doctrines, properly speaking, or much less theories, but simple facts. All else in the world were doctrines and theories of men. Here were facts that fully revealed the righteous character of God; that met all God’s claims on the guilty sinner, and gave him the absolute assurance that all was met and settled to the glory of God; for the full glory of God shone in the face of His beloved Son, the Man who had done it all; and who declared, in the plainest terms, that all who believed God were reckoned righteous before Him. All this was clearer and brighter than the Eastern noon-day sun.
Now, is not this just what man needs to know with certainty, so that he may have perfect peace with God, in the full radiance of His glory? Perhaps nothing has more tended to hide this clear gospel of the First Years of Christianity than the Galatian heresy, the determination to put all men under law. Not the openly giving up of Christ, but making our justification to depend partly on Christ, and partly on law. Even Peter utterly failed in this matter, and the beloved Barnabas was carried away with the dissimulation.
The Spirit of God, by the Apostle Paul, takes this ground, that since Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God our Father,” then to mix up the law, that is, the principle of what we ought to do to God, would be quite a different gospel from the gospel given to him (Gal. 1:4-12).
And Paul shows the real folly of this, for the Jews who were under the law had to give it up, “That we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” To do it would be to build again the things which he had destroyed. As to himself, as a responsible man once under the law, he was dead, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ.” Now a dead crucified man is not under law, but is dead to it. He says: “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”.
No, nothing could be more sad or foolish than the giving up the truth, as held by Paul and set forth in this epistle. It has leavened all Christendom, and brought in the utmost confusion. Sometimes the soul believes God, and then is happy; then seeks to attain to a little more righteousness by the law as a rule of life! and then, is almost in despair. Where is there one who has not suffered by this confusion? Are you perplexed, and say: “Why, I have been taught from my childhood that all men, Jews or Gentiles, were under the law, and all had transgressed it, and all were under its curse, and that even the believer is put under it again, as the rule of life?” Yes, this is exactly what men teach now. Is it what Paul taught in the First Years of Christianity?
As this letter to the Galatians was one of the very first of the first years, do prayerfully read on. What do you find in chapter 3? He tells us that Abraham was justified long before the law was given. He believed God, and IT (faith) was reckoned to him for righteousness. He tells us: “As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse.” Then if all are now of the works of the law, all are still under the curse. He tells us that the law is not of faith. Speaking of Jews, who had been under it, he says: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” He tells us that the covenant confirmed of God in Christ, which He promised to Abraham, was 430 years before the law. He explains why the law was given. It served to bring out transgressions; that it was a schoolmaster until Christ.
In chapter 4, there is the most marked distinction betwixt those under law, and those under grace: the one in bondage, the other in the liberty of sons. And under the allegory of Hagar and Sarah, or Ishmael and Isaac, the two principles of law and grace cannot go on together. Ishmael must be cast out. Oh, how we, like Abraham, plead that he might live. How we struggle that the flesh under law might live, when God tells us to reckon it dead. It seems so desirable that there might be some good found in us, and the work of Christ to make up the deficiency. To take this ground is to be in bondage. Ah, you know this, though you thus cleave to and plead for Ishmael. Oh that my old “I” could live and be better. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.
Read every word that follows in chapter 5. Remember, if you take the ground of the law, “Christ shall profit you nothing.” What solemn warnings follow, and how little heeded. The only power for a holy walk, and we need no other power, is this, the power of the Holy Spirit. And notice this mark: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law”.
Then also you find the great truth, that neither the law, circumcision, nor lawlessness, uncircumcision, availeth anything, but a new creature (new creation). A truth of the utmost importance! Man must be born wholly anew. The law only brings out the sin in his nature in open transgression. This is most fully brought out in the larger letter on this subject, the Epistle to the Romans Oh, that we could go back to the first years, and read that epistle as the very words of God. All are proved guilty; both the Gentiles, which have not the law; and the Jews, which had the law. For until the law, that is, until the time that it was given, from Adam to Moses sin was in the world, though not reckoned as transgression.
And there is no thought in that epistle of man being justified on the principle of law. This was impossible, since man was guilty. Why should we seek to be wiser than God? He deals with the facts of man’s condition. The fact was, the Gentiles without law were guilty of the grossest sins, and the Jews under the law were no better. So that the glad tidings could not be in any way what man was to God, for he was only guilty and under judgment, and had no strength to be better. God could not be righteous then in justifying the guilty on the principle of law.
Then shone out the righteousness of God in justifying the sinner, entirely apart from law, exactly as Paul had received the gospel of the heavenly vision. Jesus must suffer the atoning death of the cross. He must die for our sins. He must be delivered for our offenses, whether Jews or Gentiles. He must rise again — yes, God raised Him again for our justification. Now what had the law to do with this, or to say to this, except in the types of the sacrifices? You will thus see that both the righteousness of God in justifying, and our eternal salvation, rest not on what we must do, or law; but solely on what Jesus must do, and what He has done — done once for all, never to be repeated.
For God, who raised Him from the dead, had been glorified by His death and suffering wrath for our sins. So that God could in perfect righteousness raise Him from the dead, for the express purpose of our justification. And as the work of Christ can never lose its value for us, we see the everlasting proof of this — Jesus in the glory. The very Jesus who took the entire responsibility of our guilt and sins, is without spot in the presence of God for us. So that we are in the perfect righteousness of God, justified from all things, and forever. And forever we have peace with God. Jesus must suffer, and rise again. Jesus has suffered and risen again. This being the case, the effect of believing God in all this must be immediate forgiveness, and justification from all things. Such always was the case in the First Years of Christianity. And why not now? Repeat this verse until God give you rest in the certainty of His word: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

First State of the Church

We have seen the formation of the church or assembly; its united prayer; the place shaken where they were assembled; and all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Word of God was spoken with boldness. All that believed were of one heart and soul; the apostles with great power gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all. Such was the assembly in the beginning. Alas, what a contrast now!
And yet the true heavenly character of the new assembly was not then fully, if at all, revealed. The man, who was the chosen vessel to make known the church, was not even yet converted from Judaism. This man, Saul of Tarsus, was a mad persecutor of the disciples, the great enemy of Christ. As he was on his way to Damascus, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, brighter than the noon-day sun. The mad persecutor fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4).
Amazed at these words, he said, “Who art thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.” What a revelation; and what a revolution in this man!
The Jesus he persecuted was the Lord of glory. But most wonderful: this Lord of glory owned every disciple, every true believer, as part of Himself. What was done to them was done to Him. This contained the mystery — stupendous fact, that every believer now on earth was one with the Lord of glory. Many years after this we find it written, “As He is so are we.” How little had Saul thought, that what he did to the feeblest disciple he did to Jehovah Jesus, Lord and Christ. What a repentance, what a change of mind! Trembling and astonished, he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” He was directed to Ananias, a devoted disciple in the city. Ananias was greatly afraid of this terrible persecutor. The Lord calmed his fears, and said to him, “Go, thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel.” Such was the effect on Saul of this revelation, that for three days he was blind and could neither eat nor drink. His eyes were then opened, and he at once proved the reality of his repentance, or change of mind, by being baptized, and took his place with the disciples as those whose sins were washed away. The full account of his commission to preach and teach in the name of the Lord Jesus we find in Acts 26:12-23.
It must be observed that, as the sample minister of Christ, he received his commission and authority to preach direct from Christ Himself not from man, not from the church. He takes great pains, in Gal. 1, to prove that this was from God. Never did he go to Jerusalem, to the apostles even, to receive authority to preach. He was only recognized by them. “When James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision” (Gal. 2:9).
It may justly be asked, if the apostles or the church never assumed to give authority to preach the gospel, or teach in the first years of Christianity, how is it that those who profess to be the successors of the apostles do so now? That is a question for them to answer. They will tell you, they have derived that power and authority to appoint and ordain those who alone shall be set apart to preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments. And yet in the beginning there was no such power or authority in the hands of these very apostles. If there was, let it be shown. Paul was most jealous to disown all such authority.
The subject of the Christian ministry is a deeply interesting one. Does that which assumes to be that ministry now, correspond with what it was in the beginning, or is it a totally different thing? Men are now ordained or authorized by men to preach and teach. But we must honestly own, that there is nothing in the New Testament account that corresponds to this. There was the one church of God or assembly of God; and all Christians formed that one assembly. There was the church of God at Rome, but there was no church of Rome at any place but Rome. There was no distinction between the assembly in Greece, and in Italy, or Syria. There were no denominations. If you had spoken of the church of Rome, or church of England in Scotland, or in Ireland, not a man on earth would have understood you. Then, if there were no denominations or national churches of the world, there could be no ministers of such churches. Now since this is assuredly, manifestly, the case, it follows that people may be members of such human churches, and not be members of the one body of Christ at all. Quite true, you will say, no doubt millions are so at this day. Then does it not equally follow, that men may be ministers of such churches and not even be Christians, and not ministers of Christ — in a word, that the Christian ministry, and the vast denominational ministry, are two very distinct things? There is one thing perhaps above all others that marks this distinction.
The true Christian ministry owned and had the guidance of the Holy Spirit where to minister. The ministry, which is of man, is solely appointed by man, and scarcely dares truly to recognize the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us turn to the word. We will first take Peter. Christ appointed him (John 21:15-17) and gave him the special ministry to open the door of the kingdom to Jews and Gentiles (Matt. 16:19). As to any other appointment from men he had none. Human education, none. He was an unlettered man (Acts 4:13). Could the Holy Spirit come down from heaven and use such a man? What a question! Let the preaching in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit answer (Acts 2; 3), and how distinctly he had the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 10.)
Then let us take the ministry of Paul. Sometimes Acts 13:1-4 is quoted as authority for ordaining a man to be the minister, preacher, and pastor. This scripture is doubtless a most important one as to ministry in every way. It gives us the most distinct view of true Christian ministry that we could have. Here is the assembly as seen in the first years of Christianity. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers: as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen... and Saul.” Note, all these were prophets and teachers. They were the chosen gifts of the ascended Lord. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Let us then take Saul. We read at his conversion that he was certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. This gave great amazement to all; but his authority to preach and the power were alike from Christ alone. Then Barnabas took him to Jerusalem, and told the apostles how he had preached at Damascus. “And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians,” etc. He is then sent to Tarsus (Acts 9:18-30).
Then again in the formation of the church from the Gentiles at Antioch, Barnabas went to Tarsus and brought Saul: “And it came to pass that a whole year THEY assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people” (Acts 11:21-26). Indeed, this scene at Antioch (Acts 13) is after the collection had been sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul, and after their return. “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry,” or charge (Acts 11:30; 12:25). So that there is no sense whatever in quoting chapter 13 as authority for doing the very opposite of what the Spirit did here.
Now look at the assembly gathered together at Antioch. There is no man as the minister of that assembly, but the prophets and teachers. They minister to the Lord. Where is this the case now? Is there no president? Yes, the Lord by the Holy Spirit. And where He is, there need be no other chairman or president. They so own the presence of the Holy Spirit that they have His very guidance as to the persons He appoints for a special mission. Here is the secret of the power of the first years of the church. And there is only power now, in proportion as we truly own the Holy Spirit. He is the power.
In all the great gatherings of Christians, can you tell me of one that answers to this assembly at Antioch? Is not the Holy Spirit as truly here now as then? Assuredly, but men put a man in His place, and then pray for the Holy Spirit to come!
Is it not incredible that there should be such darkness as to quote this scripture, when men appoint a man to be the minister over a church? The Holy Spirit did not say, Separate me one of these teachers for this special work, but He sends two; and we see this principle throughout. And in the preachings it is Paul and Barnabas speaking boldly, though Paul was the chief speaker (Acts 13:43-46; 14:12; 15:35). “Preaching the word of the Lord with many others also.”
And after the separation of Paul and Barnabas, it is the same with other companions, Silas and Timotheus (Acts 16). And how the Holy Spirit guided their steps as to where to preach. For the time they were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia; but they were guided to Europe, and from place to place (Acts 16:6-9, etc.). How distinctly also the Spirit guided Philip to join himself to the eunuch, sitting in his chariot. “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him.” (See Acts 8:26-40.) But we look in vain for a single instance of human ordination of a minister over a church to preach or to teach. It is said of Apollos, when he began to preach the gospel, “When he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). Surely this is an important scripture for our guidance now.
But, if such was the Christian ministry in the first years of the church, as seen in the Acts, and fully borne out in the epistles, where is that same true Christian ministry now? It is quite true that the various divisions of modern Christendom each has its ministry. But what have all these in common with the ministry of Christ, or Christian ministry, as seen in the Word of God? It is high time to search the Scriptures to see what is of God, and what is of man. The apostolic appointment of elders and deacons was quite another thing.
These might; or might not, (also) be the gifts of Christ to teach or preach. The elders were appointed to care for and guide the assembly in spiritual matters, and the deacons to care for the poor in temporal things. The apostles could also delegate a Timothy or a Titus, but very few would assume that we have apostles now. Let us then, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, turn to His inspired epistles, and inquire: What was, the church, what its ministry, and what the doctrines taught in the First Years of Christianity.

The First Years of Christianity: That Which Was From the Beginning

From the holy inspired writings of John we see the vast importance of holding fast that which was from the beginning He says, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” These words do not refer to the past eternity, but the beginning of Christianity — to the manifestation of eternal life, the Incarnate Son of God in this world. If we go back to the beginning of all things, of the universe, that blessed Person was ever there. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Distinct in Person, in eternity, yet truly God: with God, and was God. Ever in the beginning: never made or created; for “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Life was not communicated to Him. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1). He then created the universe, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16, 17). Such is He of whom we now speak, brightness of the glory of God.
He was in His own Person the beginning of Christianity; but Christianity did not truly begin until He died and rose from among the dead. This will be evident if we trace His wondrous history in the four gospels. He was truly man; but oh, how different His holy sinless humanity from our sinful fallen nature. “Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
According to the prophecies, which holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, He was announced at His birth as the Messiah, yet as Savior, Emmanuel, God with us. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32). We shall find, however, that this forms no part of Christianity, and that His kingdom and earthly glory is yet future. It is, however, important to see Him come in flesh, truly Man, and presented to Israel as the Savior-Messiah — Jesus Christ. Let us be assured that not one jot or tittle of God’s word shall fail. As the Messiah, the wise men from the east came to worship Him, “Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” But how contrary to Jewish thoughts: He came in deepest humility. See the Creator of all things laid in a manger. Yes, and we will bow with those divinely guided strangers from the east, and worship Him. Whether laid in the manger, or nailed to the cross, or seated on the throne of glory, worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou, that every knee to Thee should bow.
And when He was born, the glory could return to this earth. It was not in a palace, but in a stable, for there was no room for Thee, dear Lord, in this world’s inn. This event was not made known by angels to kings or princes; but to those humble shepherds abiding in the, fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. It was to them the angel of the Lord came, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. Yes, to these poor fearful shepherds did the angel say which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Heaven bore witness to the birth of the Messiah: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Born of a woman, under the law, the holy child Jesus, when the appointed day came, was presented to Jehovah in the temple. And the Holy Spirit had prepared a godly remnant to welcome Him, and own Him.
It was revealed unto him [Simeon] by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Hear the witness of this Israelite brought in by the Spirit at that very moment: “Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the eyes of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:26-32).
But if heaven rang with praises, and the godly Simeons and the Annas gave this precious witness to the child Jesus, what a contrast in the growl of hatred from the powers of darkness. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born (Rev. 12:4). The court of Herod is troubled at the tidings of the birth of the King, the Messiah. As the agent of Satan, Herod will surely seek to destroy the young child. The angel of the Lord directs the wise men to depart, and Joseph to arise and take the young child and His mother and flee into Egypt. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children of Bethlehem,” etc.
Such are a few of the circumstances attending this great wonder, the incarnation of the Son of God.
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. He was the light of men. “That was the true light, which coming into the world lighteth every man.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Behold Him “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions,” at the age of twelve, “and all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” Yet they knew Him not. Even His mother understood Him not, nor knew that He must be about His Father’s business. Nothing more is recorded by the Holy Spirit for many years of His holy life except that He was subject unto His mother and Joseph; and that He increased in wisdom and stature (or age) and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:51, 52).
And here may we be kept from all the deadly error as to His being the sin-bearer during those years, and obnoxious to the wrath of God. All this is blasphemy against the Holy One of God, whose favor ever rested upon Him. He must be shown to be the perfect One, who knew no sin, before He could be made sin for us on the cross. This was shown whether in the lowly place of retirement as the son of the carpenter, in sinless, perfect subjection, or, as afterward, when presented to Israel.
Well might John the Baptist be surprised when the Son came to him to be baptized. “John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” Yes, it was consistent for Him in deepest humiliation to identify Himself with the godly baptized remnant of Israel. We must notice, that this was John’s and not Christian baptism. “And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness Then he suffered Him.”
But had He sins to confess? Was He the sin-bearer then, bowed beneath the wrath of God? Such a thought destroys the true character of His future atonement for sins: no “Jesus when He was baptized, went straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Such was He to whom John pointed and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which beareth away the sin of the world.” He was spotless purity itself, the Lamb without blemish. The heavens were not more holy than He: they were open unto Him. The Holy Spirit of God could descend on Him. No spot or stain could the eye of God see in Him. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Blessed Jesus! may we share the delight of the Father in Thee.
The three temptations of the devil could find no response in Him. The Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is for the first time fully revealed at the baptism of Jesus, the Incarnate Son, anointed with the Holy Spirit. He is now led forth to meet the power of the devil. Let us never go forth to meet that fallen one, without the fullest dependence on the same Holy Spirit. It may be observed here, that all error is a denial, or an attack on the truth; yea, on Him who is the truth. To say that the devil is a mere evil principle, or our evil nature, would be to attack Christ, and make Him a fallen being with an evil nature like ourselves. No, the devil is clearly a real person, of great power and subtlety.
How distinctly truth is manifested in the Word of God. We have the heavens opened to a man, and that man the Son, the beloved Son. The Father speaks from heaven to Him. The Spirit descends on Him. Behold the second (last) Adam. The devil overthrew the first Adam in paradise: he has no power to overcome the last Adam in the wilderness — yes, truly man, and in grace entering into human circumstances of fasting and hunger for forty days and nights.
With a doubt the devil attacked the woman, and a presentation of something good to the eye. Very similar the first temptation to our Lord. “If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.” Is it possible? canst thou be the Son of God, and in such circumstances as these? so faint and hungry? Put forth Thy power, and at my bidding command these stones to be made bread. The devil pretends to seek the good of this hungry sufferer, Alas, we might have suspected no devil, and, no sin behind this plausible temptation. Yes, we might say, That is a good thing, let us use our power to turn stones into bread, and thus relieve our sufferings. Note, this was not a question of the ten commandments. The obedience of Christ consisted in only doing the Father’s bidding; He must have, as the obedient man, a word from God His Father for all He did. The holy scriptures of God have now their place. Jesus answered the devil, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Yes, the devil may tempt Jesus, to meet His need by His own will and power; or to do some great thing to become popular, and to show Himself the Son of God, at the devil’s bidding: or he may present the world to Him; but “It is written” is the answer of the Lord to every temptation. What an amazement would Christendom be in to-day, if even every Christian was to inquire if it be written for everything he is doing. Suppose we try it, beginning on a Lord’s day and look to Him, that we may do nothing for which we cannot find an “It is written.” Now as this stands so prominent in the very opening of His ministry, let us next inquire how the Lord regarded the holy scriptures.

The Four Gospels

We have already dwelt a little on the incarnation, baptism, and temptation of Jesus, the Son of God. What then is the character and teaching of the four gospels? And what is not the scope of their teaching? Four persons are used by the Holy Spirit to relate the life, words, and miracles of the incarnate Holy One. These four gospels do not present Christianity fully, but the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord, the foundation of Christianity. It is, important to see this. Take the ministry of John the Baptist. He is the forerunner of the Messiah, and yet points Him out as the Lamb of God; and as the Lamb of God He is the foundation of all blessing. But note, John does not say one word about the church (the assembly of God). He came as a Jewish prophet, preaching only to the Jews, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. But not because the assembly was at hand; that great truth was not revealed to John, but “For the kingdom of God is at hand.”
The kingdom of heaven, the reign of Messiah, was the burden of the Old Testament prophecies; but they never once named the church. That mystery was hid from them (Rom. 16:25, 26; Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:5, 9), and hid from John. No doubt repentance was requisite, equally for the foretold kingdom (Ezek. 36); and also, as we shall see, for the forming of the church (Acts 2). But what was the teaching or preaching of Christ? Most profitable would it be to study the four gospels in their distinctive character. But this would fill a volume. Whether as the righteous Jew, in Matthew; or the Servant, in Mark; or as the Son of man, in Luke; and still more wondrous, as Son of God, in John — perfect in each, perfect in the whole. If you will examine each, you will find in the first three Jesus preaches the coming kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God. He does twice name the church, or assembly, but only as a future thing, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16; 18).
In the Word of God everything is found in its place and time The presence and teaching of Jesus on this earth, is the last trial of man. God who had sent His prophets, had now sent His Son — God manifest in flesh. He came to His own people, the Jews, and His own received Him not. To them there was no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. He was truly God, yet perfect man; absolutely perfect in every relation, whether to man or to God. John says, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Oh how wondrous to have in these gospels the invisible God revealed. Surely every word demands our study with profound reverence. We cannot conceive the profit, and deep untold joy we should have in becoming more thoroughly acquainted with each gospel, in its own peculiar character.
All is pure grace, yet there is truth in every line. Man’s true condition is set forth in each gospel. The presence of Jesus amongst men is like the rising of the sun on a dark world. Take just a little sample of man’s need and condition as illustrated in Mark 1; 2 Jesus enters a meeting-room of religious men, the synagogue of the Jews, at Capernaum. What does His presence reveal? Man under the power of an unclean spirit! The demon is in the synagogue. But here is One with power to deliver; and all that were brought to Him were healed. “And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.”
Then there came a poor leper to Him, the very picture of sin in the flesh. Does He spurn him? No, with tender compassion He heals him. Then a helpless man, sick of the palsy, let down to His feet. He saw their faith; and they heard strange words from the lips of a man, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” To scribes this was blasphemy. Yes, that which man needs first, above all things, the forgiveness of sins, was blasphemy to them! But He who forgave sins had power to say, “Arise, take up thy bed and walk,” Whether man knows it or not, these miracles truthfully set forth man’s real condition. He is under the power of demons, and cannot free himself; he is full of the leprosy of sin, and cannot heal himself; he is utterly without power to walk in the holy commandments of God; he needs forgiveness and power to walk, and there is only One can meet his manifold need, and that One is Jesus. Has He met yours? None other can.
Take one other parable, Luke 15. Man is lost. The blessed Shepherd seeks the lost until He finds: and takes the lost sheep safely home. Then the lost piece of silver is sought until it is found. This gives joy. Then the lost son comes to himself, repents in the confession of sin. But oh, the joy of the Father! His great delight to receive, forgive, clothe, bring, into His own presence! The work of the Son in redemption; the work of the Holy Spirit in seeking the redeemed; the unspeakable joy of God the Father in receiving the redeemed sinner — what a revelation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
We might dwell forever on the life, teaching, and miracles of the Lord, Jesus, as a Jew in the midst of His Jewish disciples. But the time drew near when the passover must be killed. He set His face for the last time to go up to Jerusalem. He must needs suffer and rise again, or Christianity could never begin, or the kingdom be hereafter set up.
He fully exposed the wickedness and hypocrisy of the priests and Pharisees, who were pretending to righteousness by the law. God had provided a great supper, but men made light of it, and rejected it (Matt. 22; 23). He then spoke of the immense change close at hand. Their house was left desolate, and would be destroyed; and Jerusalem, the future metropolis of the earth, would be destroyed, and long trampled under foot (Luke 21). Very strange was all this to Jewish ears. All this implied a total change, and an entire setting aside of the ancient religion of the Jew, with all his privileges; and all of which came to pass. He was presented to the Jewish nation for the last time in the flesh as Messiah, and utterly rejected. His last passover came. See Him sitting with His disciples, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” After the supper He took the place of the paschal lamb. “This is My body, which is given for you this do in remembrance of Me... This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you”.
Yes, a far greater redemption was about to be accomplished than the redemption from Egypt, which they had just commemorated. But as yet they understood not. He was about to be “reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning Me have an end” (Luke 22:37).
What a night was that! What words did Jesus speak to His beloved disciples. “Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father; having loved His own which were in the earth, He loved them unto the end.” We must, however, remember that as yet they were only disciples, just as John had had disciples. They had been drawn to Him as a center, and yet He was alone; they could not be members of His body, neither was that wondrous truth as yet revealed. Wondrous was the truth He had revealed to them, for He had shown them, under the figure of the corn of wheat, that He must die or remain alone. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). No words can express the importance of this great truth, that until He should have died, been buried, and had risen from the dead, Christianity could not begin. He, until then, must remain alone. Nothing then could be more false than the error that the incarnation of Christ is salvation, or the improvement of man. His holy heavenly teachings could not have imparted full help to man, lost man. He must needs suffer the atoning death of the cross; and even that is not the improvement of man, but the end of man in death.
But all this was evidently utterly unknown to His disciples; and how little known now. What God had made known by all the holy prophets was, that one like the Son of man should come in the clouds of heaven, deliver His people and reign over the whole world. This the disciples expected just as they were. There were also other prophecies which spoke of the sufferings of Messiah; of His bearing the sins of His people; and of His awful death, forsaken of God (Isa. 53; Psa. 22; and many others). And had not every sacrifice, with all the blood of beasts, shed from the days of Abel, pointed on to Him, the Lamb of God? But as yet they knew it not, and felt not the need of this. Never had it dawned on their minds that He must bear the wrath, and be forsaken of God for their sins. And how few really know this now. Do you?
Well, the time had come that instead of receiving the long foretold kingdom, He must suffer such treatment from man, and bear the whole weight of God’s wrath against sin, as never was and never can be borne again. And thus He must be turned out of, and depart from, the world He had made.
We must then read this wondrous discourse (John 12 to 17), as anticipating the very period of His rejection on earth, and His presence in glory above all heavens. He knew it all, all we should need. “Clean every whit,” as born of God, and as a new creation in Him; yet we have still to contend with an evil world, and the flesh in us, though reckoned dead. It is His blessed service to wash our feet, to restore our souls to communion by the word, during His absence, exalted as He is above all heavens (John 13).
He knows all the sore difficulties of the path during His absence. We shall not see Him now; but we may believe in Him, as we believe in God. Could He have said this if He had been only a man’? He is as truly the object of faith, as God the Father. And now, being so near His departure, He tells them that of which no man had ever heard before. He lifts up their thoughts far above the earthly kingdom of Israel, and He says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). They do not seem to have understood this in the least. Do we? What would a place in this world be to us, if we really grasped the wondrous grace revealed to us in these words, that He who loved us, and gave Himself for us, is gone to prepare a place* for us in the glory; and will come Himself for the one special purpose, to take and have us with Himself? Is this the love of, that Man in the glory, at the right hand of God? Oh, child of God, can you say, He loved me, and is coming for me, to have me with Himself? Does He not thus say to us, “Let not your heart be troubled”? Remember, there had not been a word of all this in the Old Testament, or in His teaching, until the night of His betrayal. The nearer He approached the terrible hour of darkness and wrath, the sweeter the savor of Jesus as the meat-offering. In all things, and in every way, He was only proved to be a sweet savor to God: without spot, blameless. Holy, holy One of God. How well did He know the need of His church during the long period of His absence. Let us inquire whom did He appoint and promise to take care of her until His return?

Fruit

How beautifully the order is still brought out! Now is the time for fruit. And what abundance did the children of Israel bring; of corn, wine, and oil, and dates. And the tithe of holy things consecrated unto the Lord their God, and they laid them by heaps; or, heaps, heaps. As all fruit must be in the power of resurrection to be perfect, so in this type, “In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month” Chron. 31:7). What a principle this is, and so little understood: “Dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead: that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4). “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection’ (Phil. 3:10). The Holy Spirit could not be given to dwell in us until Christ was risen from the dead and glorified. And if the Spirit could not be given until then, how could we have the fruits of the Spirit? What a contrast this is to man under law! But is it not a universal fact, wherever the doors are shut, and the lamps put out? Yes, wherever men are not led by the Spirit, they are invariably placed under the law, for fruit-bearing. Just as the opposite is also true, even as it is written: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18). How little is this true, only resurrection-foundation principle, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for fruit-bearing, understood! We might meditate on this with great profit. Has anything occurred answering to these heaps, heaps of fruits? The doors have been opened again by a full gospel. The Holy Spirit is again owned in the assembly; the immutable perfection of the believer, by the sacrifice of Christ, again revealed. Joy and worship, the result. The Lord’s supper again as it is written. The Lordship of Christ owned; and the blessed fact again enjoyed, oneness with the risen Christ. The Holy Spirit known and owned as sent down to lead and guide. All this, not the work of men, but the hand of the Lord. Now, can it be denied that the blessed Spirit, now owned again, has poured forth such a stream of Christ-exalting ministry, by tongue and pen, as the church never knew since He was set aside at the close of the apostolic age? This, not for money, or worldly applause, but the Holy Spirit, leading the children of God thus to serve in consecration to the Lord. Spiritually, we may say with Azariah, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the Lord hath blessed His people; and that which is left is this great store” (2 Chron. 31:10). Now this is a notable fact, that since the Holy Spirit has been known, and oneness with the risen Christ believed, the most astonishing numbers of tracts and pamphlets, books and periodicals, have been sent forth, without any sectarian motive, but “unto the Lord” (2 Chron. 31:6), and for the food and edification of His people. “Tracts, periodicals,” said a brother to me the other day; “I do not know what to do with them; it is impossible to read them all.” I dare say it would have been impossible for Hezekiah to have eaten all the oxen, and rams, and heaps, heaps of fruits. But was that God’s intention? And, my brother, you may have mistaken the Lord’s intention; it may not be that His only thought is, that you should eat all the heaps, heaps of precious fruits, thus laid up in the chambers, or depots, of the treasuries of the Lord. This just brings us to the question, What is the porter’s situation?

Full Redemption

At the earnest request of many beloved laborers (in the present harvest of souls) to write a series of tracts for young converts, I now have much joy, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, beloved young Christians, in leading your thoughts, in my first paper to you, to that all important subject, FULL REDEMPTION. Before reading, however, will you lift up your hearts in prayer, that our God and Father may bless it for establishing and confirming your faith, and that He by His Holy Spirit may enable me, from time to time, to give you His own precious truth, in all faithfulness and love? And will you also ask that many who read these papers, who are not saved, may by reading be awakened and converted to God?
Well, beloved young Christian, then, you have been brought to God, your sins are forgiven through believing the blessed testimony of God. You have redemption through the blood of Christ. You may not know, however, but you will soon need to know, the greatness, the fullness, the completeness of that Redemption.
As a young child learns much by pictures, so the young Christian may learn much of the completeness and blessedness of divine truth by the types or pictures of the Old Testament. If you turn to the Book of Exodus you will find an exact picture of the way in which God has brought you to Himself. Even Moses (drawn out), when he was thus raised from the river of death, was a shadow of Him who was to be raised out of death; the first to rise from among the dead, that He might be the risen Deliverer of His people.
Note the condition of the people (read Ex. 3), crushed with the cruel oppression of Egypt’s slavery: groaning beneath the iron rod of Pharaoh. “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and large (Ex. 3:7, 8). Is not this man’s condition everywhere, bond-slave of Satan? How fearful the misery which has come upon the whole race of man through sin. Behind the fair surface of human society, what an hideous reality of woe. Man believed the enemy, doubted the goodness of God, and fell, and deep indeed was that fall — from the happiness of the garden to the misery of Satan’s Egypt.
But God heard the cry of misery and affliction. Could there be a more thrilling picture of God for us than this? He came down to deliver, when there was no friend for poor man When there was none to help, His right hand brought salvation. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9). I wish you to think much of this wondrous love. There does not appear to have been one thing to draw the heart of God towards the children of Israel, but their very bondage, and sorrow, and His own covenant love. If you look at the end of Exodus 2, they cry because of their bondage; but they do not look up to God, but God looked upon them. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Ex. 2:24, 25). Yes, it was all of God — there was no merit in them. God heard, God looked, God came down to deliver. Blessed God, what love and pity thus to reveal Thyself the Friend of the oppressed!
Has it not been exactly so, my dear young Christian, with your soul? God heard your groans; and what groans, throughout eternity, if God had not come down to save. I often think how Jesus died for our sins, so long before we were born, who live in these last days. Surely our redemption is entirely of God. It was not we who looked to God, but God who looked upon us. Yes, long before time began, God chose us in Christ, in whom we have redemption. Ephesians 1, 2 are full of this blessed theme. There the soul is ravished with contemplating how redemption is of, and flows from, God’s eternal love.
But let us trace the picture a little further in Exodus. If you read Exodus 4 you will find, that though God had thus revealed His compassion and love to Moses, and sent him with the commission of deliverance, yet the children of Israel were in total ignorance of this wondrous grace in store for them. It was not until after Moses had met Aaron, that the gospel of God’s deliverance was preached to the people. “And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Ex. 4:31). How little, when groaning in bondage, did you think of the loving purposes of God. But when the Spirit of God met you, as Aaron met Israel, then faith came by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
In Exodus 5 the condition of the people becomes worse and worse. They desire deliverance. They desire to worship. But their burthens become heavier. They lose their straw, and cannot do their work. The chapter ends with many stripes, but no deliverance. It is sore work often for the awakened soul, passing through this experience. Would make bricks, but has no straw; would do good, but evil is present. Longs to worship; strives hard to keep the tasks of the law: gets only stripes, but no deliverance. How long poor Luther was in this brick-kiln. Have you been there, reader? Then you know, as the officers did see, “They were in evil case after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task (Ex. 5:19). The apostle well describes the struggles of the brick-kiln in Romans 7. Only bear well in mind, that the full redemption was not known in the brick-kilns of Egypt. Neither can full redemption be possibly known, to the soul passing through the experience, of which the brick- kilns of Egypt were but a picture. By the way, it is just possible my reader may be in this very state. You may have believed, so far as the gospel has been made known to you; you may earnestly long to worship God; you may long to escape the bondage of sin and Satan; all this may be the yearnings of the new nature, but still you have not learned the full redemption. You do not enjoy deliverance. You say, I have no strength to do what I want to do; just as the people had no straw. They had no straw, and you have no strength; and now Satan presents the tasks of the law, and says, these must be fulfilled. What a picture the officers of Pharaoh were of those who preach works for salvation. “Go, therefore, now, work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks” (Ex. 5:18). “Go, therefore, work; for except ye keep the law ye shall not be saved.” How like in substance is the language of both.
In Exodus 6, note that while the people were under the cruel burthens of the brick-kiln, the very promises of God failed to give relief. Read the tender words of God in Exodus 6:1-8. What words are these:
I have also heard the groaning.”
I have remembered My covenant. I am the Lord.”
“I will bring you out.”
“I will redeem you.”
“I will take you to Me.”
“I will be to you a God.”
“I will bring you in unto the land.”
“I will give it you.”
“I am the Lord.”
I say, is it not most remarkable that, while under the tasks of the brick-kiln, these precious promises entirely failed to give relief. “They hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9). If my reader is a quickened soul, still under the bondage of the law, this is sure, sooner or later, to be your experience. You will say, Yes, the promises of God are very precious, but I cannot fulfill my task. I have tried to keep the law, but how often, nay, always, I fail. Ah! while ever the soul is standing on its own responsibility under law, all that it finds is failure, sin, anguish of spirit, and cruel bondage. And every child of God knows what a tendency there is thus to cling to self. But most surely this springs from ignorance of full redemption. No, my dear young Christian, we do not stand in our own responsibility under law, like the brickmakers of Egypt; but in the risen Christ, through whose precious blood we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.
And now God puts forth His power in the plagues of Egypt, in His governmental judgment of the proud oppressors of His people; but still no deliverance. These are solemn pictures, as taken up again in the book of Revelation, of the judgments of God in the last days. Ah! in that day the proud oppressors of God’s people shall be broken to pieces. But I return to our subject.
It may seem strange that so great a display of the Lord’s power should have been made in Egypt, and yet not one soul delivered. We see the very same thing in the Gospels. After all the rich display of power and grace in the blessed life of Jesus, yet at the close of His ministry amongst men, had there been nothing more than this, He must have remained alone. Blessed as was that ministry, great as were those miracles, heavenly as was His teaching, holy as was His life, yet had He not died, the Just for the unjust, not one of all the sons of Adam could possibly have been saved. What a place this gives to redemption! It was so in Egypt! We have seen the tender compassion of God; we have heard His sweetest promises; we have witnessed His terrible power against the enemy. We have seen all this from Exodus 3 to 9. But it is not until the blood of the Lamb is sprinkled, that one soul is delivered from bondage. How very exact is the teaching of God in these types.
Exodus 12. Do, my young reader, ponder well this deeply interesting chapter. May the Spirit of God so bless it to your soul, that it may be the beginning of months to you. Sure I am, it would be even so to many old Christians, did they but understand the full redemption it shadows forth.
Blind, indeed, must be those eyes, which cannot see that this chapter, Exodus 12, sets before us the redemption blood of Christ; as saith the apostle, “For even Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Just as the lamb without blemish, of the first year, was put up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and then killed by the whole assembly; even so did our Jesus, as the lamb without spot, offer Himself to God. Yes, on the very passover night, He gave Himself up for us. He said, “I have heartily desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (see Luke 22:15). Was ever love like this? And the blood was to be sprinkled upon the door-posts of the house. And the Lord said to the children of Israel, “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). And God kept His Word. Not one person perished that night who believed His words about that blood. God said, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” And, my young Christian, think what God sees in the blood of Christ! It is not what you see. We have as yet very limited views of the value of the atoning death of Jesus. But what does God see? The place of highest glory into which God has raised the once-bleeding Jesus, is the answer to what God sees in the value of the cross of Christ. Unmingled grace, flowing throughout eternity, to the millions of the redeemed, proclaims what God sees in the blood of Christ!
What a token of love, the blood of the Lamb! while the death of Jesus shows out the righteousness of God in all its brightness; and surely also His wrath against sin, in all its blackness; yet what a token of love to the poor sinner! Dear reader, I often get comfort in thus thinking of God. His righteousness maintained to the utmost, yet His love shown to us in all its fullness. Why were the door-posts of Israel sprinkled with blood? God loved them. Why did He deliver every man, woman, and child who dwelt in those blood-sprinkled houses? He loved them. Now go up to that blood-sprinkled post; what do you read in that blood on the post? God is love. The blood speaks and says, I am the token of God’s love to you; but it also declares, that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Draw near the cross; what do you read there? Blessed lessons, that shall never be fully learned when eternal ages have rolled away. Oh! why this Holy One thus dying? Why those pierced hands and feet? Why no place to lay that precious head? They who loved Him are fled! They who hate Him are gnashing their teeth around Him? But, why this three hours’ darkness? Why is He forsaken of God? Why that bitter cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Psa. 22:1; Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). In those hours of darkness, forsaken of God, did Jesus pay the full price of redemption; and, bowing His head, cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). And thus died the Lamb of God! Yes, on that cross I read, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). But I also read, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” If our sins could not be remitted even to Him, when He bore them in His own body on the cross, then surely they cannot be remitted to us on any other ground, but through His precious blood. What a token of love to the sinner, then, is the cross of Christ! Sure token on which my soul rests forever.
And now to return. Was it not very striking, that though not one of the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt before this very night of the passover, on which the firstborn of Egypt were slain, yet not one was left in bondage after. Solemn truth! death there must be; death passed on Israel’s lamb, their substitute; but death passed on Egypt’s firstborn. Even so death and judgment have passed on my reader’s Substitute, the Lamb of God; or death and eternal wrath must be your portion forever.
Thus the blood was sprinkled on the door-posts, and thus the Lord brought them out of Egypt. Even so Christ has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
And now, that the lesson of redemption may be fully learned, let me ask you to read Exodus 14. What a picture of Satan’s last effort! The sea before — the whole army of Pharaoh behind. The people are terribly afraid. “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever” (Ex. 14:13). And what a deliverance the Lord wrought that day! The sea was divided, so that the children of Israel passed through on dry land. But that very sea that saved them, drowned every enemy that pursued behind. Not an Hebrew was lost — not an Egyptian was spared. “And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh, that came into the sea after them: there remained not so much as one of them” (Ex. 14:28). Thus the Lord saved Israel. And what a salvation! Could it have been more complete! No more brick-making — no more cruel bondage in Egypt — no more beatings and oppressions. What a sight that was, as Israel looked upon the Egyptians, dead on the sea-shore! And if this, the mere figure of our redemption, were so complete, what must the reality be? It is very terrible to the poor, trembling soul, as it first learns the value of redemption like Israel of old, the rolling waves of death before, Satan and the whole array of sins in hot pursuit behind. But what was it to the Captain of our salvation, when, at the close of His life in the flesh, the prince of this world came against Him, and with the dark billows of God’s wrath before Him, and no escape. Ah! there was no passing on dry ground for Him. The full power of Satan let loose against him — the utmost hate and rage of man! What were the armies of the Egyptians, compared to that fearful hour when all our sins were laid on him? Stroke after stroke of divine wrath against sin fell upon Him. All God’s billows went over His soul. But why this sea of death rolling in upon His soul? Dear young Christian, all this He freely bore that we might pass through death and judgment dryshod. Yes; He came to this Egypt of cruel bondage, that “by His death he might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (see Heb. 2:14-15). And oh! how complete the deliverance! Blessed Deliverer, He is no longer beneath the dark wave of divine wrath, but raised from the dead. As the Egyptians lay dead on the sea-shore, so even God has said He will remember our sins against us no more forever. (Heb. 10). As the Red Sea destroyed Pharaoh and all his host, so Jesus by His death destroyed him that had the power of death, which is the devil. It is thus we stand still, and really see in the death of Jesus the salvation of God.
Now what an entire new position this was to Israel, out of Egypt — brought to God, though in the wilderness! How much they had yet to learn! But they could now sing the song of Moses. And what a song of complete deliverance! Read it over, and let me ask now, Is this the language of your heart? Can you thus rejoice in God’s complete deliverance? Do you understand the teaching of this blessed inspired history? Has the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, thus changed the position of every child of grace! Has the whole power of sin and Satan, when brought against your holy Substitute, been conquered and destroyed? Surely as Israel looked back on the Red Sea, and saw the dead bodies of their enemies, they did not hope they were saved from Egypt’s bondage. And can I look back at the empty grave of Jesus, and hope that I am saved? Surely it is a finished work. No; they sing, “The Lord hath triumphed gloriously.... The Lord is my strength... He is become my salvation” (Ex. 15:1-2). Yes; every sentence breathes certainty and joy.
And should not the language of the Christian be equally confident? “Giving thanks unto the Father, which HATH made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: IN WHOM WE HAVE REDEMPTION through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12). In so short a paper I can only just glance, as it, were, at the blessed lessons set before us in this divine picture.
The Red Sea had separated Israel thus from Egypt: Israel, as it were, became dead to Egypt, and the Egyptians became dead to them. Have you, my reader, thus become dead to the world by the death of Christ? And has the world thus become dead to you? Not one of the armies of Pharaoh was left to throw a stone at God’s redeemed people. Have you realized the amazing fact, that such is the value of the blood of Christ, that not a sin can be laid to your charge?
It is not death like a narrow stream separating you from heaven; but that narrow, dark, deep stream of death in which Jesus took your place and passed through for you, separating you forever from the world, from sin, and Satan. Yes; death and judgment, sin and Satan, the world and all behind: yes; as Israel sang on Canaan’s side of the Red Sea, so may we sing on heaven’s side of the cross.
Oh! what a happy place this is to be in, is it not? I think I hear my young reader say, “I trust I believe all you have said, but still, I am not so happy as I was some time ago.” Well, what is it, think you, that makes you less happy? At first, when God spoke peace to your soul, you were filled with thoughts of Christ, and these made you happy; but now you are thinking more of yourself. Is not that the case? Have you been put under the tasks of the law again? Nothing can more effectually sap the enjoyment of peace than this. You may not have been put under law for salvation, but as a rule of life. You will soon find brick- making in Egypt, as a rule of life, to be brick-making cruel bondage. I never met a person yet under the law, as a rule of life, that enjoyed peace with God. I feel so much depends on clearing this point up for the youngest convert, that I must seek grace to speak on this, as on every other matter, the whole counsel of God.
Now, just as redemption from Egypt delivered the Hebrews entirely in every sense from the bondage of brick-kilns, so the death of Christ delivered even the believing Jew from the bondage of the law. I say Jew, for though, in the writings of men, it is often assumed that the whole world was, and even is, under the law, yet this is great confusion, and utterly opposed to Scripture and to fact. Surely the law was not given from Adam to Moses; and when given, was it given to any but the children of Israel? Yea; and not given to them for four hundred and thirty years after the promise given to Abraham, confirmed in his seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3). But the Jews were under law, and for this very special purpose, that the offense might abound. Transgression of known commands, as in the case of Adam, was needed to convict man of sin, and prove his need of the redemption provided of God. Transgression did come by the law, but righteousness could not. The passage translated “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, KJV), is very much misunderstood; as though there could be no sin without the law. This clearly cannot be the meaning, as is evident, if you compare it with that passage, “For until the law, sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law” (Rom. 5:13). Indeed, those who know well the Greek tell us the passage is not “sin is the transgression of the law,” but “sin is lawlessness.” But to return: the Jews were under the law, that is certain; and was not one great object of Christ’s death to redeem them from the law? as it is written, speaking of Jews, the apostle says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,” etc. (Gal. 3:13). And again, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Gal. 4:5). Redemption, then, from the law was as real as redemption was from sin and the curse. See how this is insisted upon in Romans 7. There the believer is as dead to law by the body of Christ as, he is dead to sin in Romans 6. But what is it to be dead to the law, or redeemed from the law? Well what was it to be under the law? When that is understood, then it is easy to see what it is to be redeemed from it. The illustration of the brick-kiln helps us to clearly put the matter. The Hebrew slave was responsible to do what he could not do, and hence his bitter bondage. Man, under law, is in just this position. He is responsible to do what he cannot do. Important to remember, Israel put themselves in that position (Ex. 19). But that is just the position of any man, Jew or Christian, if under law, he is responsible to do what he finds he cannot do. The law is most holy, just, and good; but man finds himself lost, carnal, sold under sin. When he would do good, evil is present with him. Now, if he is in this position, he must be wretched. He does the thing he hates; and what he would do he cannot do. But, you say, “this is exactly as it is with me.” To be sure it is, and so it is with every one under law. while as a Jew of old, you were never under the law, a moment’s reflection will convince you of that; yet, like the Gentile Galatians, you may have been entangled with the yoke of bondage. Now, if this be the case, is there any wonder at the miserable lives that so many Christians spend. Cruel bondage all their days; feeling they ought to fulfill the whole law, yet failing at every point, until almost driven to despair.
Now, if the precious death of Christ redeemed them from it, who were in this state under the law; is it possible that his death should place us, who never were under it, in that condition? Most clearly not. But then, my reader may ask, if the law is not the rule of life, is there no principle of holy obedience? Oh, yes, most surely, as we shall see in these papers; only the principle of holy obedience cannot be the same as legal bondage.
The law told man what was right, but gave him no power to do it; yea, only excited him to do what he knew was wrong; and thus it only condemned him. Now from that state, those who were under it were redeemed entirely. As they had once been brought out of Egypt, entirely delivered from its cruel bondage, so were they entirely redeemed from sin, and death, and law. And more; we who were not under law, but utterly lawless, sin and death having passed upon all, whether transgressors under law, or sinners without law; we, too, have been redeemed from the whole old ruined condition of lost and guilty man, and brought to God on a totally new principle from man’s responsibility altogether. No longer the bond-slaves of sin, but sons of God, born of God, having a new nature; yea, having the Spirit of God dwelling in us; as it is written, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). And yet there is one other character of redemption which marks its fullness above all others, and that is, it is ETERNAL REDEMPTION. “By His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). The Israelite might possibly have got back to Egypt, but not so the believer, who has eternal redemption through the blood of Christ. Oh! who can fully tell what it is thus to be eternally delivered from sin, and death, and condemnation? My old former self dead! My old former state forever passed away! My young Christian, do ponder these words — eternal redemption. The guilt of all your sins eternally put away. Death, even the death of the cross, has put an end to them all. No question of hope — it is so: we have eternal redemption. Where this is understood, what rest it gives. Even in this particular, the shadow was very striking. Redemption from Egypt being completed, then, but not till then did God make known His Sabbath or rest to the Hebrews. We heard of the Sabbath in Eden; but from Adam to Moses, we hear of no Sabbath for man Surely, God says in this, there can be no rest for the sinner but through the blood of the Lamb.
Eternal redemption gives eternal rest. Surely, when we are in the glory, it will not be more complete. Nothing can add or take away from its value. And is this the place of boundless blessing into which God has brought you, my reader? Then will you, can you, glory in aught but the cross of Christ?
In my next, I hope to look with you at the “lessons of the wilderness.” In the meantime, may our God lead you, after reading this paper, by His Holy Spirit to search His own precious word. This is the one desire of my heart, knowing that nothing else can meet your need.

God for Us to the Very End

Mr. Charles Stanley read from Numbers 22:1-6 and then said:
We see in this chapter the last march and the last pitching of the tents of Israel on this side Jordan. The Lord has laid it on our hearts that what He is speaking to us now, He is speaking at the close of the journey, and there are principles here brought out that seem to me encouraging to our hearts at this moment. The intense opposition of Satan was seen at the end of the journey, immediately before Israel passed into Canaan. The policy and craft of Satan were seen, and it was at the close of Israel’s history that Balaam was hired against the people of the Lord. But the eye of Jehovah was upon him, and the eye of the Lord is on His people now. At the close of the journey GOD IS FOR us. If we look at this very moment, this precise period of Israel’s journey, we shall see, in Deuteronomy there the Lord coming down reproving, rebuking. and declaring to them their departure from Himself. I receive every word our beloved brother, who has just sat down, has said to us. It is our Deuteronomy. It is not for our own worthiness that God is for us. We have failed. We will bear timely rebuke, because at the close of our journey. But was there ever a time when God so wrought for His chosen? God was so infinitely above the apprehension or intention of the people, that if you go down to the plains of Moab you find the whole of the congregation in ignorance of what was transpiring on the heights above.
The opposition of Balaam was very much of the character we have to encounter now. It was on the Jannes and Jambres’ principle, a perfect imitation, with its seven altars, oxen, and rams, but it was the intense opposition of Satan behind all. Let us not be ignorant, that the opposition is not merely of Balaam, of Moab, of the world, it is not merely of man; but we have come to the last days, we have come to the trials when that which professes to be of God is most intense in its opposition, but behind the whole is Satan, who knows we are about to enter the glory; and while we bow to the rebuke — the voice of the Lord unto us — let us rise up to the blessed fact, it was at that time, when Israel knew nothing about it, that God was for them and with them. Was there ever a more glorious vindication of His people? Oh, what were Israel in God’s sight! The righteousness of God shines out — God the Justifier. It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again. He has suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. He has glorified God. Oh, that foundation ground... The Holy Spirit is with us. Notwithstanding all our failures I take courage, beloved brethren; if this be our last march, if this be our last assembling together, let us carry it home with us that God is for us!
Let me read a few words that God may use in strengthening the heart of His people. Let even Balaam speak. God will make even them that are of the synagogue of Satan to come and do homage at the feet of His weak ones. After all their failures, their stiff-neckedness, He says (O blessed be the Lord it is true for us today): “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the. river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters” (Num. 24:5). The Lord send us to our homes with these, His thoughts about the assemblies He has planted on the earth. In His sight they are as gardens. If our leaf is not as green, the River is the same. The Holy Spirit is the same. May that well of water spring up! May we awake to the sense of what His saints are in God’s account! “As trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted.” Do you know the sweet perfume of the lign aloes? that there is no wood more fragrant? Do you know what the saints are to God? Do you know His thoughts of every assembly? These are His thoughts — and His thoughts after all our failures. His thoughts at the close of the journey, and more than these. “As cedar trees beside the waters,” O what power the soul has if the Holy Spirit abide in — him! O what power for good in the assemblies which the Holy Spirit maintains here for Christ! And yet we look at ourselves as if we were not here?
“He shall pour the water out of the buckets.” May God use every saint present in pouring out the living waters! He is with us still: God is for us. Do not, for a moment, suppose there is a clash in the ministry of the word by His Spirit. We need every word, and may God by His Spirit fix it in our hearts! He is with us. Go forth, my brethren, as buckets the Lord has filled. May God do it, and do it by all, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
From The Bible Herald, 1877, pp. 47-49.

God Is Love

If we read Exodus 2:23, 3:1-10, we see the condition of the people in cruel bondage and slavery, an exact picture of our condition under the cruel bondage of sin and Satan. Their cries and groans came up unto God. Do you remember the time when it was thus with you? Think of the slave that can by no means escape from bondage. Such is the condition by nature of every man, whether he knows it or not. And note, the source of their deliverance was not in themselves. The source of our salvation is the love of God. God is love. He came down to deliver. He sent Moses to deliver. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Yes, God sent Moses—God sent His Son. God is love. They believed Moses. “Then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Ex. 4:31). This, then, is the first mark of a quickened soul. Have you believed the love of God in sending His Son? This bows your head, and you worship.
It is the earnest desire to be gone, to escape from the slavery of Satan and sin. Did they escape through believing the love of God alone? No. Have you? No. Their case became worse as to experience. So has yours. So did mine. They were now put on the principle of more work — to make bricks without straw. They could not, and were beaten because they did not. And you, were you not put under the law of God? They had no straw, and you had no strength. And you found that word true, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). And you had no strength to do them. Paul describes all this in Romans 7:14-24. Poor, wretched Israel! Moses said, “Neither hast thou delivered Thy people at all” (Ex. 5:22-23). And you have believed the love of God, and tried to keep the law of God, but are you delivered from sin? What do you say? “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?” (Rom. 7:24). The next or third thing we find in this picture is the promises of God. (Read Ex. 6:1-9.) Do read them. Could God give more precious promises? No. Did the promises deliver? Not in the least; “They hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9), and you have tried to lay hold of the promises. Have they delivered you? No. You say, They do not comfort me. Why? I am such a sinner, such a slave. And this makes you unspeakably miserable.
Now the fourth thing in this picture is the wondrous kindness of God in His providential care of Israel during the plagues of Egypt. From Exodus 7-9 we have the most tender care in sparing His people. But they were all still in cruel slavery.
What is to be done? We too have believed the love of God; we have tried to keep the law of God; we have tried to lay hold of the promises, and to trust the providence of God; and yet no real deliverance from sin — from the cruel slavery of doing what we hate. We are at our wit’s end — we have come to the end. We do not know what to do. Thank God, we have got to the end of ourselves; we can do no more.
All now is of God, we will see what He has done. What do we get in this picture? A lamb. Every man’s need is met by a lamb. The lamb must now be put forth; the lamb must be killed; blood must be sprinkled; the lamb must be eaten; God must see the blood. God says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). Oh, how little redemption is understood. Such is sin in God’s sight, He must send His Son, the Lamb of God. He must be killed, His blood must be shed. And it is what God sees in that blood, it is God’s estimate of that blood, which shelters from judgment. We must have redemption through that blood. There is no other means of pardon and eternal salvation.
Now many reach this point who never go beyond, and are utter strangers to all the teaching of Shiloh. Yea, they are not even delivered from Egypt; they have not yet understood the Red Sea. Until Israel had passed through the waters of the Red Sea, they were sorely troubled about Pharaoh and the host of the Egyptians behind them (Ex. 14). It is so with you, if you have only been brought so far on as being sheltered by the blood. Often you are sorely troubled about past sins, especially sins since you believed the love of God. Does not Satan bring them after you like the armies of Egypt?
A Christian can never really sing in his heart until he knows he is brought out of his old state through death — death written upon him and all his past. Ah, then the Egyptians are all dead on the shore. It is a wonderful thing to reckon ourselves dead with Christ.
But before we reach Shiloh there are two things that must be known — out of (Ex. 13:18) and into (see Deut. 11:31, 32).
We learn what we are brought out of at the Red Sea. We get the picture of what we are brought into when we have crossed the Jordan. Now between these lies the wilderness with all its lessons and experiences. But in the wilderness there is not a word about Shiloh. Let it be borne in mind, none can enter into the lessons of Shiloh but those who have not only been brought out of the old creation, typified by Egypt, but also brought into the new creation, into the heavens, as typified by the passage of the Jordan.
It is most needed to learn the lessons of God’s provision for us in the wilderness, by the offerings, etc., of Leviticus . How every failure has been met by the one offering of Christ; yea, how all the claims of divine righteousness have been met to the glory of God. He who came to do the will of God could say, “I have glorified Thee” (John 17:4). If we now read carefully Deuteronomy 12, beginning at Deuteronomy 11:31, we shall see the immense change that would take place, when they had crossed the Jordan, and were in actual possession of the land, and had rest in all that God had given them. All idolatry was to be destroyed. Then God would choose out a place. “But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes, to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come” (Deut. 12:5). To that place they were to bring all their offerings. There they were to worship and eat, and rejoice before the Lord. All this is solemnly repeated. They were not to do there as they had done in the wilderness, “every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, for ye are not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety: then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there,” etc. (Deut. 8-11). What is the antitype or answer to all this? Can you say, It is true of me; after all my struggles in Egyptian bondage to sin and Satan, God brought me out by the blood of the Lamb? Through Pharaoh’s overthrow I see now he that had the power of death is destroyed. Can you say, I am dead with Christ? Can you say, God has secured His own glory, and provided for all my needs, by the offering of Christ? Can you say, As to my conscience, the whole question of my sins is settled for eternity: I have eternal redemption; He hath by His one offering perfected me forever, in unchanging continuance?
And much more. Now take the epistles. Look at Ephesians 1. Look at the heavenly land, so to speak; our God and our Father hath given us. Here you see the believer clean over Jordan that is, brought into the land God hath given him in Christ, in the heavenlies — out of Egypt, as you may read in Colossians 1:12-14, but into the heavenlies in Christ, in Ephesians. In the one case really across Jordan; dead with Christ, and risen with Him (Col. 2; 3). In Ephesians, right up in the heavenlies in the Beloved. In the same favor in the Beloved. Can you say, All this is true of me? Is God so good to you? In His free grace has He given you all this to enjoy in His own love in Christ? Oh, have you taken possession? Have you rest in the unbounded love of God, as thus revealed? Note, until this is the case, you will be like Israel before they crossed the Jordan: as to all church matters, you will do what seemeth good in your own eyes. You look abroad, and you see many places that men have built, and placed their names, and you will choose for yourself, and not knowing the Lord’s mind, you will do what you think best, in what is called liberty of conscience. We will now pass on to Shiloh (Josh. 18:1-10).

The Gospel of the Glory

We shall better understand the wondrous character of the gospel of the glory, as preached in the First Years of Christianity, if we dwell briefly on the gospel of the kingdom, which preceded it, and which, when the Church is gone to glory, will succeed it on earth.
In the preaching of John the Baptist, the heavens were only opened to one Person, the Son of God. He was the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well pleased.The heavens were opened to Him, and on Him the Holy Spirit could descend (Matt. 3:16, 17). John’s testimony was the last and greatest of the prophets to Israel. It was the ax laid to the root of the trees — to all Jewish prejudices and self-righteousness, and was a solemn call to repentance and confession of sins; and finally he announced the Messiah. There was no opening into the heavens for sinners, but only for the one Man who came from heaven.
In the preaching also of Jesus to Israel, it was not the gospel of the glory, but of the kingdom. Several bright gleams shone forth: shall we say in the prophetic vision on the Mount, fore-shadowing the coming glory? There were two men with Him in the glory. During His last night before His death there were wondrous words from His lips, both to the disciples and to the Father. He spake not of Jerusalem, nor this earth, nor the kingdom on the earth, but of the Father’s house, the many mansions, and of His going to prepare a place for them; and He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
And He said unto the Father, when about to be with Him, in the glory that He had with Him before the world was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory” (John 17:24). Yet even after His resurrection the apostles did not understand this. They were still occupied with the promised kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6).
It is also very remarkable, that during the forty days Jesus remained with them, we do not read that He spake to them about the Church, or the gospel of the glory, “but being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” When the Holy Spirit had come down, Jesus having ascended up into heaven, and the new company of believers having been baptized by (in the power of) the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:32, 33 Cor. 12:13) — the Church being thus formed — the preaching even then was chiefly what characterizes the kingdom. Very distinctly so in Acts 3:17-21. Peter unlocked the door, so to speak, by repentance and baptism into the kingdom of heaven — the kingdom on earth, while the King was away in heaven. The preaching went thus far, the apostles saying, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:29-31).
As yet the preaching is limited to Israel, and to the promises made to their fathers — very much, indeed, to the kingdom to be set up on this earth. Not a word yet of the gospel of the glory. Jesus was gone up into heaven, and He would come again. But the gospel preached did not reach up to heaven opened to man.
In Acts 7 there was an immense change. Israel, in the murder of Stephen, committed their final sin as a nation, in rejecting the Holy Spirit. All is now over with them for the present. All is over as to restoring the kingdom to them now; and at the same moment the heavens are opened to man, to the believing dying Stephen. Full of the Holy Spirit, he “looked up steadfastly into heaven, AND SAW THE GLORY OF GOD, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Alas, from that day they have stopped their ears.
From that moment, though the earth has rejected the Son of God, the heavens have remained open to man, to every one who believes. That day there stood near a young man, at whose feet were laid the clothes of the murderers. We shall hear of him again. That young man, Saul, was consenting unto his death; that young man was the chosen instrument to go to the nations and proclaim the gospel of the glory.
In Acts 9:22, 26, we have another most remarkable advance. This very young man, Saul, mad with persecuting rage, was on his way to Damascus, with authority from the chief priests to bring believers bound to Jerusalem. A stream of glory shines right down from heaven. He says, “At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me, and them which journeyed with me!” And he says, from that heavenly glory: “I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”
What amazement seized that young man! Heaven was opened, and the glory descends, comes down to man, to man the sinner, the enemy. And that voice from heaven, from the brightness of the glory, speaks to the sinner, mad with persecuting rage, and asks a question, which implies that those believers whom this young man persecutes, are one with Himself, who speaks from the glory. Astonished he asks, “Who art Thou, Lord?” Who can this Lord of glory be? And he hears the wondrous reply, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”
Now it was from the glorified Jesus, Saul received the commission to go forth as His chosen witness and heavenly messenger, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.”
You will see that this was greatly in advance of all that had gone before. The gospel of the kingdom of God to be set up on this earth, most true in its time, was altogether different from this gospel of the glory and the heavenly vision. Discipleship by repentance and baptism was most prominent as the entrance into the kingdom, in John’s preaching, in the Lord’s also, in Matthew and Mark. But Paul was not thus sent (1 Cor. 1:17). Indeed, as we have said, his preaching was far in advance of that of the twelve, as seen up to Acts 9. He is sent from the vision of the heavenly glory to both Jews and Gentiles, to turn them from darkness to light. It was to take out a people for heaven, from the power of Satan unto God. And what he preached was not what man must do, but that Christ must suffer, and “be the first that should rise from the dead, and should SHOW LIGHT unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” And he could say, “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.”
Now while the twelve preached Jesus as the crucified, dead, risen, and exalted Lord and Messiah, Paul at once proclaims Him the Son of God. There was now nothing more to be expected from man. It was no longer what he must do, but what Christ must have done who had appeared to him in heavenly glory. Thus he opened the scriptures: “opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” To him it was the Son of God who had thus died for him, who had been made sin for him, who had put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and had sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Could he doubt the perfection of that work which Christ must do, and had done? No, He who had once been crucified for him, had appeared from heaven in brightest glory — in light beyond the Eastern noon-day sun. God had raised Him from the dead, who had been delivered for our offenses, and raised Him for the very purpose of our justification. Thus he preached, and thus, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote. This was his gospel of the glory. Let us hear him. He says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not. So that the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine forth for them... Because it is the God who spoke, that out of darkness light should shine, who has shone in our hearts for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:3-6; lit. translation).
Thus the gospel of the glory of Christ shines down from heaven on a lost and guilty world. All is darkness here. Man is darkness. Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving: he presents every form of false religion and dark superstition to hinder the rays of heavenly glory shining into the poor dark soul of man.
Has the radiancy of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ever shone into your soul? Has that risen and glorified Jesus ever spoken direct to you? Can you say, I have heard His voice speaking to me? What a color the heavenly vision gave to all the preachings of Paul, that once fiery young persecutor! When he preached forgiveness of sins to guilty sinners, it was straight from the glory. Nay, the inspired writings of Paul will be all fresh and new, and heavenly, if we read them as in the First Years of Christianity, in the warmth and brightness of the heavenly vision. They will indeed be like a river of water of life, and light from the throne of glory, of God and the Lamb. Let us remember the power of that vision of the glory which attracted Paul from everything under the sun. May it be so with us.

The Government of the House of God, and the Place of the Assembly in a City

Without any thought of raising questions, but with the simple desire to edify, the following, thoughts are suggested for the prayerful consideration of my beloved brethren.
After the resurrection of the Lord, and before the formation of the assembly, we find the disciples gathered in one place — an upper room, the doors being shut (John 20:19). After His ascension they returned to Jerusalem, and are found again in an upper room (Acts 1:13). At the descent of the Holy Spirit, “They were all with one accord in one place.” “It filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1, 2). The multitude was attracted to that place, but we are not told whether the first preaching continued at that house, or in the city, or temple. “The same day there were added about three thousand souls.” “And all that believed were together.” “And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home.”
Their public place for teaching and prayer was the temple, for some time (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 4:1). And for the moment this was the will of the Lord “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20-42).
But besides the temple and every house, there was also the place of the assembly: — “And being let go, they went to their own company.” “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together” (Acts 4:23-31). This was after the number of the men was about five thousand. (Acts 4:4). Thus, besides the temple for teaching and prayer, and every house, there was a special place of the assembly. The case of Ananias implies the same thing. They came to a place to lay the money at the apostles’ feet. “And great fear came upon all the assembly.” This did not hinder the testimony in Solomon’s porch, or in the streets where Peter passed. Neither did it hinder their entering into the temple in the morning to teach (Acts 5:12-21).
The murmuring of the Hellenists as to their widows in the daily ministration, and all that follows, seems to have been in the same well-known place of the assembly (Acts 6). As to Jerusalem, a great change, no doubt, took place after the scattering of Acts 8:1. The gospel is preached to the Gentiles, and the assembly is found at Antioch as well as Jerusalem. (Acts 9:19-26). And though much people are taught, yet there seems to be one distinct place of the assembly (Acts 13:1-4). The servants of the Lord are gathered together, and there the Holy Spirit specially acts. To that one place they return, and gather the whole assembly (Acts 14:27). It might be felt to be a difficulty as to how such multitudes could be gathered thus together to one place.
Such was the case, however, as may be seen. “And it came to pass, in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue (or meeting-room) of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude... believed” (Acts 14:1). In a similar manner a great multitude heard, and believed, in a synagogue at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4). Also many of them in the synagogue at Berea heard, and believed (Acts 17:10-12). Many, also, of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized. And the place where Paul preached was this — “He reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath,” and this for a year and six months. Still more striking is the ease at Ephesus. After speaking boldly in the synagogue for three months, we find him in one place in the school, or hall, of one Tyrannus; “and this continued for the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” It is not to be supposed that they were all together at one time. Something like this takes place to this day in the East. The servant of the Lord enters a town, takes a room. The people begin to come in the morning, and continue for days or weeks, scarcely giving time to eat, until the town and district hear the glad tidings. It would be profitable, to compare much of the modern machinery of man with God, and that poor traveler, the ambassador of Christ in that one place, the school of Tyrannus.
A careful study of the Acts will show remarkable unity in the Spirit’s work in these cities, at the beginning, in every case. A fountain of living water gushed forth, and watered all around. Multitudes drank of the stream. In like manner there seems to have been in each case recorded one place recognized as the gathering-place of the assembly, and all was connected with that, both for ministry and administration. (See Acts 6; 12; 15)
Shall we now examine what light is thrown upon this question in the epistles, after great numbers had been converted, and added to the Lord?
We will take Rome. In Rome there would be doubtless more believers than would be allowed to, or able to gather together at one time, in one house or place. Yet it is not a little remarkable, it is only respecting one house that the expression, the assembly, is used. It appears, when the Epistle to the Romans was written, those honored laborers and companions of the apostle, Priscilla and Aquila, were at Rome. The apostle sends his first greetings to them: “Likewise the assembly that is in their house” (Rom. 16:3-5). He also sent salutations to many other brethren, helpers, and laborers, and those with them, evidently in different parts of the city. There were those of, or who belonged to, Aristobulus; to Narcissus; again, “Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren with them; salute Philologus, and Julias Nereus, and his sister, and Olympus, and all the saints with them.” Now why does the Holy Spirit speak of the assembly.only in one house, and of all the rest of the fellow-laborers by name, and the saints with them? The same principle may be noticed in 1 Corinthians 16, and remarkably these same honored servants of the Lord, Aquila and Priscilla, his wife, “with the church that is in their house.”
The same principle is observed at Laodicea: “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.” Note, there are the brethren, and also the assembly, in the house of Nymphas. Is it not, then, clear that the assembly in such a house, in one place in each city, is not the same thought as the assembly of God in such a city, which must embrace all the brethren, whether in Rome or Laodicea? (Col. 4:15). Still more: — “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the assembly of the Laodiceans.” It does not say in the separate assemblies, but, in the assembly; and we see the house of Nymphas as the one place named, as the assembly place. It would follow it was to be read there, until all the brethren heard it. The unity of the Spirit may have been thus maintained in every city, however many thousands may have composed the assembly of God in that city. One place, marked out by the Lord, and recognized by all, as the center, or assembly, for all purposes of administration. Such a place there was, evidently, in Jerusalem. This did not set aside the breaking of bread in other places, or preaching in the temple, or in every house. So in Rome, although there were so many local companies, perhaps converted through the persons named, at all events under their spiritual care, but one place only called the assembly in their house. There was evidently one place in Jerusalem for deliberation (Acts 15).
Was it not a beautiful sight at Antioch to see all the servants of the Lord Jesus in that city met together in one place, fasting, and waiting on the Lord, He guiding them by the Holy Spirit, as to all service, whether in that city, or far away? It is by no means implied that the whole assembly of God was assembled together, but the Holy Spirit specially acting in that one place for the whole. How simple, and how effective also, would discipline have been in such a case. It would not require, say the whole of the saints, in such cases as Jerusalem and Rome, and probably Corinth, to have been together in one (physical) place. The same may be said now of even those gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus in London. If it requires, the whole to be actually together, then calm deliberation and discipline would be impossible; and since Jude wrote his Epistle; unanimity would be still more impossible.
If we read 1 Corinthians 12, and 2 Corinthians 1:1, it is evidently all these; all saints everywhere; and again, “All the saints which are in Achaia” could not be together in one place.
And yet the act of discipline was evidently in one place, and surely binding on all. And note, though the apostle is writing to the whole church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia, yet he says, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many.” It therefore does not follow that either all were present, or that all were unanimous. But the punishment was inflicted by many If we have here the principle on which the Spirit of God acted in the beginning, we see at once how the perfect unity of the Spirit would be maintained, as to fellowship, administration, discipline, and service, however large the city, or great the numbers; and it would. be very difficult to explain the scriptures we have looked at, and many others, on any other principle.
It is, however, evident that, though there was one recognized place of the assembly in every city, yet all the saints were free, surely, to go to that place, and when anything unusual occurred, great numbers did assemble together, as in Acts 15.
In applying these scriptures to our present time, and the Lords present testimony, it is true we must remember the present ruin of the church (viewed in responsible testimony) as a witness of Christ, looked at in its profession, but the question is this: are these scriptures to guide those gathered to Christ, in whatever weakness? and if not, what scriptures will meet the case of a large city, with several meetings in it, say like London? If the scriptures do not speak of assemblies in a city, can we?
May we all have spiritual discernment to understand the Lord’s mind from His word, by the Holy Spirit. Let the mind of the Lord, in any case, be thus known by the saints gathered (together) to the name of Jesus in one place in a city, and admitted to be binding on the whole church of God; let that one place be the recognized place of the whole assembly’s deliberations, for administration, discipline, and service; and, above all, let the Lord be owned and waited upon there for the whole church of God in that city; then surely none who own Him, and meet together on the ground of the one body, would refuse to bow to the decision of such an assembly, open to all, but not requiring all to be present, to arrive at His mind.
[We have inserted the above in our pages, not as endorsing the views expressed, but as desiring, with others, prayerfully in the light of scripture, to consider the important and intensely practical question raised in them. They are, by the wish of the writer, put before our readers as simply suggestive, and in no sense as direct teaching. -Ed.]
From Words of Faith, 1883, vol. 2, pp. 47-52.
(The reader should consult the subject index to Letters of J. N. Darby, under Assembly, and the sub-heading “in a city” for more on this subject. )

The Grace of God to a Collier With a Broken Leg

“There is nothing between my soul and God; the blood of Jesus has put it all away.”
A few months ago the writer of this paper received a letter from a person at Hoyland, stating that a very dear friend, a collier (coal miner), had had a most serious accident from a fall of a roof. His leg was broken in three places: and so badly crushed he was not expected to live. The writer of the letter felt assured that this accident was permitted for his dear friend’s salvation, and further, that the writer of this little paper would be used in blessing to him. He felt it was a question of life and death, nay of eternity; and immediately drove to Harley. There lay Aaron Hoyland, on that bed from which he was to rise no more. A few hours before, he was a strong, able-bodied man. He had been a steady, sober, industrious man; had a well-furnished house, and was greatly respected by all who knew him. The writer had been giving lectures lately at the Public Hall, Hoyland, and at once remembered the remarkably attentive face of this now lame man. He had been greatly interested, if not awakened, by the Spirit of God. But as yet he was a stranger to the present, perfect, and eternal salvation in Christ Jesus.
This may be the reader’s condition. If laid on a bed from which you may never rise in health again, is it not an awful thing to be a stranger to God, because a stranger to Christ? However respected by friends and family, is that enough to enable you to face death, and after death the judgment?
The conversion of Aaron Hoyland was very similar to that of Lydia. The Lord opened her heart to attend to the things that were spoken. There he lay utterly helpless. His poor leg sadly broken and crushed. Little or no hope of recovery. He was too much shattered to have his leg amputated, until this was the last possible alternative. The quiet reading of the Word of God was what the Holy Spirit chiefly used in his bright and blessed conversion. He was shown that the message of God from heaven was no less than the forgiveness of sins, through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. These words were read slowly to him — “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things (Acts 13:38-39). He heard God speaking to his soul in these words. He had heard the words before, but never heard God speaking in them to him as a lost, guilty sinner.
Very simple was the childlike faith with which he thus believed God. The certainty that God meant what He said broke in upon his soul. Jesus had glorified God on the cross in bearing the full judgment due to sins. God had raised that Holy Sin-bearer from the dead, and now every barrier was removed. God in righteousness proclaimed forgiveness of sins, and all that believe were, yea are, justified from all things. He believed God with his heart: that is, it was a message he needed, it concerned him, and he believed it; so that as sure as God speaks truth, he was justified from all things.
Then there was another scripture equally blest to him These words gave him a threefold certainty. His heart was opened to hear them as the precious words of Jesus. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). He never seemed for a moment to doubt the very truth of what Jesus said in these words. He believed God, and therefore knew his sins were forgiven. He knew he was justified from all things; accounted righteous before God. God said so.
And now he heard the words of Jesus. He believed God that sent Him; and he knew that he had everlasting life. Jesus said so. He knew he should never come into judgment. Jesus said so. He knew he was passed from death unto life. Jesus said so; and he did not need anyone else to say so. The word of Jesus was enough for Aaron Hoyland. Oh that it might be enough for the reader of this paper! Think of the love of God in sending His Son! Surely that love must be infinite to poor sinners, that spared not His Son, but freely gave Him up: who also gave Himself, in voluntary love to us, to bear our sins on the shameful tree.
Being justified by faith, he had perfect peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He never doubted that that peace which Jesus had made through the blood of His cross must be perfect. Another scripture was very sweet to his soul for his blessed Jesus had said it. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out” (John 6:37). His soul could adore the God of all grace who had given him to Christ, and now had used this terrible accident in bringing him to know Jesus. And it was so sweet to rest in that love that says, “I will in nowise cast out.”
And now he was looking for Jesus, not as an angry judge (this indeed He will be to all who reject Him now); but Aaron loved to meditate on that blessed moment when “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). Yes, during those six weeks of great bodily pain, he loved to dwell on that blessed moment, the coming of the Lord to take His own, whether sleeping in Jesus, or alive and remaining He would ask about the change in his body at the first resurrection: and when shown that just as he had borne the image of the earthy, so also should he bear the image of the heavenly: that he would be like the Lord in glory and have the same incorruptible body, as is shown in 1 Corinthians 15:42-56: and that when Jesus came in glory he certainly would come with Him — then his soul seemed full of light, and joy, and peace.
It was beautiful to see how he drank in those words of Jesus, “Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions (abodes); if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Never once did he doubt the reality and certainty of these precious words of love.
They must fill the soul with unspeakable joy, if we believe Jesus. Just think, as surely as He died for us, as surely as He is gone to prepare a place for us, so surely will He come and receive us to Himself. Oh! wait my soul for the coming of thy precious, loving Lord.
What would an infidel have thought of that sight? The poor leg as black as a coal. Very offensive; decomposition, we suppose, had already, set in. But that dear face, as calm as the deep blue sky of heaven. Never shall we forget those few words he spoke, which express so much. — “There is nothing between my soul and God, the blood of Jesus has put it all away!” Yes, the precious blood of Jesus was more to Him than ten thousand worlds. Nothing in heaven or earth can give this divine, calm, intelligent certainty, in the immediate prospect of death, or the coming of the Lord, but the blood, of Jesus. He had entered in some measure by the teaching of the Holy Spirit into the depth of those words, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). He could say, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Thus, believing these divine statements of God’s Word, he could say with peaceful confidence, “There is nothing between my soul and God, the blood of Jesus has put it all away!” Thus he had boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus. It was very blessed to witness the heavenly peace the precious blood gave to his conscience. He believed God that such was the value of the one sacrifice of Christ for those whose sins He bore, that God says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
This contrast also gave great comfort to his soul. “And it is appointed unto men (not all men) once to die, but after this the judgment; so CHRIST was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin, unto salvation” (Heb. 9:27). All his lifetime he had been taught to believe in a general resurrection of judgment; now he saw that all his sins had been laid on Jesus to be remembered against him no more. And now he could look for the very Jesus who bore his sins and their full judgment on the cross. Yes, when Jesus comes He will be the very one who bore his sins on the cross.
Thus justified from all things by His precious blood: and sin, (the root) condemned by the one sacrifice for sin, he believed what God said, that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1-3).
There was no excitement, but the calm rest of the soul in God.
Aaron believed God, as a little child believes a mother’s word, a mother’s love.
After some weeks, the doctor decided to amputate the dead limb. The broken bones could not be set. When that trying moment came, there was no fear of death, nor of pain. It was however a great stroke to the shattered system. He did not survive long. Lock-jaw ensued in eight days. His sufferings were now so great he could scarcely be seen; but his peace flowed like a river, until that moment when he was “absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
He was a man of few words: but those few, and the way in which they were said, will never be forgotten by the writer of these lines. “There is nothing between my soul and God: the blood of Jesus has put it all away.”
Oh, reader, can you say so? Are the sins of your youth put away? Are the sins of middle life put away’? It may be of old age? If called suddenly away, can you say, There is nothing between my soul and God? Have you tried by fasting, and prayers, and penance, to put them away? Are they put away? Dare you die trusting to your prayers of repentance, or penance? Has God said He will forgive for these things? Repentance will be inseparably connected with faith in the atoning death of Jesus, and produce the full acknowledgment of your sins to God, in confession and self-abhorrence; but far greater was the price given before the sinner could be saved.
It was not at the beginning, but at the end of Job’s long history, that he truly repented. The Ninevites believed God, and then repented. And so the Jews at Pentecost. And often when the soul is brought to the lowest point, like Hezekiah, when he cried, “O Lord I am oppressed; undertake for me.” Ah, it is just then full deliverance comes. What is your state at this moment? Can you say in perfect peace, There is nothing between my soul and God? or do you say I have tried to give up my sins: have tried to serve God: I have tried to repent and tried to pray: but oh my sins: O Lord I am oppressed; undertake for me? Yes, when brought to this: guilty, lost, without power, or strength to be better: and unless God undertakes for me I am lost forever. “What shall I say?” says Hezekiah; “He hath both spoken unto me, and Himself hath done it” (Isa. 38:14). Is this true? It is not, will He speak to me? Will He undertake for me? No it is this; He hath spoken to me in His blessed Word. He hath undertaken for me: He hath done it! Oh what a fact, the eternal Son of God hath undertaken the lost, guilty, helpless sinner’s redemption; and He hath done it! “Sing O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it” (Isa. 44:23). It is not He will: He has done it! “It is finished.” “Peace unto you.” Go over this paper again; the same word spoken to Aaron Hoyland, is now spoken to you.
He Himself has done it. “Be it known unto you... that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe ARE justified.” He that believeth HATH everlasting life. Do you say I do believe God: will He now forgive my sins, even mine? Yes, if you believe God, He has spoken unto you, and Himself has done it. To the poor woman at Jesus’ feet believing Him, He did not say pray, and your sins shall be forgiven. No! He said “Thy sins are forgiven thee: thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace” (Luke 7:48-50). Do you believe this point? You cannot separate faith and forgiveness. Faith links us with the infinite value of the blood of Christ. Nothing is left between our souls and God; the blood of Christ has put it all away. “I HAVE blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins; return unto Me for I HAVE redeemed thee. Sing O ye heaven; for the Lord hath done it” (Isa. 44:22). Thus will the Lord speak to Israel in mercy in days yet to come. And thus may He speak to the reader now. It is the earnest prayer of the writer that as God spoke peace to Aaron. Hoyland through these portions, and others of His Word, so He may speak to the reader. Why should you doubt God? Why should you turn a deaf ear? Ponder these questions. Can anyone give me this calm peace with God; this boldness to enter His presence but the blood of Christ? Blessed be God! “Sing O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it.”

What is Grace?

I remember a person once saying, “He did not like the word Grace; he thought the word Love meant the same and was much better.” This is a mistake, grace goes a great deal further than love. Man loves that which in some ways he thinks worthy of love, and he thinks God is the same as himself, and therefore he says, “I must turn to God some day and try to be worthy of His love; and then He will love me.” Now the grace of God is the very opposite of this human thought. I do not know anything like it in the whole world.
“What is grace?” said I, the other day. “Mercy,” was the reply. Well, it is true the love of God and the mercy of God are both very, very wonderful. “God who is rich in MERCY, for His great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins”; and both the mercy and love of God are thus in grace; that is in pure unmerited favor. Yet this grace of God goes further, yea, far beyond the reach of all human thought.
Let us suppose a criminal, guilty of such crimes as to make him an object of the deepest abhorrence, standing condemned before the judge. Mercy would be a great thing shown to such an one; but if it were possible in the heart of a human judge to love such an one, utterly worthless and undeserving, that would indeed be a wonder. But what would be thought if the judge so loved the poor guilty one, as to put himself really in the place of the prisoner; bear the full penalty of all his crimes, and then take him into his own house, make him partner with himself, and say, “As long as I live, all that I have is yours.”
Oh! tell me where amongst the cold-hearted sons of men, where was ever grace shown like this? No! No! The glory of this grace belongeth alone to my God. Oh, how shall I tell of His wondrous grace!
My reader, you may have heard it by the hearing of the ear, but has this grace ever reached your heart by the power of the Spirit of God? That God should thus love and pity, and show mercy to the guilty; yes, the ungodly! the guilty! the lost! as to send His own dear Son in sweetest grace, to take the very place of the lost and guilty, in purest grace to bear all their sins in His own body on the tree! Oh, look at the cross! God in grace meeting man’s utmost need. Ah! Do you in your very heart believe it? Then you may cast yourself before such a God, confessing all your sins, your wretchedness, your misery; spread it all before Him. Do not try to make yourself a bit better than you are before Him. He will pardon the confessing sinner in faithfulness to the blood of Jesus. Jesus died for the purpose; that God might be just, not only in pardoning but in justifying every sinner that believeth. But oh, this is not all, God in pure grace takes the utterly unworthy sinner, pardoned and justified, into perfect partnership or oneness with Himself in the ever blessed Lord Jesus. In this grace He met the murderer Saul; from that moment Paul became the partner or joint-heir of Christ. What a change! From that day he could say, “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Right well did he know that nothing could ever separate him from such love as this. Yes, and God by this very little paper can, in the wonders of His grace, meet a murderer, a drunkard, a harlot, or worse than all, a deceived Pharisee. Yes, and from this moment the days of my partnership with Satan may be ended. Oh God, grant it. May this be thy happy portion; pardoned, justified, forever one with Christ. This was grace, not only to take the sinner’s place, but to give the guilty worm an everlasting place with Himself in resurrection glory. This salvation is wholly of God.

Great Stones and Costly

“And he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God” (1 Chron. 22:2).
I need not say that the building of Solomon’s Temple is one of the most interesting studies of antiquity and when that building on Mount Moriah is seen as the type of God’s present heavenly building, it becomes infinitely more interesting.
In this building, then, the first thing that presents itself is this: David, the father, provides beforehand the materials of this temple; even the stones, the iron, and brass in abundance, without weight. He says, “I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold” — a talent of gold being worth about £5475, the value of this gold would be £547,500,000 sterling — “and a thousand thousand talents of silver.”
A talent of silver being worth upwards of £342, the silver would be worth more than £342,000,000 sterling. Thus David’s provision for this costly building, in gold and silver, was up-wards of £889,000,000 sterling, besides an incalculable quantity of brass, iron, wood, and stone. Such was David’s provision for this costly temple. Besides, the riches of Solomon, the son, were quite equal to those of the father David. 1 Kings 10 gives some idea, of Solomon’s riches. The gold alone that came to kiln in a year was equal to £3,646,350 (vs. 14).
More than 150,000 men were employed in the rearing of this wondrous building (1 Kings 5:5). “And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house” (1 Kings 5:17). Now what do “great stones” mean? A builder in this country would consider a stone three feet every way a great stone. But we find these great foundation stones, sawn and hewn, were indeed “costly stones, even great stones; stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits” (1 Kings 7:10-11). A cubit, at the lowest, is one foot six inches: it is the measure from the elbow of a man to the end of his fingers. Thus these great stones were at least twelve feet every way, and fifteen feet every way. If you dust east it up, you will find they weighed about 250 tons each. There was one stone in the temple, after its restoration, thirty feet by thirteen by seven and a half feet. There are similar great stones in the ruins at Balbec, which may have been built by Solomon, called the “House of the forest of Lebanon.” Solomon built three houses, which answer, I doubt not, to the threefold glory of Christ; and as the same sized stones formed the foundation of each (1 Kings 7:11), so is Christ the foundation-stone, alike, of the Church of God in heavenly places, the future kingdom of Israel, and of millennial blessing to the whole world. The cross we shall find to be the foundation of all.
To return to that which occupies us at present, the temple. Vast quantities of cedar trees were brought from Lebanon. But for many centuries there has been a difficulty as to where and how these great, costly stones were obtained. A dear friend, who lives near Jerusalem, told me a few years ago that there are immense caves under Jerusalem. And the quantity of broken stones, but especially some great atones, half cut, but never finished, makes it clear that these great stones were got out of pits, prepared in this manner- the top was leveled and marked out, then the sides were cut by drifts, then the under side cut. But just think of the greatness of the labor required, in raising these great stones of the pit out to daylight, and moving them, and putting them in their place. Isaiah may have referred to these caverns when he speaks of the stones of the pit (Isa. 14:19).
The temple was built on a rock, by the side of a frightful precipice. We are told by historians that 600 feet of foundation work had to be built to the level, on one side, where Solomon’s porch stood. The foundation stones were dovetailed, or mortised, in a most wonderful manner into the very rock. The joint was so finely wrought that it could scarcely be found. Thus they were rooted, and grounded, and built, into the very rock.
And the house, when it was building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither, so that “there was neither hammer, nor ax, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building” (1 Kings 6:7). Thus the silent growth of this earthly temple set forth the predestined heavenly building of God. As David the father gave materials to Solomon the son, even so Jesus says, “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My hands” (John 10). And again, “As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life TO AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM” (John 17:2). “All that the Father GIVETH ME shall come to Me: and him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out.” “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath GIVEN ME I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:39). Yes, he would be a foolish builder who began to build, and did not know whether he had materials to finish. And it is blessed to remember that God, the great master builder, foreknew every stone chosen, and precious, that is built and shall be built in the heavenly temple.
Is it not most plain that those great stones, 250 tons weight, never got out of the pit by any effort or work of their own? As we say, they would never have seen daylight if they had not been drawn out. You might just as well have put a ladder of ten steps, and told these stones to climb up it and get out of darkness, as set the ten commandments before a dead sinner, and tell him to try and climb them, and so get out of the pit of sin. Jesus said to those who had long been trying this plan, “No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
In the judgment of a builder, there would be no way of getting those great stones out of the pit, but by going into the pit, hewing and drawing them. out. And all that were drawn out were out, and no others. Now, does not the cross of our Lord Jesus reveal God’s judgment of this matter as to sinners? If David counted the cost of this earthly temple in gold and silver, God also counted the cost. The price was the blood of the Lamb. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18). If those were great stones and costly, surely believers are great stones and costly. “He spared not His only-begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all.” I am not much of a mason; but I should say a stone fifteen feet cube would cost no trifle. And, fellow believer, fellow-stone in the living temple, think what you have cost.
Thus God saw no way of raising sinners from the dead but by sending His Son to die for them. “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” And having died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was numbered with the dead. There was the end of all judgment due to our sins. The full ransom-price was paid. Despised, indeed, He was of men: yea, never was a stone so rejected by masons, as was this stone by Judah’s builders. But, oh! what were God’s thoughts of His blessed Son as He lay in the grave? God saw Him the foundation-stone. As our substitute, all our sins had been laid on Him. “So Christ bare the sins of many.” And now, infinite atonement being made by His precious blood, this stone, rejected by man, was raised from the dead by God. Therefore “this is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). Language cannot find words to express “the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20). The raising of those great stones was, indeed, a grand figure of this; but what would have been the power required, if every stone of the temple had to have been raised up together with the first foundation-stone?
This heavenly temple, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, was chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1). Yet every. stone in this living temple, was once dead in trespasses and sins — ah! dead as stones; “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-6). Now, whether we think of what we were as lost, dead, buried sinners, or what was the tremendous undertaking for one to stand our substitute, and bear the full, unmixed wrath of God due to our sins — or of what we shall forever be as living stones in the heavenly temple — surely the raising up of Christ, the foundation-stone, from the dead, and in Him the redeemed Church, and on Him its eternal destiny — the destiny of every saved sinner through eternal ages — I say, surely the raising of Christ, the foundation-stone, was the greatest event, the greatest work, that ever God wrought. Oh! vastly strange that this, God’s greatest work, should be so little thought of in our day.
Now the temple was built on the rock of Moriah — the place where divine lodgment was stayed by the altar of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings; for there the Lord answered by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering (1 Chron. 21:26, 27): even so the voluntary offering of Jesus, and the shedding of His precious blood, is the foundation of every sinner saved by grace, from the deserved wrath of God. One thing is certain, that where the foundation-stone was laid, there the temple was built. Standing on that bold rock of Moriah, “the house that is to be budded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical of fame, and of glory, throughout all countries.” Now, when God raised Jesus, the foundation-stone, from the dead, where did He place Him? “Far above all principality and power,” etc. (Eph. 1:21). “And He is the head of the body, the Church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence” (Col. 1:18). God did not raise him from the dead to improve the old creation, but to be the beginning of the new creation. Not to build an earthly house, or earthly society, but a heavenly temple. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ — Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together IN heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” That word IN Christ Jesus is very precious. It is very blessed to see this in the type; all those great stones were covered with cedar wood. “And the cedar of the arouse within was carved with knops and open flowers. All was cedar: there was no stone seen” (1 Kings 6:18). Thus in the heavenly building there is not a sinner seen. Every saved one, though once the greatest sinner, now fairly wainscotted in Christ — hid in Christ. And not only was the stone covered with cedar wood, but this overlaid with pure gold. “So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold.” “And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house” (vs. 22). It is written, fellow-believer, “Ye are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10). It was not the stones themselves that were seen, but the gold upon them: so it is not ourselves; but Christ upon us. Yes; the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ, in whom we are complete. And all within, how perfect! Beautiful carvings of knops and of open flowers; all covered with pure gold.
You observe all was done to these stones. Not one atom did they do. They were hewn, they were drawn out, they were built in the temple, they were covered with cedar. The pure gold was put upon them. It is so with the poor sinner. Salvation from beginning to end is all of God. Look at the poor prodigal. Not an atom of merit. The father met him as he was, fell upon his neck, and kissed him He had not to buy a new robe. No, the robe was ready, the shoes were ready, the ring was ready. Like the gold that covered the stones, so with this new best robe, he had not even to put it on. No, the father said, “Put it on him “ Just so with Joshua, when the filthy garments were taken away. God said, “Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” “So they put a fair miter upon his head.” Yes, the new creation work is all of God. “Therefore, if any man be IN CHRIST, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new, and all things are of God (2 Cor. 5:17). The fact is, all this seems too good to be true, and the poor heart is so slow to believe God. Yet true it is, and if the temple was for glory throughout all countries, this heavenly building of God is for God’s glory throughout all ages, predestinated “to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein HE HATH made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6), “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7),” yea, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10). If the change was great, as every stone was drawn out of the pit of darkness and placed in that temple of splendor and dazzling light, what is the change when a sinner is taken from the dungeon of darkness, “and built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone, IN WHOM all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:20, 21). O! what thousands of poor sinners have been built into this heavenly temple of late. Silently and swiftly is God taking out the appointed stones.
“View the vast building, see it rise;
The work how great! the plan how wise!
O wondrous fabric! power unknown!
That rears it on the living stone.”
To every believer God does not say, ‘Ye shall be built,’ but “ye are built.” Oh that every believing reader may enter into the full joy of being complete in Christ! For God has made such a blessed finish of it, within and without.
It may be asked, If salvation is so entirely of God, what has the person so saved to do? Well certainly he can do no more FOR his salvation, than the great stones and costly could do, for their hewing and drawing out of the pit. But let us turn to a passage in 1 Peter 2:4-10: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ.” It is God who hath laid this chief cornerstone, elect, precious, “And he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” O! surely the more I see what God hath made Him to be to me, the more precious He will be; as it is written, “Unto you, therefore, which believe, HE IS PRECIOUS; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” Yes, here is the grand test to every heart — what is Christ to you? Can my reader say, He is everything to me: before Him I had nothing, and after Him I can have nothing. I do not ask what profession you make. Every religious builder who is trying to improve humanity, in one way or other, makes light of Christ. This whole world is one vast pit of darkness, sin, and death. God has no more thought in the gospel of improving this dark pit, than Solomon had, when taking the great stones out of the cavern of perpetual darkness. He took out the stones. God is now taking out of the world sinners for Himself. Now man disallows this. He sees no need of a new creation. He says, Why not build up and improve the old. And thus the new-creation temple, built on the risen Christ, from the dead, is almost forgotten amongst the builders; and instead of waiting for the coming of the Lord, and the manifestation of this heavenly building, men are vainly dreaming that Christianity will gradually improve this dark cavern of sin. The masons of Solomon would not have made a greater mistake, if, instead of going on, hewing and drawing, they had commenced building in the dark cavern.
No, believer. I ask you to look at yonder risen Christ, raised from among the dead. There see God’s chosen foundation stone. Is He precious to you? Are you built on Him? The faith that rests in Him shall never be confounded. To thee the Spirit of God says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation; a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This is what the saved sinner should do.
Nothing can be more pleasing to God than thus to show forth his praise, who has taken us, like the stones of the pit, out of darkness: and as they bore the shining plates of gold that reflected and displayed the riches and magnificence of their great builder, even so may Christ be seen on each of us, reflecting and showing forth the exceeding riches of divine grace. O! what grace shone in all the ways of Jesus! Even when crucified on the accursed tree, still grace shone forth: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And that was a bright reflection of Christ, when they stoned Stephen to death. He said, as it were, “Do not say anything about it, lay not this sin to their charge.” O! for more of the bright shirting of Christ in all and on all our ways. God would have us enter into the full joy of being able to give Him thanks, “WHO HATH made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. WHO HATH delivered us from the power of darkness, and HATH translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. In whom WE HAVE redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12- 14). Is this my reader’s joy? Can you thus give God all the glory? Are you in the pit or in the temple covered with sin, or covered with Christ? Ah! it was of no use, though cut, and hewn, and sawn on one side or every side, if still left in the pit; no place in the temple; no plates of gold; no knops and open flowers. Those half-cut stones in the caverns of Jerusalem are solemn warnings. You may have long-felt the ax and the saw of conviction, but are you out of the cavern? This must be the work of God. Paul “planted, and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. “So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” God is the builder. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:5-16). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Now God’s way of getting stones is in this manner — the Spirit of God taketh the ax of conviction and strikes deep; the Word of God is the power, unto salvation, to every one that believeth. I met a poor old sinner the other day, who thought that no poor stone ever had the chiseling he had had in the pit of sin. The Spirit of God enabled me to set the death and resurrection of Christ before him; and while quoting these words out he came, drawn out and delivered by the power of God. “Be it known unto you, therefore, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe, are justified from all things.” O! I love to see great stones drawn out of the pit. The old man said, “How blessed it will be to go home knowing I am saved.” “Yes, indeed,” I said. “And hearken to these words of Jesus, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (judgment), BUT is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Yes, just as Lazarus heard the word of Jesus when down in the sepulcher of death, so was this old man “born again by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:23). The hour is come “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).
If my reader has never yet heard that voice, may this be the hour. God grant that from this moment you may yield yourself up to God, as a stone in the hands of the mason, and clay in the hands of the potter.
We must not, however, carry the figure too far; for, while a sinner is, as to that which is good, as dead as a stone, yet, for that which is evil, he is terribly alive. Yes; a live rebel against God — a voluntary, willful rejecter of Christ, the only foundation-stone. “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:42-44).
In the day of judgment you will not be condemned, because you had been in the pit of darkness, but because you refused to be taken out. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world [the dark pit], and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” The remembrance of the love of God in sending His Son to this dark pit of sin, will be like the worm that dieth not. Oh, what unutterable remorse!
Was it not in love to the bitten Israelites, that God bid Moses lift up the serpent in the wilderness? Even so has the Son of man been lifted up. For sinners Jesus died -lost, ungodly sinners. Yes; it was these God so loved. If He had only bid you get out of the pit yourself, you might have said, How could I, since I am as helpless as a stone. But He sent His Son, and you have rejected Him: you have refused to be saved. Oh! it would have been blessed had your heart been broken on Him with the sense of His love. But if not, it must be crushed before Him in the judgment with the sense of His everlasting wrath. A very little while, and the end of the present scene shall come. The stone cut out of the mountains shall smite the nations, and they shall become “like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor” (Dan. 2:34-45). This terrible day is closed by those solemn words, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:32-46). There is one point of contrast, however, between the earthly temple and the heavenly building we must notice. To have seen those huge blocks of stone so built in the rock, one would have thought they would have stood forever. But the time came when the Chaldeans prevailed against them. And, again, when (the temple was ) restored (built by Herod) in later times, as our blessed Lord foretold, the Romans prevailed, until not one stone was left upon another. Where are those two pillars, “Jachin,” which means, “He shall establish,” and “Boaz,” “in it is strength,” though they were such brass pillars as the like were never cast? They stood at least twenty-seven feet high, and six feet diameter; yet they are removed and gone, and not a trace of this wondrous building remains. But Jesus, speaking of Himself, the only foundation, says, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus did not say to Peter, Thou art this Rock; but, Thou art a stone. Yes; Peter, a stone, needed to be built on the rock as much as any man He found this need as much in the high priest’s hall, as on the swelling billows. Christ is the foundation-rock; and that Rock is not at Rome, but in heaven. And where the foundation is, there must the building be. Ask a mason if this is not so. Yes; God is not building His Church at Rome, but in heavenly places in Christ. Against the Church, so high, so blest, so secure, the gates of hell shall not prevail. How can they? Eve was not made or built of the flesh of Adam; but she was built of his very bone, and that bone so near his heart. And the Church, the spotless bride of Christ, all glorious within and without, is also built in Christ, so that “We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Eph. 5:30). Some talk about Christ letting the saint slip through His fingers. Nay, the devil would have to pull Christ’s fingers off before one of His little ones could perish. No, when time shall be no more, this holy building of God shall be seen “descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Ah, then it will not be like the plates of gold covering the stones. We shall be changed. We shall be like Him, fashioned like unto His glorious body, like unto a stone most precious — no speck of sin, no dull shade of grief, no cloud of sorrows — clear AS CRYSTAL. This, my fellow-stone, is our eternity. Highest archangels will be ravished with wonder. “The streets of the city pure gold; as it were transparent glass.” Our feet, that now tread the dirty streets of this sin-defiled earth, shall soon tread the golden streets of the city of God. What heart can conceive what it will be to be there? No temple there to shut in and hide the glory. No; God and the Lamb are there. They are the temple of it. “The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” And all thine, my fellow-believer. Yes; though too bright for mortal eyes. Yet wait a little longer. A few more struggles, a few more victories over self, sin, and Satan, through Him that strengtheneth. Yes, though “Jachin” and “Boaz” be removed and gone, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God. And I will write upon him My new name.” Thus speaks Jesus, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of. God. Hark! he also speaks to God; “Father, I will that they also, whom thou halt given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me.” Blessed Jesus, thy will shall be done: we shall soon be with thee. We ask no more. Thou couldst not ask more than for us than to be with thee.
There is but one point more and I close. (Read 1 Chron. 22:17-19). Now, if David thus commanded the princes of Israel to help Solomon, saying, “Is not the Lord your God with you, and hath He not given you rest on every side?” how much more hath God given us rest and perfect peace through the blood of the Lamb. And now he says, “Go ye, therefore, and preach the gospel to every creature; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.” If my reader has not this “rest on every side,” then do not think to get it by preaching or doing; let me point thee to Him who gives it, even to Jesus. But if you have peace with God, then “set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God: ARISE, THEREFORE, AND BUILD.”
What a privilege to be a fellow-laborer with God. There is work for every mason, and every man who has found rest to his own soul. Some may be felling proud cedars, others striking with the stern ax of conviction down in the deep mine, others drawing with strong cords of love divine, and others fitting together the building.
Do not say, I can do nothing. “Is not the Lord your God with you?” “Arise, therefore, and build.”
God give us more willingness of heart, more singleness of eye, more simplicity of faith; and as the building grows in silent power, yea, when the top, stone shall be brought with shouting, to Him be all the praise.

The Great Supper: What It Cost

We want to talk with you a little about the wonderful parables of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is one of them. Jesus said, “A certain man made a great supper and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Luke 14:16-24).
This great supper is a picture of God’s great salvation. When you are invited to supper by a friend, do you expect that you will have to pay for it? Or will you be expected to provide it? Or take any part of it to your friend’s house? Of course not. Would you not simply have to sit down and receive it? Just so. You would merely be a guest. All would have to be done by someone else before you could receive it. A great deal would have to be done before the servant could say all things are now ready: the supper is on the table. This is the peculiarity of the gospel. Not so when man was under law. Then the law made known the righteous demands of God. That was more like the landlord coming to your house for the rent, when you can’t pay it; can’t pay it when you would. This great supper is not like that. All is provided, all is given.
Why don’t you like to think about God? Don’t you think He demands something from you, something that you find you have not to give? Yes, you do. You think you have to become good, holy, righteous, religious. God demands all this from you, and you cannot give it Him. Is not that what you think? Have you not often tried to bring all this to God, and still you find you fail to do it. And yet you think if you do not bring something to God, according to the demands of His law, you never can be saved. The Lord Jesus will show you in this picture that you are quite mistaken, that this is not God’s present plan at all. God provides and gives everything. He does not expect you to bring, but to receive, just as you would at your friend’s great supper. Do you see that this great supper is in direct contrast with the demands of the law? The law says thou shalt love God. This supper shows how God has loved you.
What is a great supper? If half-a-dozen men were invited to a supper that cost one shilling, that would not be called a great supper, would it? A supper is great according to what it costs. What would you think, if a nobleman sold all he had, and made a great supper for the poor? That would be a supper to talk about. A great supper indeed. If a supper is great according to what it costs: and if God is the provider of this great supper: this great salvation: let us then inquire
What it Cost
It is not now God in law demanding: but God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. Have you read of Him in the prophet Isaiah? “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted Up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of host” (Isa. 6:1-3). This is Jesus Jehovah! “These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him” (John 12:41). “Unto the Son, he saith, Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever.” “Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thine hands” (Heb. 1). “For by Him were all things created.” “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:15-17).
He became flesh and dwelt amongst us, born. of a poor maid of Nazareth, in a stable, laid in a manger. Oh! read His wondrous life of sorrow, of sympathy, of divine love to sinners. And now turn back and see Him in the glory, too bright for highest creature gaze; see seraphim veil their faces, and cry Holy, holy, holy! Now turn to another scene. See Him in dark Gethsemane — His soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. See Him sweating as it were great drops of blood! No human heart to sympathize. His loved disciples asleep! At that moment one of His disciples and the chief priests of His nation were planning to betray Him and put Him to death. He says, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me” (Psa. 142:3). Oh, see the Creator of the universe become lowly man, and giving Himself into the hands of wicked men. See Him bound; see Him led to Caiaphas; see Him delivered to Pilate. “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe.” Ah, they mocked Him; they spit upon Him. But see Him thrown down. See His hands and His feet nailed to the accursed tree. See Him hanging by those painful wounds! “He was wounded for our transgressions: bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53). His soul was made an offering for sin. And now the heavens. grew dark. Made sin for us, He was forsaken of God. Oh, listen to that cry! “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Hearken again: “It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” This was the price of the great supper: the great salvation of God. This is what it cost. He must be lifted up on the cross, the sacrifice for sins. He must die or remain alone, and never have a guest at the supper. He must die, and rise again from amongst the dead, or all things could never be ready. There is no other supper for poor lost sinners. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?
How long have you despised this treat supper? It is said in Matthew, “They made light of it.” Have you made light of it? So here in Luke they all made a polite excuse. The piece of ground — the oxen—the wife. Oh, is it so with you, your business, your work, your family- all right in themselves; but can you pay attention to these things, and neglect, nay refuse, the great supper; the great salvation?
In this section we have been occupied with what it cost; in our next we hope to ‘see what it is. The greatest feast ever made on earth just dwindles down to nothing compared to this. Of every feast that man, guilty man, can make, it is like Belshazzar’s feast, there is the writing of a man’s hand on the wall. But of this supper it is written, “He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” No other supper could ever pretend to this. At all the feasts on earth man eats and hungers again. But this great sapper is everlasting. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Once made partakers of God’s great salvation we cannot desire another: there is no other. It was first spread in the midst of the city, even Jerusalem. There it was made light of, despised, and rejected. Free to accept it, all rejected. They would not believe the free grace of God.
Have you tried the pleasures of this world? Do they ever satisfy? How can they, when death and judgment come after them? They only leave an aching void. The pleasures of sin deceive for a moment: this supper satisfies forever. When we examine the supper in our next section, we shall find every need of the sinner met once and forever. Let us remember we have nothing to do for it, nothing to give for it, nothing to bring to it; all is of God. All is done long ago. All things are ready. When the servant says supper is on the table, what have we to do but to sit down and receive it? The cost of this great salvation was the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cost, His precious blood. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
What It Is!
We have seen in the former section that this beautiful parable of the great supper shows us that God is not demanding from man, on the principle of law, but giving, providing, in free grace. “A certain man made a great supper.” Thus He provided everything, the guests brought nothing. What a new truth this was as to God and salvation, to men under the administration of the law, which did not give, but demanded. Then we found this supper was great because it cost the greatest price in the universe: the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The agony, the atoning suffering, of the cross, forsaken of God: that was the price of the supper. The price of the great salvation was His precious blood.
Nothing could be more striking than this picture. When you are invited to supper, and all things are ready, you have only to sit down and receive the rich provisions. And note, this picture admits of no uncertainty. A person must know whether he receives his friend’s supper or refuses it. We now propose to examine what this great supper is. Let us continue the figure of the supper. Here then is a great supper spread out, all ready, warranted to meet the needs of every poor sinner brought to it, not only for a moment, but to satisfy forever.
Pray, what is your need? Do you say deep indeed is my need. I am a guilty sinner. Death and judgment is before me, and I cannot escape; and I cannot undo what I have done; and I know very well in my sins I cannot enter heaven. Sit down here; this is what meets your case at the very head of the table, God speaks to you, “Be it known,” — yes, all is certainty at the supper — “that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” Yes, “To Him give all the prophets witness that, through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall, receive remission of sins (Acts 13:38; 10:43). This is a wonderful part of the great supper — immediate forgiveness of sins. And note this is not through our feelings or doings; but through Jesus. And this is not only immediate forgiveness, but perfect and everlasting forgiveness. “And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” Oh! do you believe God? This is the very first taste of blessedness at the great supper. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Yes, the moment you sit down in the light of that great supper — for there is no darkness there — then you immediately know that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Sins can no more be reckoned to any at that great supper. They have been borne by Jesus, their Substitute; and can never be imputed to them.
Then all there are justified from all things? This is the very next thing on the table. “And all that believe are justified from all things.” Why, this was the very thing that Jesus, after He had died for our sins, was raised from the dead for. “He was raised again for our justification.” Just as the creditor puts the stamp on the bill that has been paid, for full evidence of settlement, so God has raised up Jesus our Lord from among the dead, to be the everlasting receipt — the full evidence of settlement — for that debt paid in His precious blood. Perfect and infinite sacrifice: perfect and everlasting justification, must give perfect and everlasting peace with God And so all at the supper enjoy this? If they believe God they do. “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the happy position of all at the great supper. “Being justified.” That is always so. Always we have perfect peace with God. It must be so, the supper is always the same, always through Jesus Christ our Lord. The justification could not be more complete. It was God who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead for our justification. Who shall lay anything to the charge of those at the great supper? “It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again from the dead.” Oh, reader, do you believe God? Have you sat down at the supper?
Now we will look a little further, and see what God has made and provided at this great supper. Christ Jesus, still meeting our needs, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Just as you could look at the various dishes on your friend’s table, all provided for you: not brought by you. So here, at the great supper; God’s great salvation. Do you say, I am so ignorant, I greatly need wisdom. Sit down and contemplate Christ Jesus made unto you wisdom. The philosopher may study the stones and the stars, but at this supper, you know Him who made them all, from everlasting to everlasting.
Do you say before I can be quite sure I am saved at the great supper: must I not be righteous in all my ways before God and man? Can God possibly justify me before that is the case? Fatal mistake if you have to bring righteousness to the supper: at that supper you can never be: for you are guilty, and fail at every point. Was not this the fatal mistake of the Jews? Is it not the fatal mistake of the ritualists? They are vainly trying by works to bring that to the supper which God has made Christ Jesus to be to every one that sits at the great supper. But says another, must I not attain to higher Christian life, must I not bring holiness to God? Here is the same mistake again: that is exactly what you find at the great supper, not what you bring. Christ Jesus made unto us sanctification. Well, says another, I need redemption, how may I be sure that I have got it? That again is exactly what all have at the great supper. Yes, God has provided all. Jesus Christ: infinite wisdom: everlasting righteousness. “By one offering He has perfected forever all that are sanctified.” Eternal redemption. The great mistake we make is in supposing we have to bring some of these, instead of sitting down, in perfect peace, and finding all we need, and all ours for evermore. If we are still on the ground of God’s righteous demands from us, we are lost, for if He deals with us in righteousness He must condemn us. The blood of propitiation for our sins has been shed. God in His righteousness has raised the believer’s substitute from the dead. God thus proclaims forgiveness of sins to us, and all that believe God are justified. They sit at the great supper in perfect peace with God. Christ is their wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. And they hunger no more. They need no other righteousness before God; no other sanctification; no other redemption.
But what is there in this great supper to provide for righteousness before men? Just everything. Being justified by faith before God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in them, and thus walking in the Spirit, practical righteousness is fulfilled in them.
Here comes one with trembling desire to sit in perfect peace at the great supper. Well, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” Pray, what do you ask for at the supper? Is this what you long to know? When all the sorrows and storms of this sad life are past, I want to be quite sure of a home above. Oh, if you will sit down, and just take what is set before you, you will find three times more than you ask. This is the very thing He makes so certain. He says to you, poor trembling believer, “In My Father’s house are many mansions (abodes): if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Yes, He says, your home above with Me shall be as certain as that I am there. Could He say more? Yes, He does. He promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to be with you all the way. Yet more still — “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Certainty of home; the presence of the Comforter all the way, and His peace which is surely perfect. My section is finished, but it will take eternity to unfold the vastness of this great supper; the great salvation of God. Tell us, dear reader, how will you escape if you neglect it?
We now proceed to inquire -who are the welcome guests?
Who Are the Welcome Guests?
We have seen that this great salvation is entirely of God; as the friend who invites you certainly provides the repast. We have seen that the cost of this great supper was the death of the Son of God. No other price could have bought it. We have seen that the great supper meets every need of the lost sinner. Forgiveness of sins; justification from all things; no condemnation to them that are in Christ, at the great supper. No separation from that festive feast of love. Christ Jesus their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Their home in the place prepared, secured. The Holy Spirit abiding with them. The peace of Christ their happy portion. All provided of God. Nothing to do, nothing to bring; all given, and given forever.
Now, Who are the welcome guests?
Such a great supper, such a great salvation spread out before the multitude, hastening on to death and judgment and eternal woe. Surely, you would say, the whole world would at once accept so great salvation. No, it is not so. With all man’s boast of freedom, if left to his own choice, not one would sit down at the great sapper. These are the words of Jesus: “They made light of it.” “They all with one consent, began to make excuse.” Yes, profanely or politely, all refuse the salvation which is wholly of God’s providing. Is not this a true and sad picture?
Tell a man to wash in the Ganges, he will do it. Tell him to give his body to be crushed by the wheels of the idol, he will do it. Tell him to lacerate his poor body, to put it to untold tortures, he will do it. Tell him to own the false prophet of Mecca, he will do it. Tell him to fast; to say long prayers; tell him to become an idolater, and worship a bit of bread, or the blessed virgin; tell him to shut himself up in a cell; — all these things, or anything, the million will do, to work out a righteousness of their own: to provide something to bring to God. But, spread out the accomplished salvation of God, not one of the human race will accept it. All make their polite excuse. Is this true? Look at Jerusalem, nay, look at the cities and towns of highly-favored England, for an answer. Nay, we don’t need go beyond the reader and the writer of these few thoughts.
Oh, is this so? Are you hastening on, day by day — every day a day nearer to death, judgment, the lake of fire — and yet every day rejecting the great salvation of God.
Blessed be God, even from Jerusalem, the city that killed the Holy One of God. From the lanes of that city the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, were brought to the great supper — three thousand in one day!
Who are the welcome guests? The poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind. “And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou host commanded, and yet there is room.” Yes, there is room; room for the writer, and room for the reader. Yet there is room! “And the Lord said unto His servant, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” This is the blessed work of God amongst the highways and hedges of the lost Gentile world. Is not this grace beyond all measure, beyond all human thought? Not only is this great supper spread, but the outcasts of the Highways and hedges are compelled to come in. Oh, how they sing,
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced me in;
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin.
We will take two persons as samples of the welcome guests. One from the Old Testament, which throws light, in picture, on this great supper. We ask your attention especially to the kindness of God, in fetching a welcome guest, lame on both his feet. This young man had fallen, and became utterly lame on the day of the death of his father. This is our condition through Adam’s sin; we are fallen and utterly lame without strength. David said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? There was one, this lame young man, in the house Machir, in Lo-debar. There he was hiding from David in the place of Lo-debar — that is, the place of no pasture — such a picture of our condition. Are you there, not only hiding from God, hastening on to endless woe, but nothing to satisfy all the way? David sent and fetched him from his hiding-place. And when he came he fell on his face. Then “David said, Mephibosheth! And he said, Behold thy servant. And David said unto him, Fear not, for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake... and thou, shalt eat bread at my table continually.” Thus God fetches the poor hiding, guilty, helpless, lame sinner, and says, Fear not, I will surely show thee kindness, for Christ’s sake. Think of these words, Surely I will show thee kindness. Surely! What a feast; and to eat continually. This kindness of God at once produces repentance. “And he bowed himself, and said, what is thy servant that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am.” Has the kindness of God ever led you to this deep self-abhorrence?
All is given to this poor cripple. He is placed at the King’s table, as one of the King’s sons. The kindness of God gives this poor lame sinner the highest place of royal blessing. It was the will of the King. “As for Mephibosheth, said the King, he shall eat at my table, as one of the King’s sons. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he did eat continually at the King’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Sam. 9). Wonderful as is this picture of the kindness of God, yet the reality far exceeds the type. David deals with him for Jonathan’s sake. God deals with us for Christ’s sake. He sits at the feast as one of the King’s sons. But as to all who are brought to the great supper, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”
Very beautiful is the love of David to one of the house of Saul, his enemy. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
One scarcely knows which is the most wonderful, the grace of God in spreading such a feast, or the wickedness of man in despising it? What a text is that over the door of the feast, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to. Me I will in no wise cast out.” Look at it again and again. Yes, the house shall be filled. There is a place for every guest; and every guest shall fill that place. The poor, the halt, the lame, the blind, are welcome. The chief of sinners He receives. The greatest sinner you know is welcome, and is not that yourself? Cast yourself on His own words, “Shall in no wise be cast out.”
Do you say, Oh, I am a Christian without all that; I was baptized; I was confirmed; I say my prayers. Are you a Christian? Are you at the great supper? Are your sins forgiven? Are you justified? Have you peace with God? Don’t say I pray for these things. Many things we have to pray for. But the poor, halt, lame, blind, had not to pray for the great supper; it was all ready for them. To pray for a supper then, would have been to reject it. Don’t say no man can know whether he is saved or not; it is like saying no man can tell whether he has had his supper or not. The great supper, remember, is the gift of God, and to doubt it is to make God a liar. “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar” (1 John 5:13). In our next section we hope to take up a sample case from the New Testament, and also to consider the persons engaged in bringing the guests to the great supper.
Don’t forget those words of Jesus, “And shall in no wise be cast out.”
Who Are Engaged in Bringing Them to the Supper
We have seen that this great supper, the great salvation, is entirely of God. That it meets every possible need of the sinner. It is a great supper because of its great cost. That it lasts forever. “He that believeth hath everlasting life.” We have seen that the whole human race, left to their own choice, reject this great supper. We have seen a sample, how the guests have to be fetched to the supper, in the case of Mephibosheth, lame on both feet. The kindness of God shown unto him The place given him at the table as a King’s son. How God fetches the sinner that deserves everlasting judgment, and how God shows him everlasting kindness for Christ’s sake.
Now we will look at another sample guest brought to the supper. And who, dear reader, do you think are the persons engaged in seeking this strange guest, and receiving him safe to the great supper? The ever blessed glorious persons of the one Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We shall soon sea how.
If you read on in Luke 14 you will find one thing greatly overlooked. If you are brought to the great supper, and made a partaker of the great salvation, there must then be no half measures. Christ must be all; He must have the first and sole place. No claims of nature, of relations, or of your own life, must come between you and Him.
This beautiful parable had a wonderful effect — “Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him.” This is just what we want you now to do: listen to the words of Jesus. “And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” They who would be thought righteous, always murmur at this. But now in connection with the great supper, Jesus, who receiveth sinners, gave the following parable, in which is both shown who are engaged in bringing the guests to the table and also fully describes a sample of the guests.
Don’t forget it is Jesus, the Son of God, who speaks to us. The parable is divided into three parts. The man who seeks, finds, and brings the lost sheep. The woman who seeks diligently until she finds the lost piece of silver. The father who rejoices to find the lost son. In each case notice the word lost. Ah! if you knew the meaning in your own soul, lost! Will you notice the order of the parable, all to show how the lost sinner is brought to the supper.
First, the lost sheep. David sent to Lo-debar to fetch the poor cripple. Jesus came Himself from the highest glory to bleed, and die for the lost one. Yes, the Good Shepherd must die: must be lifted up: must bear our sins on the cross, or never, never, have the joy of receiving the one lost sheep. He says, “I lay down My life for the sheep.” It was not the lost sheep that sought the man, but the man that sought the sheep. It was all the man. He sought it, he found it, he carried it, he desired to have it safe at home, and he never gave it up till he got it there. such is the Man Christ Jesus. He came to seek the lost sinner. He died for him He brings him safe home at last rejoicing.
And all this the will of the Father. He says, “Therefore doth My Father love Me.” If you know Him thus, it will fill your heart with repentance; fill His with joy.
There is the diligent seeking of the woman, who had lost the piece of silver. Thus next in order, when the Lord Jesus had finished the work given Him to do, and was ascended up on high, the Holy Spirit was sent down, and for eighteen hundred years has He been diligently seeking lost sinners, to bring them to the great supper. And what ever it is to the repenting sinner, it is joy to the Holy Spirit to find and to bring the lost. Is He not diligently seeking you? Oh, that by this little paper He may bring you to the happy feast. And now we will go to the third part of the parable. Jesus, the Son of God, having bowed His head, and cried, “It is finished”; God having raised Him from the dead for our justification; the Holy Spirit having found the sinner, and awakened his conscience, we will now dwell a little on the Father’s joy in receiving him.
There is the guest to be brought, far from his Father’s house. As to all good, dead in trespasses and sins. As to all that is bad, he wasted his substance with riotous living. Spent all in grossest sins, with harlots. Could sin satisfy him? When he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land. Satan sends him to the swine. Poor fellow, he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. Oh, the dreadful slavery of sin! What wretchedness! And no man can give relief. And yet this very wretchedness and self-abhorrence is what God is using to bring this poor prodigal to himself. He came to himself. Yes, is not the slavery of sin, rushing willfullya, madly, unto certain everlasting woe; is it not madness? He came to himself. Would you have thought that that wretched sinner was the sample guest the Lord Jesus selects as the one to be brought to the great supper? The moment he came to himself, the Father came to his mind, and bread enough and to spare in the Father’s house.
What of the Father? “But when he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Did you ever see anything like that? Words of Jesus revealing the Father, meeting the sin-oppressed lost prodigal. The work of Jesus, the beloved. Son, has removed every barrier. Are you a wretched sin-confessed prodigal? Oh, see the Father’s compassion and kiss first, and then the prodigal’s confession second.
The Father ran to meet him; the Father had compassion on him; the Father fell on his neck and kissed him The kindness of God melts the heart in repentance and confession. It is not our repentance that melts the heart of God in kindness. Oh what precious lessons these are! “And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son.”
“But” yes, immediately sins are confessed all are forgiven. “But the Father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.” Thus is the one lost guest received. Thus is he clothed in righteousness divine: the best robe. Thus he receives the ring, golden pledge of everlasting love. And the shoes on his feet, power to walk and do the will of God. At once and forever he is ready for the great supper. Nay, though the Father met him a great way off, yet at once he is at the supper. But we don’t hear a word more from him, it is all the Father’s joy. If thus bought to see and accept the grace of God, let us now forget ourselves and be occupied with the Father’s joy. He says, “And let us eat and be merry. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” The man rejoiced to find the lost sheep; the woman to find the lost silver; and the father rejoices to find the lost son! God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, God the Father. The three persons in one Godhead REJOICE in seeking, saving, bringing, receiving, the lost sinner to the great supper. Such is the great salvation wholly of God.
Satan would tell you there must be long weary years of penance here, or purgatory hereafter, or both, or you must do something to bring a righteousness to God first; or you must do great works of repentance first, before God can love you or show you kindness; or you must spend a life of dismal ritualism first, and then hope God will be merciful; at last. Satan is a liar.
The Lord Jesus Christ shows us that on the ground of His own infinite sacrifice, by His death for the sinner that now the supper is spread, and now the unhindered kindness of God the Father, by the Holy Spirit, melts the heart of the vilest sinner to full repentance and confession of sins, and immediately all sins are forgiven, the sinner, covered in divine righteousness, is fitted and brought to the great supper, to sit down as a son, in the glory of God.
Oh, that this may be the reader’s place, now and forever more. Amen.

Hebrews 10

There are two things in the end of Hebrews 10: “Once in the end of the world hath He appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” It is not actually put away yet. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Sin is also still in the world. But faith is assured that at the end of all trial of man, Christ appeared for that very purpose to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The work is accomplished, and the result of that one sacrifice will surely follow in its time. Blessed prospect, when we shall see Him and be like Him, sinless as He is pure. And how bright the prospect, when the new heavens and new earth shall appear!
Then there is also this fact, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” What a pillow, weary soul, is this to rest upon! Do you believe God? Then instead of looking for death and judgment, the just due of the human race, you can look for Him who was offered to bear your sins; and He has so borne them, that He is about to appear, and not a question of sin can be raised. He has passed through the awful wrath and judgment due to us, and now He assures us that we shall not come into it. He will come and receive us to Himself in infinite love, “without sin unto salvation.”
Chapter 10. We now turn to the contrast of the many offerings of the law — what they could not do, and to what the one sacrifice of Christ can do, and does do. As we have seen, the offerings of the law being finite, could not possibly express the full infinite value of the one sacrifice of Christ. They were offered year by year, but could never make the Jewish worshipers perfect. If perfect they could have had no more conscience of sins. They never could get a perfect clearance of sins. There was a remembrance of sins every year. The very remembrance of sins was a proof, that the question of sins was not settled. It was never intended that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. They were shadows or figures. And such was the love of God to us, that He could have no pleasure in those sacrifices, which could not bring the objects of His love into His presence without sin: He would have them in the perfect enjoyment of His unhindered love.
Is it not now very blessed to hear the eternal Son speak? “Then said I, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” Dwell on this. He knew the will of God: He came to do it. This is altogether a new thing. “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” The system of the law must be entirely set aside, and an entirely new order of things introduced and established. And this is the will of God, not man’s will. The whole new order of things must be according to His will. All is now of God. The various offerings of the law had served their purpose to point forwards, and now are set aside. Jesus could say (in the volume of the book it is written of me), “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.”
Now what was the will of God? Is it not revealed in what follows, that we should be sanctified, separated unto God, by the offering of the body of Christ? “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.” Note, it was not the will of God to set up another system of many offerings, or masses, but one offering, offered once. It is then a great foundation truth, a fact, that through the one offering of Christ, once offered, we ARE sanctified. Do you believe God as to this? or do you say, No, that one offering is not enough to separate me forever to God? Beware of unbelief as to this.
Further, note this distinct statement of inspired scripture: “And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” This is a universal truth, whether applied to the Jewish priests of old, or to those who take the place of Jewish priests now. Every such priest, and all who trust in his repeated daily sacrifices for sins, must own, to his inmost sorrow, that all such sacrifices can never take away sins; and hence, there is no peace with, or joy in God.
But now let us turn to Christ and His once offering of Himself. As it is written, “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” It is not that He sat down, and then if one of His people should sin, He has to get up, and offer Himself again. No, by one offering He has cleared His people of their sins forever, in the sense of continuously. Thus our eyes are taken off ourselves. The Lord Jesus, who was delivered for our iniquities, who bore the whole wrath of God due to our sins, who was made sin for us, and once offered to bear the sins of many, who undertook the whole question of our sins — where is He? Seated, the very expression of the work being forever finished, continuously, on the right hand of God. And since all our sins were future, when He bare them in His own body on the cross once, He must have perfectly cleared all away from the sight of God, or His work would not be finished, neither could He sit down in the light and glory of God.
What then is the effect for us of His one offering? Let us hear: “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” “Forever” is the same word in the original as in verse 12. Oh, let us ponder over these wondrous words. What has Christ done for you, my fellow believer, by His one sacrifice? Perfected you as to the conscience in unchanging continuance. It is not that you are as yet perfect as to the redemption and change of the body (Rom. 8:23). You are still “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body.” You are waiting for the resurrection from the dead. In that sense you are not perfected (Phil. 3:11, 12). You are not yet perfected in sinless purity like Christ, but when He appears you will be (1 John 3:2). “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He is.” Oh, blessed hope! We are not perfect in the sense of sin being eradicated from us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). On all these points the scripture is clear enough.
Neither are we perfect in the sense of no weakness, or no liability or possibility, of sin or failure. No, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins,” etc. (1 John 2:1). Thus there is a liability recognized of “any man” sinning, as we all know by sad experience; and yet there is the most blessed provision and the relationship to the Father maintained. Only note, there is no contradiction in scripture. The provision here, in case a believer should sin, is not a fresh offering for the sin. But it is Jesus Christ the righteous. He is still our unchanging righteousness. He is our Advocate, and He is the propitiation for our sins. And here beware of every shade of unsound doctrine, as though He had to make atonement, or has to make atonement or propitiation in heaven after His death on the cross, and consequently not by death, or suffering divine wrath. No, all this is sad error, and denies the true character of atonement finished on the cross. Just as the blood was brought into the holiest, and sprinkled on the golden mercy-seat, so the infinite value of the blood of Christ is ever continuously before God. The value of that precious blood ever maintains the righteousness of God, for the sin that is confessed to the Father was borne by Christ on the cross.
In what sense then are we perfected in unchanging continuity? In this sense, that there is not a single charge against us. The way is opened for us into the holiest in perfect peace with God. We are there according to the value God sees in the one offering of Christ: and that is infinite. Everything that once shut us out of His holy, holy presence is cleared forever away. This was the eternal will of God, thus to bring us to Himself. For this He sent His Son. To accomplish this He gave Him a body. Far more indeed, though not the subject of this epistle, did God purpose, and it is now accomplished, even to bring us into favor in the Beloved!
Here in Hebrews, it is the question of the conscience: and by the one offering of Christ the believer has no more conscience of sins. The Holy Spirit is a witness that God has nothing now against the believer, as He says, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Oh, the holy boldness, or liberty we have to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Now the one question is, Do we believe God? You must admit that it is altogether of God. Do not send out the spies of unbelieving reason, to see if it is so. Do not look within to see if it is so. The Holy Spirit bears witness that He who died on the cross, as the sacrifice for your sins, has perfected us forever -in unchanging continuance. Christendom does not believe the Holy Spirit. All her printed prayers show that men do not believe this wondrous grace of God. Ever using vain repetitions for God to be merciful, when He declares in the plainest words of all believers, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more!” If you believe God, you must have done with masses and vain repetitions. It is a serious thing to say, We are Jews, when we are not; to set up an earthly priesthood again, and to repeat prayers only suited for a Jew before Christ died.
If Christ by His one sacrifice has settled the whole question of our sins, perfectly or completely to the glory of God, then plainly there is no more offering for sin. To offer sacrifices now for the sins of the living and the dead, is the most distinct denial of Christianity, be this by whom it may. But if while protesting against such a human priesthood and vain unscriptural sacrifices, in the pretended offering up of Christ on human devised altars, we ourselves disbelieve the testimony of God to the one sacrifice of Christ, what better off are we than they?
Do you then believe God? Is Jesus the fulfillment of all the sacrifices of the law? And infinitely more. Let us go up (from) the picture gallery in Leviticus to God. Is He your sin-offering once delivered for your offenses, so that with the hand of faith laid on Christ, you can say, He has died for me; God has not now one sin against me? Is He your peace or communion-offering? Have you now communion with the Father and the Son, in the light that reveals all sin cleansed by His precious blood? Is He your meat-offering? Is the living Person of Jesus, as seen in the gospels, the food of your soul? Is He your burnt-offering, accepted in all that He in the sweet savor of His Person and offering is to God? If so, you will not be filled with doubts and fears, but praise and worship. O God our Father, grant this may be so with every child of Thine who should read these lines, for Thy beloved Son’s sake. Amen.

Hezekiah; Or, Brief Lessons on Church Truth

2 Chronicles 29: A Brief Outline of Lectures on Hezekiah
It is important to notice, that, at this time, both Judah and Israel had utterly departed from the Lord. Sad, and low indeed, was Judah’s condition, as described in 2 Chronicles 28; all was wrong; all apostasy and idolatry. What a hopeless picture! But a picture drawn for us — written for us. Is it not a picture of all around? A man said to me the other day, as an excuse for remaining in what he knew to be wrong, “I have read, and compared the Acts, the early days of the church, with all I see now; and all is so different from what I read, that I have no hope of things being right, and so I go on as I am.” In contrast with this man, we read of Hezekiah, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 29:2). Yes, in the midst of all that was wrong, he did that which was right; and note, not in his own sight, not in his own opinion, but in THE SIGHT OF THE LORD. This, then, is the foundation- principle of our present lesson: God can raise up a man, can enable His child, to do that which is in the sight of the Lord, in the midst of all that is wrong.
These things were written for our instruction, and how very striking the analogy! Has not Christendom departed as far from the inspired teaching of the Holy Spirit, as Judah had departed from the inspired words of Moses? When the one is seen as a picture of the other, then every verse contains instruction to our souls.
Let us notice three things, as especially illustrating the present condition of Christendom: —
First, “They have shut up the doors of the porch.”
Secondly, “And put out the lamps.”
Thirdly, “And have not burned incense, nor offered burnt-offerings, in the holy place” (2 Chron. 29:7).
If we look at the established church of God, as found in the beginning, we find the way into the holiest open; every believer, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10); perfected forever by the one offering; all purged worshipers in the unclouded presence of God. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12). Delivered from the power of darkness; translated into the kingdom of His dear Son; absolute certainty as to redemption and forgiveness of sins; all trespasses forgiven; sins to be remembered no more, no more; immutable peace with God, according to all that God is; no longer afar off, but so near, in all the fullness of the Father’s love (Col. 1:12-14; 2:13; Heb. 10; Rom. 5, etc.).
Compare all this with the state of Christendom for centuries. Read all prayer-books — Roman, Greek, Anglican, and especially the sad, despairing wail of the Ritualists. Yea, hearken to the pulpit prayers of all Christendom. Is this the worship of divine certainty — that sins have been atoned for, and, having been confessed to God, are all forgiven? Hark, is this the worship of the Christian in the holiest, in perfect peace with God? Has not Christendom practically shut up the doors? and, instead of the worship of the purged worshiper inside the veil, is it not taking again the place of the Jew afar off, crying for mercy, just as the Jew did before redemption was accomplished? Is not this saying we are Jews, when we are not; the sin of unbelief? Is it not like denying that Jesus has come in the flesh, and finished the work — that work of redemption — which the Father gave Him to do? Do not millions still pray as Jewish disciples were taught by the Lord before His death and resurrection, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive them that trespass against us” (see Matt. 6:12; Luke 11:4)? In contrast with the Christian’s thanksgivings now, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7). The scripture says to all Chris