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In this Issue
by Joseph H. Waggoner
by Lynnford Beachy
by George McDaniel
by Alonzo T. Jones
Death of Christ Vicarious
by Joseph H. Waggoner
(In 1884 Joseph Harvey Waggoner published a book entitled The Atonement in the Light of Nature and Revelation. This book contains some wonderful insights into the plan of salvation. There are four chapters in particular that I believe will be a blessing to you. This month begins our reprint of these four chapters (4-6) which deal with the death of Christ and how our view of God directly affects our understanding and appreciation of the atonement. Editor)
The question, Was the death of Christ vicarious? has received much attention in the theological world, and apparently troubled many minds. It is a question of great importance, as the subject of the efficacy of the Atonement is involved in it. Perhaps we might more correctly say, it involves the possibility of there being any atonement. We think the nature of an atonement is such that it must be effected by vicarious death; vicariousness is an essential element of such a transaction. That which is done for another is vicarious; and as Christ died for us, his death was vicarious. He who suffers for his own sins makes no atonement. True, he satisfies the demand of the law, but he is lost. Had all the world been left to perish, the penalty would have been inflicted and justice honored, but there would have been no atonement. An atonement can only be made by one who suffers for another, or others; and this shows the remark to be just, that there can be no atonement where there is no vicariousness.
Those who deny a vicarious death generally reason thus: Justice would not admit of the penalty being inflicted twice for the same offense; therefore if Christ suffered vicariously, or in our stead, we must be released as a matter of justice, and not of pardon or favor; for where the law takes its course there is no pardon.
But this reasoning is defective in every respect. It might apply if mercy were the sole object; but where justice and mercy unite there must be conditions, whereby we avail ourselves of the benefits of his death. But his death was voluntary, and unconditional; a free-will offering to justice in our behalf. He honors the law whether we will honor it or not; and if we will not accept him we must bear the consequences. He has made an offering to the divine law. We did not make it, nor will it avail for us unless we accept it, and by faith appropriate the benefits thereof to ourselves.
Again, in such reasoning the true nature of substitution is not considered. If a man commits a crime worthy of death, and another dies in his stead, he does not necessarily remove the guilt of the criminal thereby. So the death of Christ makes salvation possible by vindicating the law in mans behalf, and opening the way for pardon without infringing on justice. But his death does not make the salvation of any man necessary, as will be seen from the fact that pardon is offered through faith in him. But if his death was in the nature of the payment of a debt which could not be collected a second time, or of suffering a penalty in such sense that they for whom he died could not justly suffer it, even if they persisted in rejecting him, then there would be no room for pardon. All men might then demand their release on grounds of justice! But that is not the system of the gospel. That would amount to an indiscriminate and unconditional pardon which, as we have seen, is subversive of justice and of Government.
But if Christ did not suffer in our stead, how is justice vindicated in case we are pardoned? If he did not suffer the penalty in our behalf, and we do not suffer it because he sets us free, then the penalty is never suffered, and the law is not honored, for justice is robbed of its due. Some affect to think that this is the gospel plan; but only because they lose sight of the great gospel truth that Christ is set forth as a propitiation, that through faith in his blood we may receive the remission of sins that are past, that God may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Rom. 3:23-26. No one can imagine that Christ bore our sins on the tree except in the sense of suffering in his death the desert of our sins, for death is that desert. He hath made him to be sin for usnot that he was a sinner, for he knew no sin, but he was counted a sinnersin was imputed to him, if you please, for our sake, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5:21. We cannot imagine how he was made sin for us, except by his bearing our sins, which he did, and standing in our stead before the violated law.
The sacrifices of the Levitical law typified the offering of Christ; and what their death was in type his must surely be in fact. The forms prescribed in that law show plainly their intent. The requirement to lay their hands upon the heads of their offerings, was peculiarly significant. If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord, he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Lev. 1:2-4. See also 3:2, 8, 13. If the priest sinned, he was required to bring a bullock for a sin offering; and he shall lay his hand upon the bullocks head. Chap. 4:4. If the whole congregation sinned, then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock. Verse 15. Also verse 24; chap. 8:14, 22.
The object of this action is made clear in chap. 16:21, where the same thing is done over the scape-goat. The high priest was there acting in behalf of all 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. This could be the only object in all like transactions. Thus the sin was transferred from the sinner to the object or offering upon which his hands were laid. And this opens to us the full sense of Lev. 1:4, and parallel passages. He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering,thereby transferring his sin to the offering, so that it bore the sin of the manand it shall be accepted for him. Of course it was accepted as an offering to the broken law, in his stead, for it had his sin.
While the action of the priest in Lev. 16:21 is conclusive as to the object of laying ones hand upon the head of his offering, to put his sins upon the head of the sacrifice, it does not confound the scape-goat with the sin offering, as some have imagined. Of this we shall speak at length in another place.
The same is fully shown by the following: Although the sinner was required to lay his hand on the head of the offering, the priest made the atonement for him; Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and others. The atonement was made with the blood of the offering. It was early revealed to man that the blood was the life. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. Gen. 9:4. Be sure that thou eat not the blood; for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Deut. 12:23. For the life of the flesh is in the blood. For it is the life of all flesh. For the life of all flesh is the blood thereof. Lev. 17:11, 14. Therefore when the Lord said, Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed, it was equivalent to saying, Whoso taketh mans life, by man shall his life be taken; for he said again, Your blood of your lives will I require. Gen. 9:5.
Now the wages of sin is death, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:22. That is to say, the sinner has forfeited his life, and the law dishonored cannot be satisfied or vindicated without the shedding of blood, or taking life, for life is its due. This plainly shows that the penalty of the law is executed by shedding blood, or taking life; and also that the remission of sin, or its penalty, to the sinner, does not relax the claims of the law; for when his sin was transferred to the offering, that was accepted for him, and its blood or life taken for his. 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. 17:11. So the sin was remitted or forgiven the sinner, and laid upon another, who suffered its penalty. With these facts before us, we notice that all those scriptures which speak of Christs blood being shed, are a confirmation of the fact that he died, or suffered the penalty of the law. The wages of sin is deaththe life is in the blood; he shed his bloodhe died for sin. How plain the truth; how reasonable the plan appears when freed from the perversions and doctrines of men.
That which is done for another is vicarious. Death suffered for another is vicarious death; but in the preceding cases brought from the Scriptures, the sin offerings never were slain or offered for themselves, or for their own wrongs, but always for the sins of others. Their blood was shed in the stead of that of others; their deaths were truly vicarious. And if we take away from them all ideas of substitution or vicariousness, we take away the sole reason of their being slain, and all possibility of an atonement consistent with justice.
It needs no more than a mere reference to the Scriptures to show the relation those transactions bore to the gospel of Christ, and that the death of Christ was in truth substitutionary and vicarious. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isa. 53:6. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. 1 Pet. 2:24. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. Heb. 9:28. Thus he bore our sinsthey were laid on himhe was made sin for us; standing in that relation to the law in our stead. And the wages of sin being death, because our sin was laid on him, he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. For the transgression of my people was he stricken. His soul was made an offering for sin. Isa. 53:5, 8, 10. He that doeth not all the words of the law is cursed; but Christ is made a curse for us to redeem us from the curse of the law. Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10-13. Christ died for the ungodly. Rom. 5:6. Was delivered for our offenses. Chap. 4:25. Christ died for our sins. 1 Cor. 15:3. He died for all, for all were dead, or condemned to death, for all had sinned. 2 Cor. 5:14. He suffered for sins, the just for the unjust. 1 Pet. 3:18. Christ hath suffered for us. Chap. 4:1. In all these expressions the idea of substitution is prominent, as it was in the type.
Again, the same truth is taught in all those scriptures which speak of Christ having purchased us. He gave his life a ransom for many. Matt. 20:28. To ransom, says Webster, is to redeem from captivity by paying an equivalent. Who gave himself a ransom for all. 1 Tim. 2:6. Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 7:23. Denying the Lord that bought them. 2 Pet. 2:1. Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. Hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. Rev. 5:9. Which he hath purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:28. Now the sole idea of redeeming, purchasing, or buying, with a price, is that of substitution by equivalent, or receiving one instead of another.
George Storrs, of New York, in a small work on the Atonement, rejected the idea of Christ dying in the stead of the sinner; and his views ought to be noticed, especially as he represented a class. He said the atonement must correspond to mans nature, and to the demand of the law, for it is such a satisfaction as justice rightfully demands. The best satisfaction to law is obedience; an atonement is satisfaction rendered for disobedience. It is indeed such a satisfaction as justice demands. But it would be difficult for any one to explain why the Atonement must correspond to mans nature, and to the claim that justice has on man, if the death of the atoner be not substitutionary. How otherwise could it meet the claim? Again he said that by dying, though death had no claim on him, justice was vindicated. Now if death had no claim on him, how could justice be vindicated in his death? And is justice ever vindicated in the death of one on whom it has no claim? No; it is rather a perversion of justice. But all admit that death had no claim on Christ, so far as his own actions were concerned; therefore if justice was upheld or vindicated in his death, it was because he died in the room and stead of those on whom death had a claim. That there was a transfer of sin all will admit; our sins were laid on him. But death has a claim on the sinner, for the wages of sin is death. And if the sin was transferred, of course the claim of death must also have been transferred. So death had a claim on him; but only as he stood in our stead. He was made sin for us; therefore he was made a curse for us. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:14. The idea of vicariousness, or complete substitution, is as plainly taught as language can teach it; and the wonder is that the question was ever raised by Bible-readers, or that the possibility of the negative being true was ever admitted.
We must further notice the objection that if a complete substitute is accepted, justice is satisfied, and the release of the accused is of justice, not of mercy. Many respectable speakers and authors seem to have become strangely confused on this subject. The objection seems, at first glance, to have force; but it is really founded on a very partial and superficial view of the gospel plan. It is mercy to the criminal for the Government to accept a substitute; and mercy to him also for the substitute to offer or consent to stand in his stead. It is nothing but mercy, pardon, free gift, to the sinner, in every part of the transaction. And it would be so if he had himself procured a substitute; much more when the Governor provides the substitute, and this even the Son of his delight, and invites the sinner to return to his allegiance and obedience, that he may receive pardon and life through his blood. It has been noticed that justice and mercy must unite in order to both honor the Government and spare the sinner. Paul shows that they do unite in the gospel, for therein God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. His justice is shown by maintaining the dignity and honor of his law, even at the expense of the life of his Son; his mercy is shown by justifying us through his blood. But inasmuch as Christ was not a sinner, it would be very difficult to show wherein God was just in the death of his Son, unless he died to meet the just desert of our sin in our stead.
Burge on the Atonement, a work which reflects a somewhat popular view, says:
If a man engage to perform a certain piece of work, for a reward which is proposed, it makes no difference whether he do the work himself, or procure another to do it for him. Let the work be done according to agreement, and he is entitled to the reward. So, if Christ has done for believers the work which the law required them to do, God is now bound, on the principle of strict justice, to bestow the promised reward, eternal life. There is no grace, but stern, unbending justice here. pp. 202, 203.
Barnes takes substantially the same view, and both aver that Christ did not suffer the penalty of the law, but something substituted for the penalty. Did this illustration merely go to show the insufficiency of Christs obedience to moral law to make an atonement, without the suffering of death, there could be no objection raised against it. But it goes far beyond this. In order for an illustration to be worth anything, there must be some analogy between its main points and the thing illustrated. In this case there is none whatever.
Man is a rebel, condemned to death; the law can only be satisfied with the taking of life. Now in regard to rendering satisfaction to a broken law there cannot possibly be anything existing between sinful man and his Creator, answering to the nature of a contract, as this illustration supposes. But its defect is most plainly seen in this, that man does not, and cannot, procure a substitute. If man by his own efforts had procured the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, the Atonement would rest on an entirely different footing from what it now does. Any illustration based on such an utter impossibility, which is so contrary to evident truths, and to the whole revealed plan of the Atonement, cannot aid in a correct understanding of it. God has set forth his Son to be a propitiationto suffer death, the penalty of the law, for us; so that his substitutionary sacrifice is the gift of God, even as Christ himself was the gift of God. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. If we take for granted that the death of Christ meets every demand of the law, yet so long as he is the gift of God, there is mercy in the transaction. But Dr. Barnes thinks there was no mercy if it met the requirement of the law. He remarks:
If it should be said that there was mercy in the gift of the Saviour, and that so far as that is concerned the transaction is one of mercy, though so far as the law is concerned the transaction is one of justice, it may be replied that this is not the representation of the Bible. The idea of mercy pervades it throughout. It is not only mercy in providing an atonement; it is mercy to the sinner. There is mercy in the case. There is love. There is more than a mere exaction of the penalty. There is more than a transfer. There is a lessening of suffering, &c. pp. 232, 233.
No one doubts that in the Atonement there is mercy to the sinner; but we are not prepared to admit that the transaction (death of Christ) is not one of justice so far as the law is concerned. We think this is the representation of the Bible. The death of Christ either met the demand of law and justice, or it did not. If it did, then it was, so far, a legal transaction; then stern, unbending justice was honored in his death. But if it did not, then we fail to see how divine justice is vindicated in granting pardon through him; how God can be just in justifying the believer any more than he could have been in justifying an unbeliever, seeing that justice had no part in the transaction. We have been accustomed to regard this declaration of the apostle (Rom. 3:24-26) as positive proof that justice was satisfied in his death, in order that pardon might be granted to the believer without slighting the claims of the law; and it does not seem to be possible to vindicate the system on any other principle than this. And if we only admit that Christ suffered the penalty of the law, which was death, as the Scriptures abundantly show, then there is no difficulty whatever in this view.
And we can only decide that there is a lessening of suffering by being able to measure the extent or severity of the sufferings of Christ, which no finite mind can do. Dr. Barnes statement is made on the supposition that the sufferings of the lost will be eternal. But we have seen that the idea of eternal punishment does not embrace eternal suffering, but rather eternal death; everlasting destruction, as the apostle says. It is possible, and the thought is not at all unreasonable, that the sufferings of Christ, the Son of God, as far exceeded the sufferings of a human being, as he is high in his nature above man, or as his blood is more precious and of more worth than that of man. It is safe to say that that remark of Dr. Barnes was made without due consideration.
The following words of Maclaurin are at once so suggestive and impressive that we are pleased to present them to the reader:
Men may paint Christs outward sufferings, but not that inward excellence from whence their virtue flowed, namely, his glory in himself, and his goodness to us. Men may paint one crucified; but how can that distinguish the Saviour from the criminals? On each side of him we may paint his hands and his feet fixed to the cross; but who can paint how these hands used always to be stretched forth for relieving the afflicted and curing the diseased; or how these feet went always about doing good; and how they cure more diseases and do more good now than ever? We may paint the outward appearance of his sufferings, but not the inward bitterness or invisible causes of them. Men can paint the cursed tree, but not the curse of the law that made it so. Men can paint Christ bearing the cross to Calvary, but not Christ bearing the sins of many. We may describe the nails piercing his sacred flesh; but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit? We may describe the soldiers spear, but not the arrow of the Almighty; the cup of vinegar which he but tasted, but not the cup of wrath which he drank out to the lowest dregs; the derision of the Jews, but not the desertion of the Almighty forsaking his Son, that he might never forsake us who were his enemies.
But let us further examine the facts of the gospel and see if they will justify the statement of Dr. Barnes that there was only mercy in the offering of Jesus Christ for man, as a sacrifice for sin. We do not see how any one can carefully consider the sacrifice, and the reason of its being made, and yet say there was no manifestation of divine justice in the transaction.
Man is a sinner, condemned to death. Justice demands his life. But God loves the world, and gives his Son to die for man. The Son volunteers to die; the plan is fixed and determined. After years of toil, privation, suffering, and scorn, he sees the hour of his death approaching. Alone with his Father he pleads, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Not once only does he cry. His soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Great drops of sweat, as it were blood, burst through the pores of his skin, so intense is his agony, as he prays again and again, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Soon is he betrayed, mocked, buffeted, spit upon, scourged, a crown of thorns placed upon his head, falsely accused and unjustly condemned, made to bear his own cross till he faints under the burden, and finally, nailed to the cross, a most cruel means of death, in agony he expires. Now, in all candor, let us ask, was there nothing but mercy in this transaction? Was there any mercy to the Saviour? It is readily acknowledged that mercy pervades it throughout, as far as the sinner is concerned; but was it so toward the Saviour? The sinner was not the only one concerned in that transaction. No one can make or endorse this statement of Dr. Barnes unless he looks to the benefit accruing to the sinner, without considering the sufferings and death of the Saviour. And that is surely a very limited consideration of the nature and object of the death of Christ which leaves his death altogether out of view!
It may be objected here that Dr. Barnes claims an absolute excess of mercy, because the sufferings of Christ were but a small part of the sufferings that were justly due to the guilty world. But that makes not the least difference; for the question of the justice or the injustice of that part endured by him must be settled by the same principles that would govern the case had he endured the whole. The objection, however, is wholly inadmissible, involving a material error in itself; for death is the penalty of the law, and the just due of the sinner. This Christ suffered, and to deny this were to deny the whole gospel.
Why was this immense sacrifice made? Was man of so great value that the glorious Son of the Most High must come to rescue him from ruin? That is by no means the sole reason. Satan made a bold attempt to frustrate the plan of the Almighty. Man, with the power of reason and of will conferred upon him by his Maker, must be free to act and to form his own character in the sight of the Lawgiver. He yielded to the tempters wiles and broke the law of his Creator and Benefactor. Not only the life of man, but the honor of God is at stake. Shall Satan be permitted to triumph, and man be utterly ruined and blotted from the earth? Or shall the divine Lawgiver relax the strictness of his law, and so let man escape the penalty which he had incurred? Either would dim the glory of the Most High. Either would cause the sons of God, who shouted for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid, to veil their faces in astonishment and in sorrow. God, whose love and justice are alike infinite, determined to open a way whereby man might be recovered from his fall, and the integrity of the law be maintained, and its claims fully honored. A way, through the sacrifice of his Son, whereby he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. And shall we yet say that the sacrifice of Jesus was not an offering to justice? that it had no reference to the dignity of the divine law, which had been dishonored? We cannot see how people can read the sacred Scriptures, and look upon the agonies of the cross of Calvary, and yet say that the Atonement does not answer the demand of justice.
But the views which we have quoted from Barnes and others on this point, are not those which are commonly accepted by evangelical Christians. And we rejoice that they are not. On the other hand we present a few quotations, the sentiments of which, we feel confident, will meet a response in many an earnest Christian heart. The first is from Bishop Baring, in a sermon on Christs Death a Propitiatory Sacrifice:
It is the constant failing of mans limited intelligence to attempt to exalt one attribute of Jehovah by the surrender of another, and to throw light upon his love by veiling his justice. But the salvation of the gospel, while it immeasurably heightens the glory of each attribute, exhibits them all in perfect harmony; so that each sheds a luster on the rest, and mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Ps. 85:10. Oh, where can we find set forth in more awful reality the immutability of Gods threats, the severity of his justice, his infinite abhorrence of sin, than in the simple narrative of the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion of Gods coequal Son.
Dr. Chalmers, in a sermon on the Power of the Gospel, said:
That law which, resting on the solemn authority of its firm and unalterable requirements, demanded a fulfillment up to the last jot and tittle of it, has been magnified and has been made honorable by one illustrious Sufferer, who put forth the greatness of his strength in that dark hour of the travail of his soul when he bore the burden of all its penalties.
Robert Hall, in a sermon, The Innocent for the Guilty, in which he outlines the gospel as the substitution of Jesus Christ in the stead of sinners, his suffering the penalty of the law in their room, and opening a way for their deliverance from the sentence of condemnation, reasoned as follows:
It is highly expedient, or rather necessary, that the person who is admitted as a substitute in the stead of another, should vindicate the law by which he suffered. Otherwise, the more illustrious his character, and the more extraordinary his interposition, the more the sentiments of mankind would be divided between approbation of his character, and disapprobation of the law by which he suffered. It would be dangerous to throw the luster of such a character, the splendor and weight of his sufferings, into the scale opposite to that which contains the law. While he suffered the penalty, had he complained of the law which exacted it, as being too rigid and severe, as having demanded more than was really equitable, all the glory which the law might have derived from such a sacrifice would have been entirely lost. The honor of the law would have been impaired in the estimation of men, in proportion to the impression which his character and example had made on their minds. But so far is this from the case before us, that, on the contrary, we find both his language and his sufferings combine to produce one result.
Never had justice such an advocate as it had in the doctrine of Christ; at the same time never had it such a victim as in his sacrifice. He illustrated the law in his doctrine, maintained and defended its purity, and rescued it from the pollutions with which the scribes and Pharisees had debased it. He magnified the law, and made it honorable. There was no contrariety between his sufferings and his doctrine; on the contrary, the one afforded the clearest commentary on the equity of the other. Every part of his conduct, and every period of his life, was a practical illustration of the excellence of the precepts which compose that law, the penalty of which he endured on behalf of the offender.
Every one must acknowledge that whatever detracts from the honor of the law, detracts from the glory of the Lawgiver. The law cannot be reproached and its Author be honored. Jesus did not seek his own glory, but the glory of him that sent him; and it was in furtherance of this object that he magnified the law and made it honorable.
The following most impressive language is found in a sermon by John Maclaurin, on Glorying in the Cross
Here shines spotless justice, incomprehensible wisdom, and infinite love, all at once. None of them darkens or eclipses the other; every one of them gives a luster to the rest. They mingle their beams, and shine with united eternal splendor; the just Judge, the merciful Father, and the wise Governor. No other object gives such a display of all these perfections; yea, all the objects we know give not such a display of any one of them. Nowhere does justice appear so awful, mercy so amiable, or wisdom so profound.
By the infinite dignity of Christs person, his cross gives more honor and glory to the law and justice of God, than all the other sufferings that ever were or will be endured in the world. When the apostle is speaking to the Romans of the gospel, he does not tell them only of Gods mercy, but also of his justice revealed by it. Gods wrath against the unrighteousness of men is chiefly revealed by the righteousness and sufferings of Christ. The Lord was pleased for his righteousness sake Rom. 1:17: Isa. 42:21. Both by requiring and appointing that righteousness, he magnified the law and made it honorable Considering, therefore, that God is the Judge and Lawgiver of the world, it is plain that his glory shines with unspeakable brightness in the cross of Christ as the punishment of sin. But this is the very thing that hinders the lovers of sin from acknowledging the glory of the cross, because it shows so much of Gods hatred of what they love.
Mr. H. H. Dobney, in his excellent work on Future Punishment, discoursing on the nature of the law of God, says:
The mediatorial work of the Son of God is set forth as that which harmonizes justice and mercy. And we can easily perceive that the authority of law, its motive power, its moral force, is more than preserved by this compensative arrangement, which so wonderfully exhibits both the wisdom and the love of God. For those to whom mercy is shown through the Mediator acquire, by the very means adopted in saving them, a much deeper sense of their guilt in violating law than they would ever have attained; while their gratitude, their admiration, their love exceed the power of language to describe; and sin becomes to them inexpressibly hateful, while holinessconformity to Godbe- comes the joy and rejoicing of their heart.
(This article was taken from pages 125-145 of Joseph H. Waggoners book entitled, The Atonement in Light of Nature and Revelation. Editor)
Update on the Work in Africa
by Lynnford Beachy
The work in Africa is growing exceedingly, despite the hardships and continuous attacks of the devil. God is at work spreading the truth about Him, His Son, and their Holy Spirit. Please continue to pray for this work.
We have been receiving many letters and reports concerning the work in Africa, and we would like to share some of these with you.
A brother in Zambia recently returned from a missionary trip to Congo, and another to South Africa and Mozambique, where he shared the truth about God to eager listeners. Currently we are awaiting a report from his trip to Malawi. The Lord has blessed the work in Zambia. Please pray for this brother and the other men he is working with, that the Lord will open the doors and provide the means to reach many others.
Recently this brother wrote us the following letter:
The work here is moving forward with success. Many souls accepted the message through seminars, video and tape ministry, distribution of tracts, newsletters, etc.
I will send you a full report with the names and addresses of the people. I just received a letter from _____. He has finished printing our literature. Praise be to God! I am planning now to go to Zimbabwe to collect the literature on Wednesday next week.
Soon afterward, this brother wrote the following:
I returned home safely from Zimbabwe with eleven boxes of tracts. May the Almighty God continue to guide and bless you. Pass my greetings to all.
Please continue to pray for the work in Zambia and the surrounding countries. Also pray for the work in Zimbabwe where much of the literature for this area is being produced.
The message in Tanzania is spreading rapidly. Recently a brother sent us this letter:
Thank you very much for your assistance; I had received it yesterday. Praise the Lord Last week I had a seminar for four days from 15th to 19th of April.
I have settled a group with a big number of believers. Please send them Present Truth Magazine. They will send you their addresses. The work is nice with much fruits.
Please pray for us so that God may bring His mercy to cover His work.
Another Brother recently wrote:
Warmest greetings with 1 John 5:20. I am grateful for this possibility to write you these few lines. In the past few weeks _____ and I had been conducting missionary campaigns here
As fruits of this labour we came in contact with one leader of the trinitarian church who accepted the truth after we studied with him as he stayed in my house.
Upon returning back he first studied with his family, before he could distribute some tracts we had given for that purpose. These reached one pastor whom, after reading The Truth About God and The Holy Spirt, he brought the tracts to a college where they were meeting with other pastors in the conference.
There he shared with them and the subjects were brought to the attention of the whole conference, and they deliberated for the whole days program.
Finally the conference agreed that the subject on the Holy Spirit was the truth, and as a result a serious interest from among them was aroused. They decided to look for this brother, who has now appealed to my help that we can meet with them for a deeper search of this wonderful truth that God has entrusted to us.
Here in _____, these campaigns also brought us some joy, as we are having Bible studies with three leaders of our former two local churches who have decided to understand the truth apart from the threats and negative attitude toward us by their top leaders following our decision to distance from satanic delusions.
There are some who are willing to stand up for the truth no matter what may result.
In the past we have informed you of a pastor who has lost his job and his home because of this message. Thanks to the goodness of God and the kind donations of some of our readers we have been helping this brother with some finances, but they were not sufficient to supply his needs of a new house. He has a piece of property suitable to build a house, but no finances to get the job done. Recently he wrote:
Thank you very much for the message I have received from you. Im happy to hear that you still continue with prayers for me. Sure the battle is very heavy, I dont know why.
The money which you sent me for building was satisfied for 40 blocks only. The medium house here could take 1600 blocks, with other materials as cement, doors, iron sheets, windows and contractor. The whole house must cost about US $3200. This figure I was given by a contractor of building.
This same man wrote, sharing some of the unkind treatment he has received from his former employers. He wrote:
May peace and grace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ our Lord be with you. Thank you very much for assistance you gave me few days ago, God bless you. The battle is very heavy, I leave here in sadness. Please dont use Box _____ which belongs to my former mission. You sent me Present Truth magazine, I havent received it because letters which are coming to me through that box they throw them away.
The previous day I heard some of them telling me that they received my copy of the Present Truth magazine and tore and burned it. My address is _____, use it for our communication as I told you before. If back issues remain, please send them to me again.
The work is nice it goes forward, people are firm although there is much harshness. May I give you cordial greetings to your wife and child. One day we should meet if not here, in heaven.
Please pray for this pastor, and the others who have shared a similar experience.
The work in Uganda is proceeding well. A few of the brothers are hoping to be able to start an orphanage to help meet the needs of some of the orphans in Uganda. Recently a brother wrote:
Our missionary trip to _____ is still pending because our host Sunday Pastor lost his brother in a locomotive accident, so we decided to postpone for a while. I am going to talk to him on the phone to know about his program again.
I thank you very much on the issue I asked you about beginning an orphanage, this idea came because as I carry on the gospel work I meet with such critical needs, mostly of children without parents, which really need our help, but as you know our income as gospel workers is very limited, but the little I get I am sharing with needier ones but it is not sufficient.
As concerning the cost of beginning, I am preparing a plan of this simple and humble building where I can accommodate these children. I will soon send a plan. God bless you richly. I remain your dear brother in the Gospel.
It has been a bitter time to us as concerning the message of Trinity Now we are standing alone with some believers whom we got from the crusade we conducted and I have called Brother ______ to come that we can arrange for this baptism. The needs of the work are increasing daily mostly with people whom we are meeting with. Right now as concerning the idea of beginning an orphanage, I have ten children who are really in a bad state, where they live in a small thatched grass home and have lost their parents and they are from different homes. I am trying to help them from there but they need to be brought to our homes. That is why I thought that if we get one particular place well arranged it can be beneficial even to the Gospel. But we are going to sit together with believers to decide, and to choose a committee which can take care of this business The mission we went on with a Sunday pastor still is progressing and they are now divided into two groups because of the doctrine of Trinity.
Pray for us. The plan of the project we shall send after the meeting.
Please continue to pray for these brothers and the work in Uganda.
The work in Kenya is growing rapidly as well with new contacts around the country. Recently a brother wrote:
I am very much thankful for your spiritually rich and nutritious food you sent (package) to the spiritually hungry
In my letter 10/5/2002, I explained how I suffered an accident but God willed that I survived. Therefore, I have made up my mind to serve Him fully for I am not more precious than those who lost their lives. For this I have tried to spread the message within my reach using the articles you sent. Many have gathered the interest of knowing much. But at times I do fail to answer certain questions. People really love to hear from us and our tracts.
Very soon you will receive names and addresses of those who are willing to receive the tracts. Otherwise, I had the interest of attending the July scheduled camp meeting for from here I would learn a lot. Send the camp meeting information. May God shower you with his abundant and unfailing love.
Please continue to pray for all these dear brothers who are laboring in the vineyard. We will keep you updated regarding the progress of this work.
Letters from our Readers
(Each month we receive letters that help us to know how Gods work is progressing throughout the world. Because we think you are interested in this work as well, we are printing some of them for you. If you do not wish your letter to be printed, please let us know when you write. Editor)
The Work in Africa
(Many of these letters from Africa include requests. Thanks to the kindness of our Lord, and the generosity of His people some of these needs have been met. However, there are many that we are unable to meet due to lack of funds. If the Lord impresses you to help meet any of these needs, please contact us and we will give you the necessary information. Thank you! Editor)
Sixty Bible Facts Concerning the Seventh Day
Thank you for the pamphlet in respect of the above captioned matter. I am yet to read and comprehend its contents. Should I have any questions or contributions I shall definitely get back to you for clarification.
I would be grateful if you could be sending me similar tracts for my spiritual growth. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
We have a blessed missionary work here in _____. I had studies with one
Sunday pastor who has been our friend, about our message, and God helped
him to get interested and to [want to] know more deeply. He also supplied
our tracts, after photocopying, to his churches under him in _____ and
one prominent pastor also of faith (church) from _____ came when they were
studying a book. He got interested with the book and made a photocopy out
of it when he went back to _____. He sent a message on the phone to our
friend in _____ that he wants us to meet with them, then we arranged to
go to _____ later.
So this friend of ours (pastor) here in _____ has invited us to visit his churches that they also understand the Present Truth, to stand on Gods side with us, because he said that according to what he has learned from these tracts, all the people he is leading are Gods; not his people, as he used to say.
Transport was a problem but we are thankful for your generous hearts of assisting. Your prayers for this mission are our blessings. More information afterwards as we continue with studies.
Thank you very much for sending me the King James version Bible. I received it on March 20, 2002. God bless you. We thank God our Father who has given us this chance of writing to you this letter. Again, we thank you for your good cooperation between you and us in the work of God. In different provinces of our country so many people need to know the message of Smyrna Gospel Ministries, but the problems we have is of reaching to them in time. While we are facing such problems, the work of the Gospel is going well.
Application for obtaining free Bible Studies.
I hereby come respectfully before you applying for the aforementioned subject in your ministry, as you published in the booklet, The Formulation of the Doctrine of the Trinity.
I am saved and Jesus is my Lord. I am serving Jesus as a church elder, singer, player of musical instruments. As I feel to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, I would like to pursue Bible studies. Thank you for considering my application.
I want to thank you for your letter dated February 14. I am happy that
you sent me some tracts to study about the character of God, His Son and
the Holy Spirit. I promise you, any book you send to me I will study carefully
and teach people to understand the character of the true God
I need more
information about the true God and His begotten Son. I pray that God will
help you to publish more books into the world and especially Africa so
that people will understand Gods character.
I hope in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ your supporters will send money for this work. God called you for a special work to send His message on last day events.
I hope you will send more books.
I would like to thank Brother Lynnford for printing my request to all
the readers around the world. My family, my friends and my neighbors are
all thankful for all he has done to me.
I am really praying for you because this work needs the power from above.
I am a university student. I attend a university of science and technology I go to church on Saturdays. Presently I dont know much about the Bible but I want to know more about the Bible. That is why I requested books from you. I want you to teach me the Bible. I am having problems, so remember me in your prayers. I want to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever you come across any book that you think would help me in my Christian life, try as much as possible and mail it to me.
Re: One Hundred Bible Facts on the Sabbath Question. We greatly appreciate your Present Truth paper. Could you please send us the above tract. Thanking you in advance Anything on the Sabbath would help us.
I have been receiving your Present Truth newsletter for several months now. I am in accord with much of the teachings included therein. I see you do some in-depth word studies to come to the understanding that you are professing. I have found that to be an excellent way to get to the root of the Bible text for myself also.
Could you send me all your pamphlets, booklets, Present Truth magazine, These Last Days study, and anything else that may help a woman out.
I want to know if I can have the free studies. I like to study them, but if I have to pay I have no way to pay for them. My finances are very reduced.
Please accept this as a request for some Bible truths. I am very interested in learning in depth about what happens when a saved person dies. Also am equally interested in the resurrection.
(For anyone interested in these subjects, please contact us and request the tracts entitled What the Bible Says About Hell and The Reward of the Wicked. Editor)
I received the package of materials you sent me. I cant thank you enough; they are exactly what I was looking for. I have begun reading and studying them from the very moment they arrived and I have already gained in so much knowledge and understanding from so doing.
Please delete me from your Present Truth monthly mailing list.
May God bless you all for your ministry and work in Christ. Please continue what you are doing, for it is pleasing in Gods sight. I thank our Father for His Son, Jesus Christ, and pray that I will always walk in His light. I love you all very much and may God our Father strengthen you and protect you against and from the wiles and snares of the devil.
You always do so well in your answers - congratulations. On page 3 of
the latest issue you make an apology for calling the first five books of
Moses the Torah. You said it should have been the Pentateuch. However,
you were correct the first time, it is called the Torah by the Jews.
That is what they call it. We call it the Pentateuch. Torah is the Hebrew
word. I dont know what language Pentateuch is, although penta should
give us a clue. Is it Latin? If so, then the Jews certainly would not call
The whole of the Old Testament is called the Tanach by the Jews. Again, that is the Hebrew. They also use the term Bible, but mainly the Tanach.
(You are correct. I was thinking of the use of the word Torah to signify the Jewish traditions. This is one meaning of the word, yet it can also refer to the first five books of the Bible which we call the Pentateuch. The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia has this to say of the Torah: Torah (Hebrew, law or doctrine), in Judaism, the Pentateuch, especially when in the form of a parchment scroll for reading in the synagogue The term Torah also is used to refer to the entire corpus of the Scriptures of the Jews together with the commentaries on them. The commentaries, which arose through the centuries out of learned discussion, are called oral Torah to distinguish them from the Pentateuch itself, the written Torah.Torah, Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Thank you for your correction. Editor)
I have received the tracts on 20th Apr 2002. The studies you sent blessed me so much. In our church I have a childrens work. May you please send me some materials for children?
(I am sorry, but we do not have any materials specifically for children. Editor)
Please kindly send me a copy of the book entitled The Formulation of the Doctrine of the Trinity. I would like very much to read this book but I dont have money to buy it. Kindly do me a favor and send me a copy.
I cant imagine why you got such a notice from the post office I get mail delivered here six days a week. So, try again. I like getting the newsletter. If it happens again, Ill check with the Post Office.
(Each month we receive notices from the post office informing us that certain addresses we mail to are invalid. Unfortunately, some of these addresses are valid addresses, yet we have no way of knowing which ones are valid and which ones are not, unless we can contact the person in some other way, such as an e-mail address or a phone number. If you inadvertently get deleted from our mailing list, without your request, please write us and verify your valid address. Editor)
Thanks so much for your letters dated February 7 and 8, 2002 with your booklets and my questions answered about the Holy Spirit. It is now very clear. I thank you so much. My people were glad for your love and concern over us. Continue your good work. Please send me copies of Holy Bibles to give the newly interested souls in our churches.
Since Ive been able to study the publications youve sent regarding the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has led me to a new revelation of His truth. I find now that to believe the Holy Spirit is a being independent of and separate from the Father and Son is not to be proved by Scripture. I have been in the three Gods camp for some time now but, recently, since receiving your materials, have come to a new understanding.
My daughter has just phoned me. I pass on my Present Truth to her after reading it, and she in turn passes it on to others. As a result we have a family from her church who no longer believe in the trinity. She asked me to write to you to find out how to send you a donation. She has a MasterCard is that suitable or is that not international?
(I am sorry, but we are unable to accept credit cards at this time. However, there are ministers with whom we are cooperating who are carrying on the work in Australia that you may be able to help. Editor)
Letters from Prisoners
Im a Christian inmate, incarcerated at _____, and would like very much to be placed on your newsletter and book mailing list.
I received your letters and the newsletters which I enjoyed reading; not
me alone but as well as the other inmates. Thank you very much
The Supreme Court hasnt done anything yet and I believe that the day it sits on my name, through your prayers, by Gods grace, I will be acquitted. To be still normal up to this day, I am quite convinced that it is because of your prayers.
I would like to commend Lynnford for the amazing way he answers the questions in the readers column. This is wonderful! If this was politics I would have said he deserves a pat on the back but because its Gods Word which is a mystery to many, I say praise be to God for He has revealed this unto babes. (Matthew 11:25, Job 32:8) The Spirit of God that is in man gives him wisdom and understanding.
May the Lord bless you all and the Truth Seekers Ministry.
The Work Around the World
Many wishes and greetings to you and your family in the name of our Saviour
Actually in India it is too hot, because of the summer season, from April to October, but the month of May is the period of holidays. Especially for the youths and school age students. So, I arranged meetings in May. But we will have meetings in December. I have one assistant who knows English very well, with me. If any intimation, we will communicate through telephone with his help at any time. I will open an e-mail account very soon I am doing Gods ministry continuously May God bless you!
(We had originally planned to hold meetings in India in May of this year, but they have been rescheduled for December of this year. Please pray for all the aspects relating to this missionary trip and for the people in India who have suffered from extreme high temperatures in the month of May. Editor)
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Part 5)
by George McDaniel
(This is the fifth in a series of health articles that are designed to help you gain a deeper appreciation for Gods amazing handiwork of the human body and a better understanding of how it works and how it can be better maintained by simple methods. George McDaniel is my father-in-law, and has been a registered nurse for many years, which, along with much research, has taught him many useful health principles. I pray that you are being blessed by these articles. Editor)
Most of us equate nutrition with diet, which is the food we eat. However, a more accurate definition of nutrition would be the nutrients that reach the cells in a form that can be used for maintenance, repair and energy supply.
The best place to start in obtaining good nutrition is with a good diet. Other things to consider are the body systems that process the food and deliver it to where it is neededthese include the digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system and endocrine system. These all have to be working well in order to utilize well the nutrients obtained from our food.
A good diet will contain a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, fiber, enzymes and other nutrients. While it is true that we dont need a Ph.D. degree in nutrition to have a good diet, we do need a basic understanding of what to eat and what not to eat in order to have good health. This is especially true if we live in the western industrialized countries where large amounts of money are spent advertising highly processed, so-called food products, which contain little nutrition and can be harmful to our health.
The best diet is the one that most closely resembles the original diet given to man by God. This includes fruits, seeds and vegetables. Fruits result from a fertilized blossom and are carriers for the seeds. This includes such things as squash and tomatoes, which we sometimes think of as vegetables. Seeds would include nuts and grains as well as other seeds. These are the parts that when planted produce new plants and trees. Vegetables include roots, leaves, stems, blossoms and buds. All of these should be eaten in a condition as close to natural as possible, with as little refining and processing as possible. God made man out of the earth and He provided for his sustenance the plants that grow from the earth. Fruits and seeds, especially, contain elements essential to the growth of new plants. These elements are also necessary for the growth and maintenance of humans. For example, thiamin or vitamin B1, is essential for the growth of the roots of a plant. If thiamin is lacking, roots will not grow. This is why seeds are a good source of thiamin. Humans need thiamin to aid in the metabolism of glucose. It also is needed for the nervous system and other uses. People can eat seeds, including nuts and grains, to obtain thiamin. This substance is largely found in the bran and germ of grains. If the grain is refined, adequate amounts of it cant be obtained and deficiency disease can result. Much the same can be said of the other vitamins, which are necessary for both plant and human development.
Minerals are also needed for human life to exist. They are extracted from the soil by plants and are necessary for the development of the plant. Plants also manufacture carbohydrates, proteins and fats to use in forming their own structure and to provide energy for the plants own use. Not surprisingly, humans also need these substances, and for much the same purpose, which is to provide for growth and maintenance and as a source of energy. It is obvious to me that God provided the amazing plant as the source of nutrients for man.
There are areas in the world where it is difficult to find adequate plant foods to sustain life. In such places where it is necessary to eat animals, including fish and birds, for food, I believe it is best, if possible, to follow the guidelines given by God to Moses in Leviticus 11 as to which animals are suitable for food and which are not. Some nutritionists consider flesh foods as ideal sources for protein and certain vitamins, and even consider a diet lacking flesh foods as inadequate. We need to look at the facts.
First, human beings are designed physically to consume a plant-based diet. If we compare the physical design of humans with that of grass eaters, such as cows, or meat eaters such as cats, we can see significant differences. They also differ physiologically. Cows teeth are designed to chew grass. Their stomachs produce little acid and are divided into several sections to thoroughly digest grass, which contains much fiber. Their intestinal tracts are very long so as to enable them to extract full benefit from their diet. Cats, on the other hand, are typical carnivores. They have sharp, pointed teeth, suitable for tearing flesh. Their stomachs produce strong acid to digest the high protein diet. Their intestinal tracts are short, allowing for rapid elimination of waste. Cats and other carnivores also produce an enzyme called uricase, which helps to deal with uric acid, which is a by-product of digestion of meat.
The teeth of humans are designed for biting and then chewing fruits, seeds and vegetables. The acid in human stomachs is lower in amount than cats but stronger than cows. It is suitable for dealing with the amounts of protein from a plant-based diet. The human intestinal tract is also suitable for dealing with a diet higher in fiber than that which is found in meats. It is longer than that of cats but shorter than that of cows. A high meat, low fiber diet results in slow transit time of food residues through the intestines, which can result in constipation and production of toxic substances from bacterial action on protein residues. The extended contact of these toxic by-products with the colon is thought to be one cause of cancer of the colon. Humans also do not produce uricase, so are unable to metabolize uric acid. It is detoxified and eliminated slowly by the liver, but any excess is deposited in joints and muscles and can result in gout and some forms of arthritis.
Other reasons for not including meat in the diet include: 1) Most of the meat available in the stores is from animals raised on factory farms. They are fed a carefully designed diet including antibiotics, hormones and protein derived from animal sources. This causes rapid weight gain but is a source of many problems. The mad cow disease in some parts of the world is only one of the problems. 2) The animals are usually kept confined in pens and not allowed to graze freely and obtain exercise. 3) The hormones and antibiotics they are fed can affect the consumer. 4) In addition, when the animals are brought in for slaughter, they are aware that they are in danger. They produce hormones from the fear and anger they feel as they are driven into the slaughterhouse. I watched a steer one time being driven into a slaughterhouse. He was wild with fear and anger and kept trying to escape. These hormones have a stressful effect on the one eating the meat.
Some think that eating meat is necessary to keep up their strength. A look at the animal world will show us the fallacy of this. The tiger is a strong and fierce beast but it fears the elephant. The elephant is much larger and stronger and eats only plants. Many other animals we admire for their strength eat only plants; mostly grasses: oxen, horses, buffaloes, etc.
In selecting what to include in ones diet, it is best to choose from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Try to include green, yellow and red vegetables. The deeper and more intense the color, generally the more food value the vegetable contains. The same can be said for fruits: Eat a variety with different colors; red, orange, yellow, blue. The pigments that give various colors to fruits and vegetables have recently been found to be important to human health and have names such as carotenes, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and isothiocyanates. Many of these substances act as antioxidants, which can protect cells from being damaged.
Limit each meal to three or four varieties, but include as much variety as you can over several days, since some things are higher in some nutrients and others will make up where those lack. For instance, seeds are usually high in vitamin B complex and certain minerals, but are low in vitamins C and A and other minerals, such as calcium. Green leafy vegetables are relatively high in calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A, so in combination they complement each other. The same is true in regard to protein. Seeds and leaves both contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Those of the leaf complement those of the seed so that together they provide a more adequate source of protein.
If you feel your diet needs to be changed, do it slowly. Become informed. Dont rush into a change without first having a plan. A good place to start is to eliminate the commonly-called junk foods. These are the highly refined and processed foods that consist mainly of white flour, sugar, artificial flavors and colors and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Most of the vitamins in foods are contained in places like the bran and germ of grains and in, or just under, the peel of other foods. These are the parts most frequently removed in refining and processing. Many vitamins are sensitive to heat and are destroyed by cooking, or are dissolved in the water used. Some foods are made more palatable by cooking, such as beans and potatoes. Use as little water as possible and do not discard it. Many vegetables can be cooked with steam. This preserves more of the vitamin content. Beans, grains and other seeds can be sprouted. This actually increases the nutrient content of the seed.
Once you have replaced refined foods with whole foods in your diet, you are ready for other changes such as eating more raw foods instead of cooking so much, or sprouting seeds to eat. If you can go to a bookstore, or a health food store, you can probably find books that can give you information on many topics relative to nutrition; then experiment to find out what you like and what works for you. What works for you and gives you better health and more energy may be different from what works for someone else. Just try to approximate as closely as you can the ideal diet given man by God.
Young people up through their 20s or even 30s can seem to be able to eat anything, drink anything, keep late or irregular hours and schedules and still have good health and lots of energy. This is due to the ability of the body to adapt and overcome these abuses. The time will come when it will catch up with them. It is much better to begin young in learning good health practices. Those who do will be able to hang onto that good health and abundant energy much longer into older age.
Some people think that if they take a vitamin/mineral supplement, it doesnt matter if their diet isnt so good. This is a fallacy. Most vitamin preparations on the market are synthetic. They are manufactured in a laboratory. Vitamins, as taken in food, come with many other plant substances that help make them effective. Synthetic vitamins, or even vitamins extracted from natural sources and concentrated, do not have the same beneficial effect on the body as the complete natural food source with its combination of beneficial ingredients.
One of the most misused terms in the supplement industry is the word natural. It doesnt have to mean made by natural processes. It can mean resembling a natural product. Let the buyer beware. Knowledge is the best defense against being misled. This is not to say that all supplements are worthless. Some can be beneficial. Once again, know what you are eating and why you are eating it.
In the next issue, I plan to continue this subject by examining how the body processes and uses the food eaten.
by Alonzo T. Jones
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (Galatians 5:3)
Debtor to do the whole law. It is curious that many, in considering this statement, have made it mark a distinction between two laws, and have made it exclude the law of God from the subject under consideration, by allowing to the word debtor only the sense of obligation.
They know, by the scripture, that it is the whole duty of man to fear God and keep His commandments. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) They know that there cannot be any other scripture to contradict that. They know that every man is under obligation to keep the whole law of God, whether he is circumcised or uncircumcised. And, allowing that this term implies only obligation,that if he is circumcised, he is under obligation to do the whole law,they conclude that this must exclude the law of God; they conclude that it must be some law that no person is under any obligation to do unless he be circumcised; and that therefore the whole law here under consideration must be only the whole ceremonial law of sacrifices and offerings.
On the other hand, there are those who hold themselves under no obligation whatever to keep the law of God, who bring in this text to support them in their disobedience and opposition. They will have it that only those who are circumcised are under any obligation to keep the law of God, and that it is only by being circumcised that the obligation comes; and they know that they are not under any obligation to be circumcised. From this they argue that they are under no obligation to keep the ten commandments.
But both of these are wrong: both of them fail to see the thought that is in this verse. And the cause of this failure is in their allowing to the word debtor only the sense of obligation.
It is true that the word signifies obligation. But in this place, and in every other place in its connection with mens moral obligations, the word has a meaning so much broader and deeper than that of mere obligation that the sense of mere obligation becomes really secondary.
The word debtor in this verseGalatians 5:3signifies not only that a person is in debt, and under obligation to pay; but that, beyond this, he is overwhelmingly in debt, with nothing at all wherewith to pay. If a man is debtor, and so under obligation, to pay one thousand dollars, and yet has abundance, or even only the ability to pay the one thousand dollars, that is easy enough. But if a man is debtor and so under obligation, to pay fourteen millions of dollars ($14,000,000), and has not a single cent wherewith to pay, and is in prison besides, and has no ability whatever to make a cent wherewith to pay his debt, to that man the word debtor signifies a great deal more than mere obligation to pay.
And that is precisely the case here. That is the thought in this verse. That is the meaning embodied here in the word debtor. This because the word debtor, when used in connection with morals, implies, and can imply, only sin: that the man is a sinner.
This word debtor in Galatians 5:3 is precisely the word that is used in Luke 13:4,Those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?where the word sinners in the text is debtors in the margin.
It is the word used in the Lords prayer (Matthew 6:12), Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and which, in Lukes version of the prayer plainly, expresses the thought of sin, in the words: Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4)
It is the same word also that is used by the Saviour in Luke 7:41, 42: There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing [with which] to pay, he frankly forgave them both.
It is the same word also that is used in the parable in Matthew 18:23-35. Indeed, from the verse, Luke 13:4, where the word sinners is used in the text and debtors in the margin, the reference is direct to this parable in Matthew 18. That is the parable in which it is said that when a certain king had begun to reckon with his servants, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents,about fourteen million four hundred thousand dollars,and he had nothing with which to pay. Then the Lord forgave him the debt. But when the servant found one of his fellow servants who owed him about fifteen dollars, he would not forgive him the debt, but cast him into prison until he should pay the fifteen dollars. Then the king called up his debtor and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:23-35)
That thought of delivering the debtor to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to his lord, belongs with the word; for the use of the word involves the idea that the debtor is one that must expiate his guilt. And sin is called opheilema, because it involves expiation and the payment of it as a debt, by punishment and satisfaction.
From these scriptures the attentive reader can begin to see that in the words of Galatians 5:3,he is debtor to do the whole law,there is far more suggested than that he is merely under obligation to accept the claims of the law upon him, and do his best to meet them. All this shows that he is not only under obligation to recognize the binding claims of the law of God, but that he is actually debtor to render to that law all the claims that it has upon him. And in this it is further shown that, of himself, he must everlastingly be debtor; because he has absolutely nothing wherewith to pay, and of himself has no means of acquiring anything with which to pay.
And this indebtedness lies not only in his obligation to do the law from this time forward; it also lies in obligation to make satisfaction for all that is past,for all the accumulations of the past, up to the present time.
Accordingly, of himself, every man is everlastingly a debtor in all that is implied in this thought in Galatians 5:3 and the kindred texts that we have here cited; because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And whosoever would be circumcised in order to be saved, and thus seek to be saved by works of self-righteousness, thereby takes upon himself the obligation to pay to the law of God his whole debt, from the beginning of his life unto the end of it. And in that, he also takes upon himself the obligation to expiate all the guilt attaching to his transgressions and accumulated thereby.
That is what it is to be debtor to do the whole law. That is what is stated in the words, I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. He is not only debtor; but, by that transaction he himself voluntarily assumes of himself to discharge all that is involved in his indebtedness.
Now it is true that every man in the world is, of himself, that kind of a debtor. It is also true that any man today who seeks justification by his own works, even in the doing of the ten commandments, or of anything else that the Lord has commanded, does thereby assume, and bind himself to pay, all that is involved in the indebtedness. But he cannot pay. There is not with him the first element of any possibility, in himself, to pay any of the debt. He is overwhelmed and lost.
But, thanks be to God, whosoever has the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, whosoever depends only on the Lord Jesus and that which Jesus has done, though he be of himself debtor just like any other man, yet, in Christ, he has wherewith abundantly to pay all the indebtedness. Christ has expiated, by punishment and satisfaction, all the guilt of every soul; and by the righteousness of God which he brings, Christ supplies abundance of righteousness to pay all the demands that the law may ever make in the life of him who believes in Jesus.
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Oh, believe it! Oh, receive it! Poor, overwhelmed, lost debtor, buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed. (Revelation 3:18 Yea, come, buy without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)
(This article was first printed in the August 8, 1900 issue of The Review and Herald . It is also found on pages 127-131 of the book Lessons on Faith by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. I italicized Bible verses, capitalized some pronouns and added some verse references that were left out in the original. Editor)
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