Present Truth Articles Online
“Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (2 John 1:3) I pray that you are doing well this month and receiving many spiritual blessings from the Lord.
Tennessee Meetings: Some brethren in Tennessee are hosting meetings in Stone Cave, Tennessee (About 45 minutes northwest of Chattanooga) on October 6, 7. Lynnford Beachy will be speaking at these meetings, focusing on the love of God in giving His Son to die for us. Please plan to attend, and bring your friends. This will be a good opportunity to share the truth about God with others. For more information, please contact John Felts at (423) 238-4779.
Africa Bible Project: As noted last month we are sending Bibles to Africa. Several of you sent donations to cover the cost of Bibles and postage, and over fifty Bibles were sent out during the month of August. Thank you for your help in this project, and praise the Lord for letting the light of His Word shine in many hearts.
In this Issue
by Alonzo T. Jones
by Ellet J. Waggoner
by Lynnford Beachy
by Curtis Kline
The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection (Part 6)
by Alonzo T. Jones
(We are continuing a series of studies on Gods plan of salvation as revealed in the sanctuary. We pray they will be a blessing to you. Editor)
Chapter 9—Further Qualifications of Our High Priest
Such is the thought of the first two chapters of Hebrews. And upon this the third chapter opens, or rather the one great thought continues with the beautiful exhortation: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him.” Having presented Christ in the flesh, as He was made “in all things” like the children of men and our nearest of kin, we are now asked to consider Him in His faithfulness in that position.
The first Adam was not faithful. This last Adam “was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His [God’s] house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His [God’s] house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:2-6)
Next is cited Israel, who came out of Egypt, who were not faithful; who failed of entering into God’s rest because they believed not in Him. Then upon this is the exhortation to us to “fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest,” (Hebrews 4:1-3) in believing in Him who gave Himself for our sins.
We enter into rest in the forgiveness of all our sins, through believing in Him who was faithful in every obligation and under every temptation of life. We also enter into rest and there abide, by being partaker of His faithfulness, in which and by which we also shall be faithful to Him who has appointed us. For in considering Him “the High Priest of our profession” in His faithfulness, we are ever to consider that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
When we “have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” we have an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And the way in which He can and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities is that He “was in all points tempted like as we are.” There is not a point in which any soul can be tempted but that He has been exactly so tempted, and has felt the temptation as truly as any human soul can feel it. But, though He was in all points tempted like as we are and felt the power of it as truly as any one can, yet in it all He was faithful and through it all He passed “without sin.” And by faith in Him—in this His faithfulness—every soul can meet all temptation and pass through it without sinning.
This is our salvation, for He was made flesh as man and in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren and to be tempted in all points like as we are “that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.” (Hebrews 2:17) And this not only “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17), but also to “succor”—to run under, to run to the aid of, to assist and deliver from suffering—“them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) He is our merciful and faithful High Priest to succor—run under—us when we are tempted, to keep us from falling under the temptation and so to keep us from falling under sin. He “runs under” us is our temptation so we shall not fall under the temptation but shall conquer it and rise in victory over it, sinning not.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” (Hebrews 4:14) And also seeing that we have such an High Priest, “let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Further, in presenting for our consideration our High Priest in His faithfulness, it is written that “every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that He Himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Hebrews 5:1, 2)
And this is why it is that in order that He should be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God and that He should bring many unto glory, it became Him, as the Captain of their salvation, to be “compassed with infirmity,” to be tried by temptation, to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3); thus “in all things” to be made acquainted with human experience, so that He truly “can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way.” (Hebrews 5:2) In a word, in order that He might be “a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God,” it became Him to be made “perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)
“And no man taketh this honour [of high priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect [being tested to perfection in all points], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 5:4-10)
“And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made Priest; (For those priests [of the Levitical priesthood] were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” (Hebrews 7:20-22) Thus, above all others, by the oath of God, Jesus was made a Priest. Therefore, and “by so much” “we have such an High Priest.”
And further, “They [of the order of Aaron] truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:23, 24) By the oath of God He is made a Priest forever. He is also made a Priest “after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:16) Therefore “He continueth ever.” And because He continueth ever, He hath an “unchangeable priesthood.” And because of all this, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) And “we have such an High Priest.”
And “such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son [High Priest], who is consecrated forevermore.” (Hebrews 7:26, 27)
Chapter 10—“The Sum”
And “now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest.” And what is that of which this is “the sum”?
1. That He who was higher than the angels, as God, was made lower than the angels, as man.
2. That He who was of the nature of God was made of the nature of man.
3. That He who was in all things like God was made in all things like man.
4. That as man He was tempted in all points like as men are and never sinned but was in all things faithful to Him that appointed Him.
5. That, as man, tempted in all points like as we are, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities and was made perfect through sufferings in order that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; and was called of God to be an High Priest.
6. That by the power of an endless life He was made High Priest.
7. And that by the oath of God He was made High Priest.
Such are the specifications of the Word of God, of which the “sum” is “We have such an High Priest.”
And yet that is only a part of “the sum.” For the whole statement of “the sum” is, “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:1, 2)
On earth there was a sanctuary which man pitched and which man made. True, this sanctuary was both made and pitched under the direction of the Lord; nevertheless, it is far different from the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord Himself pitched and not man—as far different as the work of man is from the work of God.
That “worldly sanctuary” with its ministry is more briefly described and the meaning of it is more briefly told in Hebrews 9 than would be possible otherwise to do. Therefore we quote Heb. 9:2-12, inclusive:
“For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 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.” (Hebrews 9:2-12)
That sanctuary was but “a figure;” and it was but a figure “for the time then present.” In it priests and high priests ministered and offered both gifts and sacrifices. But all this priesthood, ministry, gift, and sacrifice was, equally with the sanctuary, only “a figure for the time then present,” for it all “could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.”
That sanctuary and tabernacle itself was but a figure of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.
The high priest of that sanctuary was but a figure of Christ, who is High Priest of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
The ministry of that high priest of the sanctuary on earth was but a figure of the ministry of Christ, our great High Priest, “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Hebrews 8:1, 2)
The offerings of the priesthood in the ministry of the sanctuary on earth were but a figure of the offering of Christ, the true High Priest, in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle.
Thus Christ was the true substance and meaning of all the priesthood and service of the sanctuary on earth, and any part of it that ever passed without this as its meaning was simply meaningless. And as certainly as Christ is the true Priest of Christianity, of which the Levitical priesthood was a figure, so certainly the sanctuary of which Christ is minister is the true sanctuary of Christianity, of which the earthly sanctuary of the Levitical dispensation was a figure. And so it is written: “If He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (Hebrews 8:4, 5)
“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [earthly sacrifices]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 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.” (Hebrews 9:23, 24) And in “heaven itself,” in the Christian dispensation, there was seen the throne of God and a golden altar and an angel with a golden censer offering incense with the prayers of all saints, “And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 4:5; 8:2-4) Also in this same time “there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” (Revelation 11:19; 15:5-8; 16:1) And further there was seen there “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” (Revelation 4:5) There, too, was seen one like the Son of man clothed in the high priestly garment. (Revelation 1:13)
There is therefore a Christian sanctuary, of which the former sanctuary
was a figure, as truly as there is a Christian high priesthood of which
the former high priesthood was a figure. And there is a ministry of Christ,
our High Priest, in this Christian sanctuary, as truly as there was a ministry
of the former priesthood in the former and earthly sanctuary. And of the
things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an High Priest
who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord
pitched, and not man.
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from pages 52-61 of the book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by Alonzo T. Jones. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)
A Motorhome for the Beachys
by Lynnford Beachy
As mentioned in previous issues of our newsletter, my family and I have been praying that the Lord would provide a motorhome for our family so that we could visit brethren across the country. In recent months this need has become more urgent as my wife, Kendra, has developed a strong reaction to the mold in our house trailer. Since the beginning of June we have been living with my in-laws because my wife could not live in our trailer. The Lord has been very good to us, and on July 31st He opened the way for us to purchase a used motorhome. We had been considering getting a converted bus because they are more durable than most RVs. We had been open to the idea of getting a regular RV, but had not investigated this option very thoroughly.
I had researched what was available and we had been focusing on a 1969 MCI bus that had been converted into a motorhome. Even though we did not have all the money for it, we thought it was about the right price and was configured for what we needed.
Some of our good friends, John and Judie Brown, knew that we were looking for a converted bus, and had looked at several of them for us. They live in an RV in Yuma, Arizona, where many RVs and converted busses are available. One day I received a call from Judie, who said, “We found an RV for you.” John told me all about it and explained how he found the RV. He accidentally, for no apparent reason, drove down a street that he had never driven on before, and saw a 40-foot, 1988 Foretravel for sale. After talking with the owners he discovered that they had put the RV up for sale the day before, and John was the first one to look at it. John saw it as providence that he just happened to be in this part of town at that time.
After looking at the RV, it didn’t take long before John and Judie were convinced that this is the RV for us. It has all the benefits of a durable converted bus, as well as the benefits of the intelligent design of an RV. It has a Caterpillar diesel engine and averages over 9 miles per gallon, which is good for a vehicle this size. The owners took very good care of the RV, so it is in excellent condition for its age.
The owners needed to sell it because health problems prohibited them from being able to drive it any longer. They said they would sell it to the right people for a low price. I looked on the Internet and found that this make RV is selling for much more than they were asking. They were willing to sell it for less than the 1969 bus we had been looking at, and it is nineteen years newer.
After prayer, we decided that this was what the Lord wanted for us. I took an airplane to Phoenix on July 30 to look at the RV and was greeted by John and Judie, who gave me a ride to Yuma. We had a wonderful time talking of spiritual things along the way. The RV was better than I anticipated, so I purchased it the next day and drove it 2,300 miles back to West Virginia. My family and I are in the process of moving in, and we are getting prepared for our next trip. In October we will begin a journey to California, holding meetings and visiting in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California.
We hope to be able to see you somewhere along the way.
Waggoner on Romans The Gospel in Pauls Great Letter (Part 9) by Ellet J. Waggoner
(We are continuing a series of articles commenting on Pauls epistle to the Romans. We pray that they will be a blessing to you. Editor)
The Free Grace of God
It is not really correct to say that we have finished the study of these two chapters, because we can never finish the study of any portion of the Bible. After we have put the most profound study upon any portion of the Scripture, the most that we have done is only a beginning. If Newton, after a long life of study of natural science, could say that he seemed to be as a child playing on the seashore with the vast ocean before him unexplored, with much more aptness can the same be said by the greatest student of the Bible.
Let no one therefore think that we have by any means exhausted this portion of the book. When the reader has the text well in mind, so that he can quite distinctly recall any passage at will, and can locate it with reference to the connection, he has just got where he can begin to study with real profit. Therefore let the reader who is anxious to acquire an understanding of the Scriptures for himself, dwell upon the words as though he were digging in a sure place for treasure. An inexhaustible one awaits his search.
The second chapter is really summed up in the first verse, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” (Romans 2:1) The remaining verses are but an amplification of this statement. Thus, we find that there is no exception to the fact that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Hearing and knowing the truth is not a substitute for practicing it. God is no respecter of persons, but will punish sin wherever it is found.
Accepted With God—In the house of Cornelius the apostle Peter made a statement: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) There are men in heathen lands who may never have heard the name of God, or seen a line of his written word, who will be saved. God is revealed in the works of creation, and they who accept what they see of him there are accepted with him as surely as they who have learned much more of him.
Objections Answered—The first part of the third chapter of Romans consists of questions and answers. The thoughtful reader of the epistles of Paul must have noticed the frequent occurrence of questions in the midst of an argument. Every possible objection is anticipated. The apostle asks the question that an objector might ask, and then answers it, making his argument more emphatic than before. So in the verses next following it is very evident that the truths set forth in the second chapter would not be very acceptable to a Pharisee, and he would combat them with all his might. The questions raised by the apostle are not difficulties that lie in his own mind; this is clear from the parenthetical clause in verse 5, “I speak as a man.” With this in mind, we may read Romans 3:1-18:
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,)Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
The Oracles of God—An oracle is something spoken. That which was emphatically spoken by the mouth of the Lord is the Ten Commandments. (See Deuteronomy 5:22.) Stephen, speaking of Moses receiving the law, said, “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sina, and with our fathers; who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” (Acts 7:38) The Ten Commandments are primarily the oracles of God, because they were uttered by his own voice in the hearing of the people.
But the Holy Scriptures as a whole are the oracles of God, since they are the word of God, spoken “in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1), and because they are but an expansion of the Ten Commandments. Christians are to shape their lives solely by the Bible. This is seen from the words of the apostle Peter: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11)
The Law an Advantage—There are many who think that the law of God is a burden, and they imagine that the advantage of Christians is that they have nothing to do with it. But on the contrary, John says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3) And Paul says that the possession of the law was a great advantage to the Jew. So Moses said: “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8) All who truly love the Lord, count it a great blessing to have God’s holy law made plain to them.
Committed—The advantage of the Jew was not simply in the fact that to them were made known the oracles of God, but that “unto them were committed the oracles of God,” or “they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” That is, the law was given to them to hold in trust for others, and not simply for their own benefit. They were to be the missionaries to the whole world. The advantage and the honor conferred upon the Jewish nation in entrusting them with the law of God to make it known to the world, can not be estimated.
Tell it to Others—When Peter and John were arrested and threatened for preaching Christ (who is simply the living law in perfection), they said, “We can not but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20) They who appreciate the gift which God commits to them must tell it to others. Some think that it is useless to carry the gospel to the heathen when they hear that God justifies the heathen who walk according to the little light that shines to them just the same as he does the person who walks according to the light that shines from the written word. They think that the wicked heathen are in no worse case than the unfaithful professed Christians. None who appreciate the blessings of the Lord could think so. Light is a blessing. The more people know of the Lord, the more they can rejoice in him, and all who truly know the Lord must be desirous of helping to spread the “good tidings of great joy” to all the people for whom it is designed.
Gods Faithfulness—“What if some were without faith? Shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God?” A very pertinent question. It is an appeal to the faithfulness of God. Will he break his promise, because of man’s unbelief? Will he be unfaithful because man is unfaithful? Will our wavering cause God to waver? “That can not possibly be;” for this is the force of the expression which is incorrectly rendered, “God forbid.” God will be true even though every man be a liar. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he can not deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13. “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5.
Power and Faithfulness—Some one might hastily affirm that this overthrows the previous statements, that only those who have faith are heirs of the promise; for “how can it be that only the faithful are Abraham’s seed, and thus heirs, if God will fulfill his promise even though every man disbelieves?” Very easily, when we consider the Scriptures and the power of God. Listen to the words of John the Baptist to the wicked Jews who could be fitly characterized only as “vipers:” “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9) God will bestow the inheritance only on the faithful; but if every man should prove unfaithful, he who made man of the dust of the ground can of the stones raise other people, who will believe.
God Will Be Justified—“That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4) God is now accused by Satan of injustice and indifference, and even of cruelty. Thousands have echoed the charge. But the judgment will declare the righteousness of God. His character, as well as that of man, is on trial. In the judgment every act, both of God and man, that has been done since creation will be seen by all in all its bearings. And when everything is seen in that perfect light, God will be acquitted of all wrongdoing, even by his enemies.
Commending Gods Righteousness—Verses 5 and 7 are but different forms of the same thought. God’s righteousness stands out in bold relief in contrast with man’s unrighteousness. So the caviler thinks that God ought not to condemn the unrighteousness which by contrast commends his righteousness. But that would be to destroy the righteousness of God, so that he could not judge the world. If God were what unbelieving men say he ought to be, he would forfeit even their respect, and they would condemn him more loudly than they do now.
I Speak as a Man—Was not Paul a man? Most certainly. Was he ever anything other than a man? Never. Then why the expression, “I speak as a man”? Because the writings of Paul, like those of the ancient prophets, were given by inspiration of God. The Holy Spirit spoke by him. We are not reading Paul’s view of the gospel, but the Spirit’s own statement of it. But in these questions the Spirit speaks as a man; that is, the Spirit quotes the unbelieving words of man in order to show the folly of that unbelief.
Unbelieving Questions—There is a great difference in questions. Some are asked for the purpose of gaining instruction, and others are asked for the purpose of opposing the truth. So there must be a difference in answering them. Some questions deserve no more notice than would be given the same unbelief if uttered as a positive statement. When Mary asked, “How shall this be?” (Luke 1:34) with a desire for further information, she was told how. But when Zacharias asked, “Whereby shall I know this?” (Luke 1:18), thus plainly showing his disbelief of the angel’s words, he was punished.
Wickedness Exposed—When the objector says, “If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” the swift retort comes, in effect: “You might rather say, what you really mean is, Let us do evil that good may come.” The real intent of these unbelieving questions is that what which is called evil is really good; people are really righteous, no matter what they may do, so that good will at last come out of evil. This is the substance of modern Spiritualism and of Universalism, which teach that all men will be saved.
Evil is not Good—There are many besides Spiritualists who virtually say, “Let us do evil that good may come.” Who are they? All who claim that man is able of himself to do any good thing. The Lord declares that only God is good, and that good can come only from good. See Luke 18:19 and 6:43-45. From man only wickedness can come. Mark 7:21-23. Therefore he who thinks that of himself he alone can do good deeds, really says that good can come from evil.
The same thing is said by the one who refuses to confess that he is a sinner. Such an one is placing himself above God, for even he can not make evil into good. God can make an evil man good, but only by putting his own goodness in place of the evil.
All under Sin—The objector is silenced by the exposure of his infidel sentiments; the damnation of those who hold such positions is just; and now the conclusion is emphatically stated, namely, that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, are alike under sin.
Thus the way is fully prepared for the further conclusion that there is but one way of salvation for all men. The one who has been brought up within the sound of church bells and who hears the Scriptures read every day, has the same sinful nature and the same need of a Saviour, that the savage has. No one can justly despise another.
All Out of the Way—When the apostle wrote concerning both Jews and Gentiles, “They are all gone out of the way,” he was but repeating what Isaiah had written hundreds of years before: “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.” (Isaiah 53:6.
The Way of Peace—“The way of peace have they not known” because they refused to know the God of peace. It has already been shown that God’s law is his way; therefore, since he is the God of peace, his law is the way of peace. So he says, “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18) “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them,” or, “they shall have no stumbling block.” (Psalm 119:165) So he who prepares the way of the Lord, by giving knowledge of remission of sins, guides our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:76-79), because he brings us into the righteousness of God’s law.
The portion of Romans thus far studied has shown us both Jews and Gentiles in the same sinful condition. No one has anything whereof to boast over another. Whoever, whether in the church or out, begins to judge and condemn another, no matter how bad that other one may be, thereby shows that he himself is guilty of the same things that he condemns in the other. Judgment belongs alone to God, and it shows a most daring spirit of usurpation for a man to presume to take the place of
God—Those who have the law committed to them have a wonderful advantage over the heathen; nevertheless they must say: “Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” (Romans 3:9)
The Grand Conclusion—Romans 3:19-22
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.
Within the Law—This is not the place to consider the force of the term “under the law,” since it does not really occur here. It should be “in the law,” as in Romans 2:12, for the Greek words are the same in both places. The words for “under the law” are entirely different. Why the translators have given us “under the law” in this place, and also in 1 Corinthians 9:21, where the term is also “in the law,” as noted in Young’s Concordance, it is impossible to determine. There certainly is no reason for it. The rendering is purely arbitrary. What the verse before us really says is, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are in the law,” or, “within the sphere or jurisdiction of the law.” This is an obvious fact, and in view of what immediately follows, it is a very important fact to keep in mind.
What the Law Saith—The voice of the law is the voice of God. The law is the truth, because it was spoken with God’s own voice. In the covenant which God made with the Jews concerning the Ten Commandments, he said of the law, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice.” etc. Exodus 19:5. The commandments were spoken “in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice.” (Deuteronomy 5:22) Therefore when the law of God speaks to a man, it is God himself speaking to that man. Satan has invented a proverb, which he has induced many people to believe, to the effect that “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” This is a part of his great lie by which he causes many to think themselves above the law of God. Let every one who loves the truth, substitute for that invention of Satan the truth that the voice of the law of God is the voice of God.
Every Mouth Stopped—The law speaks that “every mouth may be stopped.” And so every mouth would be, if men would only consider that it is God that is speaking. If men realized that God himself speaks in the law, they would not be so ready to answer back when it speaks to them, and they would not frame so many excuses for not obeying it.
When some servant of the Lord reads the law to people, they often seem to think that it is only man’s word to which they are listening, and so they feel themselves privileged to parley, and debate, and object, and to say that, although the words are all right, they do not feel under obligation to obey, or that it is not convenient. They would not think of doing this if they heard the voice of God speaking to them.
But when the law is read, it is the voice of God now just as much as it was to the Israelites who stood at the base of Sinai. People often open their mouths against it now, but the time will come when every mouth will be stopped, because “our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.” (Psalm 50:3)
The Laws Jurisdiction—What things soever the law says, it says to them who are within its sphere, or jurisdiction. Why? “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” How extensive, then, is the jurisdiction of the law? It includes every soul in the world. There is no one who is exempt from obedience to it. There is not a soul whom it does not declare to be guilty. The law is the standard of righteousness, and “there is none righteous, no, not one.”
No Justification by the Law— “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” One of two things must be the case whenever a man is justified by the law, namely, either the man is not guilty, or else the law is a bad law. But neither of these things is true in this case. God’s law is perfectly righteous, and all men are sinners. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” It is obvious that a man can not be declared righteous by the same law that declares him to be a sinner. Therefore it is a self-evident truth that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.
A Double Reason—There is a double reason why no one can be justified by the law. The first is that all have sinned. Therefore the law must continue to declare them guilty, no matter what their future life might be. No man can ever do more than his duty to God, and no possible amount of good deeds can undo one wrong act.
But more than this, men have not only sinned, but they are sinful. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17) Therefore, no matter how much a man may try to do the righteousness of the law, he will fail to find justification by it.
Self-justification—If one were justified by the deeds of the law, it would be because he always did all that the law requires. Note well that it would be he that did it, and not the law. It would not be that the law itself does something to justify the man, but that the man himself does the good deeds required. Therefore if a man were justified by the law, it would be because he has in him by nature all the righteousness that the law requires. He who imagines that he can do the righteousness of the law, imagines that he himself is as good as God is, because the law requires and is a statement of the righteousness of God.
Therefore for a man to think that he can be justified by the law, is to think that he is so good that he needs no Saviour. Every self-righteous person, no matter what his profession, exalts himself above the law of God, and therefore identifies himself [in principle] with the Papacy.
Righteousness Without the Law— Since because of man’s weak and fallen condition no one can get righteousness out of the law, it is evident that if any man ever has righteousness he must get it from some other source than the law. If left to themselves and the law, men would truly be in a deplorable condition. But here is hope. The righteousness of God without the law or apart from the law, is manifested. This reveals to man a way of salvation.
Righteousness Manifested—Where? Why, of course where it most needs to be manifested, in people, that is, in a certain class described in the next verse. But it does not originate in them. The Scriptures have already shown us that no righteousness can come from man. The righteousness of God is manifested in Jesus Christ. He himself said through the prophet David: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.” (Psalm 40:8, 9)
Witnessed by the Law—Let no one imagine that in the gospel he can ignore the law of God. The righteousness of God which is manifested apart from the law, is witnessed by the law. It is such righteousness as the law witnesses to, and commends. It must be so, because it is the righteousness which Christ revealed; and that came from the law, which was in his heart. So, although the law of God has no righteousness to impart to any man, it does not cease to be the standard of righteousness. There can be no righteousness that does not stand the test of the law. The law of God must put its seal of approval upon every one who enters heaven.
Witnessed by the Prophets— When Peter preached Christ to Cornelius and his family, he said, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) The prophets preached the same gospel that the apostles did. (See 1 Peter 1:12) There is but one foundation, and that is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:20)
This also suggests another thought about “witnessed by the law.” It is not simply that the righteousness which is manifested in Christ is approved by the law, but it is proclaimed in the law. In the portion of Scripture specifically known as “the law,” the portion written by Moses, Christ is preached. Moses was a prophet, and therefore he testified of Christ the same, “for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) More than this, the very giving of the law itself was a promise and an assurance of Christ. This will appear when we come to the fifth chapter of Romans.
The Righteousness of God— While there is no chance for the despiser of God’s law to evade its claims under cover of the expression, “the righteousness of God apart from the law,” there is also no need for the lover of that law to fear that the preaching of righteousness by faith will tend to bring in a spurious righteousness. Such is guarded against by the statement that the righteousness must be witnessed by the law, and further by the statement that this righteousness which is manifested apart from the law is the righteousness of God. No one need fear that he will be wrong if he has that righteousness! To seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the one thing required of us in this life. Matthew 6:33.
By Faith of Jesus Christ—In another place Paul expresses his desire when the Lord comes to be found “not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9) Here again we have “the faith of Christ.” Still further, it is said of the saints, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12) God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9) and Christ is faithful, for “he abideth faithful.” (2 Timothy 2:13) God deals to every one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8)
He imparts to us his own faithfulness. This he does by giving us himself. So that we do not have to get righteousness which we ourselves manufacture; but to make the matter doubly sure, the Lord imparts to us in himself the faith by which we appropriate his righteousness. Thus the faith of Christ must bring the righteousness of God, because the possession of that faith is the possession of the Lord himself. This faith is dealt to every man, even as Christ gave himself to every man. Do you ask what then can prevent every man from being saved? The answer is, Nothing, except the fact that all men will not keep the faith. If all would keep all that God gives them, all would be saved.
Within and Without—This righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, is unto, literally into, and upon all them that believe. Man’s own righteousness, which is of the law, is only on the outside. (Matthew 23:27, 28) But God desires truth in the inward parts. (Psalm 51:6) “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:6) And so the promise of the new covenant is, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:33. He does it, because it is impossible for man to do it. The most that men can do is to make a fair show in the flesh, to gain the applause of their fellow men. God puts his glorious righteousness in the heart.
But he does more than that he covers men with it. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 51:10) “He will beautify the meek with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4) Clothed with this glorious dress, which is not merely an outward covering, but the manifestation of that which is within, God’s people may go forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun; and terrible as an army with banners.” (Song of Soloman 6:10)
The Justice of Mercy—Romans 3:22-26
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: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation 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.
No Difference—In what is there no difference? There is no difference in the way in which men receive righteousness. And why is no difference made in the manner of justifying men? Because “all have sinned.” Peter, in relating to the Jews his experience in first preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, said, “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8, 9) “Out of the heart of men,” not of one class of men, but of all men, “proceed evil thoughts,” etc. (Mark 7:21) God knows the hearts of all men, that all are alike sinful, and therefore he makes no difference in the gospel to different men.
One Blood—This lesson is one of the most important to be learned by the missionary, whether laboring at home or abroad. Since the gospel is based on a principle that there is no difference in men, it is absolutely essential that the gospel worker should recognize the fact, and always keep it in mind. God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) Not only are all men of one blood, but they are also of “one kind of flesh.” (1 Corinthians 15:39)
The great burden of the Epistle to the Romans, as has appeared up to this point, is to show that so far as sin and salvation therefrom are concerned, there is absolutely no difference between men of all races and conditions in life. The same gospel is to be preached to the Jew and to the Gentile, to the slave and to the freeman, to the prince and to the peasant.
Coming Short—People are fond of imagining that what are called “shortcomings” are not so bad as real sins. So it is much easier for them to confess that they have “come short” than that they have sinned and done wickedly. But since God requires perfection, it is evident that “shortcomings” are sins. It may sound pleasanter to say that a bookkeeper is “short” in his accounts, but people know that the reason for it is that he has been taking that which is not his, or stealing. When perfection is the standard, it makes no difference in the result, how much or how little one comes short, so long as he comes short. The primary meaning of sin is “to miss the mark.” And in an archery contest, the man who has not strength to send his arrow to the target, even though his aim is good, is a loser just as surely as he who shoots wide of the mark.
The Glory of God—From the text we learn that the glory of God is his righteousness. Notice, the reason why all have come short of the glory of God is that all have sinned. The fact is plain that if they had not sinned they would not have come short of it. The coming short of the glory itself consists in sin. Man in the beginning was “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:7) because he was upright. In the fall he lost the glory, and therefore now he must “seek for glory and honor and immortality.” (Romans 2:7) Christ could say to the Father, “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them” (John 17:22), because in him is the righteousness of God which he has given as a free gift to every man. It is the part of wisdom to receive righteousness; and “they that be wise shall shine.” (Daniel 12:3)
Being Justified—In other words, being made righteous. To justify means to make righteous. God supplies just what the sinner lacks. Let no reader forget the simple meaning of justification. Some people have the idea that there is a much higher condition for the Christian to occupy than to be justified. That is to say, that there is a higher condition for one to occupy than to be clothed within and without with the righteousness of God. That can not be.
Freely—“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) That is, let him take it as a gift. So in Isaiah 55:1: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
It was the Epistle to the Romans that accomplished the Reformation in Germany. Men had been taught to believe that the way to get righteousness was to purchase it either by hard work or by the payment of money. The idea that men may purchase it with money is not so common now as then; but there are very many who are not Catholics who think that some work must be done in order to obtain it.
Making Prayer to Be a Work—The writer was once talking with a man in regard to righteousness as the free gift of God, the man maintaining that we could not get anything from the Lord without doing something for it. When asked what we must do to win forgiveness of sins, he replied that we must pray for it.
It is with this idea of prayer that the Roman or Hindu devotee “says” so many prayers a day, putting in an extra number some days to make up for omissions. But the man who “says” a prayer, does not pray. Heathen prayer, as for instance when the prophets of Baal leaped and cut themselves (1 Kings 18:26-28), is work; but true prayer is not. A man comes to me and says that he is starving. Afterwards he is asked if anything was given him, and he says that he received some dinner, but that I made him work for it. When asked what he had to do for it, he replies that he asked for it. He could hardly make any one believe that he worked for his dinner! True prayer is simply the thankful acceptance of God’s free gifts.
Redemption in Christ Jesus—We are made righteous “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” That is, through the purchasing power that is in Christ Jesus, or “through the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8) This is the reason why it comes to us as a gift.
Some one may say that everlasting life in the kingdom of God is too great a thing to be given to us for nothing. So it is, and therefore it had to be purchased, but since we had nothing that could buy it, Christ has purchased it for us and he gives it to us freely, in himself. But if we had to purchase it from him, we might as well have bought it in the first place, and saved him the task. “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21) “Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18, 19) The blood is the life. (Leviticus 17:11-17) Therefore the redemption that is in Christ Jesus is his own life.
Christ Set Forth—Christ is the one whom God has set forth to declare his righteousness. Now since the only righteousness that is real righteousness is the righteousness of God, and Christ is the only one who has been ordained of God to declare it upon men, it is evident that it can not be obtained except through him. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
A Propitiation—A propitiation is a sacrifice. The statement then is simply that Christ is set forth to be a sacrifice for the remission of our sins. “Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26) Of course the idea of a propitiation or sacrifice is that there is wrath to be appeased. But take particular notice that it is we who require the sacrifice, and not God. He provides the sacrifice. The idea that God’s wrath has to be propitiated in order that we may have forgiveness finds no warrant in the Bible.
It is the height of absurdity to say that God is so angry with men that he will not forgive them unless something is provided to appease his wrath, and that therefore he himself offers the gift to himself, by which he is appeased. “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.” (Colossians 1:21, 22)
Heathen and Christian Propitiation—The Christian idea of propitiation is that set forth above. The heathen idea, which is too often held by professed Christians, is that men must provide a sacrifice to appease the wrath of their god. All heathen worship is simply a bribe to their gods to be favorable to them. If they thought that their gods were very angry with them, they would provide a greater sacrifice, and so human sacrifices were offered in extreme cases. They thought, as the worshipers of Siva in India do to-day, that their god was gratified by the sight of blood.
The persecution that was carried on in so-called Christian countries in times past and is to some extent even now, is but the outcropping of this heathen idea of propitiation. Ecclesiastical leaders imagine that salvation is by works and that men by works can atone for sin, and so they offer the one whom they think rebellious as a sacrifice to their god not to the true God, because he is not pleased with such sacrifices.
Righteousness Declared—To declare righteousness is to speak righteousness. God speaks righteousness to man, and then he is righteous. The method is the same as in the creation in the beginning. “He spake, and it was.” “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Gods Justice in Redemption— Christ is set forth to declare God’s righteousness for the remission of sins, in order that he might be just and at the same time the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. God justifies sinners, for they are the only ones who need justification. The justice of declaring a sinner to be righteous lies in the fact that he is actually made righteous. Whatever God declares to be so, is so. And then he is made righteous by the life of God given him in Christ.
The sin is against God, and if he is willing to forgive it, he has the right to do so. No unbeliever would deny the right of a man to overlook a trespass against him. But God does not simply overlook the trespass; he gives his life as a forfeit. Thus he upholds the majesty of the law, and is just in declaring that man righteous who was before a sinner. Sin is remitted, sent away from the sinner, because sin and righteousness can not exist together, and God puts his own righteous life into the believer. So God is merciful in his justice, and just in his mercy.
Theres a wideness in Gods mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
Theres a kindness in his justice,
That is more than liberty."
We now come to the close of the third chapter of Romans. We found that righteousness is the free gift of God unto every one who believes. It is not that God gives a man righteousness as a reward for believing certain dogmas; the gospel is something entirely different from that. It is this, that true faith has Christ alone as its object, and it brings Christ’s life actually into the heart; and therefore it must bring righteousness.
This act of mercy on the part of God is eminently just, because in the first place the sin is against God, and he has a right to pass by offenses against him; and, further, it is just, because he gives his own life as an atonement for the sin, so that the majesty of the law is not only maintained, but is magnified. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10) God is just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. All righteousness is from him alone.
Establishing the Law—Romans 3:27-31
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
No Boasting—Since righteousness is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ, it is evident that no one can justly boast of any righteousness that he has. “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.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9) “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
What Boasting Proves—“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Boasting therefore is an evidence of a sinful heart. But suppose a man boasts of his righteousness, as, for instance, when a man says that he has lived without sin for so many years? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
But are not the grace and power of God manifested in Christ to cleanse and keep us from sin? Most certainly; but only when in humility we acknowledge that we are sinners. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) When we say that we have no sin, that very thing is evidence that we have; but when with faith in the word of the Lord we say that we are sinners, then the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. In the plan of salvation there is no place for human pride and boasting.
No Boasting in Heaven—The result of boasting in heaven is seen in the case of Satan. Once he was one of the covering cherubs above the throne of God. But he began to contemplate his own glory and goodness, and his fall was the consequence. “Thou hast sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” (Ezekiel 28:16, 17)
If the saints after their translation should begin to boast of their sinlessness, they would be as bad as they ever were. But that will never be. All who are admitted to heaven will have fully learned the lesson that God is all and in all. There will not be a voice or a heart silent in the song of praise, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:5, 6)
The Law of Works—The law of works does not exclude boasting. If a man were justified by works, he would have whereof to boast over another who had the same privilege, but did not use it. In that case the righteous could boast over the wicked; and people would continually be comparing themselves with one another to see who had done the most. The law of works is simply the Ten Commandments in form only. Compliance with the law of works enables one to appear outwardly righteous, while within he is full of corruption. Yet the one who follows the law of works is not always necessarily a hypocrite. He may have an earnest desire to keep the commandments, but may be deceived into thinking that he can work them out of himself.
The Law of Faith—This has for its object the same thing as the law of works, namely, obedience to the commandments of God, but the result is different. The law of works deceives a man with a form; the law of faith gives him the substance. The law of faith is the law “as it is in Jesus.” The one may be a sincere attempt to keep the law; the other is the actual accomplishment of that desire, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The Ten Commandments as given by the Lord are only a law of faith, since God never designed that they should be taken in any other way; and he never expected that anybody could get righteousness from them in any other way than by faith. The law of works is man’s perversion of the law of God.
Faith without Works—“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Because there is no other means by which he could be justified! We have before seen that all men are sinners, and that no man has power in himself to perform the deeds of the law, no matter how strong his desires. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)
But “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) Therefore whoever is justified, or made righteous at all, must be made righteous by faith alone, wholly apart from the deeds of the law. This is of universal application. It means that justification, first, last, and all the time, is by faith alone. The Christian can not be justified by works any more than the sinner can be. No man can ever get so good and strong that his own deeds can justify him.
Faith and Works—But that is not to say that works have nothing to do with faith. Justification means making just, or making righteous. Righteousness is right doing. Faith which justifies, therefore, is faith which makes a man a doer of the law, or, rather, which puts the doing of the law into him. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) “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.” (Titus 3:8) A man is not justified by faith and works, but by faith alone, which works.
One God for All—There is but “one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:6) He “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” “for we are also his offspring.” (Acts 16:26, 28) “There is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:35) The Scripture saith: “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Romans 10:11, 12)
One Means of Justification for All. The fact that justification is only by faith, and that God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), shows that God regards Jew and Gentile alike. Nor is there any evidence that he ever did put any difference between them. A believing Gentile was always accounted righteous, and an unbelieving Jew was never considered by the Lord any better than any other unbeliever. Remember that Abraham, the father of the whole Jewish nation, was a Chaldean. The Jews were related to the Chaldeans who remained in their native land, just as surely as they were to one another in the land of Canaan. Unfortunately, they forgot this; but they are not the only ones in the world who have forgotten that all men are their brethren.
In the statement, “It is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith,” there is no need of stumbling over the prepositions. Bear in mind how often we use the words “by” and “through” interchangeably, to indicate means, and there will be no difficulty. The emphatic word is “faith.” Both circumcision and uncircumcision are justified through, or by means of, faith.
Making Void the Law—Making void the law does not mean abolishing it. There is no question as to the perpetuity of the law. It is so plainly eternal that the apostle Paul never wastes space in arguing about it. The only question is as to how its claim may be satisfied. The Saviour said that the Jews made the commandment of God of none effect through their tradition. So far as they were concerned, they made it void. No man could by any action or lack of action abolish or in any way affect the law of God. But anybody may by his unbelief obliterate it from his own heart. The question then is, Do we by faith make the law of God of none effect? Or, more plainly still, Does faith lead to the transgression of the law? The answer is, “Not by any means.”
Establishing the Law—That which has been said in regard to making void the law of God will apply here also. That is, no action of man can make the law anything different from what it actually is. It is the foundation of the throne of God, and as such it will ever abide, in spite of demons and men.
But it is left for us to say whether or not we will have it obliterated from our hearts, or have it established there. If we choose to have it established in our hearts, we have only to accept Christ by faith. Faith brings Christ to dwell in the heart. (Ephesians 3:17) The law of God is in the heart of Christ (Psalm 40:8), so that the faith which brings Christ into the heart establishes the law there. And since the law of God is the establishment of his throne, the faith which brings the law into the heart, enthrones God there. And thus it is that God works in men “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from a series of articles printed in The Signs of the Times from October, 1895 through September, 1896. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)
Fundamental Principles of Health
by Curtis Kline
RestHello again from the Ministry of Healing and Restoration. We have had a blessed summer. God is blessing our garden, and what a blessing it is to eat all the organic goodies full of vitamins and minerals and enzymes! This month we will be talking about rest. Rest is an important law of health. In a health article sometimes it is easy to make the applications on the physical level only, but we will also be touching on spiritual rest.
Physically, rest is important for many reasons. Due to the fact that we live in a fallen world, the body is constantly going through breakdown processes and is also constantly taking in toxins. When we give our body the proper rest that it needs it has the ability to “restore” itself, repair damage, and remove toxins. What are some of the kinds of rest we need? First of all, we need a good night’s rest every night. Due to body chemistry, melatonin levels, and circadian rhythms it is generally accepted that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. I find it interesting that many people whom I come in contact with and who suffer from depression tend to be nocturnal. It is also good to rest our bodies by not over-eating and by not eating too many meals. I find it to be especially detrimental to eat before bedtime because the body has to use blood and energy to digest the food, thus hindering the body’s ability to rest and repair during the sleeping hours. Artificial stimulants are also a detriment to rest. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol all tend to disturb the body’s ability to rest.
Mentally and spiritually we also need rest. Sometimes our minds are constantly running. This can be a condition that many have as a result of not giving our problems to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have found in my own experience that there is a sweet peace that comes from putting my problems in the hands of our heavenly Father and his dear Son. There are many stresses and pressures that are very particular for the times we are living in. So many people have stress, and it causes health problems. We need to learn how to enter into God’s rest as described in Hebrews chapter 4. Remember God wants to give us peace, joy, comfort, and rest. So, it is my prayer for all of you to receive His fullness. Until next month, may God bless you.
(The above article was provided by Curtis Kline. For more in-depth information he can be contacted at (814) 676-3141 or email@example.com. Editor)
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