Faith in the Blood of Jesus –Essential to Salvation

Taken from, “The Blood of Jesus Christ”
Written by, William Reid, 1814-1896.

the-baptist-faith-on-salvation-in-the-eyes-of-god-1-638

What Faith Is…

It is our belief of God’s testimony concerning His own grace and Christ’s work that brings us into possession of the blessings concerning which that testimony speaks. Our reception of God’s testimony is confidence in God Himself and in Christ Jesus His Son; for where the testimony comes from a person or regards a person, belief of the testimony and confidence in the person are things inseparable. Hence it is that Scripture sometimes speaks of confidence or trust as saving us (see the Psalms everywhere, e.g., Psalms 13:5, 52:8; also 1 Timothy 4:10, Ephesians 1:12), as if it would say to the sinner, “Such is the gracious character of God, that you have only to put your case into His hands—however bad it be—only to trust Him for eternal life, and He will assuredly not put you to shame.” Hence, also, it is that we are said to be saved by the knowledge of God or of Christ; that is, by simply knowing God as He has made Himself known to us (Isaiah 5:3,11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 2:20)—for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:2). And, as if to make simplicity more simple, the apostle, in speaking of the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, says, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

God would have us understand that the way in which we become connected with Christ so as to get eternal life is by “knowing” Him, or “hearing” Him, “trusting” Him. The testimony is inseparably linked to the person testified of; and our connection with the testimony, by belief of it, thus links us to the person. Thus it is that faith forms the bond between us and the Son of God, not because of anything in itself, but solely because it is only through the medium of truth known and believed that the soul can take any hold of God or of Christ. Faith is nothing, save as it lays hold of Christ, and it does so by laying hold of the truth concerning Him. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Faith, then, is the link, the one link between the sinner and God’s gift of pardon and life. It is not faith and something else along with it; it is faith alone; faith that takes God at His word, and gives Him credit for speaking the honest truth when making known His message of grace, His “record” of eternal life concerning “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“If you object that you cannot believe, then this indicates that you are proceeding quite in a wrong direction. You are still laboring under the idea that this believing is a work to be done by you, and not the acknowledgment of a work done by another. You would willing to do something in order to get peace, and you think that if you could only do this great thing, ‘believing’—if you could but perform this great act called faith—God would at once reward you by giving you peace. Thus faith is reckoned by you to be the price in the sinner’s hand by which he buys peace, and not the mere holding out of the hand to get a peace that has already been bought by another. So long as you are attaching any meritorious importance to faith, however unconsciously, you are moving in a wrong direction—a direction from which no peace can come.

“Surely faith is not a work. On the contrary, it is a ceasing from work. It is not a climbing of the mountain, but a ceasing to attempt it, and allowing Christ to carry you up in His own arms. You seem to think that it is your own act of faith that is to save you, and not the object of your faith—without which your own act, however well performed, is nothing.

Accordingly, you bethink yourself, and say, ‘What a mighty work is this believing, what an effort does it require on my part, how am I to perform it?’ Herein you sadly err, and your mistake lies chiefly here, in supposing that your peace is to come from the proper performance on your part of an act of faith—whereas it is to come entirely from the proper perception of Him to Whom the Father is pointing your eye, and in regard to Whom He is saying, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, look at Him, forget everything else—everything about yourself, your own faith, your own repentance, your own feelings—and look at Him!’ It is in Him, and not in your poor act of faith, that salvation lies; and out of Him, not out of your own act of faith, is peace to come.

“Thus mistaking the meaning of faith, and the way in which faith saves you, gets you into confusion, and makes you mistaken everything else connected with your peace. You mistake the real nature of that very inability to believe of which you complain so sadly. For that inability does not lie, as you fancy it does, in the impossibility of your performing aright this great act of faith, but of ceasing from all such self-righteous attempts to perform any act, or do any work whatsoever, in order to your being saved. So that the real truth is that you have not yet seen such a sufficiency in the one great work of the Son of God upon the cross, as to lead you utterly to discontinue your mistaken and aimless efforts to work out something of your own. As soon as the Holy Spirit shows that you have this entire sufficiency of the great propitiation, you cease at once from these attempts to act or work something of your own, and take, instead of this, what Christ has done. One great part of the Spirit’s work is not to enable the man to do something that will help to save him, but so to detach him from his own performances that he shall be content with the salvation that Christ finished when He died and rose again.

“But perhaps you may object further, that you are not satisfied with your faith. No, truly, nor are you ever likely to be. If you wait for this before you take peace, you will wait till life is done. The Bible does not say, ‘Being satisfied about our faith, we have peace with God’; it simply says, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God’ (Rom 5:1). Not satisfaction with your own faith, but satisfaction with Jesus and His work—this is what God presses on you. You say, ‘I am satisfied with Christ.’ Are you? What more then do you wish? Is not satisfaction with Christ enough for you, or for any sinner? Nay, and is not this the truest kind of faith? To be satisfied with Christ, that is faith in Christ. To be satisfied with His blood, that is faith in His blood. What more could you have? Can your faith give you something that Christ cannot? or will Christ give you nothing till you can produce faith of a certain kind and quality, whose excellences will entitle you to blessing?

“Do not bewilder yourself. Do not suppose that your faith is a price, a bribe, or a merit. Is not the very essence of real faith just your being satisfied with Christ? Are you really satisfied with Him, and with what He has done? Then do not puzzle yourself about your faith, but go upon your way rejoicing, having thus been brought to be satisfied with Him, Whom to know is peace, life, and salvation.

“You are not satisfied with your faith, you say. I am glad that you are not. Had you been so, you would have been far out-of-the-way indeed. Does Scripture anywhere speak of your getting peace by your becoming satisfied with your faith? Nay; does it not take for granted that you will, to the very last, be dissatisfied with yourself, with your faith, with all about you and within you—and satisfied with Jesus only? Are you then satisfied with Him? Then go in peace! For if satisfaction with Him will not give you peace, nothing else that either heaven or earth contains will ever give you peace. Though your faith should become so perfect that you were entirely satisfied with it, that would not pacify your conscience or relieve your fears. Faith, however perfect, has of itself nothing to give you, either of pardon or of life. Its finger points you to Jesus. Its voice bids you look straight to Him. Its object is to turn away from itself and from yourself altogether, that you may behold Him, and in beholding Him be satisfied with Him; and, in being satisfied with Him, have ‘joy and peace.’

“Faith is not what we feel or see, it is a simple trust
in what the God of love has said of Jesus as the ‘Just.’
“What Jesus is, and that alone, is faith’s delightful plea,
It never deals with sinful self, nor righteous self, in me.
“It tells me I am counted ‘dead,’ by God, in His own Word,
It tells me I am ‘born again,’ in CHRIST, my risen Lord.
“If He is free, then I am free, from all unrighteousness;
If He is just, then I am just; He is my righteousness.”

The Ancient Ritual of Worship: Contrasts and Parallels Between Mosaic and Christian Worship

Taken from, “The People’s Bible: Discourses Upon Holy Scripture,” Vol. 3, 
Written by Joseph Parker

taberca

WHEN the Ten Commandments were given, the Lord had called unto Moses from the top of mount Sinai…

Now he calls from “the tent of meeting.” He is about to speak more minutely, and to enter upon statements which were better made in the quietness of a holy place, than delivered in a theater of lightning and thunder and earthquake. The one was a great declaration of morals, a solemn code of behavior or action; the other related to sacrifice, worship, divine communion and the whole life of the heart.

The lightning and the thunder have passed, and the earth and heaven no longer throbs with sound, but is quieted to hear the peaceful law.

Moses enters the sanctuary. It is a church made with hands, and it stands at the foot of ”the mount which burned with fire.” Sometimes our worship seems to require space, so much are our souls exalted, and so loud is our cry of distress or our psalm of adoration. The mountain is not high enough, the sea is wanting in width, and the horizon is too near to constitute a church, because our souls are lifted up with great emotions and our love glows with an infinite fire. In those high moods we tell the mountains to rejoice; we bid Lebanon clap its hands; and call upon the sea to help our offering of praise. Afterwards we fall into another and calmer mood; a mood subdued almost into timidity; in these moments we would draw a curtain in on ourselves and draw away from our former publicity to within the bounds of comparative secrecy. The sky is too vast; we are afraid of its very immensity; so under roof and lamp of our own making we render our worship, giving God praise, and whispering the prayer which is almost spoiled by speech.

This verse gives us the picture of God and man meeting in a holy place; say in close quarters; say as if space were annihilated and the infinite had taken up the finite into itself. Man needs instruction in the art or act of worship. The worship itself may be what is sometimes called instinctive. Hence man has been called a religious being; hence we are told that worship or the spirit of worship is in man; and hence too we have been mistakenly told that every man may worship God as he pleases.

That is a sophism which needs exposure. The will of man has no place whatever in worship, except to receive the direction or command of God as to its expression.

There are emotions of the heart, inarticulate sometimes, fierce sometimes, tender emotions of every force and tone that run through the whole gamut of human feeling; but we are not to say which part shall be uttered and which shall be silent; we are like little children to be taught how to worship our Father God.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.” Lev. 1:2-9

Here is a singular conjunction of the legal and the voluntary.

Jehovah fixes the particulars; but the man himself decides on the act of sacrificial worship. Observe how the Lord works from the opposite point from which the first of the Ten Commandments was given. There God called for the worship: here he leaves the man to offer the worship and proceeds to tell him how. The first was general, the second was particular. The offering was to be of the cattle; it was to be a male without blemish; it was to be offered at the door of the tabernacle; the priests were to do part and the man himself was to do part.

So we see again that man needs instruction in the act of worship…

The question must ever arise, How shall we come before God? The disciples of Jesus Christ came to him, and said,” Lord, teach us how to pray.” We all pray; we cannot help praying. Sometimes in our secularistic pride we only use such common words as “I wish,” ”I long for,” “I hope,” “I desire,” “these are feeble ways of putting what is in every human heart, namely, the desire which means prayer. Jesus Christ taught his disciples how to pray, that is, he gave them instruction as to the meaning and mode of worship. So then, we have a manner or science of worship even in the Christian sanctuary, dictated and authorized by Jesus Christ himself. The preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue are from God. No man was at liberty in the ancient Church to determine his own terms of approach to God. The throne must be approached in the appointed way.

There is a genius in worship, there is a method of coming before God. God does not ask us to conceive or suggest methods of worship. He himself meets us with his time-bill and his terms of spiritual commerce. God is in heaven and we are upon the earth; therefore should our words be few. The law of approach to the divine throne is unchanged. The very first condition of worship is obedience.

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and is so because it is the end of sacrifice. But see, how under the Levitical ritual, the worshiper was trained to obedience. Mark the exasperating minuteness of the law. Nothing was left to haphazard. The bullock was to be offered at the door of the tabernacle; the sheep was to be killed on the northward side of the altar; the blood of the fowl was to be wrung out at the side of the altar; the crop was to be plucked away with the feathers and was to be cast on the east side of the altar by the place of the ashes; fine flour and oil were to be the ingredients of the meat offering, whether it was burnt upon the altar or baked in the oven, or in the frying-pan, and loaves and honey were not to enter into the sacrifice by fire.

So the law runs on until it chafes the obstinate mind. But man was to yield. He had no choice. His iron will was to be broken in two and his soul was to wait patiently upon God. When, however, we are in the spirit of filial obedience the very minuteness of the law becomes a delight.

God does not speak to us in the gross; every motion is watched, every action is determined, every breathing is regulated; man is always to yield; he is not a co-partner in this high thinking. So our inventive genius of a religious kind often stands rebuked before God. We like to make ceremonies ; methods of worship seem to tempt one side of our fertile genius, and we stultify ourselves by regarding our inventiveness as an element of our devotion. We like to draw up programs and orders and schemes of service and sacrifice. What we should do is to keep as nearly as we can to the Biblical line, and bring all our arrangements into harmony with the law of heaven. The law can never give way. Fire never surrenders; it is the fuel that must go down.

The worship was to be offered through mediation. In every sacrifice the priests, Aaron or the sons of Aaron, were present. The priestly element pervades the universe ; it is the mystery of life and service. The sinner did not come immediately before God and transact his business with the Infinite face to face. Is there then any priestly element in Christianity? It is the very consummation of priestliness.

Our sacrifices are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Our great High Priest is passed into the heavens. There is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant. The difficulty with us is that we think we can all be official priests. We forget that now there is only one Man who continues forever, because he hath an unchangeable priesthood. Jesus is the Intercessor, he pleads his blood ; his cross is in heaven; it rests against the throne. ” I saw in the midst of the throne a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

All things are colored with his blood. It is a great mystery and not to be understood by reason in its cold moods; only when we are burning with unutterable love to God, do we catch any hint of the meaning of these sovereign mysteries. We have no need of priestly help from any human point of view. Brethren pray for us. Ministers will pray for their people, but not as their substitutes; their prayers are eloquent with the cry of human necessity and the psalm of human adoration. Not in any way priestly, but in a profoundly sympathetic sense, we are all priests in Christ –a holy priesthood.

This worship service was voluntary. Notice the expression, “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.” The voluntariness gives the value to the worship. We can only pray with the heart.

Prayers we can say with the mouth, but to say prayers may not be to pray. To pay a tax is to keep a law, but to give bread to the hungry is to draw out the heart and to put a gift in the very hand of God. So in Christian worship, the voluntary and the legal are combined. There is in this great ritual a wonderful mixing of free will and divine ordination; the voluntary and the unchangeable; the human action and the divine decree. We cannot understand it; if we are able to understand it then it is no larger than our understanding: so God becomes a measurable god, merely the shadow of human wit, a god that cannot be worshiped.

It is where our understanding fails or rises into a new wealth of faith, that we find the only altar at which we can bow, with all our power; where we can utter with enthusiasm all our hopes and desires. So we come with our sacrifice and offering, whatever it may be, and having laid it on the altar, we can follow it no further –free as the air up to a given point, but after that bounded and fixed and watched and regulated –a mystery that can never be solved, and that can never be chased out of a universe in which the Infinite and finite confer.

The worship in the ancient Church was no mere expression of sentiment. It was a most practical worship; not a sentimental exercise; it was a confession and an expiation,” in a word an atonement. This fact explains all. Take the word “atonement” out of Christian theology, and Christian theology has no center, no circumference, no life, no meaning, no virtue. See the man bringing his bullock “what is he going to do? To make God a present? He is going to confess sin; he is about to say, “My sin deserves death, but it hath pleased thee, mighty King, to accept a type of my death, therefore do I shed the blood of this beast before thee.” He is about to say, “Sin means suffering; suffering must accompany sin; “to express it therefore did he put the knife into that dedicated bullock. We have lost many of the spiritual ideas, I fear, suggested by this symbolism, from the range of our Christian worship.

Who remembers that sin is a debt? Who brings before his mind in all its pathos and humiliating effect the great fact that sin must be confessed, admitted, specifically owned, –that each man must say “My sin”? Who is there that really feels that he is not master of his own sin, having power to put an end to it as if he had never committed it?

The devil says, “You have sinned; that may be perfectly true, but what you have got to do is to repent of your sin, and all will be well.” He knows that our repentances, unless springing from the right source and regulated by the right influence, do but harden the heart and give the tempter a wider sweep and advantage over us. The enemy says to the withered branch perishing by the roadside,” It is quite true that you are withered, but repent, and all will be well.” Never. There must come a Divine hand that can lift the branch up and put it back in the tree, so that it may draw the life-juice from the root and connect itself with the all-blessing sun. A vital work must be done. You cannot wash yourself clean. The sea will not wash you. The cleansing is an act Divine.

The ancient worship was marked by every variety of offering. What a wonderful list do we find in the first three chapters of Leviticus! A bullock, a sheep, a turtle-dove, a young pigeon, fine flour, first-fruit a goat. The great law seems to say to us, “What have you to offer?” The law is not hard and fast. The rich man and the poor man each has his opportunity. They could not all bring alike; it was not every man who had a bullock to offer, or a turtle-dove, or a young pigeon, or a handful of flour,” the meaning was the same; the meaning was not to be measured by the gift; the gift itself was the meaning when measured by the heart.

Has this time of oblation passed? It cannot pass; only our offering is no longer an atonement, it is now a grateful expression for an atonement already offered. So the Lord says to each of us, “What have you?” One man has time, and gives it willingly unto the Lord; another has social influences, and is true to his Savior in the exercise of all the power that comes He blesses the giver and the gift.

If we could read this book of Leviticus through at one sitting, the result might be expressed in some such words as these,” “Thank God we have got rid of this infinite labor; thank God this is not in the Christian service; thank God we are Christians and not Jews.” Let not our rejoicing be the expression of selfishness or folly. It is true we have escaped the bondage of the letter, but only to enter into the larger and sweeter bondage of the spirit. It makes the heart sore to think that so many persons are under the impression that Christianity is a do-nothing religion, and that by becoming Christians we enter into the liberty of idleness.

When we think of the bullock, and the sheep, and the goat, and the turtle-dove, and the young pigeon, and the fine flour, the heave-offering, and the wave-offering, and the trespass-offering –offerings all the year round, never-ending, or ending only to begin again; the smoke always ascending, the fire always alight, we say, “Thank God we are Christians.” What do we mean? Had the Jew more to do than we have to do? No; or only so in a very limited and mechanical sense. The Jew gave his bullock or his goat, his turtle-dove or his young pigeon; but now each man has to give himself! We now buy ourselves off with gold. Well may the apostle exhort us, saying, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Wonderful is the law which lays its claim upon the ransomed soul,” none of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself; whether we live, we live unto the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord; living or dying we are the Lord’s. We have escaped measurable taxation, but we have come under the bond of immeasurable love. We have escaped the letter, we have been brought under the dominion of the spirit. Let us be careful, therefore, how we congratulate ourselves on having escaped the goat-offering and heifer-offering, and turtle-dove and young pigeon sacrifices; how we have been brought away from the technicality and poverty of the letter into the still further deeper poverty of selfishness.

As Christians, we have nothing that is our own; not a moment of time is ours; not a pulse that throbs in us, not a hair of our head, not a coin in the coffer belongs to us. This is the severe demand of love.

Who can rise to the pitch of that self-sacrifice? None. The Jew gives his tenth, and another tenth, and another tenth, and another tenth, even unto five-tenths, or one-half, and we say, “All that is done for ever; it has passed away with the obsolete ritual, and now we are under the law of love,” as if God had brought us into something less rather than into something more. The Jew had a night in which he might rest from his labor, but in Christianity, as to the spiritual exactions of its service it may be truly said there is no night; if we cease from the more active labor during the night it is that we may be prepared to resume it with increased energy with the first light of dawn.

NOTE.

Five animals are named in the Law as suitable for sacrifice; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the dove, and the pigeon. It is worthy of notice that these were all offered by Abraham in the great sacrifice of the Covenant (see Gen. 15:9). These animals are all clean, according to the division into clean and unclean animals, which was adopted in the Law. They were the most important of those which are used for food, and are of the greatest utility to man. The three kinds of quadrupeds were domesticated in flocks and herds, and were recognized as property, making up in fact a great part of the wealth of the Hebrews before they settled in Palestine. It would thus appear that three conditions met in the sacrificial quadrupeds:

(l) they were clean according to the Law;
(2) they were commonly used as food; and being domesticated

(3) they formed part of the home-wealth of the sacrificers.

— The Note was taken from, The Speaker’s Commentary (Abridged)

At the Feet of Jesus: In Our Personal Necessity

Taken and adapted from, “The Feet of Jesus in Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glory”
Written by, Philip Bennett Power

jairus_daughter

“And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house…”–Luke 8:41

“For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet…”–Mark 7:25

“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” –John 11:32

WE have in Holy Scripture something about the feet of Jesus…

…as regards His life on earth. His death. His resurrection life, and His life in glory.We are at present concerned only with incidents which refer to those feet, while He lived and moved as a man amongst men, in what we might call the ordinary walks of every-day human life.

No doubt, what meets us is very extraordinary, but the scenes in which we find it embrace the usual places, people, and things of daily life.

In the Syrophoenician, we see the trial and victory of Faith –Jesus allowing Himself to be overcome. In Mary after Lazarus’ death, we find the venting of personal sorrow ; in the Samaritan of gratitude. In the anointing woman we have seen personal love and ministry; in the woman sitting at His feet we have appreciation; in the man sitting, the recognition of the place of rest. The leper who fell down before Jesus gives us the expression of terrible personal need; and Peter at His knees, the abasement of felt personal demerit.

One great beauty of the Bible, and one of the means by which it takes such deep hold of us is, its personalities; our natures crave what is personal, and find it here; they fix upon it; they take special comfort from it. We cannot take in the woe of masses; we have no capacity for doing so –it is well that we have not. A single case with all its particulars can be realized; we enter into it, and it affects us more than any amount of anguish, no matter how great, which is but a confused mass. We read of so many thousands being wounded in some dreadful war, but let there be in the article which states this, an incident of individual suffering, and the human mind instinctively fixes itself on that.

It is a blessed thought that all masses of misery resolve themselves into their component parts –into individual cases before God. The great mind is analytical –it goes into particulars and details. And here –much of the soul’s life –ay, and of the body’s life too –might be said to be analyzed at “the feet of Jesus.” Here we have the feet of Jesus the place for agonizing personal suppliants –for the stating and pleading of individual need.

In the three cases, which we have grouped together here, we might be said to have to do entirely with ” death.” In the case of the Syrophoenician woman, there was a living death –a life almost worse than death. In that of Jairus, there was present death –first threatened, then actual. In that of Mary, there was the finished woe; that dear body was dead –it was gone. As long as the body remains with us there is something to look at –something to be done –the mind feels there is something yet to come; but when that is taken away, there remains nothing more– the woe is consummated –ah, me! It is well that there is such a place as the feet of Jesus.

We met with multitudes and passive misery, but here we meet with single cases,where all is concentrated and active; and individual effort and energy are put forth in the highest degree. We shall first consider the case of Jairus.

Here I find him –a ruler of the synagogue, at “the feet of Jesus!” 

What brought him there? A threefold sorrow–a mingled, a concentrated, a comprehensive one. It was mingled –the daughter’s and his own; she lay a-dying; and forasmuch as his heart was bound up in hers, that heart might be said to be a-dying also.

Mingled sorrow might be said to be the higher sorrow; it is not purely selfish; it has to do with others’ woe; it does not exclude ‘self;’ to be mingled, it must give ‘self’ its place; but it has to do with another also.

And this mingling is very close –here it is a father for an only daughter, and because of an only daughter; the two thoughts could be separated, but they are not meant to be so. So is it with many of the sorrows which God appoints for us ; our feelings for our dear ones and our own personal feelings are interwoven so as to become one.

But what we are principally concerned with here is the fact that, this sorrow was brought to the feet of Jesus. And surely that was its appropriate place; because Jesus Himself was a man of mingled sorrows. He was not only a man of sorrow, but of sorrows ” He tasted this kind as well as others; it is included under the head of His “acquaintance” with grief. The cup which the Father had given Him in Gethsemane was a mingled cup; those tears at the grave of Lazarus were mingled tears.

So, then, Jesus was the very one to whom a trouble like that of Jairus, or of the Syrophoenician woman, could be brought; His feet were their proper place. And here let us bring our sorrows in their mingled form –let us not seek to scatter them; and look for comfort for one part here, and for another part there. Jesus, by His own experience, will understand the component parts of our grief.

And He will not be displeased because we seek relief for our own sorrow, as well as for the one on account of whom we are in grief. Personal sorrow is recognized; the same God who meant it to be felt, meant it also to be eased; and the place for ease by His appointment is the feet of Jesus.

I next note this as a concentrated sorrow –she for whom Jairus had come to the feet of Jesus was an only daughter. This sorrow, though mingled, was not diffused; it savored much of an essence –an essence of woe. If the only daughter went, then all was gone. This woe was well defined indeed. And in this aspect of it, it found its fittest place at Jesus’ feet. His own course of sorrow was well defined enough; He was continually coming into contact with facts, often in relation to His own closest disciples and friends, which grieved Him; He could have well-defined feeling for well defined trial.

Let us remember this, for we are often thinking that our particular trial is infinitely more to us, than it is to Christ; that He does not see it to be as large as it really is; that He cannot feel it as we feel it, or understand it as we do; that His sympathies are so scattered and diffused. He cannot gather them into the focus of our one grief.

Jesus can cause the rays of His sympathy to converge on one point, until He makes it glow and burn with a light and heat of love.

We must not fear then, of being intrusive.  Or say, ” Why should I think that my sorrow which is so great to me, should be great to Him?” He will recognize it as being what it is to us. Even if it be an exaggerated sorrow –made so from our nervousness, still to us it is real, and therefore, it is so to Him.

An “only daughter;” here is a center, a pivot, something around which the dried-up heart would grind in days and nights of sorrow.

And are there not some hearts which have unoiled centers of sorrow, around which they unceasingly grind? They perform the one dull round of grief” –the eye so fixed on one central point, that it soon becomes incapable of taking in anything else. Let it be brought to the feet of Jesus, that is the only place for dealing with sorrow like this. Remember the picture painted for you here– it is that of one deep sufferer, about one sorrow, before one Helper.

We must glance at one more aspect of this sorrow. It was comprehensive. Like all, or almost all those connected with death, it took in a past and a future. Oh! the wide-spreading comprehensiveness of death –that circle with so sharp and well-defined a point for a center, with so large and vast-embracing a sweep for a circumference.

Jairus brought a past to the feet of Jesus –a past full of endearment. For twelve years this child had been creeping around his heart, ever budding, ever throwing out fresh tendrils, which found their clinging place around that heart. For twelve years had she nestled inside it, so that his very life was as it were the enfolding of another. It may be that father with child, and child with father, they mingled their lives together. Perhaps, this only daughter had helped to keep this father fresh and young, by the sweet unconscious ministry of youth –for children minister to us by their toys, and laughter, and the fresh dew upon their early morning life; perhaps, he had often sat, and with sweet contentment watched the mother being reproduced in the child; who knows into what depths this “perhaps” will travel, if we let it go forth unrestricted into twelve years of life with an only child? It is said that fathers love their girls, and mothers their sons, the most; and whatever is that peculiarity of affection, it is beautiful to see how Jesus meets its sorrow, for He raised Jairus’ only daughter; and the widow of Nain’s only son. He not only gave them back their all, but a peculiar all; and, doubtless. He knew that He was doing so, for He is delicately skilled in the peculiarities of grief.

It was with such a past –a past with a great circle, and that, crowded with the imagery of love, that Jairus, the father, fell at Jesus’ feet. But that was not all. He knows little of death-sorrow who imagines that it is all connected with the past. Far from it. The death-sorrow is a stand-point upon life’s road with a past brightly peopled, with a future darkly blank.

I bear in mind the almost indignation with which a friend of mine –advanced in the life of faith, received a letter on her husband’s death condoling with her on her “misery.” To her, full of Christian hope, and well knowing that God had yet for her a life to be lived for Him, full also of all the consolations that the Gospel can give, the word was out of place –she felt it was a wrong to God; but consolations like these –certainly those high ones of the Gospel, this ruler had not; and so we may ponder how blank and void, how unseasoned and lustreless was that prospect which now lay before him.

The father had probably looked forward to much; he had daydreamed of what that girl would be to him in his old age; a father’s heart had often taken to love’s speculations, and built castles in the air, which now lay ruined at his feet –ruined, not by slow decay of time, but, as it were, by a lightning flash. The girl was then a-dying –to all intents and purposes dead, unless Jesus would come at once and help; and Jairus embodying in himself these varied forms of sorrow –the mingled, the concentrated, and the comprehensive –fell with them all at Jesus’ feet.

Up to the present, we have seen Jairus only as a father; but the narrative brings him before us in another character also –we are told he was “a ruler of the synagogue.” And it is important to note this with reference to our present subject, ” the feet of Jesus.” A ruler of the synagogue, a great man, is before the One who was called the carpenter’s son, and at His feet.

True need brings us very low. It brought down that ruler; it has done the same to many a one since. The rich, the honored, the intellectual, have been brought there. They might have questioned with Jesus, and admired Him, and said, “Thou art a teacher come from God,” and continued just as they were; but nothing, save a deep sense of need, would have brought them to the feet of Jesus.

All adventitious circumstances –all rank, riches, intellect, are swept away before the avalanche of urgent and tremendous need. Oh! how small these things seem in the presence of overwhelming need –especially when they come on the platform on which Death is already standing. That form makes an impertinence of them all. Our fancied personal importance becomes nothing there.

“A ruler” at Jesus’ feet was a triumph of reality. And whither have we been brought, and what has “the real” done for us; or rather, with us? For there is a great difference between these two. Something must be done with us, before anything is done for us; we must be brought to the feet of Jesus, there to receive a life gift –a gift, which shall be a victory over death.

Let us take one more thought before we close. When this ruler was at Jesus’ feet he besought Him “that He would come into his house; for he had one only daughter, twelve years of age, and she lay a-dying.”

The father invited Jesus to come into the very place, and scene, and home of sorrow. Into the place so lately filled with joy, but which was now stilled; into the recesses of home life where everything which was associated with his departing joy was centered, there the ruler of the synagogue would bring Him who was in truth a higher ruler than himself, for He had power even over death.

We do not like the world or outsiders to see our deepest and most sacred sorrow,especially when it is fresh; but if our heart has apprehended Jesus aright, we shall be ready to ask Him. His will be no look of curiosity, no cold taking in of circumstances in which He has no interest; where ever He comes, whenever He speaks or looks, it is always with a purpose.

And let us be circumstantial in the detail of our sorrow. Jairus told the Lord that he had one only daughter, and that she was twelve years old, and that she lay a-dying. All that he said would be helpful towards exciting Jesus’ interest and moving His pity; which perhaps, he, who knew not Jesus’ heart fully, would have thought necessary. We know that for this purpose it is not needed; still it is a good thing to enter into particulars with the Lord. It is treating Him with confidence; the very feeling that He will be interested is honoring to Him. Every particular that we bring before Him, He will note; and act with reference to it too.

So then, when we analyze this sorrow of the ruler, we see that there was enough to bring him (ruler though he was) to the place where we find him here –the place for everyone in all sorrowful times, at “The Feet of Jesus.”

The Veil: The Fabric of the Church, and Fabric of Our Righteousness

Taken and adapted from, “The Tabernacle, The Priesthood, and The Offerings”
Written by, Henry W. Soltau

blood_curtain

“Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker.  –Ex. 26:31

He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it. –Ex. 36:35

Fine twined linen….

One material only is specified in the construction of the Vail, ”fine linen:” the blue, purple, and scarlet, were simply colors. Upon this ground-work of fine linen these colors were displayed; so that the observer would be first arrested by the beauty of the blue, the depth of the purple, and the brilliancy of the scarlet, before he perceived the material, over which these tints were spread. Does not this aptly exemplify that wondrous truth, “God was manifest in the flesh?” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Wife, in Revelation 19:7, is represented as having made herself ready for the marriage supper, and it is added in the succeeding verse; “To her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean, and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” –Revelation 19:8.

Here a twofold, yet united, aspect of the truth is beautifully presented: the Church makes herself ready, and yet she is clothed by another.

So in Revelation 7:14, believers are said to have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: while, in Revelation 1:5, it is written “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” We may view the saint as clothing or washing himself; for he may be regarded as, by faith, appropriating to himself the precious blood of Christ; or, we may consider the work as all accomplished for him by the Lord Jesus, through the grace and mercy of God. The word “righteousness of saints” is remarkable, being in the plural number; it may be rendered “righteousness;” the fine linen displaying every form of bright and holy purity; righteousness in every aspect; according to that beautiful word “Thou art all fair, my love: there is no spot in thee.” But whence were these garments derived? If we turn to Jeremiah 23: 6, “This is His name, whereby He shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness.” Jehovah Jesus is the righteousness of the saints. He is the spotless robe; they are clothed with Him; they stand accepted (graced) in the Beloved. God has made Him to be unto them “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” and His name is placed upon them; as, in Jeremiah 33:16, Jerusalem on earth will have “Jehovah our Righteousness” as the name whereby she shall be called.

The fine linen of the Vail seems, then, especially to present to us “the Righteous One,” who in His life of toil and sorrow, and most especially in His death of shame and suffering, manifested that unsullied purity, that perfect obedience, and that delight in accomplishing the will of His Father, whereby He has earned for Himself a name, which is above every name, the name of Jesus; “who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Understanding the Decalogue: Which is it, a Covenant of Works or Covenant of Grace?

Excerpt taken and adapted from, “Economy of the Covenants”
Written by Herman Witsius

ram-in-thicket

Now concerning this covenant…

…made upon the Ten Commandments, it is queried, whether it was a covenant of works, or a covenant of grace? We judge proper to premise some things, previous to the determination of this question. And first, we observe, that, in the Ministry of Moses, there was a repetition of the doctrine concerning the law of the covenant of works. For both the very same precepts are inculcated, on which the covenant of works was founded, and which constituted the condition of that covenant; and that sentence is repeated, “which if a man do he shall live in them,” Lev. 18: 5. Ezek. 20: 11, 13. By which formula, the righteousness, which is of the law, is described, Rom. 10: 5. And the terror of the covenant of works is increased by repeated calls for retributions, punishments and vengeance; and that voice heard, “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them,” Deut. 27: 26. Now the apostle declares, that this is the curse of the law, as the law is opposed to faith, or the covenant of grace, Gal. 3: 10, 12. Nay, as the requirement of obedience was rigid under the ministry of Moses, the promises of spiritual and saving grace were more rare and obscure, the measure of the Spirit granted to the Israelites, scanty and short, Deut. 29: 4. and on the contrary, the denunciation of the curse frequent and express; hence the ministry of Moses is called, “the ministration of death and condemnation,” 2 Cor. 3: 7, 9, doubtless because it mentioned the condemnation of the sinner, and obliged the Israelites to subscribe to it.

Secondly, we more especially remark that, when the law was given from Mount Sinai or Horeb, there was a repetition of the covenant of works. For, those tremendous signs of thunders and lightnings, of an earthquake, a thick smoke and black darkness, were adapted to strike Israel with great terror. And the setting bounds and limits round about the mount, whereby the Israelites were kept at a distance from the presence of God, upbraided them with that separation, which sin had made between God and them. In a word, “Whatever we read,” Exod.19 (says Calvin, on Heb. 12: 10.) “is intended to inform the people, that God then ascended his tribunal, and manifested himself as an impartial judge. If an innocent animal happened to approach, lie commanded it to be thrust through with a dart; how much sorer punishment were sinners liable to, who were conscious of their sins, nay, and knew themselves indicted by the law, as guilty of eternal death.” See the same author on Exod. 19: 1, 16. And the apostle in this matter, Heb. 12: 18-22. sets Mount Sinai in opposition to mount Zion, the terrors of the law to the sweetness of the gospel.

Thirdly. We are not, however, to imagine, that the doctrine of the covenant of works was repeated, in order to set up again such a covenant with the Israelites, in which they were to seek for righteousness and salvation. For, we have already proved (B. 1. chap. ix. section 20) that this could not possibly be renewed in that manner with a sinner, on account of the justice and truth of God, and the nature of the covenant of works, which admits of no pardon of sin. See also Hornbeck.Theology, Practical, tome 2. p. 10. Besides, if the Israelites were taught to seek salvation by the works of the law, then the law bad been contrary to the promise, made to the fathers many ages before. But now says the apostle, Gal. 3: 17. “The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” The Israelites were, therefore, thus put in mind of the covenant of works, in order to convince them of their sin and misery, to drive them out of themselves, to show them the necessity of a satisfaction, and to compel them to Christ. And so their being thus brought to a remembrance of the covenant of works tended to promote the covenant of grace.

Fourthly. There likewise accompanied this giving of the law the repetition of some things belonging to the covenant of grace. For, that God should propose a covenant of friendship to sinful man, call himself his God (at least in the sense it was said to the elect in Israel), take to himself any people, separated from others, for his peculiar treasure, assign to them the land of Canaan as a pledge of heaven, promise his grace to those that love him and keep his commandments, and circumscribe the vengeance denounced against despisers within certain bounds, and the like; these things manifestly discover a covenant of grace: and without supposing the suretyship of the Messiah, it could not, consistently with the divine justice and truth, be proposed to man a sinner. Judiciously says Calvin on Exod. 19: 17. “by these words we are taught, that these prodigies or signs were not given, to drive the people from the presence of God; nor were they struck with any terror, to exasperate their minds with a hatred of instruction: but that the covenant of God was no less lovely than awful. For, they are commanded to go and meet God, to present themselves with a ready affection of soul to obey him. Which could not be unless they had heard something in the law besides precepts and threatenings.” See also Tilenus Syntagm. p. 1. Disp. 33. Section 18, 19, 20, 28, 29.

Having premised these observations, I answer to the question. The covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai was not formally the covenant of works,

First. Because that cannot be renewed with the sinner, in such a sense as to say, if, for the future, thou shalt perfectly perform every instance of obedience, thou shalt be justified by that, according to the covenant of works. For, by this, the pardon of former sins would be presupposed, which the covenant of works excludes.

Second. Because God did not require perfect obedience from Israel, as a condition of this covenant, as a cause of claiming the reward; but sincere obedience, as an evidence of reverence and gratitude.

Third. Because it did not conclude Israel under the-curse, in the sense peculiar to the covenant of works, where all hope of pardon was cut off, if the sinned but in the least instance.

However the carnal Israelites, not referring to God’s purpose or intention, as they ought, mistook the true meaning of that covenant, embraced it as a covenant of works, and by it sought for righteousness.

Paul declares this, Rom. 9:31, 32. “but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness; wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.” To the same purpose it is, that, Gal. 4: 24, 25. he compares to the Ishmaelites the Israelites, while they tarried in the deserts of Arabia, which was the country of the former, who are born to bondage of their mother Hagar, or the covenant of mount Sinai, and being destitute of true righteousness, shall, with Ishmael, be at length turned out of the house of their heavenly Father. For, in that place, Paul does not consider the covenant of Mount Sinai as in itself, and in the intention of God, offered to the elect, but as abused by carnal and hypocritical men. Let Calvin again speak: “The apostle declares, that, by the children of Sinai, he meant hypocrites, persons who are at length cast out of the church of God, and disinherited. What therefore is that generation unto bondage, which he there speaks of? It is doubtless those, who basely abuse the law, and conceive nothing concerning it but what is servile.

The pious fathers who lived under the Old Testament did not so. For, the servile generation of the law did not blind them from having the spiritual Jerusalem for their mother. But they, who stick to the bare law, and acknowledge not its pedagogy; by which they are brought to Christ, but rather make it an obstacle to their coming to him, these are Ishmaelites (for thus, and I think rightly, Morlorat reads) born unto bondage.” The design of the apostle therefore, in that Place, is not to teach us, that the covenant of Mount Sinai was nothing but a covenant of works, altogether opposite to the gospel-covenant; but only that the gross Israelites misunderstood the mind of God, and basely abused his covenant; as all such do, who seek for righteousness by the law. See again Calvin on Rom.10: 4.

Nor was it formally a covenant of grace: because that requires not only obedience, but also promises, and bestows strength to obey. For, thus the covenant of grace is made known, Jer. 32: 39. 41 and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever.” But such a promise appears not in the covenant made at Mount Sinai. Nay; God, on this very account, distinguishes the new covenant of grace from the Sinaitic, Jer. 31: 31-33. And Moses loudly proclaims, Deut. 29: 4. “yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to ‘hear, unto this day.” Certainly, the chosen from among Israel had obtained this. Yet not in virtue of this covenant, which stipulated obedience, but gave no power for it: but in virtue of the covenant of grace, which also belonged to them.

What was it then? It was a national covenant between God and Israel, whereby Israel promised to God a sincere obedience to all his precepts, especially to the ten words; God, on the other hand, promised to Israel, that such an observance would be acceptable to him, nor want its reward, both in this life, and in that which is to come, both as to soul and body.

This reciprocal promise supposed a covenant of grace. For, without the assistance of the covenant Of grace, man cannot sincerely promise that observance; and yet that an imperfect observance should be acceptable to God is wholly owing to the covenant of grace, It also supposed the doctrine of the covenant of works, the terror or which being increased by those tremendous signs that attended it, they ought to have been excited to embrace that covenant of God. This agreement therefore is a consequent both of the covenant of grace and of works; but was formally neither the one nor the other. A like agreement and renewal of the covenant between God and the pious is frequent; both national and individual. Of the former see Josh. 24: 22. 2 Chron. 15: 12. 2 Kings 23: 3. Neh. 10: 29. Of the latter, Psalm 119: 106. It is certain, that in the passages we have named, mention is made of some covenant between God and his people. If any should ask me, of what kind, whether of works or of grace? I shall answer, it is formally neither: but a covenant of sincere piety, which supposes both.

Hence the question, which is very much agitated at this day, may be decided: namely, –Whether the ten words are nothing but the form of the covenant of grace?

This, I apprehend, is by no means an accurate way of speaking. For, since a covenant strictly so-called, consists in a mutual agreement, what is properly the form of the covenant should contain the said mutual agreement. But the ten words contain only a prescription of duty fenced on the one band by threatenings, taken from the covenant of works; on the other, by promises, which belong to the covenant of grace. Hence the scripture, when it speaks properly, says that a covenant was made upon these ten words, or after the tenor of those words, Exod. 34: 27, distinguishing the covenant itself, which consists in a mutual agreement from the ten words, which contain the conditions of it. The form of the covenant is exhibited by those words, which we have already quoted from Exod. 19: 5, 6, 8, I deny not, that the Ten Commandments are frequently in scripture called the covenant of God. But at the same time, no person can be ignorant, that the term covenant has various significations in the Hebrew, and often signifies nothing but a precept, as Jer. 34: 18, 14. Thus Moses explains himself on this head, Deut. 4: 13. “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even Ten Commandments.” They are therefore called a covenant by a synecdoche, because they contain those precepts, which God, when he set his covenant before them, required the Israelites to observe, and to which the said Israelites bound themselves by covenant.

The ten words, or commandments, therefore, are not the form of a covenant properly so-called, but the rule of duty: much less are they the form of the covenant of grace: because that covenant, in its strict signification, consists of mere promises and, as it relates to elect persons, has the nature of a testament, or last will, rather than of a covenant strictly speaking, and depends on no condition; as we have at large explained and proved, Book III. chap. I. sect. 8. etc. And, Jeremiah has shown us, that the form of the covenant of grace consists in absolute promises, chap. 31: 33, and 32: 38-40. In like manner, Isa. 54: 10.

Last of all can it be said, that the ten words are nothing but the “form” of the covenant of grace, since we may look upon them as having a relation to any covenant whatever. They may be considered in a twofold manner.

First. Precisely, as a law.

Second. As an instrument of the covenant.

As a law, they are the rule of our nature and actions, which HE has prescribed, who has a right to command. This they were from the beginning, this they still are, and this they will continue to be, under whatever covenant, or in whatever state man shall be. As an instrument of the covenant they point out the way to eternal salvation; or contain the condition of enjoying that salvation: and that both under the covenant of grace and of works.

But with this difference;

Under the covenant of works, this condition of keeping the law required to be performed by man himself; under the covenant of grace it is proposed, as already performed, or to be performed by a mediator. Things, which those very persons, with whom we are now disputing, will not venture to deny.

Inviting the Crowd

P00292

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

–Matthew 11:28 

There is an old story that came from Boston…

…about a school for the Blind. And in this school was a bright young girl named Laura. One day, when her teacher was trying to communicate with her, little Laura spelled out on her fingers the question, “What is the soul?” He answered her in the same mute language, “The soul is that which thinks, and feels, and hopes.”

As she spelled back, a look of longing passed over her expressive features, “And aches so.”

Oh, how often have I though of that—The Soul: That part of us which “aches so,” and which will continue to ache, and ache –oh so badly, if it does not have the gospel.

Little Laura’s quick apprehension of the soul’s capacity for “aching” often comes to me, and “pushes” me to work harder in reaching out to those aching souls that I meet. Sometimes it is at the store, sometimes to those at work, and obviously I try to reach out on Facebook and on my blog.

Who do I reach out to? I reach out and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.  Why? Because they are people just like me! They are people who are handicapped. They are people with not enough time in the day, and too much on their plate. Or, they are people with all the time in the world, and just long for someone to talk to. They are the lonely people who would give anything to have someone to laugh and trade secrets with.  They are people who have missed out on life. People to whom life has given a “one-two” punch. Dreams?  Shattered! Hopes? –Been so long, they can’t even remember what a hope looked like. Mistakes? Their whole life seems like a mistake. But are they called? You bet!  And they are called by someone important, and who really loves them… Jesus.   All I do is reach out…

But what do I do when I reach out? First, I “listen” to them in an understanding and empathic, Gospel mindset, that is listening so I can best minister to them. And then, I speak the Gospel to them. For the words of the Gospel, are the words of true hope. They are the words of love and compassion that have already been given, and come directly from the loving heart of a merciful, kind (unbelievably kind), and gentle Savior.

Do you realize what we have been given?

You and I have been entrusted, as Christians with the only means of cure that is possible for the millions of souls that are inflicted with this capacity for “aching.” Yes, that is true! You and I are gifted with the call of the Gospel. That is the call to come, –come to the Gospel. Come to Christ! And who is to come? Those who are tired. Those who ache. Those who are carrying burdens much to heavy to bear. Yes, to those who are poor, crippled, lame, and blind, just like me.

But you know what else is so great about this gift that we have been entrusted with? Well, it is that this gift is meant for us also! When I get tired with life, with sin, with problems that I have no control over, I too, can come to the Master of the Gospel. I too, can come when my feet are weary and my heart aches. The best part? The best part is that when I die, when this whole show is over, I am invited to a feast, a marriage feast, and it is a marriage feast that I am a part of as the Bride of Christ. Listen to this!

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” –Revelation 22:17

Do you see that? –“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”” That is you, me, and all of us Christians, and the Holy Spirit, sending out wedding invitations! “Come”!

And the best news is, the really best news is that this feast, this glorious wedding feast, is only for us. “Come,” let’s go!

“Why the Law then?”

Taken and adapted from, “The Law of Christ”, Chapter 4, The Mosaic Law
Written by, Charles Leiter

attach

According to Paul, “the Law is not of faith,” and it is only when salvation is by faith that it can be a matter of grace:

For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified…. For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants…. Romans 4:14-16 

We see in these verses that Law, because it is characterized by the principle of “works,” is opposed to both Promise and Faith. And it is precisely this opposition that leads to Paul’s question, “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God?” If Paul were teaching that the Law is a covenant based on the principle of grace, this question would never have arisen. But as it is, God has done something apparently inexplicable: He has made unconditional promises to Abraham and then followed them with a covenant that is conditioned on human performance! Does He really intend that men will earn their salvation by keeping the Law? Paul’s answer is an emphatic, “May it never be!” “For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.”  

God never intended the Law as an alternate method of salvation, because man’s sinful condition renders the Law “unable” to impart life. The problem lies, not in the Law’s promise of life, but in man’s inability to keep the Law and thus obtain its “righteousness.” For this reason, Paul speaks of “what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh.” Instead of bringing life to fallen men, the Law brings only death: “And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” The commandment did indeed promise life, but it “proved to result” only in death.

In answer to the question, “Why the Law then?” 

Paul says that it was “added because of transgressions.” After considering something of what he means by this phrase, we see that God’s ultimate purpose in giving the Law to fallen men was not that they might save themselves by keeping it, but that their utter need of a Savior might be established by their failing to keep it!

In light of this truth, several questions immediately press upon each of us, even though we have never lived directly under the Mosaic Covenant.

1.  Do I see God’s demands as “holy, righteous, and good” and His requirements as only good and right?

2.  Have I stopped blaming God for my sins by excusing them or by imagining that He expects too much of me?

3.  Do I realize that I have fallen infinitely short of living a life of perfect love to God and man, and that, in myself, I stand hopelessly condemned in God’s sight?

4.  Can I see that I am condemned, not because of any fault on God’s part, but because of my own selfish and wicked heart?

5.  Do I realize that I will never be able to establish any righteousness of my own before God or do anything that will obligate Him to love and save me?

6.  Have I given up on ever being able to “merit” the merits of Christ?

7.  Do I realize that unless salvation is entirely by grace, I will never be saved?

If my answer is “yes” to all of these questions, then the law of God has done its intended work in me! I have nothing to do but to look away from myself and put my trust in Christ alone for my righteousness and salvation!

“So the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads.” Hallelujah!

A Simple Understanding of the Transcendence and Sovereignty of God from a Historical and Biblical Christian Context

eye-looking-up

.

In the early part of the fifth century these two types of religious thought came into direct conflict in a remarkably clear contrast as embodied in two fifth-century theologians, Augustine and Pelagius.

Augustine pointed men to God as the source of all true spiritual wisdom and strength, while Pelagius instead threw men back on themselves and said that they would be able in their own strength to do all that God commanded, otherwise God would not command it. We believe that Arminianism represents something of a compromise between these two systems, including its more evangelical form, early Wesleyanism. And while Arminianism approaches the form of a religion of faith, it nevertheless does so while containing some serious elements of error.

We are living in a day in which practically all of the historic churches are being attacked from within by unbelief. Many of them have already succumbed. And almost invariably the line of descent has been from a historic, biblical Christianity to Arminianism, from Arminianism to Liberalism, and then to Unitarianism. And the history of Liberalism and Unitarianism shows that they deteriorate into a social gospel which is a system too weak to sustain itself. Therefore, we are convinced that the future of Christianity is bound up with that system of theology which goes back to its historic, and biblical roots.

Where God-centered principles of the Bible have been abandoned, there inevitably has been a strong tendency downward into the depths of man-centered naturalism or secularism. Some have declared (rightly, we believe) that there is no consistent stopping or halfway place between an orthodox Biblical Christianity and atheism.

The basic principle of Christianity is the sovereignty of God. This represents the purpose of the Triune God as absolute, unconditional, and independent of the whole finite creation, which originated solely in the eternal counsel of His will. Therefore, He appoints the course of nature and directs the course of history down to the minutest details. His decrees therefore are eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign. They are represented in the Bible as being the evidence and basis of God’s divine foreknowledge of all future events, and that His will is not conditioned by that foreknowledge or by anything originating in the events themselves.

Every thinking person readily sees that some sovereignty rules his life. For instance, he was not asked whether or not he would have existence, or when or what or where he would be born, or whether it would be in the twentieth century or before the Flood, or even whether male or female, whether white or black, whether in the United States, or China, or Africa. All of those things were sovereignly decided for him before he had any existence. It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the world, and that as such He is the ultimate source of all power that is found in the world. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will, otherwise He would not be truly GOD. And when we dwell on this truth we find that it involves considerations which establishes both the true orthodox, Biblical position,  and disproves the Arminian position.

By virtue of the fact that God has created everything that exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made. He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the affairs of men (Acts 4:24-28). Even the nations are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness (Isaiah 40:12-17).

Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of our human lives, God is actually controlling all things in undisturbed majesty. Even the sinful actions of men can occur only by His permission and with the strength that he gives the creature. And since He permits not unwillingly but willingly, then all that comes to pass – including even the sinful actions and ultimate destiny of men – must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has eternally purposed and decreed. Just in proportion as this is denied, God is excluded from the government of the world, and we have only a finite God. Naturally, some problems arise which in our present state of knowledge we are not able fully to explain. But that is not a sufficient reason for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.

And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases? Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of heaven and earth, change the character of the creatures He has made? He changed the water into wine at Cana and converted Saul on the road to Damascus. The leper said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mathew. 8:2). And at a word his leprosy was cleansed. Let us not believe, as do the Arminians, that God cannot control the human will, or that He cannot regenerate a soul when He pleases. He is as able to cleanse the soul as the body. If He chose He could raise up such a flood of Christian ministers, missionaries and workers of various kinds, and could so work through His Holy Spirit, that the entire world would be converted in a very short time. If He had purposed to save all men He could have sent hosts of angels to instruct them and to do supernatural works on the earth. He could have worked marvelously in the heart of every person so that no one would have been lost.

Since evil exists only by His permission, He could, if He chose, blot it out of existence. His power in this respect was shown, for instance, in the work of the destroying angel who in one night slew all of the first-born of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:29), and in another night slew 185,000 of the Assyrian army (II Kings 19:35). It was shown when the earth opened and swallowed Korah and his rebellious allies (Numbers 16.31-35). King Herod was smitten and died a horrible death (Acts 12:23). In Daniel 4:34-35 we read that the Most High God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

All of this brings out the basic principle of the true, Biblical, Christian Faith – the sovereignty of God.

God created this world in which we find ourselves, He owns it, and He is running it according to His own sovereign good pleasure. God has lost none of His power, and it is highly dishonoring to Him to suppose that He is struggling along with the human race, doing the best He can to persuade men to do right, but unable to accomplish His eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose.

Any religious system which teaches that the serious intentions of God can in some cases be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast to the biblical idea of his immeasurable exaltation by which He is removed from all weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power, or a lack of wisdom, or both.

But since God is unlimited in these and in all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise. To Him the causes for change have no existence. To assume that His plan fails and that he strives to no effect is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures and make Him no God at all.

———————————–
Taken from, “The Reformed Faith,” condensed, edited and adapted with apologies for a younger, audience. 
“The Reformed Faith,”
was originally written by, Loraine Boettner in 1983.

The Demands of the Law are Satisfied by what Christ Has Done. The Doctrine of Justification. Part Two

 Taken and adapted from “Justification”
Written by Charles Hodge

the-sacrifice-of-the-old-covenant

All men are naturally under the law as in the prescribing of the terms of their acceptance with God; and further, no obedience which sinners can render is sufficient to satisfy the demands of that law.

Therefore, it follows, then, that unless we are freed from the law, not as a rule of duty, but as prescribing the conditions of acceptance with God, justification is for us impossible. It is, therefore, the third great point of scriptural doctrine on this subject, that believers are free from the law in the sense just stated. “Ye are not under the law,” says the apostle, “but under grace” (Romans 6:14). To illustrate this declaration, he refers to the case of a woman who is bound to her husband as long as he lives; but when he is dead, she is free from her obligation to him, and is at liberty to marry another man. So we are delivered from the law as a rule of justification and are at liberty to embrace a different method of obtaining acceptance with God (Romans 7:1-6). Paul says of himself, that he had died to the law; that is, become free from it (Galatians 2:19). And the same is said of all believers (Romans 7.6). He insists upon this freedom as essential not only to justification, but to sanctification. For while under the law, the motions of sins, which were by the law, brought forth fruit unto death; but now we are delivered from the law, that we may serve God in newness of spirit (Romans 7:5-6). Before faith came we were kept under the law, which he compares to a schoolmaster, but now we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24, 25). He regards the desire to be subject to the law as the greatest infatuation. “Tell me,” he says, “ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” and then shows that those who are under the demands of a legal system, are in the condition of slaves, and not of sons and heirs. “Stand fast therefore,” he exhorts, “in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.–Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 4:21-1; 5:1-4). This infatuation Paul considered madness, and exclaims, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-2). This apostasy was so fatal, the substitution of legal obedience for the work of Christ as the ground of justification was so destructive, that Paul pronounces accursed any man or angel who should preach such a doctrine for the gospel of the grace of God.

It was to the law, as revealed in the books of Moses, that the fickle Galatians were disposed to look for justification. Their apostasy, however, consisted in going back to the law, no matter in what form revealed–to works, no matter of what kind, as the ground of justification. 

The apostle’s arguments and denunciations, therefore, are so framed as to apply to the adoption of any form of legal obedience, instead of the work of Christ, as the ground of our confidence towards God. To suppose that all he says relates exclusively to a relapse into Judaism, is to suppose that we Gentiles have no part in the redemption of Christ. If it was only from the bondage of the Jewish economy that he redeemed his people, then those who were never subject to that bondage have no interest in his work. And of course Paul was strangely infatuated in preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles. We find, however, that what he taught in the Epistle to the Galatians, in special reference to the Law of Moses he teaches in the Epistle to the Romans in reference to that law which is holy, just, and good, and which condemns the most secret sins of the heart.

The nature of the apostle’s doctrine is, if possible, even more clear from the manner in which he vindicates it, than from his direct assertions. “What then?” he asks, ”shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:15).

Had Paul taught that we are freed from the ceremonial in order to be subject to the moral law, there could have been no room for such an objection. But if he taught that the moral law itself could not give life, that we must be freed from its demands as the condition of acceptance with God, then, indeed, to the wise of this world, it might seem that he was loosening the bands of moral obligation, and opening the door to the greatest licentiousness. Hence the frequency and earnestness with which he repels the objection, and shows that, so far from legal bondage being necessary to holiness, it must cease before holiness can exist; that it is not until the curse of the law is removed, and the soul reconciled to God, that holy affections rise in the heart, and the fruits of holiness appear in the life, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 2:31).

It is then clearly the doctrine of the Bible, that believers are freed from the law as prescribing the conditions of their acceptance with God; it is no longer incumbent upon them, in order to justification, to fulfill its demand of perfect obedience, or to satisfy its penal exactions.

But how is this deliverance effected? How is it that rational and accountable beings are exempted from the obligations of that holy and just law, which was originally imposed upon their race as the rule of justification? The answer to this question includes the fourth great truth respecting the way of salvation taught in the Scriptures. It is not by the abrogation of the law, either as to its precepts or penalty; it is not by lowering its demands, and accommodating them to the altered capacities or inclinations of men. We have seen how constantly the apostle teaches that the law still demands perfect obedience, and that they are debtors to do the whole law who seek justification at its hands. He no less clearly teaches, that death is as much the wages of sin in our case, as it was in that of Adam. If it is neither by abrogation nor relaxation that we are freed from the demands of the law, how has this deliverance been effected! By the mystery of vicarious obedience and suffering. This is the gospel of the grace of God. This is what was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks; but, to those that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24).

The Scriptures teach us that the Son of God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, became flesh, and subjected himself to the very law to which we were bound; that he perfectly obeyed that law, and suffered its penalty, and thus, by satisfying its demands, delivered us from its bondage, and introduced us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

It is thus that the doctrine of redemption is presented in the Scriptures. “God,” says the apostle, “sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). Being made under the law, we know that he obeyed it perfectly, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and is therefore declared to be “the Lord our righteousness,”(Jer. 23:6) since, by his obedience, many are constituted righteous (Romans 5.19). He, therefore, is said to be made righteousness unto us (1 Corinthians 1:30). And those who are in him are said to be righteous before God, not having their own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ (Phil. 3:9).

That we are redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ’s enduring that curse in our place, is taught in every variety of form from the beginning to the end of the Bible.

There was the more need that this point should be dearly and variously presented, because it is the one on which an enlightened conscience immediately fastens. The desert of death begets the fear of death. And this fear of death cannot be allayed, until it is seen how, in consistency with Divine justice, we are freed from the righteous penalty of the law. How this is done, the Scriptures teach in the most explicit manner. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Paul had just said, “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” But all men are naturally under the law, and therefore all are under the curse. How are we redeemed from it? By Christ’s being made a curse for us. Such is the simple and sufficient answer to this most important of all questions.

The doctrine so plainly taught in Galatians 3:13, that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by bearing it in our stead, is no less clearly presented in 2 Corinthians  5:21: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” This is represented as the only ground on which men are authorized to preach the gospel.

“We are ambassadors for Christ,” says the apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians  5:20). Then follows a statement of the ground upon which this offer of reconciliation is presented. God has made effectual provision for the pardon of sin, by making Christ, though holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, sin for us, that we might be made righteous in him. The iniquities of us all were laid on him; he was treated as a sinner in our place, in order that we might be treated as righteous in him.

The same great truth is taught in all those passages in which Christ is said to bear our sins. The expression, to bear sin, is one which is clearly explained by its frequent occurrence in the sacred Scriptures. It means, to bear the punishment due to sin.

In Leviticus 20: 17, it is said that he that marries his sister “shall bear his iniquity.” Again, “Whosoever curses his God, shall bear his sin” (Leviticus 24:15). Of him that failed to keep the Passover, it was said, “That man shall bear his sin” (Numbers 9:13). If a man sin, he shall bear his iniquity. It is used in the same sense when one man is spoken of as bearing the sin of another. “Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms” (Numbers 14:33). Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities” (Lamentations 5:7). And when, in Ezekiel 17: 10, it is said that “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” it is obviously meant that the son shall not be punished for the sins of the father. The meaning of this expression being thus definite, of course there can be no doubt as to the manner in which it is to be understood when used in reference to the Redeemer. The prophet says, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.–My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.–He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:6, 11, 122). Language more explicit could not be used. This whole chapter is designed to teach one great truth, that our sins were to be laid on the Messiah, that we might be freed from the punishment which we deserved. It is therefore said, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.–For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” In the New Testament, the same doctrine is taught in the same terms. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28). “Ye know that he was manifested to take away” (to bare) “our sins” (1 John 3:5). According to all these representations, Christ saves us from the punishment due to our sins, by bearing the curse of the law in OUR stead.

Intimately associated with the passages just referred to, are those which describe the Redeemer as a sacrifice or propitiation. The essential idea of a sin offering is propitiation by means of vicarious punishment.

That this is the scriptural idea of a sacrifice is plain from the laws of their institution, from the effects ascribed to them, and from the illustrative declarations of the sacred writers. The law prescribed that the offender should bring the victim to the altar, lay his hands upon its head, make confession of his crime; and that the animal should then be slain, and its blood sprinkled upon the altar. Thus, it is said, “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him” (Leviticus 1:4) “And he brought the bullock for the sin offering; and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering” (Leviticus 8:14). The import of this imposition of hands is clearly taught in the following passage: “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:21 22). The imposition of hands, therefore, was designed to express symbolically the ideas of substitution and transfer the liability to punishment. In the case just referred to, in order to convey more clearly the idea of the removal of the liability to punishment, the goat on whose head the sins of the people were imposed, was sent into the wilderness, but another goat was slain and consumed in its stead.

The nature of these offerings is further obvious from the effects attributed to them. They were commanded in order to make atonement, to propitiate, to make reconciliation, to secure the forgiveness of sins. And this effect they actually secured. In the case of every Jewish offender, some penalty connected with the theocratical constitution under which he lived, was removed by the presentation and acceptance of the appointed sacrifice.

This was all the effect, in the way of securing pardon, that the blood of bulls and of goats could produce. Their efficacy was confined to the purifying of the flesh, and to securing, for those who offered them, the advantages of the external theocracy. Besides, however, this efficacy, which, by Divine appointment, belonged to them considered in themselves, they were intended to prefigure and predict the true atoning sacrifice which was to be offered when the fullness of time should come. Nothing, however, can more clearly illustrate the scriptural doctrine of sacrifices, than the expressions employed by the sacred writers to convey the same idea as that intended by the term sin offering. Thus, all that Isaiah taught by saying of the Messiah that the chastisement of our peace was upon him; that with his stripes we are healed; that he was stricken for the transgression of the people; that on him was laid the iniquity of us all, and that he bore the sins of many, he taught by saying, “he made his soul an offering for sin.” And in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, He “was once offered” (as a sacrifice) “to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28). The same idea, therefore, is expressed by saying, either he bore our sins, or he was made an offering for sin. But to bear the sins of anyone, means to bear the punishment of those sins; and, therefore, to be a sin offering conveys the same meaning.

Such being the idea of a sacrifice which pervades the whole Jewish Scriptures, it is obvious that the sacred writers could not teach more distinctly and intelligibly the manner in which Christ secures the pardon of sin, than by saying he was made an offering for sin.

With this mode of pardon all the early readers of the Scriptures were familiar. They had been accustomed to it from their earliest years. No one of them could recall the time when the altar, the victim, and the blood were unknown to him. His first lessons in religion contained the ideas of confession of sin, substitution, and vicarious sufferings and death. When, therefore, the inspired penmen told men imbued with these ideas that Christ was a propitiation for sin, that he was offered as a sacrifice to make reconciliation, they told them, in the plainest of all terms, that he secures the pardon of our sins by suffering in our stead. Jews could understand such language in no other way: and, therefore, we may be sure it was intended to convey no other meaning. And, in point of fact, it has been so understood by the Christian church from its first organization to the present day.

If it were merely in the way of casual allusion that Christ was declared to be a sacrifice, we should not be authorized to infer from it the method of redemption. But this is far from being the case.

This doctrine is presented in the most didactic form. It is exhibited in every possible mode. It is asserted, illustrated, vindicated. It is made the central point of all Divine institutions and instructions. It is urged as the foundation of hope, as the source of consolation, the motive to obedience. It is, in fact, THE GOSPEL. It would be vain to attempt a reference to all the passages in which this great doctrine is taught. We are told that God set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins through faith in his blood (Romans 3:25). Again, he is declared to be a “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). He is called the Lamb of God, which taketh away” (bears) “the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “Ye were not redeemed,” says the apostle Peter, “with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:18,19). In the Epistle to the Hebrews, this doctrine is more fully exhibited than in any other portion of Scripture.

Christ is not only repeatedly called a sacrifice, but an elaborate comparison is made between the offering which he presented and the sacrifices which were offered under the old dispensation. “If the blood of bulls and of goats,” says the apostle, “and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13,14).

The ancient sacrifices in themselves could only remove ceremonial uncleanness. They could not purge the conscience, or reconcile the soul to God. They were mere shadows of the true sacrifice for sins. Hence, they were offered daily. Christ’s sacrifice being really efficacious, was offered but once. It was because the ancient sacrifices were ineffectual, that Christ said, when he came into the world, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me; in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5-15). “By the which will”, adds the apostle, that is, by the accomplishing the purpose of God, “we are sanctified” (or atoned for) “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”; and by that “one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” and of all this he adds, the Holy Ghost is witness (Hebrews 10.5-15). The Scriptures, therefore, clearly teach that Jesus Christ delivers us from the punishment of our sins, by offering himself as a sacrifice in our behalf; that as under the old dispensation, the penalties attached to the violations of the theocratical covenant, were removed by the substitution and sacrifice of bulls and of goats, so under the spiritual theocracy, in the living temple of the living God, the punishment of sin is removed by the substitution and death of the Son of God. As no ancient Israelite, when by transgression he had forfeited his liberty of access to the earthly sanctuary, was ignorant of the mode of atonement and reconciliation; so now, no conscience-stricken sinner, who knows that he is unworthy to draw near to God, need be ignorant of that new and living way which Christ hath consecrated for us, through his flesh, so that we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

In all the forms of expression mentioned–Christ was made a curse for us; he was made sin for us; he bore our sins, he was made a sin offering–there is the idea of substitution. Christ took our place, he suffered in our stead, he acted as our representative. But as the act of a substitute is in effect the act of the principal, all that Christ did and suffered in that character, every believer is regarded as having done and suffered.

The attentive and pious reader of the Bible will recognize this idea in some of the most common forms of scriptural expression. Believers are those who are in Christ. This is their great distinction and most familiar designation. They are so united to him, that what he did in their behalf they are declared to have done. When he died, they died; when he rose, they rose; as he lives, they shall live also. The passages in which believers are said to have died in Christ are very numerous. “If one died for all,” says the apostle, “then all died” (not, “were dead”) (2 Corinthians  5.14). He that died (with Christ) is justified from sin, that is, freed from its condemnation and power; and if we died with Christ, we believe, that we shall live with him (Romans 6:7, 8). As a woman is freed by death from her husband, so believers are freed from the law by the body (the death) of Christ, because his death is in effect their death (Romans 7:4). And in the following verse, he says, having died (in Christ), we are freed from the law. Every believer, therefore, may say with Paul, I was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). In like manner, the resurrection of Christ secures both the spiritual life and future resurrection of all his people. If we have been united to him in his death, we shall be in his resurrection, if we died with him, we shall live with him (Romans 6:5, 8). “God,” says the apostle, “hath quickened us together with Christ; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). That is, God hath quickened, raised, and exalted us together with Christ. It is on this ground, also, that Paul says that Christ rose as the first fruits of the dead; not merely the first in order, but the earnest and security of the resurrection of his people. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22). As our union with Adam secures our death, union with Christ secures our resurrection. Adam is a type of him that was to come–that is, Christ, inasmuch as the relation in which Adam stood to the whole race, is analogous to that in which Christ stands to his own people. As Adam was our natural head, the poison of sin flows in all our veins. As Christ is our spiritual Head, eternal life which is in him, descends to all his members. It is not they that live, but Christ that liveth in them (Galatians 2:20). This doctrine of the representative and vital union of Christ and believers pervades the New Testament. It is the source of the humility, the joy, the confidence which the sacred writers so often express. In themselves they were nothing, and deserved nothing, but in Him they possessed all things. Hence, they counted all things but loss that they might be found in Him. Hence, they determined to know nothing, to preach nothing, to glory in nothing, but Christ and him crucified.

The great doctrine of the vicarious sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, is further taught in those numerous passages which refer our salvation to his blood, his death, or his cross. Viewed in connection with the passages already mentioned, those now referred to not only teach the fact that the death of Christ secures the pardon of sin, but how it does it. To this class belong such declarations as the following: “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “We have redemption through his blood” (Ephesians 1:7). He has “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). “Being now justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9). Ye “are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). “Ye are come–to the blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 12:22, 24). “Elect–unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1.5). “He hath redeemed us unto God by his blood” (Rev. 5.9) “This cup,” said the Son of God himself, “is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

The sacrificial character of the death of Christ is taught in all these passages. Blood was the means of atonement, and without the shedding of blood there was no remission; and, therefore, when our salvation is so often ascribed to the blood of the Savior, it is declared that he died as a propitiation for our sins.

The same remark may be made in reference to those passages which ascribe our redemption to the death, the cross, the flesh of Christ; for these terms are interchanged, as being of the same import. We are “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). We are reconciled his cross. (Ephesians 2:16). We are “reconciled in the body of his flesh through death” (Colossians 1:21, 22). We are delivered from the law “by the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4); he abolished the law in his flesh (Ephesians 2:15); he took away the handwriting which was against us, nailing it to his cross (Colossians 2:14). The more general expressions respecting Christ’s dying for us, receive a definite meaning from their connection with the more specific passages above mentioned. Everyone, therefore, knows what is meant, when it is said that “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6); that he gave himself “a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28); that he died “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Not less plain is the meaning of the Holy Spirit when it is said, God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32); that he “was delivered for our offenses” (Romans 4:25); that he “gave himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4).

Seeing, then, that we owe everything to the expiatory sufferings of the blessed Savior, we cease to wonder that the cross is rendered so prominent in the exhibition of the plan of salvation. We are not surprised at Paul’s anxiety lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; or that he should call the preaching of the gospel the preaching of the cross; or that he should preach Christ crucified, both to Jews and Creeks, as the wisdom of God and the power of Cod; or that he should determine to glory in nothing save in the cross of Christ.

As there is no truth more necessary to be known, so there is none more variously or plainly taught, than the method of escaping the wrath of God due to us for sin. Besides all the clear exhibitions of Christ as bearing our sins, as dying in our stead, as making his soul an offering for sin, as redeeming us by his blood, the Scriptures set him forth in the character of a Priest, in order that we might more fully understand how it is that he effects our salvation. It was predicted, long before his advent, that the Messiah was to be a Priest. ”Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” was the declaration of the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David (Psalms 110.4). Zechariah predicted that he should sit as “a priest upon his throne (Zechariah 6:13). The apostle defines a priest to be a man “ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins (Hebrews 5:1). Jesus Christ is the only real Priest in the universe. All others were either pretenders, or the shadow of the great High priest of our profession. For this office he had every necessary qualification. He was a man. “For inasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; one who can be touched with a sense of our infirmities, seeing that was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” He was sinless. “For such a High Priest became us, who was holy, harmless, and separate from sinners.” He was the Son of God. The law made men having infirmity, priests. But God declared his Son to be a Priest, who is consecrated for evermore (Hebrews 7:28). The sense in which Christ is declared to be the Son of God, is explained in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is there said, that he is the express image of God; that he upholds all things by the word of his power; that all the angels are commanded to worship him; that his throne is an everlasting throne; that in the beginning he laid the foundations of the earth; that he is from everlasting and that his years fail not. It is from the dignity of his person, as possessing this Divine nature, that the apostle deduces the efficacy of his sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14), the perpetuity of his priesthood (Hebrews 7:16), and his ability to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him (Hebrews 7:25). He was duly constituted a Priest. He glorified not himself to be made a High Priest; but he that said unto him, “Thou art my Son,” said also, “Thou art a Priest forever.” He is the only real Priest, and therefore his advent superseded all others, and put an immediate end to all their lawful ministrations, by abolishing the typical dispensation with which they were connected. For the priesthood being changed, there was of necessity a change of the law. There was a disannulling of the former commandment for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, and there was the introduction of a better hope (Hebrews 7:12, 18, 19). He has an appropriate offering to present. As every high priest is appointed to offer sacrifices, it was necessary that this man should have somewhat to offer. This sacrifice was not the blood of goats or of calves, but his own blood; it was himself he offered unto God, to purge our conscience from dead works (Hebrews 9:12, 14). He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” which was accomplished when he was “once offered to bear the sin of many (Hebrews 9:26, 28). He has passed into the heavens. As the high priest was required to enter into the most holy place with the blood of atonement, so Christ has entered not into the holy places made with hands, “but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, (Hebrews 9.24) and where “he ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Seeing then we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God (let the reader remember what that means), who is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, having by himself purged out sins and made reconciliation for the sins of the people, every humble believer who commits his soul into the hands of this High Priest, may come with boldness to the throne of grace, assured that he shall find mercy and grace to help in time of need.

He died for all

(c) Southwark Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“He died for all.”

–2 Cor. 5: 15 

Many years ago…

…a Christian teacher was telling a friend in a street of Philadelphia that he was afraid he would have to discontinue the little bible school, as he had seen no fruit whatsoever of his labors.

At the moment a little ragged boy came up, and asked him if he would come and see his brother, who was very ill. The teacher said he would come next day; but the little boy said his brother was very ill indeed, so he went with him down into one of the lowest streets of the city. On entering the room he was struck with the supreme misery of it. The father and mother were both drunk, and the sufferer lay on a mere heap of rags in a corner.

Going up to him, the teacher said, “My poor boy, what can I do for you? Will I get you a doctor?”

“Oh no, Sir,” said the boy. “Shall I find you a nurse, and have you removed to a nice bed?”

“Oh no, Sir, not that; but tell me, tell me, did you say that Jesus died for everybody?”

“Yes, I did.” “And that He will receive anyone who comes to Him?”

“Yes, indeed I did, dear boy.”

“Well, Sir, I know then that He has received me;” and after shedding a few tears, the boy dropped back on the bundle of rags—dead.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

–John 6:37

–Anecdotes illustrative of New Testament texts, Author, unknown.