Title: God's Plan with Men
Author: T. T. Martin
Release date: July 5, 2008 [eBook #25974]
E-text prepared by Stacy Brown, David Garcia,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
"For every sentence, clause and word,
That's not inlaid with thee, my Lord,
Forgive me, God! and blot each line
Out of my book that is not thine.
But if, 'mongst all, thou find'st here one
Worthy thy benediction,
That one of all the rest shall be
The glory of my work and me."
New York Chicago Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh
Copyright, 1912, by
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 17 N. Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street
Not new truths, but old truths properly emphasized, is one of the great needs of our times and of all times. The object of this book is not to start something new, but to specially emphasize some old truths and their relations to each other. The aim of the book is to help two classes: those who are seeking to be saved, and those who are already saved; the one, by showing simply and plainly God's way of salvation; the other, by showing simply God's way of dealing with men after they are saved. The author hopes, moreover, that the book may be of some special help to honest sceptics. For this purpose, the Introduction is addressed to them; and the hope is cherished that Chapter I will aid in disarming prejudice against God and the Bible; for while the Bible's teaching of degrees of punishment in Hell does not detract from the horrors of future punishment, but rather adds thereto, it effectually does away with the charge of the injustice of future punishment.
The enquirer and young convert may omit the parts marked "For Further Study" at the close of each chapter and not lose connection. These are added for Bible students who wish to go further into the subject treated.
And now, the author lays the book at the Master's feet and prays His blessings upon it, that it may be a blessing to those who read it.
T. T. Martin.
Blue Mountain, Miss.
|I. Sin and Its Punishment—God's Justice—Degrees In Hell||17|
|II. Sins Not Excused, nor the Penalty Ever Remitted Without Redemption||32|
|III. Jesus the Christ as Sin-bearer—God's Justice and Love||38|
|IV. The New Relation—The New Motive||60|
|V. The Sins of God's Children—Forgiveness—Chastisements||86|
|VI. Rewards—Degrees in Heaven||101|
|VII. How to be Saved—Repentance and Faith||125|
|VIII. The Meaning of "Believe On" or "Believe In" Christ||135|
|IX. Eternal Life the Present Possession of the Believer||158|
|X. Development of Character in the Redeemed||175|
"Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord."—Isaiah.
"If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from my self."—Jesus.
"And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart."—Jeremiah.
"Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord."—Hosea.
This work is not written for sceptics; yet while preparing to write for the benefit of others than sceptics, the author's heart has gone out toward that large class of his fellow-men who are sceptical; who, from different causes, have been led to doubt or deny the Bible's being a revelation from God; and he has yearned to say something that would at least arouse the attention of this class sufficiently to cause them to give an earnest investigation, or re-investigation, to the question. The bare possibilities that there is a Hell and a Heaven, that the soul can never cease to exist, and that Jesus is the real Saviour, are enough to cause every doubting one to give the most earnest consideration to any evidence bearing on these questions, and to undertake the most careful investigation of anything that promises to lead to certainty. It will be admitted by every honest disbeliever that no writer has ever made it certain that there is no future existence; that there is no Heaven; that there is no Hell; that Jesus was not the Saviour. The most that such writers have been able to produce is doubts. If, now, there is the possibility of reaching certainty on the[Pg 10] other side, surely the reader should be willing and anxious to undertake a calm, searching examination, or re-examination, of the question. If there is no Heaven or Hell, no future existence, no one will ever find it out, before or after death; and there would be but little, if anything, gained if one could find it out. But if there is a Heaven and a Hell, and Jesus is the Saviour, then there is everything to be gained by finding it out and everything to be lost by neglecting to find it out. So important are the issues at stake that you, reader, should be willing to take years, if need be, to make a thorough investigation of the matter; you should be willing to read and study many books, and there are many that would help you; but I wish to urge you to read two books only, before reading this book. Surely your eternal destiny and the destinies of those over whom you have an influence (for "none of us liveth to himself") are enough to cause you to give earnest attention to the reading of three small books. The bare possibility that the reading of the three books may lead to your making sure of Heaven as your eternal home, is enough to prompt you to read them and to read them most carefully and prayerfully. The first is "The Wonders of Prophecy," by John Urquhart. The second is "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation," by J. B. Walker (American Edition). Having read these two books prayerfully and carefully, then give this book a careful reading.
But let the reader consider God's plan for investigating. It is often said by a certain class of sceptics that the Bible is against honest investigation, that it[Pg 11] shuts off the use of one's reason. Let the word of God speak for itself, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord."—Is. 1:18. The trouble with many sceptics is that they are not willing to "reason together," to reason to get with God, but that they reason against God and to get away from God. Jesus said, "Take heed how ye hear." Watch your heart's attitude when you hear. The attitude of being against God will warp your reasoning when you hear. God's promise is plain to the earnest, honest seeker after God. "And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart."—Jer. 29:13. One who is half-hearted, indifferent, prejudiced against God or against truth, has no right to expect to find God or to find truth. But the promise is positive that the one who seeks with all the heart shall find. Let the reader put God to the test. How can an earnest, honest man refuse to make an earnest, honest investigation?
It was against those who would not make such an investigation that Jesus spoke, Matt. 12:42, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with this generation and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon is here." The heathen woman who went to so much trouble and expense, and took so much time to make a thorough, honest investigation for the truth, will condemn those who do not make an earnest persevering investigation; "And behold a greater than Solomon is here," with His promise, "If any man willeth to do his will he shall know."
Reader, will you carelessly refuse to take the time and to go to the trouble and expense of getting and reading earnestly two books that may lead you to the truth? Oh, reader, outstrip the heathen queen in search of light. Give your life-time, if need be, to an earnest investigation of this matter. Picture two men, one giving his life-time to earnest, honest, searching for the truth concerning sin and salvation through Christ; the other, from indifference, or pride, or prejudice, or love of the world, or secret sin, never making an earnest, honest investigation; the one dying and going to Heaven; the other dying and going to Hell. Which shall it be in your case, reader? There is absolutely no uncertainty as to the result if only you will be honest, and earnest and persevering in your search for the truth. Listen to Jesus: John 7:17, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself." Whether you, reader, are ignorant or learned cuts absolutely no figure in this case. Jesus throws the assurance open to any man. The one condition is if he "willeth to do his will." No man wills to do God's will who will not go to the extreme of earnest, honest, prayerful investigation. If you do, then the veracity, the very character, of Jesus is at stake. Consider, then, reader, the awful responsibility that rests upon you, if you do not give attention to a thorough, earnest, honest, prayerful investigation for the truth.
Another promise of equal certainty comes from the Old Testament: Hosea 6:3, "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." Many make a slight[Pg 13] search and cease. The promise is not to them, but to those who persevere. If we use the light as we receive it, and follow it up, we shall know. Again certainty is promised. Does not God, because He is God, deserve such earnest consideration from you, reader? Have you any right to expect anything from Him if you approach Him in a half-hearted, indifferent way?
The following cases in point may encourage the reader: Two learned men decided to prove that the Bible was not from God, and that Jesus Christ was not the Saviour; but they were in earnest and they were honest. They had vast libraries at their service. They gave months to investigation. They were both convinced and accepted the Saviour and wrote their books in defence of the Bible, instead of against it.
Second, one of the greatest scholars of Europe, probably the greatest, stated in a public lecture in America, that, of the thirty leading sceptics of the nineteenth century, men who had written brilliant books in their young manhood against the Bible, he knew twenty-eight in their old age, and that every one of the twenty-eight, after mature investigation, had accepted the Lord Jesus as Saviour.
Again, in one of the prominent smaller cities of America, a club of sceptics, leading business and professional men, had held weekly meetings for many years. They challenged any one to meet one of their widely known lecturers in a public debate on Christianity and Infidelity. A preacher accepted the challenge. During the debate some of the sceptics became Christians. The president of the debate, a sceptic, is now an earnest follower of the Lord Jesus, having[Pg 14] been convinced and having accepted Him as Saviour. The debate was held years ago. So convincing, so overwhelming, was the evidence produced by the defender of Christianity, that the club of sceptics has never held a meeting since the debate.
Similar facts could be produced indefinitely, but these three are sufficient to show the most discouraged, the most hopeless sceptical reader, that there is at least a possibility of his yet finding the truth. Is not a bare possibility, where there are so tremendously important eternal issues at stake, sufficient to cause him to at once begin a thorough, prayerful, honest investigation?
A reflection before closing the Introduction: one hundred years from now, and you, reader, will not be among the living. Where will you be? God has given you a will and the power of choice. Will you will, will you choose, to make an honest, persistent investigation? Tremendous consequences turn on your decision,—your own future destiny, the destinies of others over whom you have an influence. Do not dally with delay. Begin now an honest, earnest, painstaking, prayerful investigation. Get and read the two books suggested, and then finish reading this book. If this course does not settle your difficulties, read on, study on, pray on, and God's promise is sure, that you shall find, that you "shall know"!
FOR FURTHER STUDY: A brief list is here given of books that will be helpful to sceptical readers: "Why Is Christianity True?" by E. Y. Mullins. (One of the most learned Presbyterian theological professors in America, asked to give the names[Pg 15] of six of the best books to convince sceptics, replied, "I shall not do it; I shall give one,—'Why Is Christianity True?' by President Mullins of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; that is sufficient"); "The Fact of Christ," by Simpson; "The Meaning and Message of the Cross," by H. C. Mabie; "The Resurrection of Our Lord," by W. Milligan; "Many Infallible Proofs," by A. T. Pierson; "The Cause and Cure of Infidelity," by Nelson; "The Word and Works of God," by Bailey; "The Character of Jesus," by Bushnell; "Hours with a Sceptic," by Faunce; "The Miracles of Unbelief," by Ballard; "Creation," by Arnold Guyot; "The Collapse of Evolution," by Townsend; "The Problem of the Old Testament," by James Orr; "Did Jesus Rise?" by J. H. Brookes; "Reasons for Faith in Christianity," by Leavitt; "The Gospel of John;" "The Young Professor," by E. B. Hatcher; "The Resurrection of Jesus," by James Orr.[Pg 16]
SIN AND ITS PUNISHMENT—GOD'S JUSTICE—DEGREES IN HELL
"All have sinned."—Rom. 3:23.
"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward."—Heb. 2:2.
"A just God."—Is. 45:21.
"It shall be more tolerable for the land of of judgement, than for thee."—Matt. 11:24.
Reader, what you and I need to know concerning God's plan with the sinner, the lost, is not what some people think, nor what some teach, nor what some desire; but what God teaches. God is just. Fasten that in your mind; never lose sight of it. Over and over again is this fact impressed in the Scriptures. Yet lurking in the minds of multitudes is a vague suspicion or dread that God will be unjust in sending some to Hell, and that He will be unjust in the way He will punish. Many who are thus disturbed lose sight of the fact that God is just; that whatever God does in regard to the lost, one thing is certain,—He will do no injustice. With my loved ones, with your loved ones, with the most obscure, worthless creature, with the most refined, delicate nature, with the most cruel, debased creature that ever lived, God will do no wrong. Many have turned away to infidelity, not on account of the Bible's complete teaching as to future punishment, but because they have taken some one passage of Scripture and warped it or gotten from[Pg 18] it a distorted idea of the Bible's teachings as to Hell; or they have taken some preacher's views as to the Bible's teachings on the subject. For example, here is a boy fifteen years of age, whose mother died when he was an infant, whose father is a drunkard and gambler and infidel, who has given the boy but little moral training; and here is a man seventy years of age who had a noble father and mother, who gave their boy every advantage, the best of training, under the best of influences; yet he when a boy turned away from all these influences and spent his life in sin and debauchery, and in leading others into sin. These two, the unfortunate boy and the old hardened sinner, die. With many the idea is that God consigns them to a common punishment in Hell. But, reader, remember that God is just; and if that is justice, what would injustice be? They were different in light and in opportunity and in sins, and yet punished alike? The Bible does not teach it.
But let us go back and consider this question of sin. "All have sinned." That includes you, reader. "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."—James 4:17. All have done this, have failed to live up to the light they have had; hence, "All have sinned." Two questions arise: first, ought sin to be punished? Second, ought all sin to be punished, or only the coarser, grosser, more offensive sins? As to the first, ought sin to be punished? There is a strong drift toward the teaching that sin ought to be punished only for the purpose of reforming the sinner. Intelligent men endorse this teaching without realizing that it is spiritual anarchy and absolutely [Pg 19]horrible and detestable. A woman and four little children are murdered in cold blood by three robbers for the purpose of robbing the home. When the three are arrested, the first is found to be thoroughly penitent, thoroughly reformed, broken-hearted, over his horrible crime. If sin should be punished only to reform the sinner, this man should not be punished at all, though he murdered five people in cold blood; for he is already reformed. The second is such a hardened criminal that he never can be reformed, and the more he is punished the more hardened he will become. Then if sin is punished only to reform the sinner, he should not be punished at all, though guilty of the murder of five people in cold blood. The third is tender-hearted and easily influenced, and by sending him to prison for thirty days, he will be thoroughly reformed, though guilty of five cold-blooded murders. On this principle of punishing sin only to reform the sinner, all a sinner would have to do to make sure of Heaven would be to become such a hardened sinner that he could never be reformed, and then he would go to Heaven without any punishment at all.
People need to call a halt and realize that sin ought to be punished because it is right to punish it, because it is just. But this means the punishment of all sins, the sins of the refined as surely as the sins of the debased, the smaller sins as surely as the greater sins. Hence the teaching of God's word, Rom. 1:18, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all [Pg 20]ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," But we need to keep in mind that it is discriminating wrath, and God's word makes this plain, Heb. 2:2, "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward." "A just God."—Is. 45:21.
 Many sneer at a "God of wrath" and say they believe in a "God of all love." God is love, but He is just as surely a God of wrath; and were He not a God of wrath, He would not be God, but a fiend. He who loves purity and chastity and has no wrath against impurity and unchastity, but loves them, too, is a moral leper. He who loves the defence of the poor and the helpless, but has no wrath against the cold-blooded murderer, the one crushing the defenceless, but loves him, too, is a fiend. Character, from God to Devil, can only be told by what one loves and what one hates.
Notice how clearly the Saviour teaches this same great truth, Matt. 11:20-24, "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee." Notice, "more tolerable," difference in punishment.
The same teaching Jesus gives in Mark 12:40. "These shall receive greater condemnation" Jesus revealed to Pilate God's judgment of a difference in[Pg 21] sin, John 19:11, "He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
And Paul teaches the same, Gal. 6:7, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," the reaping according to the sowing.
Let the reader notice the clear teaching: the punishment of sin will be graded, first, according to light and opportunity. A writer, a great scientist, held that heredity and environment largely determine one's destiny. That is what Jesus taught. The people of Sodom were more wicked than those of Capernaum; but heredity and environment were against them. The people of Capernaum had not sinned so terribly as the people of Sodom, but they had more light and opportunity; they had better heredity, better environment; Jesus says that therefore the people of Capernaum shall be punished more severely than the people of Sodom. And that is right; that is just.
Those to whom Jesus spoke were born under better conditions than those of Sodom; they grew up under more favorable surroundings; hence, they were more responsible; hence, they are to receive greater punishment at the judgment. Apply to your own case, reader: for every added ray of light, for every added opportunity, there will be that much added punishment for your sins. And that is just; that is right. The opportunities that wealth brings, the light that education and culture bring, will but add to the punishment at the judgment. The most highly educated, the most refined, the most wealthy, those who have lived under the most favorable influences, will suffer most at the judgment.
But punishment will be further graded by the number of the sins,—"Every transgression received a just recompense." Hence, the more one sins, the greater the punishment. If one knew that he was going to Hell, corrupt human nature would say, "Sin and enjoy while you live," but reason and Scripture would say, "Stop! add no more to the degree of Hell."
Punishment for sin will be further graded by the character of the sin. "He that betrayed me to thee hath the greater sin." While a small sin is just as surely sin as a great sin, yet God recognizes degrees in sin, and as a consequence, there are degrees in the punishment of sin. Following from degrees in the punishment of sin comes inevitably the fact that no wrong will be done any one at the judgment; that no one will be treated wrong in Hell. He who fears only injustice and wrong, has nothing to fear from the judgment or in Hell.
Two reflections for the reader:—If you have heretofore rebelled against the idea of future punishment, what can you say when now you see that God will make all just allowance for surroundings and conditions, and will take into consideration the number and kinds of sins? God has a right to have laws; His laws are right; a law without a penalty amounts to no law; the penalty, God assures us, will be absolutely just. What can you say when you stand before such a judge and receive such a sentence?
The other reflection for the reader: Let not this teaching of the Bible lead you into thinking that Hell, then, will not be so terrible after all, and that you need not fear it. Instead of letting it allay all dread[Pg 23] of the future, it is enough to make the blood run cold through your veins; for those who will have the most terrible suffering will be the most enlightened, the most cultured.
Another thought: not some far distant, cold, harsh, unsympathetic God will be the judge at the Judgment Day, but the Lord Jesus, "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," will be the one who will judge you and condemn you and give you your just degree of punishment in Hell. Hear Him: John 5:22, "Neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgement to the Son." Peter reveals the same fact, Acts 10:42, "He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who hath been ordained of God to be the judge of living and dead." Remember, that he whom the world praises as so good, so just, so discriminating, so loving, so tender, will be the judge at the Great Day, who will pronounce each sentence. Oh, reader, the very fact that the Lord Jesus will be the judge is absolute proof that no one will be treated wrong, that no one will be punished unjustly in Hell; and the bare possibility that He may pronounce your eternal doom is enough to cause you to turn to-day. "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?"
FOR FURTHER STUDY: The fear of Abraham is the fear of the human race, Gen. 18:25, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" As soon as God revealed to Abraham that he was going to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, Abraham at once suspects that God may do wrong in punishing sin. It has been so down the ages, that we suspect [Pg 24]that God will do wrong in punishing sin. Great denominations have been formed to keep God from doing wrong in punishing sin. Men have proven untrue to their denominations and turned traitors to God's word, because they have, Abraham-like, suspected God of wrongdoing in the punishment of sin. It is not that the proof is not ample that the Bible is God's word, but the hatred of the human heart for the Bible teaching about Hell, that has brought in so much of modern religious vagaries and New Theology and Higher Criticism. As Abraham presses his plea for God to do right, God by degrees reveals Himself as a God who will do right. It must have been a marvellous revelation to Abraham. And so God's plan for the punishment of sin will be to the honest seeker for truth when he perceives the real teaching of God's word. As God's doing right with Sodom and Gomorrah went far beyond where Abraham's sense of right halted; so God's doing right with sinners in Hell will go far beyond what we would ask.
But there are other objectors to Hell. They began by pressing the teaching of God's mercy without any reference to His justice; and in order to get rid of the teaching as to Hell, which they thought unjust, they rejected the Scriptures as God's word; and finally ended in rejecting the teaching that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3); that He "his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). As a result of their fighting against God's punishing sin, they have become so blinded as to right principle, and so morally corrupt, as to be supported[Pg 25] in pulpits, college professorships and seminary professorships by the hard-earned money of earnest believers in God's word, while they are undermining the faith of the children of their supporters.
The Heaven that such men teach is the Hell of the Bible. Rejecting complete redemption through Christ dying for our sins as our substitute, they teach salvation by character, or that one's destiny beyond the grave will be according to the way he has lived here. That is their Heaven, but that is the Bible's Hell, exactly, absolutely. Infidelity, Judaism, Christian Science, Universalism, Unitarianism, Higher Criticism, New Theology and all who reject Christ dying for our sins, as our substitute, as our complete Redeemer, because of their hatred of God's punishing sinners in Hell, have made their Heaven to be the result of their life here on earth; and as a consequence, have made their Heaven the Bible's Hell; for Hell will be exactly the result of the life here on earth; and, as a result, they have in theory, and, alas! will have in fact, the Bible's Hell which they label Heaven, without any real Heaven at all. As an example, consider Mr. R. G. Ingersoll's words, "I believe in the gospel of justice, that we must reap what we sow (Bible's Hell without any Heaven). I do not believe in forgiveness (Bible's Hell without any Heaven). If I rob Smith and God forgives me, how does that help Smith? If I cover some poor girl with the leprosy of some imputed crime and she withers away like a blighted flower and afterward I get forgiveness, how does that help her? If there is another world, we have got to settle (admitting that we do not settle in this[Pg 26] life), and for every crime you commit here (hence, the more the crimes, the more you must suffer, exactly the Bible's teaching), you must answer to yourself and to the one you injure. And if you have ever clothed another as with a garment of pain, you will never be quite as happy as though you had not done that thing." "No forgiveness; eternal, inexorable, everlasting justice, that is what I believe in." Any Christian would be willing to take Mr. Ingersoll's place, or the place of any one else, in Hell, if God varies one pang from what Mr. Ingersoll himself calls for. But it is the Bible's Hell, pure and simple, without any Heaven.
But the objector who rejects the teaching of Hell, and also Christ dying for our sins as our substitute, may say that he does not agree with Mr. Ingersoll, as to no forgiveness; that he believes in forgiveness. To reject Christ's dying for our sins as our substitute, as our Redeemer from all iniquity, and yet, in order to avoid believing in Hell, to profess to believe in the forgiveness of sins, makes one far worse than Mr. Ingersoll, a spiritual anarchist. Mr. Ingersoll at least believed in law, but to believe in forgiveness, without substitution, without redemption through Christ, means to down with law and to become an anarchist in principle. As to the justice of substitution, the reader is referred to Chapter III.
Concerning the objection to the Bible's teaching of eternal punishment in Hell, a mistranslation has misled many, and before the correct translation, as given by the Revised Version, all objections fall to the ground. The old version of Rev. 22:11 reads, "He that is unjust [Pg 27]let him be unjust still"; but the Revised Version gives what the Greek says, "He that is unrighteous let him do unrighteousness still!" And that inevitably means eternal punishment. It is God's last sentence on the sinner. The objector may say that it is horrible to let men sin beyond the grave, in Hell. Not one particle more horrible is it than to let them sin in this life and continue in sin in this life. A reflection for the unsaved reader: what will your moral character be one thousand years after you die, with no holy Spirit, no Bible, no Christians, no churches, to restrain you?
Again, this passage, Rev. 22:11 (R. V.), can have no meaning if the wicked are to be blotted out, cease to exist.
Another objection that is pressed, is that the Bible teaches a Hell of literal fire, and is therefore wrong. The denominations that reject the Bible's teachings as to Hell, without exception, try to force on the Bible language the meaning of literal fire. Yet they do not try to force on the language of the Bible concerning Hell, that it means literal worm when it says "to be cast into Hell where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." They do not try to force the literal meaning on language when Jesus said, "I am the door"; "I am the vine"; or the Scriptures state, "That rock was Christ." One thing is true, that, the language being figurative, the reality must be terrible.
Men sneer at the thought of becoming Christians from fear of Hell. Such men are not honest with God, and are simply trying to browbeat God on the[Pg 28] subject of Hell. Proof: the same men will flee to safety from fear of smallpox, from fear of yellow fever, etc. Shall men be looked upon as sensible when they flee to safety for their bodies, and be scorned for fleeing to safety for their souls?
People are ever asking, "Will the heathen be lost without the gospel?" Let God's word answer, Rom. 2:12, 14, "As many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law"; "For when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these not having the law are the law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing themselves." But the objector says, "Will God condemn a man when he has no light?" There never lived such a man. Listen to God: John 1:19, "That was the true light that lighteth every man coming into the world." Again, Rom. 1:20, "The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; so that they are without excuse." But the objection is raised that they have never heard of Christ, and that it is wrong for people to be lost, condemned, who never heard of Christ. They are not condemned for not believing in Christ when they have never heard of Him; they are condemned for their sins, for doing what, from their light, they knew was wrong. It is not the lack of the remedy that kills, but the disease. They have not as much light as others, and their punishment will be accordingly. The man who dies in his[Pg 29] sins in a Christian land will be punished far, far more than the one who dies a heathen. Their punishments will be almost as far apart as the east is from the west.
The Scripture, "There is no difference," Rom. 3:22, has often been pressed to mean that all sinners are alike before God, or will suffer alike in Hell. By close attention to the passage the reader will see that the expression "there is no difference" has reference to what goes before, for it is connected by the word "for," pointing back to what had just been said, that there is a "righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all that have faith: for there is no difference," that all that have faith are equally certain of salvation, "for there is no difference." To join the expression, "there is no difference," with what follows makes it clearly contradict our Saviour, who said plainly that there is a difference,—"He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin,"—there is a difference in sin, says the Saviour.
The teaching of James 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all," must not be made to contradict the plain teaching of the Saviour that there is a difference in sinners, and different degrees in their punishment. The meaning is that the law is a unit, and that he that offends in one point has broken the law as a whole. A chain of ten links is as surely broken when one link is broken as when all ten links are broken.
In accord with this are the words of the great American scholar, theologian, teacher, preacher, Jno. A. Broadus: "Especially notice Luke 12:47 f. (R. V.), 'And that servant which knew his lord's will, and[Pg 30] made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.' This teaching has been in many cases grievously overlooked. Taking images literally, men have found that the 'Gehenna of fire' (Matt. 5:22) will be the same place and the same degree of punishment for all. But the above passage and many others show that there will be differences. The degrees of punishment must be as remote as the east is from the west. All inherited proclivities, 'taints of blood,' all differences of environment, every privilege and every disadvantage, will be taken into account. It is the Divine Judge that will apportion punishment, with perfect knowledge and perfect justice and perfect goodness. This great fact, that there will be degrees in future punishment—as well as future rewards—ought to be more prominent in religious instruction. It gives some relief in contemplating the awful fate of those who perish. It might save many from going away into Universalism; and others from dreaming of a 'second probation' in eternity (comp. on 12:32); and yet others from unjustly assailing and rejecting, to their own ruin, the gospel of salvation."
On the other hand, many a sermon on Hell (and there are too few on the subject), it could possibly be said the average sermon on the subject, is a slander on a just and holy God. The sermon is drawn largely from Dante's Inferno or the distorted imagination of the preacher, with no reference to the fact that God will punish sinners differently according to their light and their sins, but only justly.
The trouble is not with the Bible teaching as to Hell, but with modern inadequate conceptions of the evil and guilt of sin, and with many, the almost lost sense of justice, and of "stern moral indignation against wrong." (Broadus.)
SINS NOT EXCUSED, NOR THE PENALTY EVER REMITTED WITHOUT REDEMPTION
"Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law."—Jesus.
"Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement."—Lev. 17:11.
"It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."—Heb. 10:4.
"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward."—Heb. 2:2.
When one faces the question of his sins, and realizes that they deserve just punishment, one of the first impulses is to pray and beg of God to be let off, to be forgiven; and, alas! much of the religious instruction to the sinner is to the same effect. Jesus to Nicodemus gave no such instruction (John 3:14-16); Philip to the Eunuch gave no such instruction (Acts 8:29-39); Paul and Silas to the jailer gave no such instruction (Acts 16:30, 31); Peter to the household of Cornelius gave no such instruction (Acts 10:42, 43); the gospel of John, the one book specially given to lead a sinner to be saved (John 20:30, 31), gives no such instruction.
But the objection is at once brought up that in the Lord's Prayer we are taught to pray, "Forgive us our sins." That prayer begins "Our Father," and God is not the Father of sinners ("Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26); and[Pg 33] the prayer was given by the Saviour to disciples (Luke 11:1, 2), and not to sinners.
But the objection is further raised that the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." That is from the first epistle of John, and was not written to sinners, but to believers. John says (1 John 5:13), "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." (R. V.) God can and does forgive the believer on confession, because the believer is a child of God. With the sinner it is a question of law, of justice, of right. Hence, the Lord Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law" (Matt. 5:18). "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward" (Heb. 2:2); but there is no "just recompense of reward" at all, if God lets the sinner off from the just penalty of his sins because he prays and begs and cries to be let off, or because priests or preachers pray and beg for him to be let off. "It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin" (Heb. 10:4), because there is no "just recompense of reward" in such cases. Much less can the sins be taken away when there is no recompense of reward at all in the case, but simply the praying and begging of the sinner to be forgiven, to be let off, and the praying and begging of some priest or preacher that the sinner be forgiven, let off. God has given a plain warning, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. Among what are called evangelical denominations it[Pg 34] would be looked upon as worse than folly for a Jew, a Unitarian or a Universalist, who had asked God to forgive his sins, or had confessed the sins, to claim that therefore he was forgiven and was sure to go to Heaven. But it is just as fatal a delusion among others as among Jews, Unitarians and Universalists. Every transgression must have "a just recompense of reward," however sorry the sinner may be, however much he may pray and beg to be forgiven, let off; however much the priest or preacher or friends may pray for him to be forgiven, to be let off. A man who has violated the state law falls on his knees before the judge, confesses his sin and begs the judge to forgive him, to let him off; and he calls men from the audience to come and help him beg. The judge replies, "If I should yield to these petitions I would be a perjurer; I would trample on law. Every transgression must receive a just recompense of reward." Would that all could realize that every prayer from sinner, priest, or preacher, for a sinner to be forgiven, let off, is a prayer to God to become a perjurer. If sinners could realize that, after all their kneeling every night and confessing their sins, and praying to be forgiven, to be let off, every sin ever committed is still there, and that "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission," they would then realize their real need of a Saviour, a Redeemer.
One question for the reader: If God forgives, lets a sinner off, simply because he is sorry and cries and prays and begs to be let off, or because the priest or preacher cries, prays and begs for him to be forgiven, to be let off, why did Jesus die?
FOR FURTHER STUDY: The word translated forgiveness in the Bible means simply to send away, without reference to how the sin is sent away; but God's word states plainly that sins are forgiven, sent away, by Christ bearing them. "Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."—John 1:29. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."—1 Peter 2:24; "Christ died for our sins."—1 Cor. 15:3. Concerning the justice of Christ dying for our sins, see the next chapter.
The prayer of the publican in the old version, "God be merciful to me the sinner," Luke 18:13, has misled many. If that was really the prayer of the publican, how could the Saviour have said, "This man went down to his house justified"? The margin of the Revised Version gives what the Greek says, "Be thou propitiated." It is the same Greek word that in Heb. 2:17 is translated, "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." President Strong of Rochester Theological Seminary gives the exact meaning of it when he renders it, "Be thou propitiated to me the sinner by the sacrifice whose smoke was then ascending in the presence of the publican while he prayed." And Jesus shows what the publican said when He added, "This man went down to his house justified."
It is said that a young man ran away from his widowed mother and was gone for years. One stormy night sitting near the window sewing, while the rain was beating against the window pane, she thought she heard a noise. Looking up she saw the shaggy, bearded face of a ragged tramp pressed against the[Pg 36] window pane, but it faded back into the storm as she looked up. Faint lines in the face aroused memory. As the needle was plied the mind was busy. Again a slight noise caused her to look up, and again the shaggy, bearded face of the tramp faded back into the storm. This time she knew that she was not mistaken. The shaggy beard could not hide the lines in the face of her long-lost boy. Throwing up the window she cried, "Come in, William, oh, come in." Stepping to where the light fell full in his face, while the tears coursed down his cheeks, he said, "Mother, I can't come in till my sin has been put out of the way." There was honor left in the tramp yet. There ought to be honor enough in every human being not to wish to go to Heaven, not to try to go to Heaven, at the expense of God's justice. Jesus said, John 10:1, 7, "He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." "Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door." Jesus says, then, that those who confess their sins, and pray for forgiveness and claim it, and yet reject Him as the door, are thieves and robbers. God does forgive the redeemed, for they are His children (Gal. 4:4-7), on confession (1 John 1:9); but for those who are under the law, His word is plain, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22.
God's word states plainly how our sins are put away; not by, or because of, the praying and weeping and confession of the sinner, nor the praying and weeping and interceding of others for the sinner, for God to forgive him; "but now once in the end of the[Pg 37] world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."—Heb. 9:26. Concerning the justice of putting away sin in this way, see next chapter. On this point Walker well says, "If the holiness of the law was not maintained, that sense of guilt and danger could not be produced which is necessary in order that man may have a spiritual Saviour."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Again he says, "When He reveals His perfect law, that law cannot, from the nature of its author, allow the commission of a single sin."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Further, he says, "God ought not to allow one sin; if He did, the law would not be holy, nor adapted to make men holy."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Equally to the point are the words of James Denny, "It is an immediate inference, then, from all that we have seen in the New Testament, that where there is no atonement there is no gospel. To preach the love of God out of relation to the death of Christ, or to preach the love of God in the death of Christ, but without being able to relate it to sin, or to preach that forgiveness of sins as the free gift of God's love while the death of Christ has no special significance assigned to it, is not, if the New Testament is the rule and standard of Christianity, to preach the gospel at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
JESUS THE CHRIST AS SIN-BEARER—GOD'S JUSTICE AND LOVE
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:16.
"That he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26.
"He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."—Is. 53:5, 6.
"Christ died for our sins."—1 Cor. 15:3.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins."—Gal. 1:3, 4.
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."—1 Peter 2:24.
"Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous."—1 Peter 3:18.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."—Matt. 20:28.
"There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all."—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us."—Gal. 3:13.
"Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity."—Titus 2:13, 14.
"By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."—Heb. 10:10.
"For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14.
"Nor yet by the blood of goats and bulls, but through his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption."—Heb. 9:12.
"This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins."—Matt. 26:28.
"And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."—Rev. 5:9.
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10.
"The Son of God who loved me, and gave himself up for me."—Gal. 2:20.
Reader, God's justice and love are both shown in the Saviour dying for our sins. Substitution is the only way of salvation when justice and love are both considered. It was God's justice that made it necessary [Pg 39]for Christ to die for our sins. "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up,"—John 3:14;—"that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26. And it was God's love that let Him die for our sins, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son."—John 3:16. What you, reader, ought to desire to know, is simply God's way. The Scriptures at the beginning of the chapter, if language can make anything plain, show clearly that the sinner's only escape from the just punishment of his sins lies in Jesus dying in his place to set him free from the just penalty due his sins; and they make it plain that this settles the full penalty for all sins.
But the objection is raised and pressed with all the force of human ingenuity and scholarship, backed by the prestige of some occupying the highest positions in literary and theological institutions, that it is morally wrong for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty. With a zeal deserving a better cause, many who stand high as professed Christians and teachers join hands with the rankest, most blatant infidels, and press this, to them, unanswerable objection to Christ dying for our sins as our substitute. This friendship between infidelity and professed Christian teachers reminds one of another occasion when our Saviour was set at naught and two became friends with each other that very day (Luke 23:11, 12). Let us face this objection honestly and earnestly, for our eternal destiny turns on this one point. Is it morally wrong for the innocent to bear the sins of the guilty? In the first place it is not morally wrong, because God[Pg 40] would not do morally wrong, and God did let the innocent suffer the penalty of the guilty. The language of Scripture teaching that Jesus suffered the penalty of our sins for us is plain and simple, and all efforts to take from the Scripture language its simple, plain, natural meaning are pitiable, and if contempt were ever justifiable, would deserve the contempt of all honest men. Let the reader turn back and read the Scriptures at the head of this chapter and decide for himself as to their obvious, intended meaning.
Now, because God's word tells us plainly that God gave His only begotten Son, that He might be just, and thus the justifier of him who believes in Jesus, that Christ died for our sins, that He gave Himself for our sins, the just for the unjust,—it is right for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty. To any honest, candid man, which is the correct way to reason? This thing is wrong; God did this thing; therefore, God did wrong? or, God does right; God did let Christ, the innocent, suffer and die for our sins, to redeem from all iniquity; therefore it is right for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty?
Nor is Christ suffering as our substitute the Great Exception, as some timid ones have granted. It is in line with God's Plan with Men; it is in line with the best and noblest there is in man; and the opposite teaching, that it is wrong to let the innocent bear the penalty of the guilty, is not only wrong, but horrible and the extreme of heartlessness. Two men passing along the street at night hear groaning in the gutter; striking a match, they see two men lying in the gutter with their faces all gashed and bleeding. In a drunken[Pg 41] street fight they have almost killed each other. Who did the sinning? Those two men lying in the gutter; they deserve to suffer the penalty of their sinning. But these other two men join hands, pay for a physician, a nurse and the hospital bill. In principle that is the innocent paying the penalty of the guilty. To say that this is wrong would mean to condemn the community to pass by day after day and see those ghastly, festering wounds, those parched lips and bloodshot eyes, and to listen to those dying groans. And yet in principle that is exactly what those demand for this sinful, sin-injured human race, when they say that it is morally wrong for Jesus the Saviour to suffer the penalty of our sins. A son becomes a drunkard; his drunkenness and debauchery utterly wreck his health. Some night the father finds his drunken son down in the street, a helpless invalid. The son did the sinning; he deserves to suffer the penalty of his sins; but the father takes him to his home and cares for him and supports him. In principle that is the innocent bearing the penalty of the guilty. To say that this is morally wrong would be to condemn that father to pass by day after day and see his son suffering the just consequences of his sin, to see him slowly starving to death, to see him gasping in death, and not be allowed to come to the rescue. Yet when men object to Christ bearing the penalty of the sinner's sins they are, in principle, taking that stand; for in principle Jesus, dying for our sins, did what the father did with the son. A prominent woman in America was dying from lack of blood; back of it somewhere was violation of some law of God, some[Pg 42] law of health. Her noble husband had the surgeon join their arteries, and every beat of his noble heart drove his well blood into the body of his dying wife, and he saved her life. These objectors praise that act; they see nothing morally wrong in it. Yet when Jesus, in principle, did the same thing for sinners in order to save them, these same men, with a haughty, scornful tone, say that it is morally wrong for the innocent to suffer in place of the guilty. "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?"—Rom. 9:20. Had the objectors said that it was wrong to force the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty, that would have been true, but Jesus was not forced. Listen to Him, John 10:17, 18, "Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again."
Nor is Christ dying for our sins, as taught by the Scriptures, a makeshift, but, rather, a real, full redemption, ransom. Just as a captain can honorably, honestly be given as a ransom for a number of private soldiers in an exchange of prisoners; just as a diamond can redeem a debt of many dollars; just as one man is allowed to pay another's debt; just as one man is allowed to pay another's fine in a courtroom; so our Lord and Saviour "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." All illustrations of Deity fall short, but just as a man could ransom all the ants that crawl upon the earth, were they under moral law and had violated it; just as a man[Pg 43] could, on account of the vast difference in the scale of being, suffer in his own body all that all the ants upon earth could suffer; so Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, redeemed us from "all iniquity." It was not merely the nails driven through His quivering flesh, nor the physical pangs, but "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Hence, that awful cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He was in the sinner's place, suffering the sinner's penalty for sin. "He hath made him to be sin for us."—2 Cor. 6:21.
Instead of proudly cavilling and warping and trying to avoid the simple, plain meaning of God's word, should you not rather, reader, bow in reverence before such love, realize that it was for you, yes, you, and that through His suffering and in no other way, you may escape the just punishment of your sins and spend eternity in Heaven? The world weeps over the story of the noble fireman who gave his life to rescue a little girl from a burning building, but it coldly scorns and proudly rejects salvation through the redemption of Jesus the Christ. Oh, the pride and wickedness of the human heart! Be not you, reader, of those who sit in the seat of the scornful, but the rather of those who at the last day will sing, Rev. 5:9, "Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood, men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
Let us consider carefully what it really means when we are told that "Christ died for our sins,"—1 Cor. 15:3, that He "gave himself for our sins,"—Gal.[Pg 44] 1:4; that "his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree,"—1 Peter 2:24; that "Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous."—1 Peter 3:18. God's word explains it clearly: "That he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26. "That he might be just." Notice it carefully, "That he might be just." Take it in its full meaning, "That he might be just." A question: How could God be just and justify any sinner apart from the fact that "Christ died for our sins," that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all"? Reader, no man, however learned, will ever answer that question. He may sneer; he may cavil; he may warp; he may try to confuse; but he will never come out in the open and answer that question. He may say that it is morally wrong for the innocent to bear the penalty of the guilty, but that objection is met and answered above in this chapter.
Let us face a trilemma; three, and only three plans, were possible for God with man:—
First, To have been just with man, without any love or mercy; hence, for every sinner to have suffered the just penalty for his sins, without any redemption. That would have meant Hell for every responsible human being, without any Heaven at all.
Second, To have been all mercy and all love and no justice. That would have meant no moral laws; for why have moral laws, if there would be no penalty, no justice? That would have meant a premium on crime. That would have meant the debased, the debauched, the immoral, the drunken, the fiend, on a[Pg 45] level with the chaste, the pure, the upright, the true. That would have meant unbridled rein to passion and lust and every other evil inclination, and no penalty following. That would have meant Hell in trying to get rid of Hell.
Third, There was left but one other possible plan, to be just and at the same time extend love to the sinners. In the nature of the case, real redemption, without any makeshift, was the only way this could be done. "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up,"—John 3:14; "that he himself might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus,"—Rom. 3:26; "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,"—John 3:16; "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10.
This leads to another question: How can God be just and not justify "him that hath faith in Jesus"? Again men may quibble and warp, and ridicule, but no one will ever answer the question. And the reason why this question will never be answered leads to another question:
From how many of his sins is the one "that hath faith in Jesus" justified? We have now gotten to the very centre of the whole problem of salvation. Let us give it most careful consideration.
In not one of the Scriptures cited at the head of this chapter is there one word that limits the number of sins for which Christ died, or from which the believer is justified. That of itself is sufficient warrant for us to conclude that Christ died for all of the sins of the believer, that when He "gave himself for our[Pg 46] sins" (Gal. 1:4), it included all of our sins, and that the believer is justified from all of his sins. One man promises another that he will pay his debts. That of itself means all of his debts, unless the one making the promise was simply juggling with words. While this of itself would be sufficient, God in His word has made it positive and absolute as to how many of the believer's sins were laid on Christ ("the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."—Is. 53:6); for how many of our sins Christ gave Himself ("Who gave himself for our sins."—Gal. 1:4); for how many of our sins Christ died (1 Cor. 15:3); from how many of his sins the believer is justified, ("that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26). In Lev. 16:21, 22, God gives us a picture, foreshadowing the Saviour, of laying the sins on the substitute: "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquity of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities." "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh [or beareth] away the sins of the world."—John 1:29. But how many of our sins? Let God's word answer: Titus 2:13, 14, "Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." Look at it again, reader; grasp its full meaning; let it be impressed indelibly upon your soul: "Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from[Pg 47] all iniquity." Then as certainly as the believer is redeemed by Him, he is redeemed from all iniquity; and as certainly as he is redeemed from all iniquity, that certainly the believer is going to Heaven, for there is nothing left that can cause him to be lost. Hence God, through Paul, has told us "By him every one that believeth is justified from all things."—Acts 13:39.
If our Saviour Jesus Christ gave Himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2:13, 14), how can God be just and not justify every one that believes from all things (Acts 13:39)? And if the believer is justified from all things (Acts 13:39), he is certain to go to Heaven. This is God's plan; this is God's will; "by the which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."—Heb. 10:10. "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14. "Nor yet by the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption."—Heb. 9:12. Hence Jesus said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life."—John 5:24.
While thus is manifested God's justice, and the only way that God could be "just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26), for Jesus Himself said it ("Even so must the Son of man be lifted up."—John 3:14); let the reader not forget that it equally manifests God's love, and the Saviour's love. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he[Pg 48] loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10. "The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."—Gal. 2:20. If God's love is amazing in sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10), if the Saviour's love is amazing in loving us and giving Himself for us (Gal. 2:20), how infinitely more amazing is this love when we see that it has obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12); that it has redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and that every one that believes is justified from all things (Acts 13:39)?
Reader, the greatest crime that is ever committed on this earth is to reject this "so great salvation" (Heb. 2:3); this redemption from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and to trifle with the amazing love that provided a way by which He Himself might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). We shudder at the horrible crimes reported in the daily papers, at those recorded in history; but far greater, far blacker, more terrible, is the crime of a human being rejecting this great provision of God's love. Only intellectual pride, religious prejudice, family or race ties, love of the world, or secret sin, can be the cause of the reader taking such a fatal step; and fearful will be the consequences of letting any one of these cause the rejection of the only salvation that God's love and justice could provide. The reader cannot plead that God has not given sufficient proof that He has given us a revelation in His word (let the reader go back and read again the Introduction and the reference for further study); nor can he plead that God's word does not make the message plain (let[Pg 49] the reader go back and study the Scriptures at the beginning of this chapter). It is a solemn and awful step, reader, one never to be retraced, to decide to reject this salvation, and to go out into the dark, unending future beyond the grave, unredeemed from iniquity, with no certain hope, when God has warned you, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission,"—Heb. 9:22. It is an awful, eternal crisis, when you see God's only provision for you, so complete, so perfect, so sure, and then face His warning, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life."
FOR FURTHER STUDY.—There are those who deny God's justice in Christ dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), in Christ giving Himself for our sins (Gal. 1:4), in Christ redeeming us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). Expressions from the two most prominent rejecters will show the principal reasons given by all other rejecters of redemption through Christ:—
"Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty, even if the innocent would offer itself."—The "Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine. "The outrage offered to the moral justice of God, by supposing Him to make the innocent suffer for the guilty."—The "Age of Reason," by Thomas Paine.
"An execution is an object for gratitude; the preachers daub themselves with the blood, like a troop of assassins, and pretend to admire the brilliancy it gives them."—The "Age of Reason," by Thomas Paine.
The other is Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy in her[Pg 50] "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures": "One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner's part." Again, "Another's suffering cannot lessen our own liability." Again, "The time is not distant when the ordinary theological views of atonement will undergo a great change,—a change as radical as that which has come over popular opinions in regard to predestination and future punishment. Does erudite theology regard the crucifixion of Jesus chiefly as providing a ready pardon for all sinners who ask for it and are willing to be forgiven? Does spiritualism find Jesus's death necessary only for the presentation, after death, of the material Jesus, as a proof that spirits can return to earth? Then we must differ from them both." It is not to be wondered at that she takes her stand with Thomas Paine in rejecting the teaching that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), and that He redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), when she says, "Does divine love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin and then punishing him for it?" Again, "In common justice we must admit that God will not punish man for doing what He created man capable of doing, and knew from the outset that man would do." Again, "The destruction of sin is the divine method of pardon. Being destroyed, sin needs no other pardon." There is one vast difference between these two who reject Jesus as our sin-bearer, our Redeemer,—Thomas Paine does not masquerade under the name "Christian." Why should others who stand with him in rejecting complete redemption through Christ?
Catholics by the sacrifice of the mass, the unbloody sacrifice, the elevation of the host, teach that the wafer is changed into the real "body, blood, soul and divinity" of Jesus Christ, and that it is then offered as a sacrifice. They thereby reject the complete redemption through Christ dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), redeeming us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). They thereby deny that He "offered one sacrifice for sin forever,"—Heb. 10:12, and that "by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14. Having rejected Him as complete Redeemer, they have no real Saviour at all. But those who make salvation dependent on moral character, or baptism, or church membership, just as surely as the Catholics reject the completeness of the redemption.
There are some who sneer at this teaching as the "commercial view" of redemption, in the face of God's word that declares, "ye were bought with a price,"—1 Cor. 6:20; "worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."—Rev. 5:9. (R. V.)
Consider the testimony of three over against the two quoted against this teaching of God's word:—
"I saw that if Jesus suffered in my stead, I could not suffer, too; and that if He bore all my sin, I had no more sin to bear. My iniquity must be blotted out if Jesus bore it in my stead and suffered all its penalty."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"If you believe on him, I tell you you cannot go to Hell; for that were to make the sacrifice of Christ of[Pg 52] none effect. It cannot be that a sacrifice should be accepted and yet the soul should die for whom that sacrifice had been received. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a sacrifice? Every believer can claim that the sacrifice was actually made for him: by faith he has laid his hands on it, and made it his own, and therefore he may rest assured that he can never perish. The Lord would not receive this offering on our behalf and then condemn us to die."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"The law of God was more vindicated by the death of Christ than it would have been had all the transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God than for the whole race to suffer."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"It is the obvious implication of these words (the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones) that the death on which such stress is laid was something to which the unrighteous were liable because of their sins, and that in their interest the Righteous One took it on Himself."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"This is his gospel, that a Righteous One has once for all faced and taken up and in death exhausted the responsibilities of the unrighteous, so that they no more stand between them and God."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"If Christ died the death in which sin had involved us, if in His death He took the responsibility of our sins upon Himself, no word is equal to this which falls short of what is meant by calling Him our substitute."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"I do not know any word that conveys the truth of this if 'vicarious' or 'substitutionary' does not; nor do I know any interpretation of Christ's death which enables us to regard it as a demonstration of love to sinners, if this vicarious or substitutionary character is denied. There is much preaching about Christ's death which fails to be a preaching of Christ's death, and therefore to be in the full sense of the term Gospel Preaching, because it ignores this. The simplest hearer feels that there is something irrational in saying that the death of Christ is a great proof of love to the sinful unless there is shown at the same time a rational connection between that death and the responsibilities which sin involves, and from which that death delivers. Perhaps one should beg pardon for using so simple an illustration, but the point is a vital one, and it is necessary to be clear. If I were sitting on the end of a pier on a summer day, enjoying the sunshine and the air, and some one came along and jumped into the water and got drowned to prove his love to me, I should find it quite unintelligible. I might be much in need of love, but an act in no relation to any of my necessities could not prove it. But if I had fallen over the pier and were drowning and some one sprang into the water and at the cost of making my peril, or what but for him would be my fate, his own, saved me from death, then I should say, 'Greater love hath no man than this.' I should say it intelligently, because there would be an intelligible relation between the sacrifice which love made and the necessity from which it redeemed."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Christ died for sins once for all, and the man who believes in Christ and in His death has his relation to God once for all determined not by sin but by the atonement."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"One who knew no sin had, in obedience to the Father, to take on Him the responsibility, the doom, the curse, the death of the sinful. And if any one says that this was morally impossible, may we not ask again, What is the alternative? Is it not that the sinful should be left alone with their responsibility, doom, curse, and death?"—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Redemption, it may be said, springs from love, yet love is only a word of which we do not know the meaning till it is interpreted for us by redemption."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Unless we can preach a finished work of Christ in relation to sin, a reconciliation or peace which has been achieved independently of us at infinite cost, and to which we are called in a word of ministry of reconciliation, we have no real gospel for sinful men at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"If the evangelist has not something to preach of which he can say, 'If any man makes it his business to subvert this, let him be anathema,' he has no gospel at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"As there is only one God, so there can be only one Gospel. If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away. The man who perverts it is the worst[Pg 55] enemy of God and men."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"We should remember, also, that it is not always intellectual sensitiveness, nor care for the moral interests involved, which sets the mind to criticise statements of the Atonement. There is such a thing as pride, the last form of which is unwillingness to become debtors even to Christ for forgiveness of sins."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
But the Saviour could not have been a Redeemer, if He had not been God manifest in the flesh, for two reasons:—
First, if He had not been Deity, God manifest in the flesh, His dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3) would not have been Redemption, but a mere makeshift. "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."—Heb. 10:4. Why not? Because in that case there would have been no real redemption, but only a makeshift. Second, had the Saviour been anything other than God manifest in the flesh, He would have won men from God and alienated them from God. On this point let the reader consider well the following from Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation":—"As God was the author of the law, and as He is the only Proper Object both of supreme love and obedience; and as man could not be happy in obeying the law without loving its Author, it follows that the thing now necessary, in order that man's affections might be fixed upon the proper object of love and obedience, was, that the Supreme God should, by self-denying kindness, manifest spiritual mercy to those who felt their spiritual wants, and thus draw to Himself [Pg 56]the love and worship of mankind. If any other being should supply the need, that being would receive the love; it was therefore necessary that God Himself should do it, in order that the affections of believers might centre upon the proper object." "Now, suppose Jesus Christ was not God, nor a true manifestation of the Godhead in human nature, but a man, or angel, authorized by God to accomplish the redemption of the human race from sin and misery. In doing this, it appears, from the nature of the thing, and from the Scriptures, that He did what was adapted to, and what does, draw the heart of every true believer, as in the case of the apostles and the early Christians, to Himself as the supreme or governing object of affection. Their will is governed by the will of Christ; and love to Him moves their heart and hands. Now, if it be true that Jesus Christ is not God, then He has devised and executed a plan by which the supreme affections of the human heart are drawn to Himself, and alienated from God, the proper object of love and worship: and God, having authorized this plan, He has devised means to make man love Christ, the creature, more than the creator, who is God over all, blessed for evermore.
"But it is said that Christ having taught and suffered by the will and authority of God, we are under obligation to love God for what Christ has done for us. It is answered, that this is impossible. We cannot love one being for what another does or suffers on our behalf. We can love no being for labors and self-denials on our behalf, but that being who valiantly labors and denies himself. It is the kindness and mercy exhibited in the self-denial that move the affections; [Pg 57]and the affections can move to no being but the one that makes the self-denial, because it is the self-denial that draws out the love of the heart.
"It is said, that Christ was sent by God to do His will and not His own; and therefore we ought to love God, as the being to whom gratitude and love are due for what Christ said and suffered.
"Then it is answered: If God willed that Christ, as a creature of His, should come, and by His suffering and death redeem sinners, we ought not to love Christ for it, because He did it as a creature in obedience to the commands of God, and was not self-moved nor meritorious in the work; and we cannot love God for it, for the labor and self-denial were not borne by Him. And further: If one being, by an act of his authority, should cause another innocent being to suffer, in order that he might be loved who had imposed the suffering, but not borne it, it would render him unworthy of love. If God had caused Jesus Christ, being His creature, to suffer, that He might be loved Himself for Christ's sufferings, while He had no connection with them, instead of such an exhibition, on the part of God, producing love to Him, it would procure pity for Christ and aversion towards God. So that, neither God, nor Christ, nor any other being, can be loved for mercy extended by self-denials to the needy, unless those self-denials were produced by a voluntary act of mercy upon the part of the being who suffers them; and no being, but the one who made the sacrifice, could be meritorious in the case. It follows, therefore, incontrovertibly, that if Christ was a creature—no matter of[Pg 58] how exalted worth—and not God; and if God approved of His work in saving sinners, He approved of treason against His own government; because, in that case, the work of Christ was adapted to draw, and did necessarily draw, the affections of the human soul to Himself, as its Spiritual Saviour and thus alienated them from God, their rightful object. And Jesus Christ Himself had the design of drawing men's affections to Himself in view, by His crucifixion; says He, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' This He said signifying what death He should die: thus distinctly stating that it was the self-denials and mercy exhibited in the crucifixion that would draw out the affections of the human soul, and that those affections would be drawn to Himself as the suffering Saviour. But that God would sanction a scheme which would involve treason against Himself, and that Christ should participate in it, is absurd and impossible, and therefore cannot be true. But if the Divine Nature was united with the human in the teaching and work of Christ, if God was in Christ (drawing the affections of men, or) 'reconciling the world unto himself'—if, when Christ was lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, He drew, as He said He would, the affections of all believers unto Himself; and then, if He ascended, as the Second Person of the Trinity, into the bosom of the Eternal Godhead—He thereby, after He had engaged, by His work on earth, the affections of the human soul, bore them up to the bosom of the Father, from whence they had fallen. Thus the ruins of the Fall were rebuilt, and the affections of the human soul[Pg 59] again restored to God, the Creator, and proper Object of Supreme love."
Finally, let the reader give most earnest thought to the inevitable conclusion drawn by the same author:
"How, then, could God manifest that mercy to sinners by which love to Himself and to His law would be produced, while His infinite holiness and justice would be maintained? We answer, in no way possible, but by some expedient by which His justice and mercy would both be exalted. If, in the wisdom of the Godhead, such a way could be devised by which God Himself could save the soul from the consequences of its guilt,—by which He Himself could, in some way, suffer and make self-denials for its good; and by His own interposition open a way for the soul to recover from its lost and condemned condition, then the result would follow inevitably, that every one of the human family who had been led to see and feel his guilty condition before God, and who believed in God thus manifesting Himself to rescue his soul from spiritual death, every one thus believing would, from the necessities of his nature, be led to love God his Saviour; and mark, the greater the self-denial and the suffering on the part of the Saviour in ransoming the soul, the stronger would be the affection felt for Him."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
THE NEW RELATION—THE NEW MOTIVE
"What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."—Rom. 3:19.
"Ye are not under the law."—Rom. 6:14.
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith, but after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ."—Gal. 3:24-26.
"When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."—Gal. 4:4-7.
"Having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself."—Eph. 1:5.
"The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again."—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore which of them will love him most?"—Luke 7:41, 42.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."—1 Cor. 13:1-3.
In God's plan with men, His purpose in giving the law has been sadly misunderstood. To the Jews the law was given on tablets of stone and copied in their sacred writings; to the Gentiles the law was written in their hearts. The one class had more light than the other, and therefore will be judged differently.
"As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned under[Pg 61] the law shall be judged by the law."—Rom. 2:12. "For when the Gentiles, who have no law, do by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law unto themselves; who show the works of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their reasonings mutually accusing or even excusing them."—Rom. 2:14. Whether Jew or Gentile, God had one purpose in giving the law, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and all the world be under judgement to God." God's plan with the law includes "every mouth," "all the world," whether the law was written in their hearts or in sacred writings; and His purpose is, not that they should be saved by keeping the law, for then no one would be saved, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,"—Rom. 3:23; but that they might be brought under judgment to God, every mouth stopped, guilty, and thus be brought to realize their need of a Redeemer. On this point God's word makes His purpose very plain: "The Scripture hath shut up all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith, we were confined under law, shut up unto the faith about to be revealed. Wherefore the law was our tutor [or schoolmaster] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come we are no longer under a tutor [or schoolmaster]."—Gal. 3:23-25.
God's word is plain, that God put men under the law, not that they should be saved by keeping it, but that they might be led to see their need of a Saviour, one to[Pg 62] redeem them from the curse of the law: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,"—Gal 3:13; and then, having redeemed them from the curse of the law, and from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), to adopt them as His own children, "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ."—Rom. 8:17. So wonderful is the plan that it is hard for a human being to grasp it. God's plan with men is not simply to save them, but to put them above all other created beings. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?"—Heb. 1:5. Yet, "having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself,"—Eph. 1:5 (1911 Bible), "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,"—Rom. 8:17, He puts us far above angels; "for ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26. But men can only come into this higher relation to God as sons by being redeemed from under the lower relation, under the law. Hear God's word: "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."—Gal. 4:4, 5. This higher relation as sons of God can be attained only by men coming out from under the law; and men can come out from under the law only by being redeemed from under the law.
God's word teaches clearly, then, that when one is redeemed, he is no longer under the law. "Ye are not under the law,"—Rom. 6:14; "What things soever the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law."—Rom. 3:19. Then some are under the law and some[Pg 63] are not under the law; "Wherefore the law was our tutor unto Christ that we might be justified by faith. But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor."—Gal. 3:24, 25. Pause, reader, and try to grasp the meaning of this. If the believer is redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and is not under the law, (Rom. 6:14), then he is sure of Heaven; for "sin is not reckoned when there is no law."—Rom. 5:13. It is not reckoned or imputed because it has all been reckoned or imputed to Christ (Is. 53:6, Titus 2:14). Why, then, serve God? Not from fear of the law; not from fear of Hell; but from love to Him who redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).
Just as clearly God's word teaches that those who are redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), become the sons of God; for that purpose "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father."—Gal. 4:4-6. "For ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26.
But there is, in God's plan with men, beyond this a still more blessed, wonderful teaching: "Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son."—Gal. 4:7. The one who is redeemed from under the law (Gal. 3:13) never gets back under the law again,—"Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son." That means, then, certainty of going to Heaven, certainty of being a son of God forever. And this new relation, and this[Pg 64] certainty of Heaven are settled for men, not when they die, nor when they have united with some church, or have been baptised, but the moment men repent from their sins and accept the Saviour as their Redeemer from all iniquity; for God's word says, "He that believeth on the son hath everlasting life."—John 3:36; and "Ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26.
This new relation with God gives men a new motive. Under the law, guilty, condemned by it, the motive was fear. But when men have been redeemed from under the law and adopted as sons of God, the motive of fear is no more the motive of life. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
The motive of the son towards the father is not fear, but love. And this love is produced by the fact that God, in love, provided this great, wonderful plan for men, "having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself,"—Eph. 1:5, and the fact that the Saviour loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20). Hence, Paul tells us, "The love of Christ [not the fear of the law, nor the fear of Hell] constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again." Our Saviour, the night before His crucifixion, made clear that this was to be the motive in the life of God's children. In instituting the Lord's supper He said, "This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed[Pg 65] for many for the remission of sins."—Matt. 26:28; then, following this, before leaving the supper room, He said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments,"—John 14:15, not, "if ye are afraid of the law, keep my commandments"; not, "if ye are afraid of going to Hell, keep my commandments"; not, "if ye wish to make sure of going to Heaven, keep my commandments"; but, "if ye love me." But why love Him? Because "this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins." That this love, and that this kind of love is clearly the motive power of the real Christian life, notice the teaching of the Saviour in Luke 7:41, 43, "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou has rightly judged." This is no mere theory, that love ought to be the controlling motive, but it is the controlling motive. And it is not a mere theory that love ought to constrain the real Christian, the real believer, but the love of Christ does constrain us (2 Cor. 5:14).
One may be moral, of deep piety, and yet if the motive power of his life is not this love, he is lost, not a real Christian. God's word makes this plain, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand [Pg 66]all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."—1 Cor. 13:1-3. Two of the mightiest preachers of all times, men whose tongues were those nearest to angels in preaching, Chalmers and Wesley, after years of most powerful preaching, came out and stated that during all those years they were lost, not Christians. Why? They had not been really redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14); they had not been forgiven most; the motive had not been the motive of him who is forgiven most,—"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal." Why? Because eloquent, powerful preaching cannot redeem from iniquity, and God has said plainly, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. Men may write great books explaining the mysteries of God's word, commentaries, Sunday-school lesson helps, instructions to Christians; yet if the motive power of their lives is not love based on the fact that they are forgiven most (Luke 7:43), redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), they are lost, not real Christians,—"though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." Why? Because there is nothing in understanding all mysteries, and all knowledge, in writing commentaries and other helpful books, to redeem from[Pg 67] all iniquity. And God has said plainly, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission." The great capitalist, the multi-millionaire, may turn philanthropist, and spend all his wealth in building schools, or libraries, or houses for the poor, or in feeding hundreds of thousands in times of widespread drouth; the Catholic nun or Protestant or Baptist nurse may give her life in the epidemic in nursing the sick; and the heroic fireman give his life in rescuing others from the flames; yet they are all lost, unless the motive power of life is love, produced by the fact that they are forgiven most, redeemed from all iniquity,—"Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing." Why? Because there is nothing in giving away money to care for the poor, nor in giving up life for others, to redeem from iniquity. And God has said plainly, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22.
When God, "That he might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus,"—Rom. 3:26, "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,"—John 3:16, men must not, they must not, from intellectual pride, religious prejudice, family or race ties, nor from any other motive, trifle with God and presume to dictate terms to the Most High. Were it one poor, obscure man who presumed to do this, men would say that he deserved to be left to answer for his own sins before God at last. But vast numbers, whole religious denominations and university titles cannot change the Most High. God does[Pg 68] not go by majorities. Earth's respectability does not pass current in Heaven. "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."—1 Cor. 3:19.
Who is this being to whom puny men in their pride and prejudice presume to dictate terms as to how they may escape the just penalty for their sins, as to how their sins should be taken away? "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel? And who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgement, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, he taketh up the hills as a little thing." "All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted by him less than nothing, and vanity." "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; that bringeth the princes to nothing; that maketh the judges of the earth as vanity."—Is. 40:12-15, 17, 22, 23.
A professor in a great university has recently said that to the "modern mind," untrained, as the Jews, to daily sacrifices, unused, as those of ancient times, to blood-atonement,—remission of sins by blood,—substitution does not commend itself. If he and those[Pg 69] who think like him do not care enough as to their eternal destiny to strive to become acquainted with blood-atonement, to realize their need of it, and to see that God, in love, has provided it, complete and eternal, then there is nothing left but for them to go out into eternity to meet the just penalty of their sins; for even then God will be just to them. No one, barbarian or civilized, will ever be treated unjustly by the Most High.
But it is objected that, if men are taught and believe that they have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), that they are not after that under the law (Rom. 6:14), that they have been adopted as God's sons (Gal. 4:4, 5), and that they are no more servants, but sons (Gal. 4:7), they will not serve God from love of Christ for dying for them (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), but that they will become careless and not try to live Christian lives. That is true with hypocrites; they will profess to believe that they are thus redeemed, saved, and will live careless, worldly lives. But really redeemed men will love most (Luke 7:43), and live better lives from love. The Saviour said, "If a man love me he will keep my words,"—John 14:23; "If God were your father ye would love me."—John 8:42. And John, writing to believers only (1 John 5:13), says: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as[Pg 70] he is. And every one that hath this hope on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."—1 John 3:1-3.
The one who is thus redeemed and adopted as a son of God not only purifies himself because prompted by love to the Saviour for redeeming him from all iniquity, but because he is born again, and this new nature leads him to hate sin and to love holiness. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."—1 John 5:1. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever."—1 Peter 1:23. This is no mere theory, no mere theological dogma. Cases innumerable throughout the Christian era could be cited, where the most wicked men and women in a moment have been completely changed by simply being led to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, as their Redeemer from all iniquity.
In the author's work as an evangelist he has seen the most debased, hopeless men and women revolutionized morally, not by gradual processes, but in a moment, by leading them to repentance and faith in the Saviour as their complete Redeemer from all iniquity. And the moral revolution was not temporary, but permanent. Science cannot account for these moral revolutions brought about in a moment. Infidelity cannot account for them. God's word does account for them, that they have been born again, born of God, and have been taken from under the law and have been given a new relation to God and placed under a new motive power. In a city a great mass-meeting for infidels was widely advertised; a large audience assembled. The leader asked all the men[Pg 71] in the audience who had once been down in the depths of sin, everything gone, hopeless, and had been led to accept the Saviour as their Redeemer from sin, please to arise. Between three hundred and four hundred well-dressed business men and workingmen arose. The leader then asked all who had been down in the depths of sin, everything gone, hopeless, and they had then been led to believe in infidelity and it had made better men of them, please to arise. One lone man staggered to his feet and he was drunk! Science and infidelity cannot explain this difference. God's word does explain it. There is no other explanation.
It may be objected that many who profess to be thus redeemed from all iniquities, to be born again, do not continue to live better lives. God's word explains every one of these cases: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest; because not all are of us."—1 John 2:19.
In closing this chapter, reader, pause and consider:—are you yet under the law? Have you been redeemed from the curse of the law? Have you been adopted as a child of God? It is one thing to say "Our Father"; it is quite a different thing to be really a child of God, and heir of God and joint heir with Christ.
Is the motive of your life love of Christ because He has redeemed you from all iniquities? Do not be deceived by calling the motive love when really it is not love. If you have been trying to serve God, thinking that if you continued to serve Him, continued to[Pg 72] try to do your Christian duty, you would go to Heaven after this life, but that if you failed to serve Him and do your Christian duty, you would not be saved, then your motive has not been love, and you are lost. If you have been trying to serve God and do your Christian duty, fearing that if you failed you would be lost, then your motive has not been love, and you have never been redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and adopted as the child of God (Gal. 4:4, 5). Let not pride nor prejudice prevent your coming out from under the law and becoming really a child of God. "My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."—Rom. 10:1-4. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name."—John 1:12.
FOR FURTHER STUDY: Men are prone to mix the law and redemption through Christ. They are separate and distinct. They are two separate roads to Heaven. If a man keeps the law from birth to death he will go to Heaven without any redemption; he needs no redemption. "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man that doeth those things shall live by them,"—Rom. 10:5; not by Christ as the Redeemer; he needs no redemption. "And the law is not of faith; but the man that doeth[Pg 73] them shall live in them."—Gal. 3:12. There is no Christ in this; there is no need of Christ if a man "doeth them," the law. Such a man cannot trust Christ to save him; for if he has never broken the law, there is nothing from which he needs to be redeemed. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; but if one has kept the law, there is no penalty, no redemption is needed. "The doers of the law shall be justified."—Rom. 2:13. But "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,"—Rom. 3:23; hence, there is need of redemption; for "apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. The other road to Heaven, therefore, is that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."—Gal. 3:13. The Saviour, as well as the Apostle Paul, taught clearly the two roads; the first, when "One came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."—Matt. 19:16, 17. The question was what good thing the enquirer should do in order to have eternal life as the result of what he did. The answer was exactly what Paul taught afterwards,—"The man that doeth them, shall live in them."—Gal. 3:12. On the other hand, to the penitent woman in Simon's house the Saviour said, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."—Luke 7:50. The trouble is that many men try to make a third road to Heaven, partly by obeying the law and partly by redemption through Christ; or rather, they try to combine the two separate and distinct ways and[Pg 74] make them one. But this is fatal. "If by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work."—Rom. 11:6. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."—Matt. 11:28. And God's word declares plainly, "He that hath entered into his rest himself also hath rested from his own works, as God did from his."—Heb. 4:10. No one has rested, ceased, from his own works who thinks that keeping the law or trying to keep the law is a part of the salvation through Christ as Redeemer. One must cease from his own works, from looking to obeying the law to help in salvation, before he can be saved through Christ as Redeemer. "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."—Rom. 4:5. Hence, all who are trying to get to Heaven by obedience, are under the law, are yet unredeemed, unsaved, not real Christians. "As many as are of the works of the law [obeying the law to be saved] are under the curse,"—Gal. 3:10; they have not been really redeemed.
Of this class are all those who believe and teach "Salvation by character,"—they are yet under the law; they are yet under the curse.—Gal. 3:10. Further, they fly in the face of the Lord Jesus, who said to men who had character, "The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."—Matt. 21:31. They fail to see that the Saviour takes men without character, justifies them from all things (Acts 13:39), redeems them from the curse of the[Pg 75] law (Gal. 3:13), redeems them from all iniquities (Titus 2:14), and then develops in them a character that will stand the test of the ages; that He takes a Jerry McAuley, an S. H. Hadley, a Harry Monroe, and a Melville Trotter and makes of them four of the most useful men of modern times. They fail to see that character is formed by deeds; that the character of the deed can be determined only by the motive prompting the deed; that the controlling motive for the deed must, in the sight of God, be love (1 Cor. 13:1-3); that the motive of love is produced by being forgiven most (Luke 7:42, 43); that the forgiveness comes from the Saviour having given Himself for our sins (Gal. 1:4), to redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14).
Because of this failure to consider the motive back of the deed, many books on morals and ethics are absolutely pernicious. In comparing the morals and ethics of Christianity with the morals and ethics of heathen religions, they fail to take into consideration the motive back of the deed. Two young men are trying to win a young woman in marriage; their deeds, outwardly, are the same; the one is prompted by pure, manly love for the young woman; the other has his eye on her father's bank account. You drop your handkerchief as you are passing along the street; a man from pure kindness picks it up and hands it to you. Again you drop it, and another picks it up and hands it to you, but his motive is that he may win your confidence and pick your pocket. Four sons are equally dutiful, in outward deed, toward their fathers; one, that he may get all the money he wishes[Pg 76] from his father; the second, from a cold sense of duty; the third, from fear that his father might kill him or disinherit him if he were not dutiful; the fourth, from tender love for the father. In these four, many authors see no difference, or make no distinction, and yet they profess to be teachers of morals and ethics! Four men, outwardly, are living the same moral lives; one, hoping to get to Heaven by it; the second, from a cold sense of duty; the third, from fear of Hell; the fourth, from love because One died for him (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), and redeemed him from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). Only the last one will ever enter Heaven; only the last one is really a Christian, redeemed (Heb. 9:12), saved (Eph. 2:8).
As men are prone to mix law and redemption through Christ, so they are prone to mix law and sonship. They fail to see that redemption from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), redemption from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), redemption from under the law (Rom. 6:14), means to be placed in a higher, more sacred relationship to God. Even in nature God has two grades of existence, a lower and a higher, for some insects, even; the mosquito, first in the water; then by a simple process it rises into the higher kingdom; the caterpillar, a creeping worm, then the butterfly. But were there no analogies in nature, God has clearly revealed a higher relation for those who are redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,"—Gal. 4:4, 5;[Pg 77] "Having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself."—Eph. 1:5. Where is man in the scale of being? "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels."—Ps. 8:5. But even the angels, who are above man in the scale of being, are not the sons of God. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son?"—Heb. 1:5. But to every man who has been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from under the law (Gal. 4:5), God says, "Ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father."—Gal. 4:6. "Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."—Rom. 8:15.
Much of the confusion concerning the higher relationship of the redeemed with God has been caused by teaching the redeemed and the unredeemed to pray what is called the Lord's Prayer. The Saviour did not teach the unredeemed to pray in this manner. They cannot pray it truthfully, honestly, for they are not the children of God. "They that are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God."—Rom. 9:5. If they are not, then they cannot truthfully say "Our Father," "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."—Heb. 12:6-8. The language, "bastards and not sons," has some meaning, but it can have no[Pg 78] meaning if God is the Father of all human beings, and all have a right to say "Our Father." It is true, that in the Old Testament God is referred to as a Father, but it is only as Father of Israel, the redeemed. "Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?"—Mal. 2:10. But who are the "we"? "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi,"—Mal. 1:1;—Israel, God's redeemed people.
God's word makes it plain that what is called the Lord's Prayer was not taught by the Saviour to the unsaved. "As he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples, and he said unto them [His disciples], When ye [His disciples] pray, say, 'Our Father.'" How did they become disciples? "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name."—John 1:12. "Ye are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26. Concerning this prayer the Southern Baptist Sunday School Teacher says, "It is a special gift to believers only." "We cannot too earnestly insist that the Lord's Prayer is beyond the use of mere worldlings. They have no heart for it. It is the possession and badge of the disciples of Christ. It belongs to those who can offer it in humble and hearty faith." The Sunday School Teacher, published by the American Baptist Publication Society, says: "This is a prayer that befits only Christian lips and was given to the disciples only, and so it is addressed to 'Our Father.'" D. L. Moody, in "The Way Home," "But who may use this prayer, 'Our Father which art in[Pg 79] Heaven'? Examine the context. The disciples when alone with Jesus said, 'Lord, teach us to pray,' and this was the answer they got; they were taught this precious prayer: 'In this manner pray ye: Our Father, which art in Heaven.' It was taught by Jesus to His chosen disciples; then it is only for Christians. No man who is unconverted can or has a right to pray thus. Christ taught His disciples, not all men, not the multitude, to pray like this. A man must be born again before he has any right to breathe this prayer. What right has any man living in sin and in open enmity with God, to lift up his voice and say, Our or My Father? It is a lie and nothing else for him to say this."
The Saviour was very explicit on this point: "Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We are not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil."—John 8:41-44. Here are the unredeemed calling God their Father. If He is their Father, here was the time for the Great Teacher to make it plain. If He is their Father, in any sense, here was the opportunity to make it plain. The Saviour does not reply, "Yes, He is your Father in one sense, but I am speaking of another and a higher sense." His answer is plain and unequivocal.
There are those who fly in the face of the Saviour's plain teaching. Hear two of them:—Mrs. Mary[Pg 80] Baker G. Eddy, in "Science and Health," "God is the Father of All." "Man is the offspring of Spirit." "Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father and Life is the law of his being." "He recognized Spirit, God, as the only creator, and therefore as the Father of all"; "demonstrating God as the Father of men." Another makes his meaning just as plain: "He [Jesus] was the son of God in like manner that every other person is; for the Creator is the father of all."—Thomas Paine, in "The Age of Reason."
The issue is joined between these two on the one side and the Lord Jesus and Paul on the other, and men are lining up on one side or the other, and many of them will spend eternity with the ones whose teaching they are following now, with whom they are lining up; and the reader may as well face the fact that many of them will not spend eternity in the same place with the Saviour and Paul. With many the question as to whether the Saviour, when He said, "Ye are of your father the devil," told the truth, or was a wilful liar and deceiver, or a deluded fanatic and ignoramus, is merely a matter of taste, or preference, or opinion. It may be claimed by some that "Ye are of your father the devil," grates on refined ears and finer sensibilities. But it is more than a question whether it is pride, or religious prejudice, or refined sensibilities, when the sensibilities and feelings are so coarse and hardened that without indignation, often with complacency, they see Him who "spake as never man spake," God's "only begotten Son," branded as a liar and deceiver. Such scholarship and[Pg 81] finer sensibilities and such refinement will fill their possessors with horror and remorse in that day when the sun shall become black as sackcloth of hair, and the full moon shall become as blood, and the heavens shall depart as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island shall be moved out of their places, and the kings of the earth, and the great men and the rich men and the chief captains and the mighty men and every bondman and every freeman shall hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains and say to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"—Rev. 6:12-17; "for the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement unto the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father who sent him."—John 5:22, 23. "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he who hath been ordained of God to be the judge of living and dead."—Acts 10:42.
If all men who are unredeemed would just stop and realize their real position in the scale of being, and that they really have no Heavenly Father, and that "as many as received him to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name,"—John 1:12, there would fall upon this world such a feeling of orphanage as it has never known since the Saviour hung on the cross. But in their pride or religious prejudice, or love of the world, or secret sin, blinded by "Our Father," they go on[Pg 82] through life repeating it, and die, never having been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and adopted as God's sons (Gal. 4:4-7).
Teaching the unredeemed that God is their Father, and to say "Our Father" is the incubator of religious error and the hot-bed of infidelity. Many religious denominations that are fundamentally in error, that really have no Redeemer, and therefore no Saviour, have as their foundation teaching that God is the Father of the human race; and there is scarcely an infidel but that was taught "Our Father." Teach a person that God is his Father, that his Heavenly Father is far better than his earthly father, and then teach him that his Heavenly Father is going to send him to an eternal Hell, and, if he thinks, he is far on the road to infidelity, or he is ready for some modern church that denies that there is any Hell.
It is said that a missionary to one of the heathen lands, after laboring for some time among the people, employed a learned heathen to help him translate the New Testament into the heathen language. The missionary would read and the heathen would translate and write it down. They finally came to the first epistle of John. One morning as they began their work, having finished the second chapter, the missionary read, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." The heathen translated and wrote it down. The missionary read, "that we should be called the children of God." The heathen bowed his head upon the table and began weeping. Gaining control of his feelings, he said, "Teacher, don't make me put it that way; I know our people; that is too[Pg 83] good for us; we don't deserve it. Put it this way, 'That we may be allowed to kiss his feet,' That is good enough for our people." He had listened to the story of God giving His Son for us; of His life, of His teachings, of His death for our sins; and the thought that, beyond this, God makes the redeemed His children, was too much for him. But in enlightened, so-called Christian lands, many who have never even claimed to have been born of God ridicule the teaching that God is the Father of the redeemed only, and they blatantly proclaim God to be the Father of all human beings, of the drunkard, of the thief, the murderer, whereas, even the angels do not call Him Father. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son?" But when men are redeemed (Heb. 9:12), and born again of the Spirit (John 3:8; 1 John 5:1), they are really God's children (Gal. 3:26). Then they are above angels in the scale of being, "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17),—the highest, most exalted of all beings in the universe. Oh, that men would put their heels upon their pride, be redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and become God's real children (Gal. 4:4-7).
But just as many mix and confuse the teachings as to two roads to Heaven, and as to law and sonship, so they mix and confuse the old motive of fear under the law (Rom. 8:15), and of love as sons. The new motive of love could be produced in no other way than by real Redemption. Let the reader give close study to the following principles laid down in Walker's "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation":
"1, The affections of the soul move in view of certain objects or in view of certain qualities believed to exist in those objects. The affections never move, in familiar words, the heart never loves, unless love be produced by seeing, or by believing that we see, some lovely and excellent qualities in the object. When the soul believes those good qualities to be possessed by another, and especially when they are exercised towards us, the affections, like a magnetized needle, tremble with life, and turn towards their object.
"2, The affections are not subject to the will; neither our own will nor any other will can directly control them.... An effect could as easily exist without a cause as affection in the bosom of any human being which was not produced by goodness or excellence seen, or believed to exist, in some other being.
"3, The affections, although not governed by the will, do themselves greatly influence the will. All acts of will produced entirely by pure affection for another are disinterested.... So soon as the affections move towards an object, the will is proportionally influenced to please and benefit that object, or, if a superior being, to obey his will.
"4, All happy obedience must arise from affection. Affectionate obedience blesses the spirit which yields it, if the conscience approve the object loved and obeyed.
"5. When the affections of two beings are reciprocally fixed upon each other they constitute a band of union and sympathy peculiarly strong and tender,—those things that affect the one affecting the other in[Pg 85] proportion to the strength of affection existing between them. One conforms to the will of the other, not from a sense of obligation merely, but from choice; and the constitution of the soul is such that the sweetest enjoyment of which it is capable rises from the exercise of reciprocal affections.
"6. When the circumstances of an individual are such that he is exposed to constant suffering and great danger, the more afflictive his situation the more grateful love will he feel for affection and benefits received under such circumstances. If his circumstances were such that he could not relieve himself, and such that he must suffer greatly or perish, and while in this condition, if another, moved by benevolent regard for him, should come to aid and save him, his affection for his deliverer would be increased by a sense of the danger from which he was rescued.
"The greater the kindness and self-denial of a benefactor manifested in our behalf, the warmer and the stronger will be the affection which his goodness will produce in the human heart."
And this further statement by Walker will be at once accepted by all honest seekers after truth:—
"Here, then, are two facts growing out of the constitution of human nature. First, the soul must feel its evil and lost state, as the prerequisite condition upon which alone it can love a deliverer; secondly, the degree of kindness and self-denial in a benefactor, temporal or spiritual, graduates the degree of affection and gratitude that will be awakened for him."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
THE SINS OF GOD'S CHILDREN—FORGIVENESS—CHASTISEMENTS
"Our Father who art in Heaven ... forgive us our sins."—Luke 11:1-4.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."—1 John 1:9.
"Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection under the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us as seemed right to them; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness."—Heb. 12:5-10.
"Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgements; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David."—Ps. 89:27-35.
In coming to the question of God's plan concerning the lives of men redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), from under the law (Rom. 6:14), and adopted as God's sons (Gal. 4:4-7), let the reader keep in mind that it is not concerning the sins of unredeemed men, whether professing Christians or not. God's plan with the sins of unredeemed men has been shown in Chapter I. Hence it is not a question of the sins of hypocrites, or other professing Christians who are not really God's children.
It has been shown in Chapter IV that when men are redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), they are no longer under the law; "Ye are not under the law."—Rom. 6:14. God's word lays down a principle recognized and endorsed by all enlightened nations,—"Sin is not reckoned [imputed] when there is no law."—Rom. 5:13. Those who have been redeemed from under the law are adopted as God's children,—"God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."—Gal. 4:4, 5. God thenceforth deals with them as father with children, and not as judge with transgressors of law. Earthly children commit two kinds of sins against their earthly fathers; they sin under temptation and are penitent, and confess their sins and are forgiven. Second, they sin wilfully and are chastised. God's children sin in like manner; they sin under temptation, are penitent, confess their sins and are forgiven. Second, they become backsliders, sin wilfully and are chastised. Let us consider the two classes of sins of God's children and God's plan with men for them.
Our Saviour taught His disciples, God's children, to pray "Our Father ... forgive us our sins,"—Luke 11:1-4; Paul and Silas taught the jailer, a man under the law, unredeemed, not a child of God, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31. John taught the believers (1 John 5:13), those who were redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and were God's children (1 John 3:1, 2), "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive [Pg 88]us our sins,"—1 John 1:9; Paul taught the unredeemed, those who were not God's children, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."—Rom. 4:5.
Many believe and teach that if any one, the unredeemed man as well as the son of God, confesses his sins, God will be faithful and just to forgive his sins. A Mohammedan, a Jew, a Christian Scientist, a Unitarian, a Universalist, confess their sins,—are they forgiven? To these and all others under the law, God has said, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."—Matt. 5:18. John is writing to believers only (1 John 5:13), to those who are God's children (1 John 3:1, 2), and to them he says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."—1 John 1:9. Men unredeemed, under the law, can never get rid of their sins by confession. To them God has one message,—"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."—John 3:14-16.
The Saviour taught the disciples to pray, "Our Father, ... forgive us our sins"; but so widespread is the misconception that it applies to all, redeemed and unredeemed, that all over the world vast multitudes of the unredeemed kneel down every night and say, "Our[Pg 89] Father, ... forgive us our sins," and lie down to sleep deluded with the thought that they are forgiven. If they are forgiven, why was there any need of Christ dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)? But the real child of God can pray, "Our Father, ... forgive us our sins," and he is really forgiven. Why the difference? With the unredeemed, those yet under the law (Rom. 3:19), God is dealing as judge with violators of law, and law knows no forgiveness. With the redeemed, those who have been adopted as God's children (Gal. 4:4-7), God is dealing as father with son. Let those who are redeemed, who are really God's children, realize the blessed fact that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."—1 John 1:9.
But there is another class of sins committed by God's children, "If his children forsake my law" (Ps. 89:30), wilful sins. For these God chastises His children, just as an earthly father chastises his wilful and disobedient children. "Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a[Pg 90] few days chastened us as seemed right to them; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness."—Heb. 12:5-10.
Chastisement or punishment of God's children is for correction; "for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness" (Heb. 12:10); punishment of the unredeemed is to carry out law, for justice: "that he might be just" (Rom. 3:26); "every transgression received a just recompense of reward."—Heb. 2:2. The unredeemed, those under the law (Rom. 3:19), are punished beyond this life, in the Day of Judgment,—"verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."—Matt. 10:15; God's children receive their chastisements in this life,—"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons."—Heb. 12:7. Professing Christians who are not redeemed, not really God's children, do not receive chastisements; hence, they are punished in the day of judgment with the other unredeemed. "But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."—Heb. 12:8.
He has observed to little purpose who has not noticed that redeemed people, God's children, suffer more in this life than the unredeemed. God says that His children endure chastenings and others who are not His children do not. The difference can be easily seen by any one who will observe closely. The Psalmist observed it and was greatly disturbed by it until he understood the cause of the difference. "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of[Pg 91] a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouths against the heavens and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore, his people return hither, and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus: behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God: then understood I their end. Surely, thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment? They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. For my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee.[Pg 92] Nevertheless, I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."—Ps. 73:1-24.
That chastisement in this life for wilful sins is God's plan with redeemed men, His real children, is clearly revealed even in the Old Testament. God swore by His holiness to David that this would be His plan with redeemed men:—"Also, I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever and his throne as the days of Heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David."—Ps. 89:27-35. David himself was a case in point. After his terrible sin, God sent word to him by the prophet Nathan, "Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house."—2 Sam. 12:9, 10. "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto[Pg 93] David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die."—2 Sam. 12:13. God has but one way of putting away sin. "Apart from shedding of blood is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."—Lev. 17:11. But God does not stop there. "Howbeit because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die."—1 Sam. 12:14. (Let the reader notice that God, foreseeing that people would ridicule the idea of God saving David, calls it blasphemy and calls those who do it "the enemies of the Lord.") David fasted and prayed for the child. On the seventh day the child died, "But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead; therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?[Pg 94] Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him."—2 Sam. 12:19-23. How could David be thus sure? He had God's word on which to rest, "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul."—Lev. 17:11. But because of his sin God chastened him as long as he lived. "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house."
Solomon is another case in point. Concerning Solomon God said to David, "I will be his father and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but my mercy shall not depart away from him."—2 Sam. 7:14, 15.
In chastening, God uses as a rod loss of loved ones (2 Sam. 12:14; Amos 4:10), loss of property (Amos 4:6-9), loss of health (1 Cor. 11:30), death (1 Cor. 11:30; Amos 4:11; Deut. 32:48-52). Consider the case of Moses and Aaron: God told them to speak to the rock that it might bring forth water for the children of Israel. But they wilfully disobeyed, and instead of speaking to the rock, struck it in anger. For this wilful sin, as a chastisement, God said to Moses, "Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto Mt. Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in Mt. Hor, and was gathered unto his people: because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel[Pg 95] at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin."—Deut. 32:49-52. Though Moses was thus severely chastened for his wilful sin, he was not lost, for he was with Elijah on the mountain at the transfiguration of the Saviour (Matt. 17:1-3).
The lesson needs to be learned by God's children that as certainly as a redeemed man sins wilfully, whether the sin be great or small, the chastening rod is sure to fall. "If his children forsake my law ... then will I visit their transgressions with the rod and their iniquity with stripes."—Ps. 89:30-32. But God does not send the chastening in wrath, nor in justice. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."—Heb. 12:6.
There are many who profess to be redeemed, to be God's children, professed Christians, church members, who sin wilfully, and God never sends chastisements to them; but God explains about them, "But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."—Heb. 12:8. He does not chasten this class; in Hell they will receive their punishment, but it will be just. God will treat no human being wrong. With some it may seem severe that God should chasten and scourge His children. That is not as severe as to send them to Hell for their wilful disobedience after they become His children, and that is the belief of many. There are but three plans that God could have for those who have been redeemed from the curse of law (Gal. 3:13) and adopted as His children (Gal. 4:4-7), and afterward sin wilfully:—
First, beyond this life punish them in the judgment[Pg 96] (Matt. 10:15) for their sins, send them to Hell. That would mean, (1) if Christ redeemed them from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), that God would force the same debt to be paid twice. "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (2) That would mean that God would punish, by law, those who have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and who are not under the law (Rom. 6:14), and would violate God's own principle, "Sin is not reckoned [imputed] when there is no law" (Rom. 5:13). (3) That would mean a child of God, redeemed and adopted (Gal. 4:4-7), and born again (1 Peter 1:23), born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8), sent to Hell. (4) That would mean to make the Saviour unreliable and untruthful in His statements. "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you."—Matt. 7:22, 23. These are the professing Christians at the judgment who are lost, and Jesus says, "I never knew you," that not one of them was ever really redeemed and adopted as a child of God. (5) It would mean for God to violate His own oath (Ps. 89: 27-35).
Second, the second plan possible to God in dealing with those who sin wilfully after they have been redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and adopted as God's children (Gal. 4:4-7), would be to let them continue to sin wilfully, and neither punish them beyond this life, at the judgment, in Hell, nor chastise them in this life.[Pg 97] That would mean for some of them to eventually develop characters most fearfully warped by sin.
Third, there is but one other possible plan left for God with redeemed men, redeemed from the law and adopted as His children (Gal. 4:7), who sin wilfully; and that is to chasten, chastise them in this life. That is God's plan with the redeemed, His own children; and however severe the chastening, He does it in love. In love He planned to adopt us as His children. "Having in love predestinated us for the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself."—Eph. 1:5 (1911 Bible), and in love He chastises. "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."—Heb. 12:6.
Reader, the issue is before you: shall you remain under the law (Rom. 3:19) to be punished justly in the judgment (Matt. 11:22-24) and to continue to sin in Hell (Rev. 22:11, R. V.), or will you accept redemption through Christ the Saviour from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), be adopted as a child of God forever (Gal. 4:4-7), to be forgiven when you sin against your Father in Heaven and confess your sin (1 John 1:9); to be chastened when you sin wilfully (Ps. 89:27-34), and to spend eternity in Heaven with Him who loved you and gave Himself for you (John 14:1-3; Gal. 2:20), free forever from sin (Rev. 21:24-27; Rev. 22:3)? You do not intend, reader, to be wrapped in a Christless shroud, to be laid away in a Christless grave, to spend eternity in a Christless Hell. Decide now.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—The teaching that God interposes in human affairs to chastise His disobedient [Pg 98]children (Heb. 12:5-8; Ps. 89:27-34), to chasten with the rod of the children of men (2 Sam. 7:14, 15; 1 Cor. 11:30), will frighten, or arouse the contempt of, "the modern mind" with its self-inflated wisdom, which just knows that "the laws of nature are immutable laws." Is there a being called "Nature" who made these laws? Who revealed to "the modern mind" that these laws were immutable? Where did "the modern mind" get its authority (it takes for granted that it has the power) to drive God from His universe, or to make Him powerless, or inactive? Can "the modern mind" prove absolutely that because God's law of gravitation causes objects to fall toward the earth, He has no right and no power to make Elijah's body go up instead of down (2 Kings 2:11)? Does "the modern mind" absolutely know that God is now inactive and must remain inactive? "Dr. Mason Goode observes that worlds and systems of worlds are perpetually disappearing, that within the period of the last century no less than thirteen in different constellations seem to have perished and ten new ones have been created."—"Origin of the Globe." If God is active out in space, who shall deny Him the right or the power to be active on this planet? And if active on this planet at all, then in the individual lives of His children? And in His word, backed up by fulfilled prophecies, to prove that He is dealing with us, He tells us that He is. Is "the modern mind" too scholarly, too self-opinionated, to consider the following words from Prof. James Orr in his "The Resurrection of Jesus" ("the modern mind" is very careful not to attempt a thorough reply to Professor[Pg 99] Orr's "Problem of the Old Testament," nor his "Resurrection of Jesus"—for obvious reasons)? "The question is not, Do natural causes operate uniformly? But are natural causes the only causes that exist or operate? For miracle, as has frequently been pointed out, is precisely the assertion of the interposition of a new cause; one, besides, which the theist must admit to be a vera causa."
If when we become God's children, we are no longer under the law (Rom. 6:14), we are redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), we are no more servants but sons (Gal. 4:7), the question arises, why pray to Our Father in Heaven to be forgiven? The child does not ask his father's forgiveness in order to be his child, but to have the disturbed fellowship restored. The unforgiven child is still a child, but will be chastened. It is fellowship of the Heavenly Father with the child that is restored by forgiveness, and is sought in forgiveness, and not a destroyed relationship. On this point hear James Denny in his "The Death of Christ": "Christ died for sins once for all, and the man who believes in Christ and in His death has his relations to God once for all determined not by sin but by the Atonement. The sin for which a Christian has daily to seek forgiveness is not sin which annuls his acceptance with God."
There needs to be kept in mind, in considering that God chastens His children, the distinction that while chastenings are sufferings, all sufferings are not chastisements. The expression, "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Heb. 12:6), has been widely misused and sadly misapplied. Because David's babe was[Pg 100] taken from him as a chastisement (2 Sam. 12:14), many thoughtlessly conclude that every babe's death is meant for a chastisement for the father and mother; and many apply "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" to all of the sorrows and sufferings of God's children. But there is another purpose accomplished by some sufferings, in "that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."—1 Peter 1:7. "And he shall sit as a purifier and refiner of silver."—Matt. 3:3. The silver is not to blame for the dross; nevertheless, it needs to be burned out. A child stole a piece of bread; the father chastised the child for it. That chastening was suffering. But the same child was born a cripple. In straightening the foot, the father forced many weeks of fearful suffering on the child, but the suffering was not chastisement. Chastisements are sufferings of God's children for wrongdoing to correct them; but there are sufferings that are not chastisements for wrongdoing, but are to take out of us defects, or to develop us. Hence, to say to some one who is suffering from sorrow or affliction, "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth," is often cruel and untrue.
REWARDS—DEGREES IN HEAVEN
"I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish."—John 10:28.—"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."—Matt. 6:20.
"By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any one should boast."—Eph. 2:8, 9.—"Each man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor."—1 Cor. 3:8.
"Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:11-15.
"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."—Luke 12:20, 21.
"Whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited if he shall gain the whole world and forfeit his life, or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds."—Matt. 16:25-27 (R. V.)
"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give each one according as his work shall be."—Rev. 22:12.
The teaching of God's word of degrees in future punishment ("These shall receive greater condemnation,"—Mark 12:40) according to heredity and environment ("It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you;" "it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee,"—Matt. 11:22, 24), and according to sin ("Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward,"—Heb. 2:2), commends itself to the judgment, to the conscience, of every honest man. The companion[Pg 102] teaching to this in God's word is that there will be different degrees, or rewards, in Heaven. Just as the degree of man's punishment in Hell will be determined by his life here; so the degree of a man's reward in Heaven will be determined by his life here. The dividing line is redemption.
With many, salvation and rewards mean the same thing, but the Saviour made a clear distinction. "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."—John 10:28 ("He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."—John 6:47);—"Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven."—Matt. 6:20. Our salvation is a gift and depends upon the Saviour; our treasures in Heaven must be laid up by ourselves. Paul makes the distinction equally clear. "By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."—Eph. 2:8, 9 (R. V.).—"Each man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor."—1 Cor. 3:8. But by rewards for service God's word does not mean God's blessings on the faithful Christians in this life. It means rewards beyond this life. Jesus said, "When thou makest a dinner or a supper call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen nor thy rich neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."—Luke 14:12-14.
If "each man shall receive his own reward according [Pg 103]to his own labor" (1 Cor. 3:8), there will, then, be different rewards or degrees in Heaven; for doubtless no two redeemed people ever served God in exactly the same degree of faithfulness. Paul makes this distinction clear, as well as the difference between salvation and rewards. He uses the illustration of building houses out of different material. He has been speaking of preachers and their work, and then seems to turn and apply his teaching to every one, for he says, "Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon."—1 Cor. 3:10. Whether he is speaking only of preachers and their work, or applies it to every man; whether he is speaking of building in the lives of others by what we teach or do, or whether he makes a turn and applies it to every man and his building in his own life, he draws the clear distinction between the foundation on which the building rests and the building built thereupon, between salvation alone through Christ, and rewards for service: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:11-15. Why is he saved? Because he has been redeemed from the curse of the law, Christ having been made a curse for him (Gal. 3:13); because he has been redeemed [Pg 104]from all iniquity (Titus 2:14); because he has been redeemed from under the law (Rom. 6:14); and God means His promise, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31), and he means the promise of the Saviour, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
But when the redeemed man's works shall be burned, though he himself shall be saved (1 Cor. 3:15), he shall suffer loss (1 Cor. 3:15), and the loss shall be irreparable, eternal, and so great that no human being in this age can fully realize it. Here the old translation, the King James' version, has misled us. The oft-quoted sentence, "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" is a mistranslation. The Revised Version translates it correctly: "What shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world and forfeit his life, or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?"—Matt. 16:26. By noticing verse 25, and verse 27 the reader can see what the Saviour meant: "whosoever would save his life shall lose it," not his soul, but his life, "and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it," his life not his soul; "whosoever shall lose his life for my sake,"—men do lose their lives for His sake, but no one loses his soul for the Saviour's sake. Following immediately He says, verse 26, "For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange [Pg 105]for his life?" In verse 27 the Saviour makes plain how a man who would save his life, loses it, and how the one who shall lose his life for the Saviour's sake shall find it,—in the rewards that he loses by trying to save his life, or gains by losing his life for the Saviour's sake, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds." What deeds? Deeds of losing his life for the Saviour's sake. For all eternity he will have no reward for the life he lived here—he has lost his life. Now, the Saviour says that if a man "shall gain the whole world," and in doing so shall "forfeit his life,"—shall have no reward in eternity as a result of his life (the principle laid down by Paul, whether of preachers or of all, "if any man's work shall be burned he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved."—1 Cor. 3:15), he has made a fearful mistake. But if the one who "shall gain the whole world" and in doing so "shall forfeit his life," shall have no reward for it, makes a fearful mistake, how much greater mistake does the one make who forfeits his life to have no reward throughout eternity, in order to gain a very small part of the world, as so many are doing? But if the one who "shall forfeit his life,"—have no reward in eternity,—in order to gain but a very small part of the world, makes such a fearful, such a great mistake, far worse is the bargain made by the unredeemed man who loses not only his life but also loses his soul in order to gain a very small part of "the whole world"; and yet this is what the vast majority of men are doing. We cannot grasp it, we cannot[Pg 106] realize it, but Jesus says that the rewards (not salvation—1 Cor. 3:15) that men are losing are more than "the whole world."
Another teaching of the Saviour along this line has been widely misapplied: "He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods, and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"—Luke 12:16-20. At once many rush to the conclusion that he was lost, that he went to Hell; and they proceed to warn men against laying up treasures in this life and losing their souls. But God said, "This night thy soul shall be required of thee," not "this night thy soul shall go to Hell." Let the Saviour make His own application: "So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God."—Luke 12:21. "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward" (1 Cor. 3:14), he is rich toward God; "if any man's work shall be burned he shall suffer loss" (1 Cor. 3:15), he is a fool; he spent a life here on earth and has no reward in eternity as a result of it;—"but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:15. (If in the passage 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Paul[Pg 107] is speaking only of preachers and their work in building on the foundation of Christ in the lives of others by their teaching, he yet shows that some whose work abides will be rewarded, and that others whose work shall be burned shall suffer loss and yet shall be saved; so that the principle applies with all Christians). Two cases in point:—
A great American statesman was told by his physician that in a few days he must die. That afternoon a minister called to see the dying statesman and asked as to his hope beyond the grave. The dying statesman replied, "Mr. Blank, I am going to Heaven when I die." The minister asked the dying man on what he based his hope. He replied: "Mr. Blank, I am ashamed to say that I am a Christian; but now that the time has come, I must not deny my Saviour. When I am dead tell your people that days before I died, when my mind was calm and clear, I gave my dying testimony that I was going to Heaven, redeemed by the blood of Christ." The minister pressed the question, why he thought he was a Christian. The statesman said to the negro man who was nursing him, "Jack, go into my library and bring me my Bible." Turning to the minister he said, "Mr. Blank, as I said to you, I am ashamed to say that I am a Christian, but now that the time has come, I must not deny my Saviour. Long years ago, back in the old red hills of Georgia, when I was a young man, one Sunday in an old country church I heard a Baptist preacher preach, and I understood him. He showed that God honestly loves this world, that Jesus Christ, God's Son, died for our sins, and that He[Pg 108] died for all of our sins; and that every one who would repent and trust Christ to save him was certain to go to Heaven. Out there in that old country church in the red hills of Georgia I accepted Jesus Christ as my Redeemer and Saviour that Sunday morning, and trusted Him to save me. I came west and became overwhelmed in business and politics. I have wasted my life." Just then the negro man returned and handed the Bible to the dying statesman. He turned the leaves and finally stopped, and turning to the minister he said, "Mr. Blank, I am ashamed to say it, but I don't know much about this book; but I do know that this is God's word; and I do know that out in the old country church in the red hills of Georgia that Sunday morning, when I heard and understood the country preacher, I did, as a guilty, lost, justly condemned sinner, accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Redeemer and trust Him to save me. Listen, Mr. Blank: 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.' Mr. Blank, God says I have everlasting life, and I am going to Heaven when I die." And turning, the great statesman buried his face in his pillow and sobbed out his grief and remorse. He did go to Heaven, "but God said unto him, Thou fool ... so is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God."—Luke 12:20, 21.
The second case in point:—
A rich banker in the West a few weeks before Christmas sent a check for three hundred and fifty dollars to his brother in the East, a poor country preacher, telling him to come and bring all of his family and spend Christmas with him. They had not[Pg 109] seen each other since boyhood. The preacher and family arrived Christmas eve morning. That afternoon in carriages the two families drove over the banker's beautiful farm of a thousand acres of rich land. Coming in late in the afternoon, they came by the pasture and saw the beautiful herd of blooded cattle. After a sumptuous supper the banker's daughters gave them some splendid music and the two families went upstairs to sleep. The two white-haired brothers, the banker and the poor country preacher, remained downstairs, and for hours talked of boyhood days in the old country home in the East. At last the conversation, like the fire in the fireplace, had about died out. Finally the banker turned and said, "Brother John, may I say something to you and you not get angry?" Said the preacher, "Why, brother James, you can say anything you wish to me and I will not get angry." Said the banker, "Brother John, you and I were poor boys back in the old country home in the East and we agreed to be partners for life. One day you came to me and told me that you were called to preach. I told you then that you were a fool. What a fool you have been! Do you remember that rich farm of a thousand acres you saw this afternoon? Paid for with honest money, John. This comfortable home for my old age, paid for with honest money, John. The fifty thousand dollars I have in the bank in the city where I am president of the bank, every dollar of it honest money, John. John, you could have had as much as I have. What a fool you have been! Why, I had to send you the three hundred and fifty dollars to bring you and your[Pg 110] family that I might see them before I die. And look at your daughters; they are dressed in such a shabby way that I am ashamed for my neighbors to see my children's cousins. And look at you with your old seedy, worn suit and your patched shoes; I am ashamed to take you to town day after to-morrow and introduce you to my business associates. What a fool you have been! Now, John, I am not saying this to wound your feelings; for I love you, John. But I don't want you to let any of your boys be such fools as you have been. You know you have been a fool, John." Then there was silence for some time. The tears were trickling down the cheeks of the old country preacher. At last he broke the silence, "Brother James, may I say something to you and you not get angry?" "Why, certainly, John, I did not say what I did to make you angry, but to keep you from letting any of your boys be such fools as you have been, for you know you have been a fool, John." "I know," replied the old preacher, "that it looks like I have been a fool from this end of the line, brother James. But, brother James, we are both old men and we must soon go. Don't be angry with me, brother James, but what have you got up yonder?" Again there was silence, which was suddenly broken by the banker sobbing, "Oh, John, I am a pauper at the judgment bar of God." "So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God." They are dying all over the world, men who are redeemed, going to Heaven, but paupers. "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through[Pg 111] fire,"—1 Cor. 3:15. But far better be a pauper, and saved without any reward, than be a rich man in Hell (Luke 16:22, 23): for they are dying all over the world who not only lived for this life, but from pride, or religious prejudice, or love of the world, or secret sin, would not repent and be redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) and be saved (Acts 16:31).
With this teaching, that there are rewards in Heaven, there is another most helpful teaching and blessed fact, that the poorest, most ignorant and obscure can have just as great rewards as the richest, most learned, most applauded. "Each man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor,"—1 Cor. 3:8, not according to what he accomplishes. "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give each one according as his work shall be,"—Rev. 22:12; not according as his success shall be. "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast in more than all they that have cast into the treasury."—Mark 12:41-43. The wealthy, the mighty, the renowned who serve faithfully after they were redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), shall receive their reward. But the poor, the weak, the obscure who serve faithfully after they are redeemed shall receive equally as great rewards; and[Pg 112] if they have been more faithful, however small their sphere, they shall receive even greater rewards. "Two mites that make a farthing," but it was all she could do; "Verily I say unto you that this poor widow hath cast in more than all they that have cast into the treasury."—Mark 12:42, 43. In an American city, one morning a man apparently sixty or seventy years of age, dressed as a plain business man, walked into the dining-room of one of the leading hotels and sat down to breakfast. Some men at the adjoining table were talking of a sad case of suffering, as reported in the morning paper; a poor widow with five children was very sick, who had, since her husband's death a few years before, struggled and made a living for herself and children; but now, having been down sick for some time, everything was gone and they were suffering. The stranger listened to the sad story; and, having finished breakfast, he called a newsboy and bought a paper. The account gave the street address of the poor widow. He went to the street address, a street of poor cottages, and, knocking at the door, was led into the sick room by a child. He saw the condition of affairs and heard the widow's story. Sitting by the bedside, he talked in a fatherly, cheerful way and tried to encourage the poor widow; and quietly slipping something under the pillow, as he was talking, he told the widow to use that as she needed it. Then taking out a little book from his pocket, he wrote something and tore the paper out of the little book and slipped the paper under a book and told the widow to use that when she needed it. Then calling down God's blessings upon the widow and her fatherless [Pg 113]children, he bade them good-bye. As the door closed, the widow slipped her hand under the pillow and drew out a roll of money, to her a large sum. Then she reached for the piece of paper under the book on the table. There was a check for a goodly sum, signed by one of America's Christian millionaires. The glow in his soul as he walked away from the widow's cottage was not the only reward—"thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."—Luke 14:14. But the following Sunday a poor widow working in a sweatshop to make a living for her fatherless children, listened to an appeal for foreign missions, to get the gospel to those who have never heard, and she threw in ten cents, all she could give, "two mites that make a farthing."—"Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast in more than all they that have cast into the treasury."—Mark 12:42, 43. All over the world, by the multiplied millions, there are graves where lie sleeping the bodies of those who, down the ages, because they were redeemed, gave their lives in service. They went down to their graves, their praises unsung by the world. Many of them went down to their graves, never realizing that there were rewards for them; simply rejoicing in their salvation through Him who loved them and gave Himself for them (Gal. 2:20).
Riding along a lonely country road one Sunday afternoon, many years ago, returning from a country church, a young preacher was talking to his companion, a young man eighteen years of age, telling him of God's love and of God's plan with men. The conversation had ended, and for some minutes they had been riding along in silence, when suddenly the young man spurred his horse up to the young preacher's horse, and seizing the reins, stopped both horses. Dropping the reins, he threw both arms around the preacher's neck, and as he began sobbing said, "Oh, R——, how good God is!" How little men consider God's goodness. How good God is to have ever brought us into being! How good God is, though we have all sinned against Him (Rom. 3:23), "that he might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26), to have provided complete redemption for us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14)! How good God is to have "in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself"!—Eph. 1:5. How good God is to chastise us in love (Heb. 12:5, 6) instead of punishing us in Hell for our sins after we become His children (Ps. 89:27-34)! How good God is to place us where we will serve Him from love, and not from fear of punishment (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)! How good God is,[Pg 115] in addition to our salvation, to provide rewards in Heaven for the services we render here (Matt. 6:20)! How good God is to provide that the poor, the ignorant, the obscure, can have just as great rewards as the more fortunate ones (Mark 1:41, 42)! How good God is to say, "if any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire"!—1 Cor. 3:15.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—The objection that the teaching of rewards in Heaven makes Christianity too matter-of-fact is not well taken. Punishments or rewards last through all eternity; with the unredeemed, in added degrees to the punishment in Hell; with the redeemed, in added rewards in Heaven. And they need to realize that with both classes this applies to the smallest deeds: "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment."—Matt. 12:36. "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."—Matt. 10:42.
Neither is the objection well taken that to teach men to aim to have rewards in Heaven is appealing to an unworthy motive. Jesus taught it (Matt. 6:20), Paul taught it (1 Cor. 3:11-15), Moses endorsed it (Heb. 11:26), and the objector himself prays for God's blessings here in this life.
Nor is the objection well founded, that for people to aim to have rewards will destroy the motive of love. Rather, it adds to the motive of love. A father gives his son, yet not of age, a fine farm. That[Pg 116] arouses the boy's love. The father tells the boy that, though not of age, he may have the full reward of his labor on the farm, beginning at once. This does not destroy the motive of love. So, the Saviour, having died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), and given us eternal life (John 10:28, 29), arouses our love; to give us the privilege of having rewards in addition to salvation (Matt. 6:20), does not destroy our love, but increases it.
There is one limitation God's word makes to our deeds being rewarded: "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in Heaven. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee."—Matt. 6:1-4. If a redeemed man does his righteous deeds in order to get glory as reward here, he gets it, but none in Heaven,—the wrong motive prevents his receiving rewards in Heaven. God rewards according to the motive.
There seems to be one other limitation to receiving rewards in Heaven for the deeds of this life: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great[Pg 117] in the kingdom of Heaven."—Matt. 5:19. The teaching seems to be that for one to deliberately break even the least commandment, while he will be saved ("The least in the kingdom of Heaven") yet he will have no reward ("The least in the kingdom of Heaven").
There is one passage of Scripture that some have thought contradicts the teaching of different rewards in Heaven: "The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man, an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard and whatsoever is right I will give you, and they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more, and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one[Pg 118] hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is and go thy way; I will give unto this last even as unto thee."—Matt. 20:1-14. From this the conclusion is drawn that there are no different rewards in Heaven; that all are rewarded alike. But not only does God's word elsewhere teach different rewards in Heaven, but the Saviour made His teaching on this point very plain. In the parable of the pounds, the servant who with one pound gained ten pounds is rewarded with authority over ten cities. But the one who with one pound gained only five pounds is rewarded with only five cities (Luke 19:16-19). This shows clearly a difference in rewards. If, now, this passage in Matthew teaches no difference in rewards, then we have a positive contradiction. But consider the two parables: the parable of the pounds is where men have the same opportunity, each one a pound; then they are rewarded according to what they accomplish. The parable of the vineyard is where the laborers work different lengths of time; in the morning, boys and girls, six, eight, ten, twelve years of age, becoming Christians and going into the vineyard; the third hour, young people, fifteen, eighteen, twenty years of age, becoming Christians and going into the vineyard; the sixth hour, young men and young women, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five years of age, becoming Christians and going into the vineyard; the ninth hour, men and women past middle life, forty, forty-five, fifty years of age, becoming[Pg 119] Christians and going into the vineyard; the eleventh hour, old men and women, sixty, seventy, eighty years of age, becoming Christians and going into the vineyard. But does the Saviour mean all old men and women who become Christians in old age and begin working in the vineyard? No, for He limits it to those in old age who can say, "No man hath hired us." Then the Saviour means by the eleventh hour laborers in the parable those who in old age had never before had the opportunity of going into the vineyard; who had never before heard or understood the way to be saved, and enter God's service. With these, the Saviour reserves the sovereign right to give them just as great rewards as though they had entered the vineyard "early in the morning"; not that those who "have borne the burden and heat of the day" shall receive less, but that those who did not have the opportunity of entering the vineyard sooner, shall not lose because of it. Some one may think that there are no old men and women who do not know the way to be saved and enter the vineyard. Even in professedly Christian lands there are many old men and women who, because of wrong religious teaching, have never seen the real way to be saved; and in China and Africa there are vast numbers who can say, "No man hath hired us." To take a case: a mere child becomes a Christian and serves in the vineyard for seventy years; an old Chinaman eighty years of age hears the gospel for the first time, and becomes a Christian and works in the vineyard only one year and dies. He will receive as great a reward as the one who served God seventy years. Apply this[Pg 120] principle to the redeemed who died in early life: if those who entered at the eleventh hour, "because no man hath hired us" receive for one hour as much as those who have labored throughout the day, then those who entered the third hour and the Lord of the vineyard himself took them out the fourth hour, will receive as great rewards as though they had been left to bear the burden and heat of the day. Blessed consolation to those who have lost loved ones who were taken early in life.
Three of the Saviour's parables are closely connected in their teaching concerning rewards: The parable of the pounds, where each servant has a pound and one gains ten pounds and another five; one receives authority over ten cities, the other receives authority over five cities, just half the reward of the other, because he was just half as faithful (Luke 19:16-19). This parable represents that class of men who have equal opportunity in life (each one a pound) and teaches that their reward will be in proportion to what they accomplish. The second is the parable of the vineyard, representing the length of time of service when the laborers were not to blame for not entering the vineyard earlier; showing that they shall not lose because they could not get into the vineyard to work earlier. The third is the parable of the talents, where the one with five talents gained five other talents and the one with two talents gained two other talents, and they both received the same commendation, the same reward, "I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matt. 25:20-23); teaching that the one with small opportunity (two talents) if he uses[Pg 121] it faithfully, will receive as great reward as the one with great opportunity (five talents) who uses it faithfully.
A widely misunderstood passage of Scripture bearing on the subject of rewards is 1 Cor. 9:24-27: "Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but only one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every contestant in the games is temperate in all things. They, indeed, do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I buffet my body and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, after having preached to others, I myself should be disapproved."—The 1911 Bible. The Authorized Version reads "a castaway"; the Revised Version reads "rejected." Many have thought that Paul was striving that he might not be a castaway (or rejected) from salvation. But notice the passage; he was striving not to be a castaway (or rejected) from something that is secured as a result of one's own efforts, "so run that ye may obtain." Salvation is not secured as a result of one's efforts; "to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."—Rom. 4:5. Rewards are secured as a result of one's own efforts; "each man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor."—1 Cor. 3:8. Again, what Paul was striving not to be a castaway (or rejected) from, is something that one receives after the race is finished; but salvation comes at the beginning of the race course, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life,"—John[Pg 122] 3:36; "by grace have ye been saved."—Eph. 2:8. Rewards do come after the race is finished;—"thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."—Luke 14:14. Again, in saying "I buffet my body," he has no reference to buffeting his body to keep it from sin, but from comforts and privileges that are not sinful. In the entire chapter he has referred only to his not eating and drinking; not leading about a wife as well as other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas; not being supported by those to whom he preached (1 Cor. 9:4-14); and in each case he says that he has a right to these things. Was Paul buffeting his body against having a wife lest he should be a castaway (or rejected) from salvation? Then only the Roman Catholic priests, among the preachers, will be saved. Was Paul buffeting his body against being supported by those to whom he preached, and working with his own hands for his living, lest he should be a castaway (or rejected) from salvation? Then the Roman Catholic priests and almost all of the Protestant and Baptists preachers will be lost. Will a man be a castaway (or rejected) from salvation for enjoying comforts and privileges that are not sinful and to which he has a right? But let Paul state for himself what he means: "For if I do this thing willingly I have a reward."—1 Cor. 9:17. He then urges the Corinthian Christians to run in the race that they may receive the prize. "I buffet my body and bring it into subjection (from enjoying these sinless comforts and privileges); lest that by any means, after having preached (R. V. margin "have been a herald") to others (preaching or heralding to[Pg 123] run in the race and so run as to obtain the prize, the reward) I myself should be disapproved" (a castaway, rejected,—from the prize, the reward). "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:14, 15.
But does Paul teach that there are rewards for bodily sufferings and self-denials? Let him explain: "Though I am free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more."—1 Cor. 9:19. That, by giving up these comforts and privileges he might win more people to be saved (1 Cor. 9:20-22).
There is the prize, there are rewards, for those who bring their bodies under from comforts and privileges that they may thereby win others to be saved. With the coppers in the foreign mission envelope from an orphan newsboy was found a note written in a child's awkward handwriting, "Starved a meal to give a meal." He would not have been a castaway from salvation had he bought and eaten his lunch that day; but there will be, at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14), the prize for having brought his body into subjection that he might gain the more.
During a collection for foreign missions, a poor, ragged, one-legged negro hobbled down the aisle and laid three packages of money on the table: "Dat's fur my wife; dat's fur my boy; dat's fur me." When the collector saw the amount, he protested, saying that it was too much for a poor crippled man to give. As a matter of fact, it meant weeks of sacrificing,[Pg 124] sometimes with no meat on the table. As the tears trickled down the black cheeks, the negro said, "Oh, Boss, de Lord's cause must go on, and I may soon be dead"; and turning he hobbled back to his seat. He was only a poor, ignorant, one-legged negro, but he ran in the race, and at the resurrection of the just he will receive the prize.
A Christian Chinaman sold himself to some mine owners that he might go down in the mines and while working lead his fellow-Chinamen to be saved. He had no support from those to whom he preached, but worked with his own hands. He ran in the race, and will receive the prize.
If the young Catholic priest was redeemed who turned from the comforts and privileges of a wife and home and gave himself for the lepers, there will be the prize at the resurrection of the just.
The world says that a man is a fool to make such sacrifices; Jesus said: "Thou fool ... so is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God."—Luke 12:20, 21. "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:14, 15.
HOW TO BE SAVED—REPENTANCE AND FAITH
"Repent ye and believe the gospel."—Mark 1:15.
"Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."—Acts 20:21.
"And ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."—Matt. 21:32.
"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."—Luke 13:3.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:14,15.
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:30, 31.
Wherever repentance and faith are mentioned in God's word without one exception, repentance comes before faith. There is a faith that comes before repentance; but it is pure historical faith, and does not result in salvation. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is,"—Heb. 11:26; the demons believe in God's existence, that He is; Thomas Paine believed in God's existence, that He is. But the faith that results in salvation invariably comes after repentance; "And ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."—Matt. 21:32. If, therefore, the faith that saves must come after repentance, then those who have no saving faith after repentance, have no salvation, are not really redeemed. Not only so, but if saving faith must come after repentance, then those who place the only faith they[Pg 126] claim, before repentance, do not understand what saving faith is.
Jesus preached, "Repent ye and believe the gospel."—Mark 1:15. Paul preached "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."—Acts 20:21. What does "repent" or "repentance" mean?
God's word teaches that one must repent in order to believe. "And ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."—Matt. 21:32. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."—Luke 13:3. Then whatever "repentance" or "repent" means, it is something that must take place before one can be saved, before he can "believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15); before he can have "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."—Acts 20:21. The Saviour gives a complete, perfect picture of salvation, and in that picture we can find what repentance means: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:14, 15. Jesus says "As," "even so"; then in the case of the serpent in the wilderness we have a complete, perfect picture of the way of salvation. By seeing what came back there before the lifting up of the serpent, we can see what comes before believing in Him, or "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice the incident to which the Saviour referred as showing the complete picture of the way of salvation: "And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: And the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people[Pg 127] spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."—Num. 21:4-9. These people realized that they had sinned against God; that their sins deserved punishment; that they were justly condemned—"we have sinned";—that they were helpless, "Pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us"; and in their helpless condition they turned from their sins and turned to God. There had been, then, an entire change of mind and purpose, or they would never have turned from their sins to God. When they faced the fact that they had sinned and were justly condemned, there resulted sorrow, and their sorrow led to the change of mind and purpose to turn from their sins to God. Had there been no conviction of sin, no realization that they had sinned and were justly condemned, there would have been no change of mind, or[Pg 128] purpose to turn from sin to God. Here, then, we have what repentance is,—a conviction of sin, such a realization of the fact that one has sinned and is justly condemned that it produces such sorrow as leads to an entire change of mind and purpose to turn from sin and turn to God. God then provided the easiest way for them, "every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it [the brazen serpent] shall live."—Num. 21:8. The Saviour says, "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:15.
Notice the case of the jailor, Acts 16:22-34. When the jailor fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Verse 30), they did not say, "Repent"; they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved."—Verse 31. But God's word teaches plainly that we must repent in order to believe (Matt. 21:32; Luke 13:3). Then repentance must have already taken place,—he must have already repented,—or they would have taught him "repentance toward God" as well as "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."—Acts 20:21. Go back and notice the jailor's case: the night before, he had taken Paul and Silas with their backs bloody from the beating they had received, and had not washed their stripes (Verse 33), had given them no supper (Verse 34), and had thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. He was utterly hardened. The praying and singing hymns to God by Paul and Silas, the sudden earthquake, Paul's crying out against his committing [Pg 129]suicide, had convicted him of sin, such a conviction as had produced sorrow, for he came trembling and fell down before them; and the sorrow had led to an entire change of mind and purpose, and he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"—"what," anything God would have me do I am ready to do,—he had turned from his sins and had turned to God. Hence they did not say "Repent," for he had repented; but they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31.
Having seen what the Saviour meant by repentance, let us go to the meaning of the word translated "repent." "This word," says J. P. Boyce, the great theologian, in his systematic theology, "means to reconsider, perceive afterwards and to change one's view, mind or purpose, or even judgment, implying disapproval and abandonment of past opinions and purposes, and the adoption of others which are different." B. H. Carroll, President Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: "We may therefore give as the one invariable definition of New Testament repentance that it is a change of mind." B. H. Carroll, again, "Repentance is a change of mind toward God concerning a course of sin leading rapidly down to death and eternal ruin." Once more from B. H. Carroll: "If in one moment the soul is contrite enough to turn in abhorrence of sin against God from all self-help to our Lord Jesus Christ by faith, it is sufficient." John A. Broadus, the great American scholar and teacher: "To repent, then, as a religious term of the New Testament, is to change the mind, thought or purpose as regards sin and the service of God—a[Pg 130] change naturally accompanied by deep sorrow for past sins, and naturally leading to a change of outward life."
As the Bible teaches that no man can be saved who has not repented ("Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."—Luke 13:3), and as no one has repented who has not been convicted of sin, who has not seen himself a guilty, justly condemned sinner, it follows that no one is saved, no one can be saved, who does not believe that God will and ought to punish sin. But to those who have repented, the way to be saved is simple, easy, sure: "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—There has been much misunderstanding about repentance. Some men, as Moody, Harry Moorehouse, J. H. Brookes, etc., have been charged with not preaching enough repentance, simply because they did not use the words "repent" and "repentance" as much as others; whereas, others who use the words often, and tell touching incidents, are said to preach "old-fashioned repentance." It is not the word repentance that God requires, but the thing repentance, and a sinner must repent or he cannot believe (Matt. 21:32) and he will perish (Luke 13:3). The gospel of John is the only book of the Bible given specifically to sinners to lead them to be saved. The way of salvation can be found in many of the books of the Bible, and is taught in them; but the gospel of John is the only book of the Bible given for the special, specific purpose of leading a sinner to be saved. "Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written[Pg 131] in this book: but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name."—John 20:30, 31. In this book, given specifically to lead a sinner to be saved, the word "repentance" or "repent" does not occur, but the thing repentance does (John 3:14, 15).
On the difference between the thing repentance and the word repentance, give attention to the words of John A. Broadus, the great American scholar and teacher already quoted: "Great difficulty has been found in translating this Greek word 'metanoein' into languages. The Syriac version, unable to give the precise meaning, falls back upon 'turn,' the same word as the Hebrew. The Latin version gives 'Exercise penitence' (poenitentiam agere). But this Latin penitence, apparently connected by etymology with pain, signifies grief or distress, and is rarely extended to a change of purpose, thus corresponding to the Hebrew word which we render 'repent,' but not corresponding to the terms employed in Old Testament and New Testament exhortations. Hence a subtle and pernicious error, pervading the whole sphere of Latin Christianity, by which the exhortation of the New Testament is understood to be an exhortation to grief over sin, as the primary and principal idea of the term. One step farther and penitence was contracted into penance, and associated with mediæval ideas unknown to the New Testament, and the English Version made by Romanists now represents John and Jesus and Peter as saying (poenitentiam agere) do penance. From a late Latin compound (repoenitere)[Pg 132] comes our English word 'repent,' which inherits the fault of the Latin; making grief the prominent element, and change of purpose secondary, if expressed at all. Thus our English word corresponds exactly to the second Greek word (metamelesthai), and to the Hebrew word rendered repent, but sadly fails to translate the exhortation of the New Testament."
Repentance is not a price that the sinner pays for salvation; neither is the sorrow that leads to repentance a price that he pays for salvation. And repentance does not make the sinner a fit subject for salvation; nor does the sorrow that leads to repentance make him a fit subject for salvation. No one can see that he has violated God's just and holy law and is guilty, justly condemned, helpless, without its producing sorrow and this sorrow will lead to repentance, to an entire change of mind and purpose, to turning from sin, and, as B. H. Carroll expressed it, from all self-help ("repentance from dead works,"—Heb. 6:1) to God.
Some are sometimes troubled as to how much sorrow there must be. There are different degrees of sorrow in different people, but there must be enough sorrow to lead to repentance, to an entire change of mind and purpose.
"In both the Old Testament and the New Testament exhortation the element of grief for sin is left in the background, neither word directly expressing grief at all, though it must in the nature of things be present."—Jno. A. Broadus.
"To repent is to change your mind about sin and Christ and all the good things of God. There is[Pg 133] sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning you have the essence of the repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever have cast their shadow upon your mind."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"Conviction of sin is just the sinner seeing himself as he is and as God has all along seen him."—H. Bonar, in "God's Way of Peace."
"The object of the Holy Spirit's work in convincing of sin is to alter the sinner's opinion of himself and so to reduce his estimate of his own character, that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by any excellence of his own. Having altered the sinner's good opinion of himself, the Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to deal is really the God of all grace."—Bonar.
"It is impossible, therefore, in the nature of things, for a sinful being to appreciate God's mercy unless he first feels His justice as manifest in the holy law."—Walker, in "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
"Man cannot repent and turn from sin till he is convicted of sin in himself."—Walker, in "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
"The more we feel the want of a benefactor, temporal or spiritual, and the more we feel our inability to rescue ourselves from existing difficulties and impending dangers, the more grateful love will the heart feel for the being who, moved by, and in despite of, personal sacrifices, interposes to assist and save us."—Walker, in "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
"As a feeling of want was necessary in order that the soul might love the being that supplied that want, and as Jesus came to bestow spiritual mercies upon mankind, how could men be brought to feel the want of a spiritual Benefactor and Saviour?"... "According to the constitution which God has given the soul, it must feel the want of the spiritual mercies before it can feel love for the giver of those mercies. And just in proportion as the soul feels its lost, guilty, and dangerous condition, in the same proportion will it exercise love to the being who grants spiritual favor and salvation. How then could the spiritual want be produced in the souls of men in order that they might love the spiritual benefactor?"... "The only possible way by which man could be made to hope for and appreciate spiritual mercies and to love a spiritual deliverer would be to produce a conviction in the soul itself of its evil condition, its danger as a spiritual being, and its inability, unaided, to satisfy the requirements of a spiritual law, or to escape its just and spiritual penalty. If man could be made to perceive that he was guilty and needy; that his soul was under the condemnation of the holy law of the holy God, he would then, necessarily, feel the need of a deliverance from sin and its consequences; and in this way only, could the soul of man be led to appreciate spiritual mercies, or love a spiritual benefactor."—Walker, in "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
THE MEANING OF "BELIEVE ON" OR "BELIEVE IN" CHRIST
"God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:16 (R. V.).
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."—John 6:27.
"He that believeth on me shall never thirst."—John 6:35.
"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins."—Acts 10:43.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31.
"John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus."—Acts 19:4.
"To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness."—Rom. 4:5.
"Whosoever liveth and believeth in [into] me shall never die. Believest thou this?"—John 11:26.
"We have believed in [into] Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law."—Gal. 2:16 (R. V.).
"I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day."—2 Tim. 1:12 (R. V.).
If language can be made plain, if it can be used to express a fact clearly, then God's word teaches clearly, unmistakably, that the one who believes on Christ is going to Heaven. One may think it to be too good to be true, when he reads what God's word says along this line; he may be honestly tempted to suspect that there must be many hidden, suppressed conditions, which, if expressed, would make the meaning different; or from religious prejudice, he may warp the meaning or bring in other conditions;—but God's word is plain.
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:16.
It does not say, whosoever believeth on him and unites with the right church, or is baptized the right way, or lives the right kind of a life; it simply says, "whosoever believeth on him"; and then the promise is plain and absolute, "should not perish."
Jesus said, "he that believeth on me shall never thirst."—John 6:35. He did not say, he that believeth on me and unites with the right church, or is baptized the right way, or lives the right kind of a life; he said plainly, simply, "he that believeth on me," and then added "shall never thirst."
Peter to the household of Cornelius said, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins."—Acts 10:43. He did not say, whosoever believeth on him and unites with the right church, or is baptized the right way, or lives the right kind of a life; but simply, "whosoever believeth on him," and then adds the plain promise, "shall receive remission of sins."
When the jailor came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" they answered, simply, plainly, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31. They did not say, believe on the Lord Jesus and unite with the right church, or be baptized the right way, or live the right kind of a life; they said simply, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."
When Paul wrote to the Romans, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness,"—Rom. 4:5, he did not say, believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly and unites with the right church, or is baptized the right way, or lives the right kind of a life; but simply, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness."
Jesus to the grief-stricken sister of Lazarus said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in [into] me shall never die."—John 11:26. He did not say, whosoever liveth and believeth in me and unites with the right church, or is baptized the right way, or lives the right kind of life; but simply and plainly, "whosoever liveth and believeth in me," and then He adds His plain promise, "shall never die."
When Paul said to the Galatians, "we have believed in [into] Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ,"—Gal. 2:16, he did not say, we have believed in Jesus Christ and united with the right church and been baptized the right way, that we might be justified by faith of Christ and not by the works of the law. Instead of this, he puts it in simple, plain language.
In all of these cases, these conditions could have been expressed just as easily by the Saviour and Peter and Paul as they are expressed by religious teachers to-day. Why did not the Saviour and Peter and Paul express these conditions? There can be but one answer,—because they are not conditions of salvation. How could the Saviour and Peter and Paul have left[Pg 138] out these conditions if they are conditions of salvation?
But the question arises, if being baptized the right way and living the right kind of a life are not conditions of salvation, why do these things? Not from fear of Hell; God desires no service from that motive. Let the Saviour tell why. When He instituted the Lord's supper, He said, "This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many, for the remission of sins,"—Matt. 26:28; and then before leaving the upper room He said to His disciples: "if ye love me, keep my commandments."—John 14:15. Why love Him? Love Him because He shed His blood for the remission of their sins. Let Paul tell us why serve Him: "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again."—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
Now comes the all-important question, what do these parallel expressions, "believe on Christ" or "believe in [into] Christ" mean? Many, when they see how simple and plain is the teaching, say, "Why, almost every one believes on Christ." No; they believe about Christ, but not on Christ. A wealthy man deposits a large sum of money in the bank and promises to pay the debts of all the poor people who will trust him to pay their debts. They all may believe him, may believe about him; but only those who believe on him, depend on him, rely on him to pay their debts, will have their debts paid. So Christ died for[Pg 139] all our sins (1 Cor. 15:3); He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14); but only those who believe on Him, depend on Him, rely on Him to save them, will ever be saved. The man who is depending on Christ and his baptism or Christ and his church, or Christ and his good life to save him, will be lost; for he is not believing on, depending on, relying on, Christ to save him; but only partly on Christ and partly on something else; and there is no promise in God's word that those who partly believe on Christ shall be saved. The very fact that a man depends partly on Christ and partly on something else to save him, shows that he has never believed that the Saviour "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:13, 14); the Saviour he is depending on is not the Saviour God's word reveals; and hence he has no Saviour at all.
Notice Paul's instruction to the Romans concerning believing on Christ: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness."—Rom. 4:5. Consider the simple but vital teaching of this passage: He justifieth the ungodly. How? "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood ... to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:25, 26); "being now justified by his blood."—Rom. 5:9. And He justifies us from all sin, "Our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:13, 14); redeems us from the curse[Pg 140] of the law (Gal. 3:13), redeems us from under the law (Rom. 6:14), and this makes us God's children (Gal. 4:4-7).
Consider further: He justifies the ungodly. If He justifies the ungodly then all efforts to become godly in order to be saved, are worse than wasted and are in rebellion against God's plan for men. "When we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly."—Rom. 5:6. "God commendeth his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."—Rom. 5:8. "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son."—Rom. 5:10. Why? Because Christ justifies the ungodly. The Saviour did not say to Nicodemus, "Whosoever becomes godly should not perish," but "Whosoever believeth on him." Why? Because He justifies the ungodly. Paul and Silas did not say to the jailor, a hardened sinner, "Become godly and thou shalt be saved"; but "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." Why? Because He justifies the ungodly. On what condition does He justify the ungodly? "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him." Here is the work of the soul to be saved; Paul says to cease working at the task, and believe on, depend on, Him—He justifies the ungodly. God gave men ten commandments to keep. God's word says, "The man that doeth them shall live by them."—Gal. 3:12. But all men have failed to keep them; "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."—Rom. 3:23. To illustrate: A father gives a little boy ten rows of corn to work out and says to him, "Willie, if you will work out[Pg 141] the ten rows of corn to-day, I will pay you five dollars; but it will take steady work all day." About nine o'clock some boys persuade Willie to play, and he plays with them for two hours. Now he cannot get the task done, and so is sure to lose the five dollars. His grown brother comes to him and says, "Willie, I saw the trouble you were getting into, and had a talk with father. Father says that the work must be done or you will lose the five dollars. But father agreed to let me do the work for you. Now if you will quit working at the task and trust me, depend on me, I will see that the work is done, and that you get the five dollars." The little brother quits working at the task, and gets out of the field. He believes on, depends on, trusts, his big brother. If, now, there is any failure, it will be the big brother's failure, and not the little brother's. So, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness." If, then, the sinner will quit working at the task of his salvation and believe on, depend on Christ, trust the whole work of salvation to Him, He will "justify the ungodly" from "all iniquity" (Titus 2:14). If, then, there should be any failure of being saved, it would be Christ's failure, for He said, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."—John 6:37. Why, then, should the one who has thus trusted Christ ever be baptized, or live a faithful, godly life? Go back to the illustration: As the little brother quits working at the task in the field and believes on, depends on, trusts, the big brother to have the task done, a man meets him and says, "Willie, your[Pg 142] brother was good to you. But to do your work for you, that you might not lose the five dollars, he left his field, and it needs work badly. If I were in your place, from love to my big brother, I would go and work in his field for him." The little brother says, "I will do it, sir." He goes over into his big brother's field and works harder than ever, not from fear of losing the five dollars, but from love to his big brother. So the Saviour, after we have believed on Him, trusted Him to save, justify us, says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."—John 14:15. "Go work to-day in my vineyard,"—Matt. 21:28; not "in your own." All the work that the redeemed, the saved, man does is not in his own field, to get the task done, that he may be saved; but in the big brother's field, from love to the big brother for having relieved him of the entire responsibility for the task.
To follow up the illustration: The big brother sees the little brother working in the big brother's field and he goes to him and says, "Willie, I appreciate this, for you are doing it from love to me. If you were doing it from fear lest I might not keep my promise, it would hurt me; for that would show that you did not trust me. But you cannot work for me for nothing. I will pay you fifty cents for every hour you work in my field. Now, work hard and have a large reward for your labor." So the Saviour says, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."—Matt. 10:42. And he says, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven."—Matt. 6:20.[Pg 143] "He shall reward every man according to his works."—Matt. 16:27. The reward of fifty cents for every hour's work does not destroy the motive of love that moves the little brother; it only increases the motive of love.
But do not redeemed people, God's children, sometimes become backsliders? Yes. Go back to the illustration of the little brother and his task. As he is working from love to his big brother, in the big brother's field, the bad boys follow him and tempt him, and prevail on him to leave the big brother's field and to mistreat the big brother. The father sees it all; goes and takes the little brother out into the forest and reproves him for his wrong to his big brother, and then chastises him and sends him back to the big brother's field. So, when God's redeemed, saved children backslide, do wrong wilfully, He chastises them. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."—Heb. 12:5, 6. "Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer my faithfulness to fail."—Ps. 89:27-33.
Reader, which field are you working in? Are you working in your own field? trying to accomplish a task, now that you have sinned, you can never accomplish?—Meet all of God's just laws and requirements, and develop a character that will entitle you to a home in Heaven? Heed the message, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness." Believe on Him, depend on Him, to justify you from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). The moment you do, your eternal destiny is settled, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—John 5:24. Then, from love to the big brother, go into his field and work till the day is done.
In telling of his own salvation, Paul again makes plain what "believe on the Lord Jesus" means: "I know him whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." Notice this declaration as to the apostle's salvation: "I know him." A man must "know him" or he cannot "believe on" Christ. He can risk Him without knowing Him, but he cannot believe on Him, cannot trust Him for salvation. It does not mean, know Him in every respect, as to how His divine and human nature could be united; as to how He could have had eternal existence; as to how His resurrected body could appear and disappear, etc., but to know Him in His character as Saviour. In trusting money to a bank one does not need to know how much German or French or English blood there[Pg 145] is in the bank officials. In trusting one's case to a physician, one does not need to know the different nationalities from which he is descended, but he needs to know him in his character as physician. So men must know Jesus in His character as Saviour, or they cannot believe on, trust Him to save them. They must, then, know Him as the Messiah, the promised Saviour, the complete sin-bearer, or they cannot believe on Him. But after one knows the bank, he must commit his money to the bank, else the bank is not responsible for it. After one knows the physician, he must commit his case to the physician, else the physician is not responsible. And so Paul says, "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." No one, then, is redeemed, is saved, who has not committed his salvation to Christ against that day. Let the reader get clearly the meaning of "commit." No one has committed money to the bank who yet holds to the money; no one has committed a package to the express company who yet holds to the package; no one has committed a letter to the post-office for delivery who yet holds to the letter. So no one has committed his salvation to Christ, no one is redeemed, is saved, who yet holds to the work of his salvation. He must commit it to Christ.
Further, no one has committed his money to the bank who has not left the entire responsibility for the money's safety to the bank, leaving no further responsibility whatever upon himself for the safety of the money. No one has committed a package to the express company, who has not left the whole responsibility [Pg 146]for the delivery of the package entirely to the company, leaving no responsibility whatever upon himself for its safe delivery. No one has committed a letter to the post-office who has not left the entire responsibility for its safe delivery to the government, leaving no responsibility whatever upon himself for its safe delivery. Even so, no one has committed his salvation to Christ, no one is redeemed, is saved, who has not left the entire responsibility of his salvation to Christ, leaving no responsibility whatever for his salvation upon himself.
But one may have committed his money to the bank and yet not really have trusted the bank, but only risked the bank; one may have committed a package to the express company and yet not really have trusted the express company, but only risked it; one may have committed a letter to the post-office and yet not really have trusted the post-office, but only risked it. So, one may have committed his salvation to Christ, and yet be unredeemed, unsaved, because he only risked Christ and did not trust Him. Hence Paul says, "I know him whom I have believed," trusted, taken at His word.
One other fact needs to be considered as to what believing on Christ means in Paul's case. He says, "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." It is not a committal of one's salvation to Christ a moment at a time, nor till one can see how he will afterwards feel; nor till one can see whether he is going to be able to live a Christian life. It is to commit one's salvation to Christ "against that day." And the moment [Pg 147]one does what Paul did, commits his salvation to Christ against that day, God's word says he is saved, redeemed: "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—John 5:24.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—When Paul says, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,"—Rom. 4:5, he is in line with the teaching of the Saviour when He said, "The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you,"—Matt. 21:31; and if the teaching of the Saviour and Paul on this point is true, then there is not left one square inch of ground on which the teachers of "salvation by character" may stand. They are not in agreement with the Saviour and Paul on this point, but there is one with whom they are here in strict agreement; "I hope for happiness beyond this life"; "I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy"; "The only true religion is deism, by which I then meant and now mean the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues; and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested my hopes of happiness hereafter. So say I now, and so help me God." These are exact quotations from "The Age of Reason," by Thomas Paine. And those who preach "salvation by character" thus line up with Paine against the Saviour and[Pg 148] Paul. They fail to see that there can be no proper character without proper motive, and that there can, in the sight of God, be no proper motive till one is redeemed, saved, and thus placed where the motive will be love, the purest motive possible to human beings. And they fail to see that God's plan with men is to save irrespective of character, and then to develop in the redeemed man the real character for all eternity.
God has not two ways of salvation; He has not two ways of believing on Christ. What is essential to one man's salvation is essential to the salvation of every man. What is "believing on Christ" for one man, is believing on Christ for every man. When Paul says "I know him whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day,"—2 Tim. 1:12 (R. V.), he has given the pattern of saving faith. "I know him." Man must know Him in His real character as Saviour or he cannot commit to Him against that day the matter of his eternal destiny, cannot believe on Him. What are the essential things, then, that must be included in "I know him" in His character as Saviour, in order that one can believe on Him, be saved by Him, be a real Christian? First, one must know Him as the promised Messiah, in order to really believe on Him, to be really a Christian. The high priest asked, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am."—Mark 14:61, 62. The woman at the well said, "I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ: When he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee, am he."—John 4:25, 26.[Pg 149] As Ballard, in "The Miracles of Unbelief," has clearly pointed out, either (1) He was the Messiah; or (2) He was the illegitimate son of a fallen woman and the vilest deceiver the world has ever known, or (3) He was the illegitimate son of a fallen woman, and a poor, simple-minded ignoramus, who claimed to be the Messiah and honestly thought He was, but was simply ignorant and deluded. Men in their intellectual pride or religious prejudice may sneer and try to avoid this issue, but every honest thinking man will see and confess that only these three conclusions are possible, that one of the three is inevitable: and every honest man will take one of the three positions. Voltaire said "curse the wretch." He is to be commended as compared with the man who tries to avoid the issue.
Second, one must know Him as complete Redeemer in order to believe on Him, in order to commit one's salvation to Him against that day. There is no middle ground. He was either no redeemer at all, or He "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity."—Titus 2:14. To try to avoid the issue here is as fatal as to try to avoid the issue as to His being the Messiah. To believe on, to commit one's salvation to, a partial Redeemer, is to have no redeemer at all, to be left unredeemed, unsaved.
Third, to know Him in order to believe on Him, to commit one's salvation to Him against that day, one must know Him as having been really raised from the dead. Belief in the real resurrection of the Saviour is essential to salvation. For one to be heralded abroad as a great preacher and theologian who yet[Pg 150] denies the literal, real resurrection of the Saviour, cannot change God's word that all such are yet unredeemed, lost, not real Christians. God's word is plain on this point: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."—Rom. 10:9. "If Christ hath not been raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."—1 Cor. 15:17.
Chalmers, the great Scotch preacher, in a letter to a friend made plain what believing on Christ means: "I must say that I never had so close and satisfactory a view of the gospel salvation, as when I have been led to contemplate it in the light of a simple offer on the one side, and a simple acceptance on the other. It is just saying to one and all of us, There is forgiveness through the blood of My Son: Take it, and whoever believes the reality of the offer takes it.... We are apt to stagger at the greatness of the unmerited offer and cannot attach faith to it till we have made up some title of our own. This leads to two mischievous consequences: It keeps alive the presumption of one class who will still be thinking that it is something in themselves and of themselves which confers upon them a right of salvation; and it confirms the melancholy of another class, who look into their own hearts and their own lives, and find that they cannot make out a shadow of a title to the divine favor. The error of both lies in their looking to themselves when they should be looking to the Saviour. 'Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.'—Is. 45:22. The Son of man was[Pg 151] so lifted up that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:14, 15). It is your part simply to lay hold of the proffered boon. You are invited to do so; and you are entreated to do so; nay, what is more, you are commanded to do so. It is true, you are unworthy, and without holiness no man can see God; but be not afraid, only believe. You cannot get holiness of yourself, but Christ has undertaken to provide it for you. It is one of those spiritual blessings of which He has the dispensation, and which He has promised to all who believe in Him. God has promised that with His Son He will freely give you all things (Rom. 8:32); that He will walk in you, and dwell in you (2 Cor. 6:16); that He will purify your heart by faith (Acts 15:9); that He will put His law in your mind and write it in your heart (Heb. 8:10). These are the effects of your believing in Christ, and not the services by which you become entitled to believe in Him. Make a clear outset in the business, and understand that your first step is simply confiding acceptance of an offer that is most free, most frank, most generous, and most unconditional. If I were to come as an accredited agent from the upper sanctuary with a letter of invitation to you, with your name and address on it, you would not doubt your warrant to accept it. Well, here is the Bible, your invitation to come to Christ. It does not bear your name and address, but it says 'Whosoever,' that takes you in; it says 'all,' that takes you in; it says 'if any,' that takes you in. What can be surer or freer than that?"
Equally helpful are the words of Horatius Bonar[Pg 152] in "Words for the Inquiring":—"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 fain do something in order to get peace, and you think that if you could 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 which 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 act of faith that is to save you, and not the object of your faith, without which your 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 eyes, and in regard to whom[Pg 153] 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, not out of 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 which faith saves you, you get into confusion, and mistake 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 the 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.
"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. 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 every sinner? Nay, and is not this the truest kind of faith? To be satisfied with Christ, that is faith in Christ. To[Pg 154] be satisfied with His blood, that is faith. What more could you have? Can your faith give you something which 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, or 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 on your way rejoicing, having thus been brought to be satisfied with Him who to know is peace, and life, and salvation.... 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."
Likewise James Denny, in "The Death of Christ," teaches the same lesson: "It is this great Gospel which is the gospel to win souls—this message of a sin-bearing, sin-expiating love which pleads for acceptance, which takes the whole responsibility of the sinner, unconditionally, with no preliminaries, if only he abandon himself to it."
A young person who felt that his time in this world was short, wrote to an eminent English preacher to write and tell a sinner what he must do to prepare to die—what is the preparation required by God—and when he is fit to die. The preacher wrote: "I[Pg 155] urge you to cast yourself at once, in the simplest faith, upon the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. All your true preparation for death is entirely out of yourself and in the Lord Jesus. Washed in His blood, and clothed upon with His righteousness, you may appear before God divinely, fully, freely and forever accepted. The salvation of the chief of sinners is all prepared, finished and complete in Christ (Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:10). Again I repeat, your eye of faith must now be directed entirely out of and from yourself, to Jesus. Beware of looking for any preparation to meet death in yourself. It is all in Christ. God does not accept you on the ground of a broken heart, or a clean heart, or a praying heart, or a believing heart. He accepts you wholly and entirely on the ground of the atonement of His blessed Son. Cast yourself in child-like faith upon that atonement—'Christ dying for the ungodly' (Rom. 5:6)—and you are saved! Justification is this, a poor law-condemned, self-condemned, self-destroyed sinner, wrapping himself by faith in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is unto all them that believe (Rom. 3:22). He, then, is justified and is prepared to die, and he only, who casts from him the garment of his own righteousness and runs unto this blessed city of Refuge—the Lord Jesus—and hides himself there—exclaiming, 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus' (Rom. 8:1). God is prepared to accept you in His blessed Son, and for His sake He will cast all your sins behind His back, and take you to glory when you die. Never was Jesus known to reject a poor sinner that came[Pg 156] to Him empty and with nothing to pay. God will glorify His free grace by your salvation, and will therefore save you just as you are, without money and without price (Is. 55:1). I close with Paul's reply to the anxious jailor, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved' (Acts 16:31). No matter what you have been, or what you are, plunged into the fountain opened for sin, and for uncleanness (Zech. 13:1), and you shall be clean, 'washed whiter than snow' (Ps. 51:7). Heed no suggestion of Satan, or of unbelief; cast yourself at the feet of Jesus, and if you perish, perish there! Oh, no! Perish you never will, for He hath said, 'Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). 'Come unto me' (Matt. 11:28) is His blessed invitation; let your reply be, 'Lord, I come! I come! I come! I entwine my feeble, trembling arms of faith around Thy cross, around Thyself, and if I die, I will die cleaving, clinging, looking unto Thee!' So act and believe and you need not fear to die. Looking at the Saviour in the face, you can look at death in the face, exclaiming with good old Simeon, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation' (Luke 2:29). May we through rich, free and sovereign grace, meet in Heaven, and unite in exclaiming, 'worthy is the Lamb, for he was slain for us' (Rev. 5:12)."
ETERNAL LIFE THE PRESENT POSSESSION OF THE BELIEVER
"Ye are not under the law."—Rom. 6:14.
"Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."—1 John 5:1.
"By grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any one should boast."—Eph. 2:8, 9 (1911 Bible and R. V.)
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."—John 3:36.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—John 5:24.
"God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life."—1 John 5:11, 12.
It is an awe-inspiring thought, a wonderful, blessed reality, that every real believer on the Lord Jesus has, here and now, eternal life, not simply the promise of it, but the eternal life itself. The human mind cannot fully take it in, that every man, the moment he is redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), redeemed from under the law (Rom. 6:14), and adopted as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-7), has then and there everlasting life (John 5:24), a new life that is never, never to end; a life that will outlast the stars; a life that he will be consciously enjoying when all the stars shall have burnt out. And yet when such a life is offered as a gift ("I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish,"—John 10:28) many men will[Pg 159] not repent and accept the gift. Religious prejudice, pride, secret sin, love of the world,—for what puny trifles do men turn from the greatest of all gifts, the greatest of all blessings, eternal life! Reader, will you be among the number who make this foolish, this fatal mistake?
But with some the greatness of this gift, and its blessed reality, are obscured by the teaching that the believer on Christ has not everlasting life now, but only the promise of it. When God's word tells us that the redeemed one, the believer on Christ, is not under the law (Rom. 6:14), is a child of God (Gal. 3:26), has been saved (Eph. 2:8, 9, 1911 Bible and R. V.), not will be saved, it would be strange that, after all, the believer should have only a promise for the beyond and no reality here and now. But God's word goes further and says, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."—1 John 5:1. There cannot be birth without new life. It is not the old life; that would mean no birth. If, then, the new life is not eternal life, what life is it?
If language can be made to mean anything, God's word makes it plain that every redeemed man, every believer on Christ, has here and now, eternal life; for God's word tells us, not only that "by grace have ye been saved" (Eph. 2:8, 9, 1911 Bible and R. V.), but it states plainly, "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36); "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—John 5:24. That God's word does not[Pg 160] mean that the believer on Christ has simply the promise of everlasting life, but that he really has the everlasting life, notice John 5:24, "Hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed [here and now] from death unto life." The Revised Version (the more exact translation) makes it much stronger,—"hath passed out of death into life." What life, if not eternal life? Before this plain, positive statement of God's word, the mere promise of eternal life theory cannot stand. But the fact that the believer on Christ really has now eternal life, is made plain by other Scriptures. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."—1 John 3:15. Here we are shown that when one "hath eternal life" it is "eternal life abiding in him"; for there would be no meaning to the language if no one has eternal life abiding in him. Again, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life."—John 6:53, 54. The Saviour had just taught in verse 35 what eating His flesh and drinking His blood meant: "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Here in verses 53, 54, the Saviour shows clearly that the eternal life that the believer on Him "hath" is "in" you—here and now.
Let the unredeemed reader pause: in a moment, here and now, he can have everlasting life with God's assurance that he "shall never perish" ("I give unto[Pg 161] them eternal life, and they shall never perish."—John 10:28). It is a tremendous decision, and it may prove to be a fatal one, to turn away and not believe on Christ and have as a present possession eternal life. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—John 5:24.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—Some who believe that the redeemed have only the promise of eternal life, but that they have not eternal life, as a real present possession, base this belief on such Scriptures as, "In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2), in connection with, "Hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."—Rom. 8:24, 25. Their thought is, if we live "in hope of eternal life," then we have not really eternal life as a present possession; that we cannot hope for what we already have. But Jesus said positively that the believer "hath passed out of death into life" (John 5:24, R. V.), and He contrasts the one who "hath eternal life" with those to whom He says, "Ye have no life in you." A man can have eternal life here, and at the same time hope for it beyond the grave. A man has his wife and children now, and hopes to have them next year; a man away from wife and children has his life now; and yet he lives in hope of his life (the same life, that part of it not yet lived) with his wife and children a month from now; an exile from home has his life now; yet lives in hope of his life (the same life, that part of it not yet[Pg 162] lived) in his native land a year from now. So, the child of God's, the redeemed man's, citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20); he lives in hope of eternal life there; yet it is the same eternal life (that part of it not lived) that he has here and now.
Another cause of stumbling at eternal life being now the actual possession of the redeemed man, is that many who claimed to have had eternal life, also claim to have lost it; and if it had been actually eternal life it could not have stopped; for then eternal would not be really eternal; hence, it must have been simply the promise of eternal life that they had, and they therefore only lost the promise and not really eternal life itself. But Jesus, foreseeing this class of professing Christians, said that they were never really redeemed, never really had eternal life: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you,"—Matt. 7:22, 23, not "you were redeemed, you did have eternal life, but you lost it; it stopped"; but "I never knew you," and John teaches the same thing in 1 John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us." (R. V.)
"There is no such thing as partly saved and partly lost; partly justified and partly guilty; partly alive and partly dead; partly born of God and partly not. There are but two states, and we must be in either[Pg 163] the one or the other."—Wm. Reid, in "The Blood of Jesus."
To many earnest men it seems dangerous to teach men that when they are redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), and adopted as God's children (Gal. 4:3-7), they then really have as an actual possession eternal life, and that they shall never perish, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come unto condemnation,"—John 5:24; "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish,"—John 10:28; they think that such a belief will be a temptation to sin; that it is liable to lead to presumptuous, wilful sinning. They think it much safer for men to believe that they have not really the eternal life itself as an actual present possession, but only the promise of it; and that by their sinning hereafter they may forfeit that promise and be lost. They think that this fear of being lost will act as a check, a safeguard, a restraining power. To the extent that it does, it produces service from the motive of fear of Hell, fear of losing Heaven, and not from the motive of love to Christ for having redeemed them from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). But God's word on this point is clear: "The love of Christ [not the fear of Hell, nor the fear of losing Heaven] constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again."—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
The teaching that the redeemed, saved man has now eternal life and shall never perish, will lead to wilful, presumptuous sinning on the part of hypocrites, and[Pg 164] may lead to indifference and sin on the part of those who honestly think they are redeemed, saved, but who really are not; for such are not born again (1 Peter 1:23), and have not the motive power of love, because really redeemed, prompting their action.
Those who think it is dangerous to teach a redeemed (1 Peter 1:18, 19), saved (Eph. 2:8, R. V.) man, a child of God (Gal. 4:4-7), that he has here and now, as an actual possession, eternal life, and shall never perish (John 10:28), shall not come into condemnation (John 5:24), lose sight of five facts in God's plan with men:—
First, the redeemed man is born again, born of God, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."—1 John 5:1. "Therefore if any one is in Christ he is a new creature."—2 Cor. 5:17. This is not a mere theory. All down the centuries since the Saviour came, there have been multitudes of notable cases where hardened men and women, deep down in sin, have actually become new creatures by being redeemed and being born again. Many are now living, whose names could be given, who are widely known, who were once notorious in sin, and they are now willingly and gladly wearing out their lives in God's service, and are living godly lives: and this change came in their lives, not by a gradual process, but in a moment. God's word says it is a new birth. There is no other explanation. But every one who is redeemed is thus born of God (1 John 5:1), and this new nature will lead one to hate sin, and prompt to a godly life.
Second, the redeemed man is under the new motive[Pg 165] of love to Christ ("if ye love me, keep my commandments,"—John 14:15) to prompt him to a faithful Christian life. On this point James Denny in "The Death of Christ" says, "The love which is the motive of it acts immediately upon the sinful; gratitude exerts an irresistible constraint; His responsibility means our emancipation; His death, our life; His bleeding wound, our healing. Whoever says, 'He bore our sins,' says substitution; and to say substitution is to say something which involves an immeasurable obligation to Christ, and has therefore in it an incalculable motive power." Let the reader note well, that the purpose of God in saving men through Christ dying of their sins (1 Cor. 15:3) is to purify the motive power and make it effective. "He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him."—2 Cor. 5:15.
When men live in order that they may retain the promise of eternal life, that they may attain eternal life hereafter, from fear lest they should forfeit the promise and not attain eternal life hereafter, they "live unto themselves." When men live because they already have as an actual possession, eternal life, and realize that it is eternal, they live from love, and not unto themselves but "unto Him."
And God's plan is effective. "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Cor. 5:14), it does constrain. Hence, Jesus says, "if a man love me, he will keep my words."—John 14:23. Again, "If God were your Father ye would love me."—John 8:42. So important is this fact of the new motive power and its effectiveness, that the reader's attention will now be[Pg 166] directed to the words of James Denny in "The Death of Christ" on this subject. That the reader may the better appreciate these words, his attention is first called to the estimates of Denny's great work by two of the leading religious editors of the world. The Pittsburg Christian Advocate: "To thoughtful students 'The Death of Christ' came as one of the most stirring books of the decade if not of the generation." The New York Examiner: "The most important contribution to the all-important doctrine of the atonement since the appearance of Dr. Dale's epoch-making book.... Exegetically considered, it is the most important book published within the memory of the younger generation of preachers." On the death of Christ for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3) being the motive power in the Christian life, and its being effective, Denny says: "The problem before us is to discover what it is in the death of Christ which gives it its power to generate such experience, to exercise on human hearts the constraining influence of which the apostle speaks; and this is precisely what we discover, in the inferential clause; 'so then all died.' This clause puts as plainly as it can be put the idea that His death was equivalent to the death of all; in other words, it was the death of all men which was died by Him."... "Their relation to God is not determined now in the very least by sin or law: it is determined by Christ, the propitiation, and by faith. The position of the believer is not that of one trembling at the judgment seat, or of one for whom everything remains somehow in a condition of suspense; it is that of one who has the assurance of a Divine[Pg 167] love which has gone deeper than all his sins, and has taken on itself the responsibility of them, and the responsibility of delivering him from them."... "Take away the certainty of it and the New Testament temper expires. Joy in this certainty is not presumption; on the contrary, it is joy in the Lord, and such joy is the Christian's strength. It is the impulse and the hope of sanctification; and to deprecate it, and the assurance from which it springs, is no true evangelical humility, but a failure to believe in the infinite goodness of God who in Christ removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, and plants our life in His eternal reconciling love."... "An absolute justification is needed to give the sinner a start. He must have the certainty of 'no condemnation' of being, without reserve or drawback, right with God through God's gracious act in Christ, before he can begin to live the new life."... "It is not by denying the gospel outright, from the very beginning, that we are to guard against the possible abuse of it."... "To try to take some preliminary security from the sinner's future morality before you make the gospel available for him, is not only to strike at the root of assurance, it is to pay a very poor tribute to the power of the gospel. The truth is, morality is best guaranteed by Christ, and not by any precautions we can take before Christ gets a chance, or by any virtue that is in faith except as it unites the soul to Him."... "If it is our death that Christ died on the cross, there is in the cross the constraint of an infinite love; but if it is not our death at all—if it is not our burden and doom that He has[Pg 168] taken on Himself there, then what is it to us?"... "He who has done so tremendous a thing as to take our death to Himself has established a claim upon our life. We are not in the sphere of mystical union, of dying with Christ and living with Him; but in that of love transcendently shown, and of gratitude profoundly felt."... "But this can only come on the foundation of the other; it is the discharge from the responsibilities of sin involved in Christ's death and appropriated in faith, which is the motive power in the daily ethical dying to sin."... "The new life springs out of the sense of debt to Christ."... "It is the knowledge that we have been bought with a price which makes us cease to be our own, and live for Him who so dearly bought us."... "But when its certainty, completeness, and freeness are so qualified or disguised that assurance becomes suspect and joy is quenched, the Christian religion has ceased to be."... "This is why St. Paul is not afraid to trust the new life to its own resources, and why he objects equally to supplanting it by legal regulations afterwards, or by what are supposed to be ethical securities beforehand. It does not need them, and is bound to repel them as dishonoring to Christ. To demand moral guarantees from a sinner before you give him the benefit of the atonement, or to impose legal restrictions on him after he has yielded to its appeal, and received it through faith, is to make the atonement itself of no effect."... "In any case, I do not hesitate to say that the sense of debt to Christ is the most profound and pervasive of all emotions in the New Testament, and that only a gospel[Pg 169] which evokes this, as the gospel of atonement does, is true to primitive and normal Christianity."
Let the reader consider two statements just here from another great work, concerning the effectiveness of love as the motive power in the redeemed man's life (in the writer's judgment no greater work, excepting the gospel of John [John 20:30, 31], has ever been written for honest sceptics, than Walker's "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation"). "Just in proportion as the soul feels its lost, guilty and dangerous condition, in the same proportion will it exercise love to the being who grants spiritual favor and salvation."... "It may be affirmed, without hesitancy, that it would be impossible for the human soul to exercise full faith in the testimony that it was a guilty and needy creature, condemned by the holy law of a holy God, and that from this condition of spiritual guilt and danger Jesus Christ suffered and died to accomplish its ransom,—we say, a human being could not exercise full faith in these truths and not love the Saviour."
Third, those who fear that if redeemed men, God's children, are taught that they have, here and now, eternal life as an actual present possession, and that it is eternal, it will be liable to lead them into presumptuous, wilful sin, lose sight of a third fact. The redeemed man, the real child of God, can be tempted, can be led into sin, and some of them do become backsliders, but God's word teaches that they will be chastised in this life. Let the reader turn back and read Chapter V. Two Scriptures there quoted make plain the chastening of God's disobedient children: [Pg 170]"Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips."—Ps. 89:27-34. Equally explicit is the New Testament: "Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us as seemed right to them; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby."—Heb. 12:5-11.[Pg 171] So that, the disobedient child of God will suffer for his sins, not in Hell, but in this life; and not as a just penalty for violated law, for he is not under the law ("Ye are not under the law,"—Rom. 6:14), but as chastening, for correction. It is not a theory merely, for God's word declares that God's plan works—"It yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness."
Fourth, those who fear that teaching redeemed men, God's children, that they have, as a present possession, eternal life and not simply the promise of it, and who think that the safer course is to teach them that they have only the promise of eternal life and may forfeit it by unfaithfulness, lose sight of another fact, that the unfaithful redeemed one will lose his reward. Let the reader turn back and read Chapter VI. The Scripture teaching is plain, "If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."—1 Cor. 3:14, 15. He loses his reward who is unfaithful, but not his eternal life, because it is eternal, and because he has been redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14).
Fifth, those who, knowing that the redeemed man could not lose his eternal life, if he has it as a present possession, because it is eternal, believe that the redeemed have not really eternal life but only the promise of it and may forfeit the promise by unfaithfulness, and that it is dangerous to teach the redeemed that they really have eternal life because it might lead to wilful, presumptuous sin, lose sight of a fifth fact,[Pg 172] that the child of God is not only redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), redeemed from under the law (Rom. 6:14), adopted as a child of God because redeemed from the law (Gal. 4:4-7), but that being redeemed, he is redeemed from all iniquity ("Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity."—Titus 2:13, 14). How can God, because He is just, let the redeemed man, if he is redeemed from all iniquity, be lost? "A young minister was in the habit of visiting an aged Scotch woman in his congregation who was familiarly called 'Old Nanny.' She was bed-ridden and rapidly approaching the end of her 'long and weary pilgrimage,' but she rested with undisturbed composure and full assurance of faith upon the finished work of Christ. One day he said to her, 'Now, Nanny, what if, after all your confidence in the Saviour and your watching and waiting, God should suffer your soul to be lost?' Raising herself on her elbow, and turning to him with a look of grief and pain, she laid her hand on the open Bible before her, and quietly replied, 'Ah, dearie me, is that the length you hae got yet, mon? God,' she continued earnestly, 'would hae the greatest loss. Poor Nannie would lose her soul, and that would be a great loss indeed; but God would lose His honor and His character. Haven't I hung my soul upon His "exceeding great and precious promise"? and if He would break His word He would make Himself a liar, and a' the universe would rush into confusion.' This anecdote reveals the true ground of the believer's safety. It is as high as the honor of God; it is as trustworthy[Pg 173] as His character; it is as immutable as His promises; it is as broad as the infinite merit of His Son's atoning blood."—J. H. Brookes, in "The Way Made Plain."
If God, "that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26), set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:25), and then should let one be lost who had been redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), would He not be as unjust in so doing as He would have been had He justified sinners without Christ dying for their sins (1 Cor. 15:3)?
The blessed fact that the redeemed have as a present possession, here and now, eternal life, and that it is eternal, makes manifest another fact, that the redeemed are not unconscious, virtually out of existence, from death till the resurrection. The new life is eternal; it continues without cessation or intermission. Their bodies fall asleep; but their souls are still in conscious existence; it is eternal life. Paul makes this fact clear: "Whilst present in the body, we are absent from the Lord." "We are confident, I say, and well pleased rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord."—2 Cor. 5:6, 8. The same conscious life continues; it is eternal life. Again he makes it clear: "I am in a strait betwixt the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful on your account."—Phil. 1:23, 24. The same conscious life continues, the eternal life. To depart and to be with Christ he says "is far better." But even this is not the perfect state. It is the soul without the body, enjoying eternal life with Christ. But[Pg 174] God's perfect being is a being of redeemed soul and redeemed body enjoying the reward of its labor. The body will not be redeemed until the resurrection (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:42); and the soul, though enjoying eternal life and with Christ (Phil. 1:23) will receive no reward until the resurrection,—"Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."—Luke 14:14.
Paul further makes clear the distinction between the body sleeping and the soul not sleeping, because it has eternal life and is with Christ: "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."—1 Thess. 4:14. Their bodies are asleep; their souls are "absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8); but at the resurrection of their bodies, these "will God bring with him." Then, "at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:14) will "each man receive his own reward according to his own labor."—1 Cor. 3:8. Let this blessed teaching be a comfort to some hearts: the redeemed loved ones who have died are "present with the Lord" which "is far better." Then it is cruel selfishness to wish them back.
DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER IN THE REDEEMED
"The God of Jacob is our refuge."—Ps. 46:7.
"Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help."—Ps. 146:5.
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."—1 Peter 1:7.
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."—James 1:14.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose."—Rom. 8:28.
"The God of Jacob!" Not the God of Israel. Wonderful God! Blessed assurance, that "the God of Jacob is our refuge,"—the God who saves the man without character, irrespective of character,—makes of him,—Israel. Jacob, the supplanter, the trickster, the weak character, the warped character, the sinner, God takes, and through trials, tests, develops him and makes of him Israel,—a prince of God. That is God's plan with men. Consider it.
There are two theories, the poles apart. The one is, salvation by character; that by acquiring a suitable character, by developing the right kind of a character, man can be saved, can go to Heaven; that one's character, if of the proper kind, entitles him to Heaven; that if one has lived right, he will go to Heaven. The other theory is, that God by grace, pure unmerited favor, saves irrespective of character.[Pg 176] It is a tremendous issue. It is vital; one or the other is fatal. If those who hold one theory go to Heaven, all who hold to the other will be lost, will go to Hell. We would as well face the issue. They are two widely different ways of salvation, and God has but one. Jesus said, "I am the way" (John 14:6), not one way, The Way. And He leaves no possible ground for misunderstanding the meaning, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me."—John 14:6. Either, then, He is the only way, or He was the vilest deceiver the world ever knew, or He was a simple-minded, ignorant fanatic, who honestly thought Himself "The Way" when He was not.
Against this theory of salvation by character there are four serious, fatal charges:—
First, it is utterly cruel, heartless and selfish. It is cruel, because to the weakest, most needy, most helpless class, the vast body of men, born of vicious, debased parents, reared amidst vice and sin, weakened by appetite and tied by habit, it does not give one-millionth the chance to be saved, to go to Heaven, that men have who were born of noble, godly parents, reared amidst moral, uplifting surroundings, and strengthened by noble aspirations and splendid training. Stand before you two young men representing these two classes, and tell them of life beyond this life, and of Heaven; and then tell them of salvation by character. To the one it would mean a bright, hopeful anticipation; to the other, it would mean but taunting him with his hopeless condition and prodding him with despair.
The theory of salvation by character is heartless,[Pg 177] because, wrapt in the robe of its own self-righteousness, it coolly condemns to hopeless despair a vast body of the human race. Go stand by the helpless, hopeless drunkard, and the drunken, sinful woman, and tell them of salvation by character, and hear the sob of despair or see the jeering look on their faces at the thought of salvation by character for such as they! Before a pastors' conference, the polished, brilliant, highly educated pastor of a wealthy, refined, intellectual congregation read a seemingly learned paper on "Salvation by Character." When he had finished reading the paper, some of his fellow-pastors endorsed the paper and gave it high praise. Finally, the pastor of a people who had been unfortunate in life, many of whom had gone far down in sin, and were fettered by habit, arose and said, "Brother Moderator, the brother has given us his wonderful paper on salvation by character. I would like to ask him, what would he preach if he were the pastor of a people who have no character?" The author of the paper arose and made the heartless reply, "Brother Moderator, my brother and I have been raised in such different intellectual atmospheres, that I don't suppose I could make it plain to my brother." The other replied, "That is doubtless true, Brother Moderator; but the trouble is, that he can never make it plain to any one else."
It is selfish, because those who teach this theory are generally men of intelligence, refinement, and are considered, and they consider themselves, men of moral character. They thus provide for themselves by their theory, but leave a vast body of the race[Pg 178] with a very slight hope or with no hope whatever.
The second charge against those who hold this theory is that by their own theory none will be saved. If salvation is by character, by what kind of character, a perfect character, or an imperfect character? If by a perfect character, no one has it; no one even claims it. If by an imperfect character, how imperfect may it be and the man yet be saved? Where is the standard? If a man's character, in order to be saved by it, must be the best he can make it, no one has even that character,—no one's character is the best he could have made it. Hence, salvation by character is a chimera.
The third charge against salvation by character is, that even if a man's character were perfect from man's standpoint, in the sight of God his character would still be corrupt. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."—Is. 64:6. Why? Because motive is the measure of the character. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God."—Rom. 8:8. Why? Because they have not, and cannot have, the right motive. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."—1 Cor. 13:1-3. And no man has this love, no man can have[Pg 179] this love, until he is saved by Christ dying for his sins (1 Cor. 15:3). "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again."—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
The fourth serious, fatal charge against the theory of salvation by character is that it is contrary to the teaching of the Saviour. "Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."—Matt. 21:31. Certain it is that the publicans and the harlots had worse characters than those to whom the Saviour was speaking; the fact is therefore evident that Jesus taught salvation without character, irrespective of character.
Let the reader consider two cases that will show conclusively that the teaching of salvation by character is absolutely contrary to the teaching of the Saviour. "The chief priest, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he is the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also that were with him, cast the same in his teeth."—Matt. 27:41-44. Let the reader notice that both the thieves "that were with him, cast the same in his teeth." Then "one of the malefactors that were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering[Pg 180] rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."—Luke 23:39-43. From the time that both thieves "cast the same in his teeth," to the time the one made his earnest plea, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom," there had been no time in which this thief could have formed, developed a character that merited salvation. Hence, when Jesus said, "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," to this thief, He branded the teaching of salvation by character as not from Heaven. The one who does not see from this case that the cruel, heartless, selfish teaching of salvation by character contradicts the Lord Jesus, will never see anything contrary to his own preferences and preconceived opinions.
The second case is just as conclusive. As the Saviour was reclining at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee, a woman, noted as a sinner, came in and stood behind him weeping. "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."—Luke 7:50. The Saviour said the woman was saved, yet she was of notorious character,—she had no character.
That the Saviour saved irrespective of character is shown by two cases in the book of Acts. We have the accounts of the salvation of two men of opposite characters. One was "A devout man, and one that[Pg 181] feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always,"—Acts 10:2, a man of most excellent character. Among all the unredeemed men of the earth, not one could show a better character. If any man could be saved by character, here is the man. God sends word to him, "Send to Joppa and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who shall tell the words whereby thou and all thy house shalt be saved."—Acts 11:13. Notwithstanding his noble, unusual character, God tells him that he is unsaved. If he, with his character unexcelled among unredeemed men, was yet unsaved, how can any other unredeemed man hope for salvation by character? Peter's message to this man of irreproachable character was, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth on him shall receive remission of sins."—Acts 10:43. Why is it necessary for this man of character to believe on Christ in order to be saved? Because, though of unusual character, he had sinned, "for all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23); and sin once committed can only be atoned for by blood, "apart from shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. 9:22), and there is no blood of atonement in a noble character.
Over against this case is that of the Philippian jailor, a man of hardened character; for he took two helpless, bleeding preachers who had been beaten by a mob, and "thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks" (Acts 16:24), and left them with their backs bloody and gave them no supper. When the earthquake came and the doors were opened, the hardened jailor started to commit[Pg 182] suicide. Paul having called to him and prevented the suicide, the jailor "came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"—Acts 16:30. If ever a man should be told of salvation by character, here was the opportunity, that he might at once begin the tremendous and all but hopeless task of changing, so late in life, a hardened character into one that would enable him to merit Heaven. Instead, they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."—Acts 16:31. How similar the answer to the instructions of Peter to Cornelius, and yet how widely different the characters of the two men! Why this similarity? Because God has but one way of salvation, and that is irrespective of character. "He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel" (Ps. 147:2), the God of Jacob.
While the Saviour saves without character, and irrespective of character, God the Father does not leave them without character, but develops in them the right kind of a character. The man redeemed, saved, without character, does not remain without character. "And such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11), but they did not remain such characters,—but "sanctified, called to be saints."—1 Cor. 1:2. God's plan with men, then, is to save irrespective of character, and then develop in the redeemed, saved man a character that shall "be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."—1 Peter 1:7.
Three ways in which God develops character in the redeemed are:
First, by purifying the motive of the life. Character is not formed by deeds, but by the motives prompting the deeds. Two men flag the night express train on two railroads; the deeds are the same, but one flags the train that he may warn, and save the lives of the people, because a bridge has been destroyed; the other flags the train that he may rob it. While the deeds are the same, the character of the deeds is different, and that difference is in the motive prompting the deed, and that motive affects, moulds the character of the one who performs the deed. No deed is right in the sight of God that is not performed from the motive of love (1 Cor. 13:1-3); hence, no character can be right in the sight of God if the deeds that formed that character were not prompted by the motive of love. All deeds performed from simply the motive of duty, or from the desire to be saved, to go to Heaven after this life, or from fear of Hell, are, in the sight of God, unworthy deeds, and the characters formed by such deeds are unworthy characters. And the Saviour defines clearly what love is: "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged."—Luke 7:41-43. And John likewise defines love: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10. This explains why God[Pg 184] says: "They that are in the flesh cannot please God."—Rom. 8:8. Their motive is wrong and they cannot have the right motive, because they have not been "forgiven most." Hence all characters are wrong in the sight of God that were formed by deeds whose prompting motive was a simple sense of duty, a desire to be saved, to go to Heaven, or from fear of Hell. And all who have such a character are lost, have never been redeemed, are not real Christians.
Second, God develops character in the redeemed, His real children, by chastisements. Our earthly fathers "verily for a few days chastened us as seemed right to them; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby."—Heb. 12:10, 11.
Third, God moulds the character of the redeemed by afflictions, burdens, sorrows, etc. "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."—2 Cor. 4:17. "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing."—James 1:14.
The shallow conception of God's plan with men that makes it His ultimate purpose simply to save men, leaves the life of the redeemed man here on earth an unsolved riddle, often an inexplicable tragedy. The heartaches, the disasters, the burdens, the afflictions, the sorrows,—what of all these, when God assures us that "all things work together for good to those that[Pg 185] love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28), if the ultimate purpose is simply salvation? "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." The silver has been mined, digged from the earth, but there is dross in it. The redeemed have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13); have had the spirit sent into their hearts ("because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,"—Gal. 4:6); but there are defects from heredity, from environment. The purifying process, the development of character, comes, not in order to be saved, but after we are saved, because we are saved.
With God as the Father of the redeemed, many of the afflictions, and sorrows of real Christians can be accounted for as chastisements; many of the severe, heavy afflictions in the lives of real Christians can be accounted for in this way. "Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."—Heb. 12:5, 6. Scourging is severe, yet God says it is for every son.
But there are many, many trials, afflictions, burdens, sorrows, which cannot be explained by chastisements; for chastisements are for wilful sins of God's children: "If his children forsake my law ... then will I visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes."—Ps. 89:30-32. In the lives of many of the redeemed who are living obedient lives there are some of the most severe trials and afflictions.[Pg 186] If God is their Father and loves them, what can these severe trials and afflictions mean?
God Himself hath said it, "All things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose."—Rom. 8:28. Had God said, "Some things," what confusion would have come to many of God's children! What enigmas would many things in the lives of many of the redeemed have been! But when God said "All things," He placed a key in the hands of every redeemed man, every real child of His, with which to unlock the door of every mystery; that every trial, every disaster, every accident, every burden, every humiliation, every disappointment, every affliction, every sorrow,—"All things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose";—"that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."—1 Peter 1:7.
Muscles are developed by trials; minds are developed [Pg 187]by trials; God's redeemed people are developed by trials. To murmur against one's trials after being redeemed, means to murmur against being developed for one's eternal destiny. To give the muscles no trials, means for the body never to be developed; to give the mind no trials, means for the mind never to be developed; to give the redeemed man no trials, means for his character never to be developed. Two children are born into the world. The father and mother of one decide that he shall never be required to do any unpleasant things; that he shall never have any hardships. The father and mother of the other decide to give their child every unpleasant thing to do, every hardship and burden to bear, that will best develop him in body and mind. Often the redeemed plead with their Father in Heaven to give them only pleasant things, and He, the All-wise, All-powerful, in love gives them—trials.
The trials of life for the redeemed are so various. If the muscles have only one trial, the body will never be fully developed. The muscles need various trials. If the mind has only one trial, it will never be fully developed. If the mind studies only one thing, it will never be trained, developed, educated. If the soul has only one kind of trial, it will never be developed. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations."—James 1:2 (R. V. Margin, trials).
But the redeemed, the children of God, often complain that their trials are so hard. Easy trials do not develop. The one who takes only light exercises for his muscles will never be fully developed physically. The boy who works the easy examples and skips the[Pg 188] hard ones, will never be an educated man; he will be only a "hewer of wood and drawer of water." It takes hard trials to develop the body properly. It takes hard trials of the mind to develop it properly. It takes hard trials to develop the soul properly; "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire." He who asks for only easy trials of his muscles, asks to remain undeveloped physically; he who asks for easy trials of his mind, asks to remain undeveloped mentally; he who asks, yearns, to have no hard trials spiritually, yearns to remain undeveloped in real character, in his spiritual nature. The hard trials are the ones that develop. And the more one's muscles have been developed, the harder should be the trials for those muscles; the more one's mind is developed, the harder should be the trials for the mind; the more the redeemed man's spiritual nature is developed, the harder his trials will be.
That would be an unwise educator who, after training the pupil's mind up through geometry, would then put him back to studying the simple branches of mathematics, instead of taking him on into higher mathematics. Likewise the Heavenly Father does not, after partly developing the redeemed, His children, by hard trials, return them to lives of easy trials, but He leads them into yet harder trials. Take Elijah as an example (see F. B. Meyer's "Elijah"). He is sent to pronounce God's sentence against Ahab (1 Kings 17:1); he is then sent into obscurity (17:2, 3); he is left dependent on the ravens for food (17:4-6); he sees the brook dry up, his only hope for water, for life (17:7);[Pg 189] he is submitted to the humiliation of being supported by a poor widow (17:8, 9); God delays answering his prayer (17:17-22); God requires him to expose himself to danger by showing himself to Ahab (18:1); he is led to face popular religious error, and in doing so is left to stand alone (18:19-38); God delays answer to his prayer till he prays seven times (18:42-45); he suffers the further humiliation of Elisha being anointed prophet in his room (19:15, 16); he is taken up by a whirlwind to Heaven (2 Kings 2:11). A study of these trials will show that they were all hard trials, and that they increased in severity. God tells us that Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17); but by trials, hardships, burdens, God developed him into one of the noblest characters of all ages. God's redeemed people may expect, then, trials through their lives, and that the trials shall be increasingly severe, as they advance in the Christian life.
Often God's children are discouraged because they cannot see any purpose in their trials. But God assures us that there is a purpose. The child cannot understand the purpose of the lessons at school, but the father has the purpose. Elijah, possibly filled with apprehension, sitting by the drying brook Cherith, did not see any purpose, but God, who makes all things work together for good to His people, had the purpose and accomplished it in the development of Elijah's character; and so, as F. B. Meyer has so aptly put it, the redeemed, sitting by the drying brook of health, of property, of reputation, of family happiness, may not see the purpose, but the Heavenly[Pg 190] Father will work, in His plan for each, every trial into the warp or woof of each life. The Saviour said to Peter, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."—John 13:7.
Who knows the defects, the weaknesses, of each character? Only God. Who knows what each character ought to be? Only God. Who knows how to develop each character properly? Only God. Who is able to so shape the circumstances of each life as to properly develop each character? Only God. And He has promised that He will. "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28); "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."—1 Peter 1:7. This is the only explanation of the many harassments of life.
God has revealed that the standard by which character is measured is patience, endurance. "Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be mature[Pg 191] and complete, lacking in nothing."—James 1:4. If there were no harassments, no afflictions, no burdens, no sorrows, no disappointments, no sufferings, there could be no patience, endurance; and if there were no patience, no endurance, there could be no maturity and completeness of character. As to what trials are needed, and are best in each case, only God can decide. In our dimsightedness we think that many things are mistakes in God's plans, and that He cannot bring good out of them; but He will. A boy was born with a badly deformed foot. When he was eight years of age his father had two surgeons to operate and try to straighten the foot, but they failed. After a second operation, the foot was placed in a brace which was worn for months. But the foot remained as badly deformed as ever. The surgeons then informed the father that the foot could never be straightened. The father studied the deformed foot for many days, and then had a strange-looking box made with screws, felt taps and iron rods in different parts of it. He had the surgeons to operate again on the boy's foot, cutting the muscles and tendons in different places. The foot was then placed in the strange box; a screw was turned till the felt tap pressed against the foot at one place, almost breaking the bones; then another screw and felt tap were brought to bear on another deformed part of the foot, straightening the foot and almost breaking the bones in that part of the foot; then the iron rod was used to straighten another part. For months the boy's foot was kept in that box. The suffering, day and night for months, was indescribable. The child would weep[Pg 192] for hours, the pain being all but unbearable; and when the father would come home the child would beg piteously for the box to be taken off and to be left a cripple. The father, mingling his tears with the tears of the suffering child, would turn the screws tighter than before, and the child would shriek in fearful agony. During those weeks and months of suffering he looked upon his father as being harsh and cruel and without love for him. Finally the father loosened all the screws and said, "Son, stand up," and for the first time in his life the boy stood erect. Often has that son, now a gray-haired man, stood over the grave of that father, long since dead, and bedewed the grave with his tears, and thanked God that he had a father who was true enough to continue the suffering until the terrible deformity was corrected. The father may have turned the screws one thread too much, but the Father in Heaven makes no mistakes, and far beyond the grave many of the redeemed will praise Him, when they understand, for the sufferings and afflictions and burdens they were led to endure here.
With the reader this may seem mere theory; he may feel that it cannot explain all the seemingly unfathomable mystery of suffering in the lives of many of the redeemed, the real children of God. Let the reader consider two things: first, that as a juror, he would[Pg 193] not form a judgment till all the evidence had been placed before the jury. God's purpose in each case, and what God actually accomplishes in each case, in the development of character,—these have not yet been placed before the jury; but, backed up by many fulfilled prophecies, by the character of Jesus Christ, by His resurrection, by what He has accomplished in the world, we have God's solemn assurance that He will yet place this evidence before the jury.
Second, let the reader remember that with God character counts more than comfort. What father would prefer his son to be a brutal, ignorant pugilist, enjoying food and drink, physical life,—to a useful, noble, highly educated, refined, learned son who could "listen in the orange groves of Verona to the sweet vows of Juliet, or to the blind bard's harp as he strikes the chords but seldom struck harmonious with the morning stars, or to the music of the spheres as they hymn His praises around their Creator's throne"? Far more than the earthly father would choose the latter for his son, does the Heavenly Father value the soul and its development above that of the body.
Could God's redeemed people only learn that perfection of character comes only through suffering, that as certain as God is true, a blessing will come from every sorrow, every burden, every affliction, every pang, every heartache!
Rarely has the author been stirred, thrilled, as he was while listening to an audience of a thousand colored people of the South sing the following hymn. Some of them had been slaves; many were poor; many uneducated; some Greek scholars; some were destitute; some were half-invalids; some were aged and infirm; but few had the comforts of life; all were heavy burden-bearers. White people from New York and Texas, from Mississippi and Kansas, were moved to tears, as that audience sang with such rhythm, such cadence, such pathos, such sweetness, such soul-power, as only they can sing:—
But they are not the only ones who
They are not the only ones who can say,
But they and all the redeemed, God's real children, can say,
Till then they can rest upon His word, that "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,"—1 Peter 1:7; for "we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose."—Rom. 8:28.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:—Some readers may conclude, because trials come to the lives of the unredeemed as well as the redeemed, to those who are not God's children, as well as to those who are God's children, that, therefore, their characters are likewise developed by trials. Let such readers consider two facts:—
First, it is a creature of God being developed in one case; in the other, it is one who has been redeemed and adopted as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-7), and born of the Spirit (John 3:8), that is being developed.
Second, the characters being developed in the two classes, while they may appear to men as similar, in the sight of God are as different as light and darkness are to men, as different as Heaven and Hell. Let it[Pg 197] be remembered that character is dependent, not on the deed, but on the motive back of the deed (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
No unredeemed man can have that motive, because it springs from complete redemption through Christ (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). Hence, "they that are in the flesh cannot please God."—Rom. 8:8. Their motive power is all wrong and cannot be otherwise; hence their characters, however they may be developed, are all wrong in the sight of God. Jesus said, "Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may be clean also."—Matt. 23:26. The child who, from love, bears trials and burdens placed upon him by the father, the slave who, from fear of the lash, bears trials and burdens placed upon him by the master, the hireling who, from desire for the wages, bears trials and burdens, and the stoic who, from sheer force of will, or from a cold sense of duty, bears trials and burdens, because he must,—are developing altogether different characters. Even so, the child of God, redeemed and adopted, who, from love, bears the trials and burdens of life, the unredeemed one who, from fear of the law, from fear of Hell, bears the trials and burdens of life; the unredeemed one who, from what he hopes to gain thereby, a home in Heaven (as the hireling his wages), bears the trials and burdens of life, and the unredeemed one who, from a cold sense of duty, bears the trials and burdens of life, are developing widely different characters for eternity. Which shall it be in your case, reader?
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