LECTURE 5

 

A Crown of Thorns and A Crown of Life

God so loved the World. Christ died for our sins.

Gethsemane. Olivet. He will come again.

Go teach all nations.

If we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him.

 

 

ONE of the best-known verses of the Bible is John 3:16. It has formed the basis of so many evangelical sermons, and appeals-from many and varied sources- to the sinner, that it has been styled “a well-worn text.” Children have recited it; men and women quote it, and preachers labor it, as though it is the whole gospel; and all one has to do “to be saved” is to accept it. Now whilst the verse is usually quoted, and generally read, as though its application was, and is, to the world at large, there is a more restricted sense of its primary application.

“For God so loved the world” It is within the scope of honest enquiry for one to ask. Which world? In our version of The Bible the word “world” is found to be translated from different words, and from words, which do not have the same meaning. Therefore the meaning of the word “world” in our Bible cannot always be the same, and the word itself fails to convey the idea to the mind, which was intended when first used. The “world” of John 3:16 (Kosmos- order or arrangement) is not necessarily the same “world” as that mentioned in Matt. 24:14, “and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”; or in Luke 2:1, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should he taxed,” It is not Kosmos in these two verses, but Oikoumene,” which signifies the “habitable earth,” “civilized world,” and 2. “The Roman Empire.”

The ministry and preaching of Jesus were confined to certain places and to one people. This fact is definitely stated, and should be carefully considered in relation, not only to the theme now before us, but to many phases of the Divine Plan. We read, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matt. 9: 35). Having called unto him his “twelve disciples,” and given to them power to deal with sickness and disease, Jesus gave them a commission, He commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10: 5,6). This restricted sense of the work of Jesus is further shown by the words He spake to His disciples regarding the request of the woman of Canaan in Malt. 15: 24. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Yet Jesus helped her, because her faith was great!

The “world” unto which Jesus came was the Jewish world, and although it received him not, nevertheless that kosmos was the subject of the love of God. “God so loved that world” Do you ask, Why did God love a world which rejected His Son? Let the apostle Paul answer: “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” (Rom. 11: 28).  And the same Eternal Spirit, which directed the Apostle to pen those words, spake by the prophet, “But I had pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” (Ezek. 36: 22). Truly God loved that world, for unto it He had given “exceeding great and precious promises” and had watched over them in individual and national development, sending to them His prophets, and last of all His Son; even through whom the sin of the world would be taken away.

But we live in a period of the world’s development when the love and mercy of God has been extended beyond the confines of Israel.  This is truly a distinctive advance in the 7,000 years Plan. It brings us to the third section of the Chart. This extension of divine favor is made known to us in the following words: “Paul called the chief of the Jews together” and addressed them concerning “the hope of Israel,” which some believed and others did not.  Disagreeing, they departed “after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying: Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:  Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it.” (Acts 28: 25, 28). We must not conclude from these words, that all the Gentiles to whom the Gospel should be preached would favorably respond to its invitation, or be saved by it.  Rather let our interpretation be in accordance with another scripture; “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts. 15: 14).  And again, “Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said (to the Jews), It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13: 46).

The Plan was, To the Jew first. Some received the Word, and were saved thereby. The majority “did not profit thereby.” (Heb. 4: 2). The record therefore continues, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13: 46, 48). The plan is to take out a people, not to save the people as a whole irrespective of their response to the invitation of the Almighty. The message of the Gospel, both to Jew and Gentile, is a call for “the obedience of faith.” (Rom. 1: 5). Why faith? Because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11: 6). No one can “come to God” who does not believe in Him. To merely understand what the Bible teaches as the way of Salvation - an intellectual process - without belief and faith in the promises of God is not sufficient to bring either Jew or Gentile to God In such cases “the word preached does not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that heard.” (Heb. 4: 2). “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” - not merely heard about.  Also “it is the confident assurance of things not seen.” (Heb. 11: 1). “Not seen,” but promised by One who is able to perform what He has promised.

No one can have this “confident assurance” who is not persuaded of the promises, and who is without faith in them. The Apostle appreciated this, for he taught “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD.” (Eph. 2: 8). And what is faith? It is “the faith of the gospel.” (Phil. 1: 27). Faith in, and faith by, the gospel, alone enables the readers to believe and obey, that they may be saved. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that only such faith-inspired and faith-energized persons can please God by accepting His Truth, as made known in the Gospel of Salvation. To profess to accept the gospel for fear of hell-fire torment, or any other kindred fallacy, would not bring about “joy in heaven,” such as is the case when- with a meek and quiet spirit, and a contrite heart- a sinner truly and conscientiously repents, and seeks remission of sins in the divinely appointed way. If such as are “poor and of a contrite spirit,” tremble at the Word of God, it is not necessarily for fear of punishment, but rather because of the majesty and might of the God of Israel- “who only doeth wondrous things”- in His magnificent offer “to redeem a soul” from death. This true spirit of approach to God is further illustrated by the Savior, in His words to the woman of Samaria: “God is spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth: For the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4: 23, 24).

The “gospel” is “glad tidings,” or “good news.” The faith of the gospel is something arising from that which is made known in the glad tidings; something to be understood, believed, accepted and obeyed; if a person desires to participate in the benefits set forth therein. Obviously the good news, or the gospel, springs from “the Hope of the promise, made of God unto the fathers” which we have elaborated in the previous Lectures. The “promise” and “faith” are closely associated by Paul in the following quotation: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only, which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” (Rom. 4:13).

Here then we have the gospel to both Jew and Gentile; the basis of its operation in all cases being faith, like unto Abraham who was “strong in faith,” and which “was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4: 22-25). In this extended light and application we read again the words of “that old-fashioned text,” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16).

As demonstrated in a former Lecture, when God gave His Son it was necessary that “the Son of man be lifted up.” When John the Baptist “seeth Jesus coming unto him,” he saith, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1: 29). Could Jesus “take away the sin” while He still lived, as He then was and had been from His birth? Throughout His life His record was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26). Could Jesus by these attributes alone take away sin? If He could, what meaneth then the scripture, which saith of some, “Whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13: 8)? And again, of the “Root of David,” we read: “In the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain; And they sung a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5: 6,9,12).

Questions may here arise, and rightly so. Why must the Lamb of God be slain? Why did Jesus die? Could not God save the people without the death of Christ? And, moreover, could Jesus obtain “the glory set before Him” without being slain?

THE TRAGEDY OF THE CROSS IS OUTSTANDING IN ALL HUMAN HISTORY. Why was it “that thus it must be?” (Matt. 26: 54). There must be some definite principle involved, which alone can account for this “must be.” To say that God required the death of Jesus, and therefore He submitted to have His life taken away by wicked men, is not sufficient. Whilst true, it does not explain why “thus it must be.” Certain facts duly con­sidered will provide the answers to our questions and give a reason for the necessity of a slain Lamb. We note that Jesus was “the seed of the woman”; He was also “the seed of Abraham,” and “the Son of David.” And whilst Jesus is spoken of as being “the Son of God,” He is also “Son of Man.” In support of this we have the following, among other scriptures:

 

“Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1: 31, 33).

“Jesus saith, the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matt. 3:17).

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17).

“And the multitudes cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David.  Who is this? This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:9, 11).

“Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19: 5).

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Gal. 3:16).

“God. . . hath glorified his Son Jesus.” “Saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you.” (Acts 3:13, 25, 26).

 

In Acts 2:22, 23, we have “a man approved of God” taken, “and by wicked hands crucified and slain.” To understand and appreciate that all of this was according to “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” there are many things to be considered which form the basis of the operation of God in the scheme of redemption. Behold, then, the babe born in a manger, in fulfillment of the word given by the angel. “Favour with God hast thou found, and thou shalt bring forth a son!” How shall this be? “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Over the fields of Bethlehem the angelic host sang His praise; the strains of which have not yet died away from the earth, but thrill the soul of man from year to year.

At the age of 12 years, with Joseph and his mother, Jesus went according to the custom, to Jerusalem, “at the feast of the Passover.” There, in the temple, He confounded the doctors, “both hearing them, and asking them questions.” The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, making Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord! The result being, “all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” (Luke 2: 42-27).

When “about thirty years of age” Jesus was made known to the children of Israel. Having passed through, and overcome, the trial in the wilderness, Jesus began to preach to the people, following John- who had been “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord … and all flesh shall see the Salvation of God.” (Luke 3: 4-6). For a brief span Jesus “went about doing good, for God was with him” (Acts 10: 38). Openly He condemned the leaders of the people, because they failed to carry out the will of His Father, even their God. Jesus said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Matt. 23: 1-5). “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matt. 4: 23). It is interesting to read, “the common people heard him gladly.” (Mark 12: 37). How different with the Pharisees, even though they sat in Moses’ seat, and should have done as Moses did in his day! Of them it is written, “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Jesus escaped, by withdrawing “himself from thence.” (Matt. 12: 14,15). His condemnation of them was severe and scathing: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?” (Matt. 12: 34).

Jesus unfolded many things, speaking often in parables, and whilst many people could not understand and perceive His meaning, nevertheless, they against whom His words were directed did discern their import, for “when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” (Matt. 21: 45, 46). Maddened as they were, by this open condemnation of their ways by Jesus, the Pharisees did not fail to see that “the common people” responded more favorably to the teaching of the Nazarene; and so, fearing the people, they must wait for a suitable opportunity to be rid of Him. Then, as now, force is a convenient weapon with which to dispose of an enemy, even though “the enemy” be a righteous man. They could not catch Him in His speech, even though they tried sending “officers to take him.” But these men returned without Him, and in response to the demand, “Why have ye not brought him?” They answered, “Never man spake like this man”; only to be met with “Are ye also deceived?” (John 7: 45, 47).

Little did these self-righteous Pharisees know, or care, that the Holy One of Israel was directing the steps of His own Son; and that only when He, the Father, would permit it could they, even with the people supporting them, take the Son. Jesus testified of this when He was before Pilate, saying, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19: 11). But when the time came for “all things to be fulfilled” which had been foretold, and “written concerning Him in the Law of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24: 44), the opportunity they longed for was provided; and the way opened for the accomplishment of their evil designs. Sometimes, by ways altogether unexpected, momentous events are brought about; for whilst “the chief priests and Scribes sought how they might kill him, satan entered into Judas Iscariot, being one of the twelve.” (Luke 22: 3).

Did Jesus, I wonder, at that same moment recall what was written of Him in the Psalms? “All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. Now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” (Psa. 41: 7, 9). Glad were they when Judas approached the chief priests and captains- so glad that they “covenanted to give him money”. Judas therefore promised, and “sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.” In the darkness of the night, rather than the light of day, for “men love darkness rather than light” when their deeds are evil. Later, Jesus said unto Judas “That thou doest, do quickly.” This mandate followed a verification of the application of the above Psalm (which some may doubt or deny) to Jesus. “I speak not of you all,” said Jesus, “I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.” (John 13: 18,19).  “Truly,” said the Master, “the Son of man goeth, as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22: 22).

 

 

A LAST SUPPER

 

BRIEFLY let us review some of the events, which led to the cross. Judea becomes the scene of contemplation. Nigh to Jerusalem, where two ways meet, the disciples of Jesus find a colt, which being loosed is taken to Jesus, and upon which He enters the City. They that went before, and they that followed, are heard to cry. “Hosanna; Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” The scene changes: A large upper room furnished is found. The passover has been prepared; all is ready that they may eat. When the hour was come Jesus, and the twelve apostles, having entered the guest-chamber are ready to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread.  To them the Master saith, “I have heartily desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  Leaving now the City we wind our way

 

                                    Beyond where Kedron’s waters flow

                                                (and there)

                                    Behold the suffering Saviour go

                                    To sad Gethsemane

                                    His countenance is all divine,

                                    Yet grief appears in every line.

 

From the seclusion of Gethsemane, in the solitude of the night, we hear the thrice-repeated cry, “O my Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” As we silently stand within the garden, we hear the traitor’s kiss, and see Jesus led away to the judgment hall. We hear, and acknowledge, the good confession witnessed before Pilate, and find ourselves at Calvary; there to behold and wonder?

 

Say, who hangs on yonder tree,

Doomed, impaled in agony?

Body bleeding, scourged and bare,

Pale and gashed that visage fair;

Heart weighed down by shame and grief,

Friend nor foe will give relief.

 

Tell what crimes the man hath done?

Justice, Truth, both answer none!

 

Hear the lonely sufferer’s cry;

See Him bow His head and die.

 

Bear Him to the cave away;

Soldiers guard it night and day.

 

Reverberating through the ages comes the voice of Israel’s poetic prophet; “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; he was despised and we esteemed him not. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation?” Before the echo of the prophet’s cry has passed away, we hear the Apostle to the Gentiles declare, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15: 3, 4). So, “Thus it behoved Christ to Suffer.”

A man of sorrows! Who went about doing good! Why, oh Why, must it thus be so? Why did Jesus die?

 

 

CHRIST CRUCIFIED AND YET WITHOUT SIN - WHY?

 

“TWO things must here be kept in view- Christ suffering and yet Christ righteous and approved. Christ crucified and yet Christ not crucified. This may appear to be a contradiction of terms, but it is not. It was just for God to require the crucifixion of Christ, else He would not have required it; and yet Christ was without sin, and one without sin ought not to be crucified. God’s justice must be seen here, and yet His love must find place. The explanation of this paradox is found only in a discrimination between the life of Christ physiologically, and His life biographically. Physiologically His life was Adamic - the life and the flesh of the Adamic race, every member of which was condemned in Adam, Christ (considered as a descendant of Adam, as a man and not as a character) included; for if a chain is condemned every link in it must necessarily be condemned.

O, say some, how you dishonor Christ when you say He was under Adamic condemnation, and that He needed cleansing and perfecting! Superficially viewed it may appear so; but look here, my well-meaning friend, come with me to the Garden of Gethsemane; look over there at the Son of God bowed in sorrow, bathed in tears, sweating as it were great drops of blood. Come along with me to Calvary, and I will only ask you to glance at the spectacle of our beloved Savior; it is really the Christ Himself that is nailed to yonder cruel cross. I will not ask you to go close to the sad scene nor to hear the heart-sickening words, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’  Let us turn back, and I will now talk with you about this matter of dishonoring the suffering Christ by saying that He was not perfect and holy by birth, but had to perfect Himself in an imperfect and sin-stricken nature.  Judging after the manner of men, and thinking of Him as the Son of God only I would naturally, yes, naturally, rush to the belief that He was as pure as Adam was before he sinned; yes, as good as an angel of heaven. But then what about the scene we have just witnessed? Were you to see Adam before he sinned on the cross what would you say? Were you to see an angel crucified, if it were possible, what would your inmost soul exclaim? Would you not declare it ought not to be? And I would answer you, it ought not to be; and if Christ was as Adam before he sinned, I would say of Him on the cross, ‘IT OUGHT NOT TO BE’.”

“Now, then, since He was crucified according to a pre­arranged plan of God, I am bound to say it ought to be; but how can I intelligently say so? Shall I blindly say so, or shall I accept the Spirit’s offer, ‘Come and let us reason together?’ When we do this we shall see the Christ considered in His relation to Adam (Adamic condemnation that passed upon all in him, and Adamic nature) I say, Christ considered legally and physically, typified by Moses lifting up the serpent, a symbol of sin; typified by the scarlet of the dividing vail of the tabernacle, typified in many of the Mosaic shadows of sin condemned in the flesh that committed it; when, I say, Christ upon the cross is considered in these relations we can see how, according to God’s plan, it ought to be. But Christ considered in relation to developed character, ‘holy, harmless and undefiled,’ and this side only kept in view, it ought not to have been.”

“Let us keep both sides before us and all will be as clear as the ‘great mystery of godliness’ can be to our weak and finite capabilities. It was therefore Adamic life that was taken because of sin. It was Christ’s life legally and physiologically, if you will allow me the expression, that was crucified, and that because of His relation to Adam’s sin; and thus God’s justice was manifested in ‘condemning sin in the flesh.’ Biographically Christ’s life was not Adamic; it was of God, heavenly. It was never under condemnation; and as soon as this life as a new mental and moral creature came to the birth, in being ‘born out of water,’ Heaven’s approving voice declared: ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ When Christ had finished His work, in overcoming the evils the first Adam had entailed upon Him, He passed out, on and up to redemption. He passed ‘through the vail - that is to say, His flesh’ into glory, honor and immortality, and became federally for all in Him ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Now in the crucifixion of Christ there was the shedding of blood, without which there is no remission of sins.”

“That God should require the shedding of blood is what causes many to stagger and this arises from a failure to see the relation of the race to the law of sin and death. The law condemned the whole race in Adam because flesh and blood became unclean in the sight of God through Adam’s sin. By the one sin of Adam flesh-and-blood man passed into a state in which the natural tendency of the flesh was sinful, and therefore unfit for eternal living existence. God being holy, the flesh-and-blood man being unholy in his natural tendency, the justice and purity of divine law lawfully required the crucifixion of the flesh, the taking of life from it by the shedding of its blood. This was the only way that God’s justice could ever admit of His mercy saving one who descended from Adam. But the shedding of the blood of a mere son of Adam would not admit of redemption. If the one whose blood is shed is a personal sinner as was a sinner of Adam, neither justice nor mercy can save him; justice cannot save an actual sinner, and mercy cannot interfere in his behalf without colliding with justice, which would place one attribute of God against another. There must be a situation formed in which justice can be met by the shedding of the blood of one of sin’s flesh, and yet the one be saved. No man could form such a situation; only God could do it, and in doing it He is the Savior, and His goodness and mercy are manifested.” -Thomas Williams, in “Regeneration.”

 

 

 

NO FAULT IN THIS MAN

 

THE foregoing extract should help us to understand why “thus it must be”; why One “who did no sin” should be called upon to die a sacrificial death, and how those who seek to do the will of God may be cleansed and covered; and that they may find a way of approach, and access to God, opened up for them.

We now go back to where we were before giving the quotation.  There are different aspects of the death of Christ, which need to be considered.  Even Pilate knew that the Jews had “for envy delivered Jesus unto him.”  Envy, jealousy and hatred were the actuating principles on the part of the Jewish leaders, who determined to be rid of the prophet of Galilee.

So Pilate, in the part he had to play in this greatest drama of humanity in his official capacity, could do no other than he did-even when he desired to do so. These all, from their natural point of view, performed their part. They did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

It is certain that Herod and Pilate were not interested in the religious claims of Jesus - more likely they thought of Him as a visionary, but harmless, fanatic. Pilate’s first announcement, to the chief priests and the people- after he heard their accusations- was, “I find no fault in this man.” Later he said,

 

“Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.” And when the people cried, saying, “Crucify, crucify him,” Pilate challenged them, “Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him.” And yet, when their voices prevailed, Pilate “gave sentence that it should be as they required.”

 

This is the testimony of Luke 23. And so “the Son of man must go, as it was determined.” “Being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” He who did no sin, was about to be “taken, and by wicked hands crucified and slain.” (Acts 2: 23).

Here, then, is another phase of the death of Christ- “the counsel of God.” It was therefore God’s will and “determination.” But why? For what reason, and by what cause? After Pilate “took Jesus, and scourged him,” the soldiers indulged in a little mockery- they “platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head.” Pilate presented Jesus to the people, once again declaring “I find no fault in him.” Jesus came forth “wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19: 2, 5). Here we have “the man Christ Jesus” with both the thorns and the purple. Whether intended or not there is much significance in the picture. “The man” was of the Adamic race. “By one man sin entered the world.” “Sin reigned unto death.” Jesus died “to take away sin. The first man was of the earth, earthy.”  Part of the condemnation upon the singer, and therefore upon all who sinned in him, was “cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” The thorns were thus a symbol of sin, like unto the serpent in the wilderness. The thorns were carried with “the man to the accursed tree,” when “He died unto sin.” Had Jesus continued in death there would have been no need for the purple robe; of this we shall speak later, noting here that “the purple” was taken from Him, when led out by the people to the crucifixion.

A distressing feature of the proceedings was the taunts of the mob directed against the Savior. How the wicked do rejoice to speak against the righteous! How the bad would defile the good with, and by, their slurring, contemptible and diabolical insinuations, taunts and accusings. The defense of their own evil is in the expression of their own grovellings and maliciousness. As now even so 1900 years ago. “They that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself and come down from the cross.” Mockingly others said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” Did they expect to see such an exhibition of power in Him, and from Him, that would convince them and soften their adamant hearts, enlighten their understandings, and open their minds to the Will of God? No, indeed; not one whit more so than when Jesus, in His parable, told them, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16: 31). “Let the King of Israel,” they cried, “descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” They did not believe that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One spoken of in the prophets “who was to come”. They said He had a devil, and wrought by the power thereof. They were unenlightened rejectors of the claims of both God and His Son. Darkness mantled “the whole land until the ninth hour.” And then the grief-stricken cry was heard, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me.” (Mark 15: 29-3 4).

FORSAKEN OF GOD? Yes, but why? We have seen the implication of the “crown of thorns”; now let Peter speak of Him “who did no sin”; “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body to the tree.” (1 Pet. 2: 24). Having cried again with a loud voice, and knowing that all things then to be accomplished had been fulfilled, Jesus bowed His head, and died. A centurion standing by, having beheld all that was done, “glorified God,” in that he declared “Certainly this was a righteous man”.

 

 

FORSAKEN BUT REMEMBERED

 

JESUS, HAVING “RISEN INDEED,” joined Himself to the apostles when they were gathered together, and reminded them of what He had told them “while yet with them.” He further “opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” (Luke 24: 44, 46). They were in need of being reminded, and of this instruction. Of the many things Jesus had “told, while yet with them” was this: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10: 17, 18). Let it not be thought that this is a contradiction of the other scripture, which says that Jesus was taken by wicked hands and slain. Both statements are true, and correct in their place; even as we have seen that the death of Christ was according to the predetermined counsel of God. The statement “I lay down my life,” shows the voluntary action on the part of Jesus, who was willing to submit to the requirement of a sacrificial death; strengthened as He was by knowing “that by the same commandment” He had power “to take it again”. This power was not in Himself but in God. Nevertheless, Jesus said, “I have power.” Wherein then was His power? Not in the Spirit “given without measure” whilst He was manifesting God to the people-for that spirit was withdrawn when Jesus cried, “Why has thou forsaken me?” The power of Jesus was in His life of absolute compliance with the Father’s will, and in His “obedience unto the death of the cross.” From this death He could not escape, and be faithful to God. For, on that dark betrayal night, He prayed, “Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” It was one of those moments in the trial of Jesus when He needed to call to mind, “that thus it must be”; by which strengthening conviction He was enabled to continue. “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

Later, the Apostle writing of the Risen Lord, said, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Heb. 5: 8). Have we in this an answer to why “thus it must be?” Why did Jesus die? Paul clearly and definitely answers, “For in that he died, he died unto sin once.” (Rom. 6: 10). Yet, throughout His life, “he did no sin,” but always pleased the Father. Why then must Jesus “die unto sin,” or by reason of sin? If He must die only because He was mortal, even though this mortality came by sin, would not natural death have been sufficient? That the death of the Cross was required of Him is direct evidence that natural death would not meet the requirements of the purpose of God centered in “the last Adam.”

Jesus was born, and “came into the world,” not only to take away sin, but also to be the Savior of men. All the essentials, which together formulate the Plan of Salvation, are the requirements, which have to be met.  Outstanding is the death of the cross, for which there must be an adequate reason. We remember that “in him was no sin” i.e., no transgression of law, even as He challenged those who were His adversaries; “Which of you convinceth me (doth convict me) of sin?” (John 8: 46). And as Peter wrote, “Who did no sin.” I say, as we recall this fact we are brought to realize that the call for His sacrificial death was not the outcome of any wrong doing on His part, for such there was not. Yet still we read again, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body.”

Controversy and misunderstanding have arisen from this, and similar statements, concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who look upon “sin” as being “transgression of law,” and can see no other application of the term, have difficulty in understanding how Jesus could “bare our sins in His body.” Some seek refuge behind the dogma of substitution. But that does not explain the Truth. It is evident that Jesus could not bare our sins, our transgressions of law, actually to the tree 1900 years before we were born, and before such sins were committed. And if we would restrict the words to those living with Peter at the time of his writing, the difficulty is still there. Could Jesus bare the actual sins of others? But if we look upon Jesus as a representative of others who were to be saved by, and through Him, we have quite a different matter.

The FIRST MAN, ADAM, by disobedience brought separation from God, and death. JESUS, THE LAST ADAM, by perfect obedience accomplished restoration, and opened up the way of Life from the dead. He became “the first-born of every creature.” Not of the Adamic world, for the first man Adam was the first there, and Cain (who “was of that wicked one” (1 John 3: 12), was the first-born of that world. Jesus became the first-born of a new creation, of which “He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead: that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. (Col. 1: 15,18). “Therefore,” says Paul, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  How? “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” And how was this reconciliation accomplished, seeing we were all under Sin, which reigned unto death? The Apostle Paul, speaking of the work of God in Christ, says, “For he hath made him sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5: 17, 21). Here then we have One “who did no sin.” (1 Pet. 2: 22), “in whose mouth no guile was found,” made sin, and we through Him made righteous.

Unto what sin, then, did Jesus die? “The sin of the world,” you say. Yes, that is so- whether you consider “the world” to be Israelitish, or Adamic. But now, let me ask, Was Christ one of the world, or outside the world? The answer should be obvious to all who discern the Plan of God. As “the seed of woman,” “the seed of Abraham,” “the Son of David,” “The Son of man,”- “The man Christ Jesus” must of necessity be one of the Adamic race, and therefore one of the world. We must acknowledge the conclusion that although Jesus was not a transgressor of the law He, nevertheless, being one of the world, according to the Plan of God came under the conditions of the world, in which reigned the law of sin and death. All mankind being an extension of Adam and Eve, brought into the world since “sin entered, and death by Sin,” are born under- and therefore have by natural inheritance in and upon them- the consequences of Adam’s sin in Eden. Provisional sacrifice was, however, provided by God, and by this means His Own Son was covered from birth; this was operative until the type should be over-shadowed by the antitype. “Now I say,” is the word of Paul, “that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises unto the fathers.” (Rom. 15: 8). How could He to whom the promises were made (both as to the seed of the Woman, the seed of Abraham, and the son of David) confirm those promises?

Consider now another testimony: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world.” Which world, and to what time does this refer? Not to the time of His birth, for then Jesus could not have said what follows in the subsequent verses. The world, of course, was that to which Jesus was revealed as the Lamb of God to take away the sin which required His sacrifice. So when Jesus came into that world, and during the days of His ministry- as “Immanuel” (God with us), “God reconciling the world unto himself’- which culminated in the cross, we are told “He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body has thou prepared me:  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.” (Heb. 10: 5-10).

Concerning the promise made to Abraham (see Gen. 15: and 22), the apostle says of God, “Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee . . . Wherein God, willingly more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” (Heb. 6: 13-17).  Yet there was room, and need, for the confirmation of the covenant to be effected by Jesus Christ. And this by a circumcision which would confirm, ratify or make valid, all the promises of God which “in him are yea, and in him Amen.” (2 Cor. 1:20). What was the circumcision by which Jesus confirmed the promises? Not that operation “on the eighth day,” “when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.” (Luke 2: 27). Whilst compliance with this “custom of the law” was as necessary for Jesus as for any other male child in Israel, it, of itself, could not confirm the promises then, any more than it could all down the ages since Abraham. It was but one of the many types which needed to be “made sure” by the antitype. And to this Jesus was a minister for the truth of God, that by confirming the promises He would demonstrate the true value of the form of knowledge and of truth in the law.

In reference to “the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ”; Paul says, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The Father knew from the beginning by what means the Plan would be carried out; the “secret” of it, however, was hid in God until revealed through the Son. All that went before was the “Shadow of things to come,” waiting for the “due time” when it would be seen that “the body is of Christ.” To confirm the “shadow” Jesus must be cut off in substance- the actual body of “the sins of the flesh” must be “cut off,” not die a natural death; for that would fail to substantiate the shadow. Paul therefore says of Christ, “Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen, with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses …  nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2: 10,14). Thus the circumcision of Christ was consummated on “the cross.” Of necessity Jesus must die that He might live!

 

 

IN ADAM ALL DIE

 

AN outstanding truth of both the Old and New Testaments is “By man came death.” (1 Cor. 15: 21). And this man was “the first man, Adam”- the father of the human family. Paul says further, “For as in Adam all die.” And as Christ was born in, and of, the Adamic family, even though Son of God, He too must die. Not only was Jesus related to death by being the seed of the woman; He also was a sin-bearer. Of Him the prophet had long before spoken (concerning Israel’s deliverer) of One who was “despised and rejected of men.” “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Further, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” But that was not all. “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.” How different He was to the people!  “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.” What was it all about? “For the trans­gression of my people was he stricken. It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …  he shall bear their iniquities. He hath poured out his soul unto death: he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53).

There is but one way in which these “iniquities” and “the sin of many” could be laid upon Jesus, as we have already seen. He was one of the people, “made in all points like unto his brethren,” consequently being the same “flesh and blood,” or nature, whatever condemnation rested upon them rested also upon Him. This condemnation came by reason of the sin in Eden, which brought death upon all. The apostolic comment upon this is interesting and edifying.

 

“But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him.? Thou madest him a little lower (or, a little while inferior to) than the angels: thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels- for (or by) the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil; Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2: 6-10, 14, 17). “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For where a testament is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”

 

These two verses (16, 17) are rendered by Dr. Young as follows, “For where a covenant is, the death of the covenant-victim to come is necessary, for a covenant over dead victims is steadfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth.” Literal Translation “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9).

 

 

SHALL SOULS BE LEFT IN HELL?

 

IN the last chapter of this Epistle we have one of the most outstanding statements of the whole Bible. There are others equally important, but this particular verse is so fully comprehensive that it takes in almost the whole Plan of God. It sweeps away the former 4,000 years of type and shadow, during which no solution had been found, or manifested. Generations came and passed away. Lives were spent “as a tale that is told.” Through the long, dark night of the reign of sin death had prevailed. Who would, or could, solve the problem? Should souls be always “left in hell” (sheol; the grave)? The spirit of Christ in the Psalms had spoken of this, but as yet the problem was not solved. Promises were given; covenants entered into; and yet they who were directly concerned in them “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them,” yet though embracing the promises, as such, they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Such is the testimony of Heb. 11:13.

But He of whom the Psalmist wrote, having set the Lord always before him, did not waver. “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Psa. 16: 8-1 1).

Here was One who could, and did, solve the problem. And the reason- He was the Holy One, having attained to righteousness by complete obedience, wherein all others had failed. He thereby demonstrated the meaning, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again”; showing how that He must die that He might live. The Eternal God was His refuge. The confidence of Jesus in the Father never failed. He truly “trusted in God,” as the revilers said; but, unlike them, Jesus knew that in God’s own time “He would deliver him.” God would not leave Him in death, therefore He cried “unto him who was able to save him out of death, and was heard in that he feared.” (Heb. 5: 7). Just as it was “not possible for the cup to pass from him,” except He drank it, so also it was “not possible for the grave to hold him.”  Peter, addressing the men of Israel, on the day of Pentecost, said,

 

“Hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne: He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2: 22-32).

 

 

THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT

 

ALL this is involved, and summarized, in the statement referred to as “one of the most outstanding”- “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” (Heb. 13: 20). Foreshadowed in Abel’s “more excellent sacrifice”; in Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac; in the typical confirmation of the covenant narrated in Gen. 15; in the Noahic sacrifice, after deliverance, and the “bow in the cloud”; and also in the many requirements “under the Law.” These all illustrate the divine principle that “without shedding of blood is no remission”; and that as sin hath reigned unto death it requires a law of righteousness to give life after death. Moreover it required the death of Christ to establish a law of resurrection, which was so essential to carry out the 7,000 years Plan.

Without a resurrection all would “sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,” and without a law of resurrection- to counteract the law of sin and death- the Grave would hold all therein, whether good or bad. The Plan, however, required the law of resurrection, and to accomplish this the life of the Holy One must be “cut off in the midst of his days.” He must “pour out his soul unto death.” As the Lamb of God, prefigured as “slain from the foundation of the world,” the blood of Jesus must be shed. It was shed “to confirm the promises.” It therefore became “the blood of the everlasting covenant,” and it was through this, or by reason of it, that “God brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,” and without the blood of the covenant there is no guarantee of a resurrection for others; for “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made living.”

 

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives for ever with His saints to reign:

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

 

On one of the highways, about threescore furlongs from Jerusalem, we behold two men walking; as they walk they talk together of those things which had happened. The horror of darkness had settled hard upon them, even as upon the other disciples; they had previously heard many things spoken of which must come to pass, yet they had failed to comprehend the meaning and force thereof. “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” (John 20: 9). “Bowed in sadness, bathed in tears” was the attitude of the followers of the Galilean Teacher, in whom they had placed much confidence and had looked for great things. They had not discerned “the lamp of fire” which was sure to follow the sacrifice. So with heavy hearts and bewildered countenances they journeyed on.

Thus proceeding and communing they were unexpectedly joined by one who to them appeared to be a stranger. Noting their demeanor He inquired of them the cause of their sadness, and the manner of their communications. Strange indeed it seemed to them that one should ask this, for all Jerusalem and beyond had witnessed and heard of the great tragedy.  And yet to converse with one who apparently “knew not those things” was a welcome relief to the feelings of the downcast and saddened disciples. So one of them, Cleopas by name, also asked a question; “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?”  Still “holding their eyes that they should not know him,”  He asked, “What things?” Feeling that, one who did not know of these things must be a stranger indeed the disciples were eager to make them known.

“And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.” They then told of “certain women” who had been early at the sepulcher, when the body was not found, but seeing “a vision of angels” learned “that he was alive.” Others also went, and found as the women had said, “but him they saw not.” It is not surprising that these men “wondered as they wandered.”

Jesus listened, and then said unto them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” They had believed some things, but had failed to discern all the facts. So “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” Later, as He sat at meat with them, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him;” only to find that He then ceased to be seen of them. The fact that “the Lord is risen indeed” was again demonstrated after those men had joined the eleven and others with them, at which interview He said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures; And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24).

What had previously- to those who forsook Him and fled-seemed to be “unbelievable, idle tales,” now became the true light, shining more and more to the perfect day; dispelling the horror of darkness, and placing the disciples where Abraham was when he became the Friend of God; with however this difference- what Abraham saw by faith, they beheld by sight! Well might Peter exclaim, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy bath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Pet. 1: 3).

 

“GO, TEACH ALL NATIONS”

 

THE promises “made unto the fathers” having now been confirmed, and the disciples encouraged, strengthened, and prepared for the work before them, they were commissioned by their Lord to go forth, and carry on His Work; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:19). Jesus did not leave them immediately, but having “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1: 3), the Risen Lord “led them out as far as Bethany.”(Luke 24: 50). He conversed with them concerning the theme, which had so often engaged their attention, and for the fulfillment of which He had taught His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

Contemplating the things spoken, pertaining to the Kingdom of God, caused the disciples to ask: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1: 6). That the kingdom would be restored was the hope of a nation, as it was the testimony of the prophets. But concerning the time of restoration they were not aware. And the Master did not enlighten them as they desired. His answer was, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. Having given them such information as He could then impart, and urging them to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high,” which would enable them to discern more fully all things involved in the Gospel, which they were sent forth to preach, Jesus “led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them.” (Luke 24: 49,50). Having “Spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

Although Jesus had previously taught that He would “go away, and come again unto them” (John 14: 2,3) they were not altogether prepared for the ascension. Had we been there we would undoubtedly have done as they did. “They looked steadfastly toward heaven.” With varied emotions- doubts and fears, wonder and hope- they saw the cloud receive Him, as He passed from their sight. But Jesus had said, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you; and immediately “comfort” by confidence was extended to them. For “while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1: 9,11). With this parting word the disciples “returned unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet.” This event is depicted on the Chart.

 

Ages ago in the Eastern lands

They watched for Him.

List’ning oft for His chariot wheels

As the days grew dim;

Expecting that He would come again to Olivet.

On the strength of a parting promise they looked

But He tarries yet.

 

Every year over the winter’s snow with watchful eyes

Eager disciples have watched for Him

Who mounted the skies.

They have died at their post on the beacon heights

And, now, we take their place.

We look, as they looked in the olden days,

For the sight of His face.

But the years pass on, He comes not yet;

Still, God’s time is best.

 

The resurrection was now an accomplished fact. And we cannot do better than emphasize some of the thoughts already developed from the scriptures, which have been quoted. “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Apart from the resurrection which is in Christ, and through whom the apostles “preached the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4: 2), they who have placed their faith and hope in Christ “are of all men most miserable.” How so? Well, those Corinthian believers who were “in Christ” were in that relationship because they had been baptized into His death, thereby becoming associated with “the blood of the everlasting covenant, by reason of which, as we have seen, Jesus was “brought again from the dead.”

Baptism is therefore the basis of association with Christ, who is “the resurrection and the life.” His resurrection, and their baptism into the death of Christ, is placed as the guarantee of their resurrection from the dead. Inasmuch as “we are buried with him by baptism into death: For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also of the rising again.” (Rom. 6: 3,5).

This guarantee is based upon their having been “planted,” and if this is not reliable, what is the use of being baptized? For, “if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” If there be no efficacy in baptism as the basis and guarantee of a resurrection from the dead, the believers may well be “of all men most miserable”; for in such a case “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished”; which obviously is the portion of those who fall asleep not being “in Christ.”

And now Paul rises majestically above those who say there is no resurrection. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” That is his definite affirmation. Then comes his argument, which none can refute. “For since by man came death, by man also the resurrection of the dead.” Do I hear someone say that others were restored to life before the resurrection of Christ? Granted, but such cases were an exhibition and manifestation of the power of God, and were not “resurrection by man”- if they were so, how could Jesus be the firstfruits of them that slept?

Paul’s argument- to force home the truth of this doctrine-continues, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” All in Adam die, because sin hath reigned unto death. Those who are “in Christ” have “passed from death unto life”; their relationship being changed when in baptism they “put off the old man,” which is thereby “crucified with him.” (Rom. 6: 6). Hence we have the two classes, “in Adam” and “in Christ”; just as in the beginning we had the sons of God, “who called upon the name of the Lord”; and the children of men who were not named by that Name. “But every man in his own order:” says Paul, “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

 

 

THE RESURRECTION

 

THIS notable treatise by Paul in 1 Cor. 15, is a clear explanation of the different standing of the two classes of the human race in relation to the Plan of God, which involves death for all who remain in their native state; “By nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:

3), and “life from the dead” for all who by covenant-relationship are in Him, who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus conquered death, and demonstrated the validity of the Psalm, which said of Him, “my flesh shall rest in hope.” We have already seen from the quotations taken from Acts 2 that the sixteenth Psalm was prophetic of Jesus Christ. It is well to compare the rendering in verse 11 of the Psalm, with verse 28 in Acts 2. “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.” The resurrection is emphasized in verse 32. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”

A “witness of His resurrection” was essential for the work of the apostles. (Acts 1: 22). It fortified them against opposition, and strengthened them to endure whatever might come upon them, when they went forth to perform the arduous task of proclaiming the gospel to Jew and Gentile. They had seen Him die; they had trusted and yet lamented His death, feeling their hope was lost; they had been brought out of their stupor by the reality of His resurrection. This fact could not be gainsaid. The Jews might cavil as to what “that deceiver said while yet alive”; and Pilate, not sharing their fears (or even caring) having so far performed his part, could give them “a guard and a seal.” (Matt. 27: 63, 66). But the fact remains- the empty tomb was there, and the angel testified “He is not here; He is risen.” Jesus appeared unto Mary and convinced her that He was alive again; she in turn told the disciples, and so prepared them for His manifestation to them. Assembled together, with the doors shut for fear of the Jews, the disciples were surprised by Jesus standing in their midst, who showed them “His hands and side.”

This evidence provided conviction by sight! “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” Thomas, however, was not with them, and was not convinced by what they told him: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20: 25). And so it came to pass eight days after when Thomas was with the disciples Jesus again stood in their midst, and willing to help and to convince the doubter, said, “Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (Verse 27).

By such means the immediate followers of Jesus were brought back from despondency, and “begotten again unto a living hope.” Taking another thought from the second chapter of The Acts (from which we have already quoted) we are informed, “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord. Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Verses 34, 35). WHY WAS DAVID “NOT ASCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS”? If the common belief is true that “good people go to heaven”, or that there is a sky-kingdom for the righteous to which they go at death, surely David should have ascended! If, reader, your belief is such, had you not better ponder this question and seek for an answer?

Now the promise of salvation, and a participation in the kingdom of great David’s greater Son, had been given to the former King of Israel. But he had not ascended! What then had become of him? Peter answers, “Let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” (Verses 29, 30). Paul also speaks on this wise: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.” (Acts 3: 36). Why did David see corruption? The answer is, Because man is mortal, being under sentence of death; as it was said, “unto dust shalt thou return.”

 

 

MORTAL AND CORRUPTIBLE

 

THAT MAN IS MORTAL is a first principle of divine teaching, and he who would be saved must understand and believe “the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Heb. 5: 12). How can a person be saved from what he is, if he believes himself to be altogether different to what he really is? Any doctrine which negatives, or violates any first principle- or definite teaching of the Bible, in regard to the gospel of salvation- must of necessity be rejected. Both Peter and Paul, in the chapters already quoted- Acts 2 and 13- emphasize the difference between David and Jesus. The one died, and remained dead- the other died but rose again. Paul especially expresses the difference in this way: “David . . . saw corruption; But He, Whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” David could not “by any means redeem” himself, or give to God a ransom that would save him from corruption. But the Son of man, Son of David, and also Son of God was superior to all who had gone before. “Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” And as the grave could not hold the Holy One, “God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2: 8, 9).

Now mark this well! The sentence pronounced upon the sinners of Eden, and extended through them to the human family, was death, but not eternal death. Had it been such there could have been no release from it, and therefore no Plan of Salvation. Righteousness alone can counteract the effect of sin. For 4,000 years the Adamic family had continued under the reign of sin. Many illustrious ones had played their part, but not one had lived without sin. When therefore there was “no arm to save,” God stretched forth His own arm, and brought salvation; opening up the way of life for others also through the Son of His love. Jesus Christ was made strong to perform the Father’s will, by overcoming sin, within and without.

If He shrank from the cruel cross, in this He did not sin. No voice of condemnation was heard; on the other hand “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22: 43). Yet, as we have seen, Jesus must die, this we have demonstrated. And Paul says, “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” (Rom. 6: 9, 10). And He became:

 

The first-begotten from the dead,

Lo! Jesus ris’n, His people’s Head,

To make their life secure:

Though they like Him may yield their breath,

Like Him, they’ll burst the bands of death;

Their Resurrection sure.

 

Had the body of Jesus remained in the grave (i.e., He Himself), there could have been no salvation. A dead Christ could not be a Savior. He must be raised again, as we have seen was the case. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit,” (i.e., life-giving; life-effecting).

As already demonstrated, in relation to the Plan of the Ages-which provides life from the dead, and (for those accounted faithful at the Judgment seat of Christ) immortality and incorruptibility- Jesus was the firstborn, “brought from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” Death and resurrection are both based upon principle, and in relation to them we have cause and effect. “By man came death” How? Death is an effect. What was, and is, the cause? To this there is but one scriptural answer. Try to ignore it if you wish- to get around it if you can; say, death is the result of mortality; the natural law of physical decay; the lack of sufficient knowledge to keep the wheels of nature turning. Yet the Bible has one answer: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.” “By one man’s offence death reigned by one.” “Sin hath reigned unto death.” (Rom. 5: 12, 17, 21). “The sting of death is sin.” (1 Cor. 15: 56).

As sin is the cause, and death the effect, on one hand; where shall we find cause for an effect which is the very opposite? As the first cause and effect came by the first man, Adam, we must look to the second, or last, Adam for the cause and effect which will counter-balance the evil of the first Adam. In none other but Jesus can this be found. The victory, says Paul, is “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The second “cause” was developed in Him. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:17, 19, 21).

The grace of God in Christ developed righteousness to the full when He was “obedient unto death.” His life of entire conformity to the will of God, sealed by His sacrificial death, was all that could be required by God. Jesus thereby “magnified the law of God, and made it honorable.” This “righteousness” was so acceptable to God that its effect extended beyond Jesus. Even as Paul wrote: “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe . . . to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3: 22, 25, 26).

THE “EFFECT” OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in behalf of Jesus we have seen, when, “it not being possible for the grave to hold Him,” the blood of the covenant (in which all His righteousness was centered) brought Jesus out of death that He might enter into Life for evermore. Righteousness, then, was the cause, and Resurrection the effect. And, that others may participate in this grace, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. The “power” is based upon obedience. One must “believe,” but also go further. “Believe and be baptized” is the gospel’s command, to those who would live, and inherit the land. BUT WHY BE BAPTIZED? Because by this ordinance we are “buried with Christ by baptism into his death,” and the effect of His obedience unto death is extended, and in measure conferred upon those so baptized. As they come from the waters of baptism, after dying with Christ to walk in newness of life, they are said to have “risen with Christ.” (Col. 3: 1). Therefore, “whether they wake or sleep, they live together with him.” (1 Thess. 5:10). And of those who had fallen “asleep,” the brethren are exhorted “not to sorrow, even as others which have no hope.” Why not? Because here are two classes; one “without hope,” because “without God in the world,” and the other full of hope because they are in Him who is “the resurrection and the life.” And because they are in Him “they too shall rise again, their resurrection sure. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thess. 4: 13, 16).

THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT was an essential factor in the resurrection of our Lord; by reason of it He could say, “I am the resurrection, and the life (two separate things): he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11: 5). And then with one long sweep Jesus spans 2,000 years and speaks of His coming again to the earth; “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Why? Not only had Jesus “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1: 18), and knew that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” His church (ecclesia); but He was also aware of the fact that all who have been “baptized into his death” have been provisionally cleansed from sin; redeemed, restored, justified, sanctified, and clothed with His Righteousness. Being “no more strangers and foreigners (the lot of all who are not in Christ), but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,” they are relatively no longer “in Adam”- which is the characteristic of all the family of the first man; Cast out of Eden, and no access to the tree of life.

In Christ they have been born again; “washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb,” and the influence and power of the blood of the covenant is operating upon them. Arising from this covenant-cleansing the members of the Church (ecclesia) of the Living God are “made free from sin” (Rom. 6: 22), and the apostle says, of them, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

CONDEMNATION LIFTED

 

BEFORE they became “in Christ Jesus” they were all under condemnation, as the scriptures abundantly testify. And this condemnation came upon them because of the Edenic sin, which brought death. But their relationship being changed- by passing out of the first Adam into the last Adam- they are no longer con- demned, even though they are still mortal. So Paul gives the reason why there is now no condemnation, saying, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8: 1, 2). It was because of this power, now established in Christ, that the apostles “preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4: 2). This was not a new Truth, but an old one established by development. It had been taught of old time, and also by Jesus before His death. “This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6: 3, 9). “The hour is coming,” said Jesus, “in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (judgment, or condemnation).”  (John 5: 28, 29).

Paul, as his manner was, went into a synagogue of the Jews, “and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” (Acts 17: 3). At Athens Paul “preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” (Verse 18). And when before the council the same apostle cried out, “of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” (Acts 23: 6). He taught “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24: 15). Before Agrippa Paul testified of “the hope of the promise” for which hope’s sake, said he, “I am accused of the Jews.” Then Paul presented his challenge; “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26: 6, 8). The last message of the Master to His servants and brethren proclaims the same truth, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.”

THE MEANS OF ASSOCIATION with these “exceeding great and precious promises” has incidentally been shown as we have progressed, and will be further elaborated in another lecture. Meanwhile we repeat the necessity of baptism into Christ, by immersion in water, which provides the “burial,” and without which we do not obey the gospel. Baptism is the only guarantee, in

this dispensation of a resurrection from the dead; and continued obedience to the commandments of Christ the only way to obtain the gift of God, “immortality” and a place in His Kingdom. “Because I live,” said Jesus, “ye shall live also.” (John 14: 19).

 

 

HE WILL COME AGAIN

 

THERE is abundant testimony, and many reasons, to show why Jesus will come again to the earth. Hear the word of Peter to the “men of Israel,” who marveled at the manifestation of Divine Power in making a man, who had been lame from birth, to walk: “Those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” Using this accomplishment as a basis for confidence in the fulfillment of other prophecies, Peter continues:

 

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3: 18, 22).

 

But Israel did not “hear Him” when He appeared nineteen hundred years ago. “A cloud received him out of their sight,” and in the heaven must He remain until a specified time, when He will assuredly return to the earth, “from the far country.”

AND WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR HIS RETURN? Let us take a brief glance over the Chart and consider a few questions. We look at the Garden, and ask, Has the seed of the serpent been bruised in the head? No! Then the seed of the woman has yet a work to do there. Ask again, Is Paradise restored? Then Jesus must come again to “make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.” (Isa. 51: 3). We think of Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and ask, Has the time come when it is no more necessary for men to speak to their neighbours, and brother to brother to say “Know the Lord, for all do know me, from the least to the greatest of them” (Jer. 3 1: 34)? No indeed, the gospel must still be preached. We think of Abraham and the promises, and ask, Has the seed, to whom the promise was made, obtained possession of the land and the gate of His enemies? The present disturbed conditions in, and pertaining to, the Land of Palestine emphatically say, No! Has the true heir to David’s Throne rebuilt the tabernacles of David which are fallen down? No, there is no King of Zion. Has the Image yet stood upon the feet, ready to be struck by The Stone? And are not the Jews still a scattered and persecuted people?* The negative answer to all these questions clearly tell us that the “good things spoken of are in promise still. But “the appointed day” is drawing nigh. Christ will come again, as He said He would- He cannot forget.

 

PREACH THE GOSPEL

 

THE Apostles were commissioned by Jesus to “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The conditions governing the benefits to be derived from the gospel were specified. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” “So then,” we are told, “after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16: 14, 20).

What is the gospel that the Apostles preached? No better answer can be given than a few quotations from Acts 8. Disciples being scattered abroad “they went every where preaching the Word.” In doing so they would unfold many things appertaining to

salvation. “The word” is God; “the word” is Christ; “the word” is the word of truth of the gospel. But immediately after the above quotation of verse 4, we have the same matter expressed in another way: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” What did Philip proclaim when he “preached Christ”? Did he simply, or merely, speak about the Cross? We are informed in verse 12, “When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” WHY BE BAPTIZED? Especially when we are not told that Philip preached “baptism”! If we do not believe that baptism is necessary we may make the foregoing suggestion. But face the facts. Is it not very suggestive that baptism was part of the preaching, seeing that when what was preached was believed, those so believing were baptized? In being baptized after believing the gospel we read, “the apostles heard that Samaria had received the word of God.” And further, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In verse 25 we have “preached the word of the Lord” as the equivalent of “preached the gospel.”

We cannot escape the conclusion that “preaching the word,” “preaching the gospel,” and “preaching Christ” are one and the same. And in “preaching Christ” it is not difficult to see that this called forth what would undoubtedly be an eloquent and effective exposition of the birth, life and death of Jesus, in their relation to the Kingdom of God, based upon the promises made unto the fathers. Could the death of Christ be preached without showing its bearing upon the sin of the world, in regard to the removal thereof? The next step would be the necessity of all who would obtain the forgiveness of sins becoming related to the death of Christ, that its benefits might be conferred upon those manifesting faith by obedience. In so faithfully “preaching the word,” Baptism must be taught. The quotation from Mark 16 definitely shows this: “Preach the gospel; believe; be baptized.” Preach the good news of a coming Kingdom, in which Christ shall reign as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”; when the promises of God will find their fulfillment at the return of Him who once wore a crown of thorns, but now “a golden crown”, a “crown of life”, a “crown of glory,” for “on his head were many crowns.” (Rev. 19: 12).

To whom will it be the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom? According to Luke 12: 32, it will be given to the “little flock”; and the context shows the little flock to be the disciples, who are the children of God; for says Jesus, “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” Can anyone become a child of God without believing in God? Belief is certainly emphasized in connection with salvation, and entrance into the Kingdom. Paul states the necessity as follows: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10: 9,10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Verse 13)

The practical application of the foregoing is next stated by the apostle, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” If then “faith cometh by hearing,” as Paul alleges, and hearing is depen­dent upon “the word of God,” we must see how in proclaiming the gospel the Word is preached. The keeper of the prison sought help from Paul and Silas when he said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer was clear and to the point: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” And to help the man to understand what he should believe, “They spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” Was that all? Oh no! For that same hour of the night he, and all his, were baptized, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” (Acts 16: 27-34). Of Lydia also we read in verses 14 and 15, “Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household” she besought the Apostles to abide with her. These are actual results to the work of the Apostles, and the force of the testimony cannot be ignored. When Jesus said, “Go, preach the gospel,” He did not say, he that believeth shall be saved; but, “he that believeth and is baptized.”

 

 

HOW THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED

 

LOOKING at the third section of the Chart we have an interesting picture, based upon an incident recorded in Acts 8. Philip was instructed by the angel of the Lord to go toward the south, down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. This he did. At the same time a man of Ethiopia, of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning. He was sifting in his chariot reading the prophecy of Isaiah. Philip was directed to join himself to the chariot, and- as he did so- heard the eunuch reading from the prophecy. This gave a very favorable opening, which Philip immediately laid hold of, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?”  The response was, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” And, perceiving the possibility of help being at hand, he requested Philip to sit with him. “The place of the scripture which he read was this, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” A remarkable prophecy of One whose name is Wonderful! But this the eunuch did not perceive. Tell me, said he, “Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?” What, my friend, would be your answer? “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

WHAT DID PHILIP SAY? We are not told, except in that one word. Anyone acquainted with the gospel and the redemption, which is in Christ, will readily form some definite idea of what was said in the explanation given to the eunuch. The outcome is the clue to something unfolded; for as they went on their way, and came to a certain water, the Ethiopian said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to he baptized?” The purpose of baptism, and the necessity for it, must have been explained when “Philip preached Jesus.” And yet nothing is said in the account as it is given to us. But the sacrifice and death of Christ are in the prophecy, and in preaching Jesus, the gospel was made known. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6: 33). The only means of association with “the right ways of the Lord” is by connection with the death of Christ; and the only revealed way of access to God through Christ, that one may be saved, is baptism. This the eunuch had perceived, and as they were approaching water the desire to comply with what God required was manifest. Hence the eunuch’s question, What doth hinder?

Is it possible that anything can hinder baptism? Take the case of a person who hears, or reads, something about the gospel and learns that baptism is necessary for salvation; accepting that item of the gospel such a person desires to be baptized, yet does not believe in the Holy One of Israel but clings to the idea of a Triune God; believes in Jesus as a Savior, but does not understand that He was “made in all points like unto his brethren”; and that He was “saved out of death” by His own sacrifice. And, further, whilst believing in a kingdom beyond the skies, does not understand the teaching of prophets and apostles concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Would there be anything to hinder such a person from being baptized? If such a person were immersed in water, the immersion would not be baptism into the death of Christ. The lack of “the faith which justifies,” or the retaining of the false ideas (of which this world is full) concerning the plan of Salvation would hinder baptism. In the case of the eunuch there was yet another principle which Philip had to enforce, and the manner in which Philip placed before the eunuch his answer to the enquiry shows the importance of rightly appraising the things of God. The acceptance of the Gospel is not a thing to be lightly entered into; nor is it a matter to be complied with merely to escape a wrath to come. Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Confessing his faith to the satisfaction of the man of God, the chariot stood still: “and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

THIS WAS BAPTISM, BY IMMERSION, into the death of Christ. “Buried with him.” The burial being completed they both “came up out of the water.” The necessity of baptism is based upon the fact, first, that God requires it; and the significance of it gives the reason- beyond the matter of obedience- for it being required. The case of Paul illustrates this. Saul of Tarsus underwent a remarkable conversion, and to him this was revealed: “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22: 13-16). Christ died to take away sins. We are “born in sin” and commit sin. These must be washed away before we can be “reconciled to God,” and baptism is the appointed means to this end. By it, and it alone can we draw near to God. The mode of baptism, as given in the scriptures, must be complied with; we have no authority to change from immersion to any other method.

As already noted, from Paul to the Colossians, the believer in baptism is both “buried and risen” with Christ. They “have put off the old man,” and “have put on the new,” and are consequently “new creatures”. This is the result of being “born again”. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, to whom these words were spoken, could only think of birth from a natural point of view, and consequently could only see the difficulty of man being born of a woman a second time. So Jesus explained, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” It was therefore not another natural birth that was spoken of. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John 3: 3-6). And WHAT IS FLESH? “A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psa. 78: 39). Consequently there is no profit in the flesh. Unless we are “born again”- we come not again.”  In contrast to the flesh, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3: 17). And the last Adam, as we have seen, “Was made a quickening spirit.” The life-effecting energy of the Lord Jesus must be imparted before one can be “born again

 

 

YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN

 

THE energizing influence of Christ alone can give the seed of the new birth, which is a mental and moral process; “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” (Jas. 1: 18). And this begettal leads to the new birth, which (being of God in Christ, and of the word which is spirit) is referred to as a spirit-birth. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Pet. 1: 25). Paul says, “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Ram. 8: 8), therefore it is evident that they who would be saved must be born again.

The character and quality of this birth “of water” is given by Peter, who, after having referred to the days of Noah, and the ark “wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” draws the simile, and then gives the lesson: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 5: 21).

Some people believe that the gospel has to do only with the death of Jesus Christ; and others say it was first heralded over the fields of Bethlehem. Neither of these views is correct. To close this section of the present treatise I submit one more testimony. The Apostle Paul again being our witness He is dealing with the Gospel in relation to Jew and Gentile, and showing the work of God, both under the Law and under the grace, which is in Christ Jesus.

He says, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3).

GLORY TO BE REVEALED

 

“A CROWN OF THORNS” is representative of all the sufferings of the Lamb of God, even Jesus Christ who “also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3: 18). This, however, was not only for His own re­surrection, and glorification; but also for the Salvation of souls, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Pet. 1: 9, 11). And whilst it is still true that we see One “who was made a little while inferior to the angels,” waiting for the time to come when all things shall be “put in subjection under him;” we also see “The Way” opened up for its accomplishment. “We see Jesus, by, or on account of, the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man, For it became him, for whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2: 8, 11).

THE WAY OF GOD, in the development of the 7,000 years Plan, required that the Captain of Salvation should be made perfect, (obviously He was not perfect, in every particular, before He was made perfect; and this was not at His birth, but at the end of His life in the flesh), and this perfection was to come upon Him as the result of and prize for, continued obedience and well-doing; perfect through sufferings. Now “the servant is not greater than his lord” (John 13:16), and they who would follow in the steps of Him who “suffered for us,” must learn to bear patiently the experiences of life which come upon them “when they do well.” (1 Pet. 2: 20). In other words they must expect to “suffer with him,” who is their Captain. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Heb. 13: 12, 14). To this good counsel, an exhortation, we add the words of the apostle to “the called of Jesus Christ, that be in Rome;” “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. We are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, even the glorious liberty of the children of God, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8: 14-23).

“THE DAY OF THE LORD COMETH;” at which time “his feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” As the angels said, when the clouds received the Lord out of the sight of His disciples, “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go.” And then, “The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14: 1, 4, 9). Happy day when:

 

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

Doth his successive journeys run;

His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,

Till sin shall curse the earth no more.

 

IN MOCKERY Herod and his men arrayed the Man of sorrows “in a gorgeous robe.” After Jesus appeared before Pilate “they took off the robe.” But when “a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment,” what a “purple” He will wear! “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32: 1,17). The “glories of His reign” are beautifully summed up in the 72nd Psalm, from which the following quotations are taken: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall he continued as long as the sun: all shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.” “And blessed be his glori­- ous name for ever: And let the whole earth be filled with his glory, Amen, and Amen.”

 

 

THE GOSPEL CALL

 

THE call of the Gospel is a gracious invitation, by the Most High God, to the sons of men; a call to come out of the world, and to separate themselves unto His service. “Jesus said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. COME UNTO ME, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 25-30).

It is the same gracious and arresting call as that which was heralded by the prophet; “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and you labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Isa. 55: 1-3). No threatening word mars the splendor of this Divine appeal. True, the call was first to Israel. They were God’s special and covenanted people. But when they put the word from them, and would not hearken, God turned to the Gentiles. In doing this “God invited all men everywhere to repent;” to turn from dead works and to serve the only true God. Therefore “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Verses 6,11).

THE GIFT OF GOD

 

APPRECIATING the magnificence of “the gift of God,” to which men and women are invited by the Gospel, the beloved Apostle calls upon those who have believed, to “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God, therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons 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 he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3: 1-3).

THIS HOPE? Yes. A distinct and definite hope! “Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph. 4: 4). And what is the power of hope? “For we are saved by hope,” says Paul. Are we now saved in the everlasting salvation promised to those who are accounted worthy to enter into the kingdom of God? If so, we have no need of hope for the apostle continues, “but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Rom. 8: 24). “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (1 John 2: 25). “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2: 10). “Blessed is the man that endureth trial: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of lie, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (Jas. 1: 12). And this will be “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us” (1 Pet. 1: 4).

Whilst Paul taught so definitely and incontrovertibly that the great “shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, was brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” so Peter affirms that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5: 4). This will be granted to all who accept the gospel in the appointed way, from the very earliest introduction of the gospel; who not only accept it but also carry out its precepts to the end of their lives, so that “whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thess. 5:10). This is a great blessing and privilege, the indisputable outcome of their association with the sacrificial death of their Savior. “For”, says the Apostle, “all things are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (I Cor. 3: 21, 23). Whilst living they look forward, in anticipation, to the Day of His Coming; even as they were taught to pray, “Thy Kingdom come;” and when the day of their pilgrimage comes to an end they die in faith, in full confidence that “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto their salvation.” (Heb. 9: 28).

 

A TOKEN OF THE COVENANT

 

BRINGING this section of our treatise to a close we look again at the Chart, where we see the Ark, the Altar, and the Rainbow. The Rainbow begins with the Altar and the Ark; its association is centered in them and in what they represent. It extends over the ages, and descends upon the Star of Bethlehem; yet, as previously stated, it goes beyond the period of the first appearance of Jesus. This is shown in, and by, the Scriptures quoted on the Bow. The Ark speaks of the Salvation of the Lord; the Altar signifies an appointed means of access to God, the Bow is the token of the Covenant made of God in relation to Christ, and all that will be accomplished through Him as the representative of the Father.

A few observations by Dr. John Thomas, in Eureka, are now submitted. “The rainbow is referred to in four places in the scripture, and it is from these only can be deduced the import of the symbol before us. In nature, the rainbow is evolved by the action of showery vapor upon the sun’s rays, which, in passing through the aqueous globules, are refracted, and form an arch upon that part of the clouds opposite to the sun, glowing with all the colors of the prismatic, or solar, spectrum. The rainbow is never seen except when the sun is shining, and when rain is falling between the spectator and the part of the horizon where the bow is seen. These facts must not be lost sight of in considering the significancy of the rainbow when used as a symbol. Sun, light, rain, cloud, are elements necessary to the production of the natural bow; so are they also to the evolution of a symbolical arch in the heaven pertaining to the throne. In the absence of the Sun of Righteousness from the heaven, and of the light of life, glory, honor, and power, which he will irradiate the rainbow encircling the throne cannot be seen. Neither can the light irradiating from Him, be reflected to the spectator-world from the clouds of immortals about the throne, until the rain-showers of the heaven shall descend upon the mown grass to fertilize the earth. These are indispensable conditions to the evolution of the bow, which is the symbol of the clear and blessed sunshine after previous lightnings, thunders, and voices from the throne, contemporaneously with gently descending rain. Based upon these principles, I remark that the order of the bows development is,

 

1.      The opening of the heaven by the Stone-Power smiting Nebuchadnezzar’s Image upon the earth;

2.      The establishment of the throne in the heaven by mowing the earth at harvest time (Rev. 14: 15); in the storm-period of the lightnings, thunders, and voices proceeding from the throne” (Rev. 4: 5); by which the kingdoms of the world are taken possession of by the saints;

3.       The grass of the earth being thus mown, its harvest reaped, and its vintage trodden out, the rain of the heaven descends in the blessing of Abraham upon the nations; which, being subdued, are blessed in Abraham and his seed, or in Jesus and the saints;

4.      ‘As brightness of morning, THE RULER rises the Sun of an unclouded dawn, shining forth after rain upon the tender grass of the earth.’ The effect of this shining is that the Rainbow-Throne covenanted to David is beheld through the descending rain, which diffuses the knowledge of its glory to the utmost bounds of the habitable world.

The rainbow, then, is the token, or symbol of the Covenant. The bow in the natural heavens has been so designated by the Spirit from the days of Noah, after his salvation by water; and all who have looked upon the phenomenon with minds enlightened by the truth, from his day to this, have viewed it as the memorial of Yahweh’s covenant.” —vol. 2: p. 22.

“Now, over or upon the head of this angel (Rev. 10: 1), John saw ‘the rainbow.’ This is the symbol of the covenant, and inseparably connected with the throne. Upon this sat one like a jasper and sardine stone; and, as the rainbow was round about the throne, it was also over Him who sat thereon. The occupant of the throne is the Spirit, and those to whom he says, he that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne; so that the rainbow arches over all such. The Spirit-Host is the pillar of cloud between the Cherubim, which reflects the light of the divine countenance, and develops the bow. This token of the Abrahamic covenant is well and appropriately placed over the Head of the Angelic Spirit-Host, seeing that in Him all the fullness dwells; and that, in the days of his flesh, his blood was the blood of that covenant brought into force by His death; and by which all the individuals of the cloud were sanctified (Heb. 9:15; 10: 10). Arching over this symbol, it signifies that the angel is a company of kings and priests, related to the rainbowed throne- the throne covenanted to David and his seed.” -vol. 2: p. 539.

In anticipation of this Happy time, when “the Kingdom will be the Lord’s,” the voice of prophecy is heard; “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 117).