Category Archives: Jesus

“To whom shall we go?”

to-whom-shall-we-goThese were the words of Simon Peter as recorded by John. Following the miraculous sign of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus had spoken at length of the significance of this sign. He had compared and contrasted the provision he would make with the giving of manna in the wilderness. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die … yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6. 48-51 RV).

This caused confusion among his listeners but instead of explaining what he meant he followed up with more “hard sayings”. Even his disciples began to grumble amongst themselves: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (v.60 NIV). Jesus, of course, was aware of this but still made no attempt to explain his words. As a result: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v.66). When Jesus spoke to the twelve, asking them if they also were going to forsake him, Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv.68,69).

Peter still did not understand; Jesus still did not explain. But Peter refused to go away, he refused to follow those who had turned away. He gave two reasons for this refusal: (1) There was nowhere else to go, and (2) Whatever the difficulties, they had sufficient positive evidence to convince them that, come what may, they had to maintain their faith in Jesus. Their faith was so strong that it amounted to certain knowledge. “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”. It was unthinkable that they should turn away from him. To go away was to go nowhere. With all the positive evidence they had, the last thing they thought of doing was to indulge in negative thinking, allow doubts to enter in and then turn away.

The disciples could not understand Jesus’ sayings; Jesus did not attempt to explain them or enlarge upon them. Whatever the difficulties, he expected them to trust him and maintain their confidence in him.

It has not been unusual for God’s servants to have difficulty in understanding God’s ways: how He was working in their own lives or the lives of others. The Psalmist was puzzled by the apparent prosperity of the wicked and was tempted to say: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” It was only when he “went into the sanctuary of God” and considered the “end” of the wicked that he found the answer to his problem (Psalm 73. 1-17). Jeremiah had a similar difficulty (Jer. 12.1,2). David could not understand why, when it was he who had sinned in numbering God’s people, it was the people who suffered.(1 Chron. 21.17) The prophet Habakkuk had two problems. First he could not understand why God did not punish His people for their wickedness (Hab. 1.1-4). Then, when God said He had already planned such a punishment and would be using the Babylonians to execute it, the prophet found it hard to accept that God should use such an evil nation to carry out His work. “Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that canst not look on perverseness, wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and boldest thy peace when the wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous than he” (Hab. 1.13 RV).

Perhaps the clearest illustration of this problem is to be found in the experiences of Job. We know how greatly he suffered. At first, despite the extremity of his sufferings, he accepted them without question. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even when provoked by his wife he stood firm: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 1.21; 2.10). Sadly, provoked by the glib “explanations” and totally false accusations of his so-called friends. Job eventually went too far in questioning God’s ways and, in the end, God Himself challenged him. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job had to admit the justice of God’s reproof: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted …. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 40.7,8;42.2,3 NIV).

God did not offer Job or his friends any explanation of the way He was working in Job’s life. By word and by the manifestation of His power in a great storm He impressed on Job the fact that He was the great creator and sustainer of all things, of infinite power and wisdom, in full control of every part of His creation. Job was compelled to confess that all he could do was to accept God’s will and God’s ways without questioning them. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40.4,5 NIV).

We must expect to have to face tests of a similar kind; to: have experiences which we cannot understand, which are hard for us to accept. Sometimes, in the mercy of God, over a period of time we begin to discern a purpose in those experiences, but not always. We have to learn to simply accept. This surely is one of the greatest tests of our faith and our trust in God; to accept where we cannot understand; to accept that our God is in full control of our lives and is of infinite wisdom; more than this, that He is our loving heavenly Father and that in all His dealings with us He is expressing His love—and never more so than in our severest trials. (Heb. 12.4-13).

That was true of the experiences of His only begotten Son. His supreme sacrifice on the cross, when, for a moment, even the Son felt forsaken by his Father, was God’s greatest expression of His love for His creation. It is no good thinking we can understand this or explain it in coldly logical terms; we cannot. So it is sometimes in our lives. We have to learn to accept, to let go— let go our doubts, our anxieties, our mistrust. We once heard a speaker coin the expression: “Let go! Let God!”—let God take over completely. This is never going to be easy, but this confident faith and implicit trust in Him and submission to His will is surely what He is looking for above all else. We have to be prepared for our loving heavenly Father to take extreme measures if He judges them to be necessary to help us to develop and manifest these qualities.

The alternative is unthinkable. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” To turn away as some of those early disciples of Jesus did is to admit failure; to say, in effect, that God has tried us beyond what we are able to bear, and the inspired apostle has assured us that He will never do that (1 Cor. 10.13). But we must allow God to decide what we are able to bear. He has promised that He will be with us in all our trials, that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13.5).

In the end it is our faith which will win through; our faith in God, our faith in His love, our faith in His promises. “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” By the grace of God there will come a day when we shall know even as we are known, when we shall understand all things, when we shall be able to look back and see a pattern in our lives wrought in love and wisdom by our God to lead us to perfection.

How Jesus Preached To The Spirits In Prison

preaching in hell“Christ 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 in the spirit, by which (two experiences–death and resurrection) he preached unto the spirits in prison.” – 1 Peter 3:18, 19.

This text has been made the basis for some peculiar presentations.  From it some have deduced an intermediate state lasting between death and the resurrection.  Others have claimed it as an authority for the doctrine of Purgatory.  The difficulty in every case seems  to be the failure to remember that the Bible always and everywhere teaches that the dead are really dead, that they know nothing, and that, therefore, it would be impossible to do any preaching to the dead humans.  Undoubtedly the theory that people are more alive after they die than when they were alive, is responsible for nearly all the foolish things which we have all at some time professed to believe.

Before dismissing the thought that these “spirits in prison” are human spirits, let us note the fact that to say, “human spirits,” is an absurdity of itself, because human beings are not spirits, and spirit beings are not humans.  “Who maketh His angels spirits” is the Scriptural proposition.  True, we do sometimes speak of humans as possessing a spirit of life, but by this we merely mean that they possess the power or energy of life, and the same would be equally true of the lower orders of creation, beasts, fish, fowl, etc.

Again we sometimes speak of the Church as spirit beings–begotten of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the Apostle speaks of the natural man in contrast with the New Creature, a spirit being.  To appreciate this statement we must remember that the Church class receives the begetting of the holy Spirit to the end that, if faithful, they may attain unto a spirit resurrection and become spirit beings, like unto the angels and like to the Redeemer.  But we are not spirits yet, except by faith–by hope. However, the context shows that the Apostle had no reference to the Church, either; we were not in prison; we received the Message of salvation through the Apostles.

Spirits Once Disobedient

The spirits to whom the message was given had proven themselves disobedient, says St. Peter.  He even tells us the time of their disobedience, namely, that it was “in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.”  Surely, if noticing these particulars mentioned in the context, no one would be excusable for misunderstanding this Scripture and considering it in any way applicable to humanity of our day or to humanity in general.   However, it is helpful to us to learn the full particulars of the matter.  What was their disobedience, and when and how were they imprisoned?

Turning to Genesis 6:1-5, we find there the cause of the disobedience of those angels, who for a time had been permitted to see what they could do for the uplift of humanity, or, rather, permitted to demonstrate that the downward tendency of sin is incurable except in the manner which God has already arranged for through Messiah and His glorious reign of a thousand years.

Instead of those angels helping mankind out of sin they helped themselves into sin, and by so doing they increased the depravity amongst humanity, until the astounding record is that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth,  and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually.”  The particular sin of those angels was that when they were granted the privilege of materializing–or taking human bodies for the sake of helping and instructing mankind–they misused this power and took to themselves the daughters of men for wives.

These angels came gradually to prefer to live as men amongst men, and to rear earthly families, rather than to abide in the condition in which they were created–spirit beings, higher than humans.  Not only was this wrong in the sense that it was taking a course in opposition to the Divine arrangement, but it was wrong also because the thing was done for the cultivation and gratification of lust, and it led to their own moral defilement as well as having a baneful influence upon humanity; for we can readily see that for the angels, of superior powers and intelligence, to become leaders in lustful practices would mean a great influence upon mankind toward sin and defilement of mind and body.

We are particularly told that the offspring of this improper union between the angels and the daughters of men were giants, both physically and mentally superior to the fallen human family–“men of renown.”  And this statement, that they were “men of renown,” was at a time when manhood’s estate was reached at a hundred years, and implies that God did not interfere to hinder or stop the progress of sin for perhaps several centuries.  In the meantime, the race had become so corrupt that apparently only Noah and his family were uncontaminated–all others had more or less come under the influence, directly or indirectly of these fallen angels or their giant sons.  Hence, of Noah it was written (not that he was a perfect man, but), “Now Noah was perfect in his generation” (uncontaminated) and his family apparently the same.  Hence these alone were saved in the ark, while all the remainder, more or less contaminated, were destroyed by the flood.

“In Chains of Darkness.”

It was then and there that God imprisoned those spirits, angels, who kept not their first estate, and are, therefore, called fallen angels, devils, demons.  They were not imprisoned in some far-off world called hell, nor are they engaged there in stoking fires for the torture of poor humanity.  Following the leading of the Scriptures we find that when the flood came they were not destroyed, because, while their fleshly bodies which they assumed might indeed perish, yet they would merely dematerialize, or assume their spirit conditions again.

The record is that God cast them down, that He condemned them to an overthrow–that they might not any longer associate with the holy angels, but must be reserved in tartaroo–our earth’s atmosphere.  Here they were imprisoned, not in a special place, but in the sense of having their liberties restrained,  in chains of darkness.”  They were no longer permitted to materialize, and thus to associate with humanity. These things are distinctly told us by St. Jude and St. Peter (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4, 5)–an explanation in full harmony with the Genesis account of their fall.

Once Disobedient–Still Disobedient

We, of course, cannot know that all of those fallen angels are still in a disloyal condition of heart.  On the contrary, in harmony with our text, we may suppose that some of these fallen angels have since repented of their wrong course, and it would be none too strong a way to state the matter–that any such repentant ones would surely have terrible experiences as a result.  To be obliged to be in close touch and relationship with the more evil and malignant ones, and to have knowledge of all. their evil designs and efforts, would be a terrible experience, and, besides this, we may be sure that the rebellious would not hesitate to persecute the repentant ones in every conceivable manner, as they would be lawless, regardless of the Divine will.

On the other hand, the repentant ones would be obliged to restrain themselves and to not render evil for evil, knowing that this would be contrary to the Divine will.  In other words, repentant ones amongst those fallen spirits, influenced by the preaching of Jesus, or otherwise, would have a kind of purgatorial experience, and the very thought calls forth our sympathy.

When imprisoned or cut off from the privilege of materialization, many of the fallen spirits, we know not what proportion, continued their active opposition to God, after the manner of Satan.  Hence they are spoken of as his angels, his messengers, his servants, and he is spoken of as Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons.  Satan, who sinned much earlier than the others, and in a different way, the Scriptures tell us was an angel of a higher rank, or a higher nature, and this superiority of his has made him the Prince or ruler over the hosts of fallen spirits.

Fighting Against God

The fight of Satan and his fallen angels is against God, against all who are in harmony with Him, against all the regulations of righteousness, and against all the channels and servants whom the Lord may use. St. Paul’s words along this line are forceful; he remarks that God’s people contend not merely “with flesh and blood,” but also “with wicked spirits in high positions,” and the question arises, “Who is sufficient for these things?”  The reply is that none is sufficient; without the aid of the Redeemer, His Church would be quite overcome and vanquished by evil.

Likewise, without the Redeemer’s aid through His Kingdom, without the binding of Satan, without our Lord’s releasing of the world from the bondage of sin and death, there would be no hope of the world’s recovery from its present bondage.  But with the Apostle we  exclaim, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”—Romans 5:31

Through Mediums and Obsessions

Satan’s original plan of attack was to bring our race under his influence by misrepresentation–by putting darkness for light and light for darkness–for instance, the temptation under which Mother Eve fell. Satan there represented himself as Eve’s friend, giving her sound advice.  He represented God as having a selfish motive behind His command that our first parents should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Satan declared that God had told an untruth when He said that the penalty for sin would be death.  Satan declared that man cannot die.

And has he not since kept up the same line of falsification? And has he not deceived the whole world upon this very subject?  Do not all peoples in every land believe that when a man dies he does not die, but gets more alive–exactly Satan’s lie of the first instance? How few have believed God, even amongst His people who truly love Him, and who truly desire to believe the teachings of His Word’.  We have all been under a kind of “hoodoo.”  “The god of this world (Satan) hath blinded” our minds on this subject.  We are now coming to see that death is the penalty for sin, and that the resurrection is the salvation which God has promised and will provide.

Satan has had powerful allies and servants in the fallen angels, and it is through their persistence that his lie has triumphed over the Divine Word of Truth–“Dying, thou shalt die.”  These fallen spirits have made various manifestations in every land for centuries, and thereby have apparently substantiated the theory that a dead man is more alive than when he was alive.  Knowing that mankind would have nothing to do with them if their real personality were known, they hide their personality, and represent themselves as our dead friends who desire to speak with us, either directly or through mediums.

A further desire of these angels is to obsess or to get possession of a human being.  Being chained, or restrained from the privilege of materialization, the next most desirable thing, in their estimation, is to gain control over a human being, and to use his body instead of their own.  This is styled obsession, and persons so afflicted today are sent to an insane asylum, where, it is estimated, they constitute at least one-half of the entire number.  In the days of our Lord these were not mistakenly supposed to be insane, but rightly declared to be obsessed. All remember the New Testament account that our Saviour and His Apostles cast out fallen spirits from humanity.

“Know Ye Not That the Saints Shall Judge Angels?”

We need not discuss this question with Bible students, for it is too well recognized to be disputed.  We suggest a topical study of this subject by all of our readers.  See how many times Jesus and the Apostles cast out demons, and note the particulars.  Although we still have with us spirit mediums, and many obsessed, we cannot know whether the proportionate number is greater or fewer than in our Lord’s day.  Since the world’s population today is so much larger, the same number of evil spirits (which do not increase) would show proportionately less.  But, however that may be, we may assume that some fruitage resulted from the great sermons preached to these in connection with the death and resurrection of our Lord, respecting which St. Peter tell. us in our text. Additionally, St. Paul remarks, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge angels?”  (1 Cor. 6:3)  We do know that the holy angels need no judging, no trial, hence the Apostle must in some way refer to a trial or judgment or testing of these spirits in prison who were once disobedient, in the days of Noah.  And if the judgment or testing is a part of the Divine plan, it implies a hope for them, and in conjunction with St. Peter’s statement in our text it gives the reasonable inference that the preaching which Jesus did to them was not wholly in vain.

How Jesus Preached in Death

Here arises another question:  If Jesus was really dead, as the Scriptures declare, if “He poured out His soul unto death,” and “made His soul an offering for sin,” and His soul was not raised from the dead until the third day after His crucifixion, how could He in the meantime preach to spirits in prison, or to anybody else?  We reply that He could preach in the same way that the Apostle refers to, saying, “He, being dead; yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4); and again, in the same way that the blood of Abel is said to have cried to God figuratively.  Of one thing we are sure, namely, that Jesus gave no oral address while He was dead. He preached in the way we sometimes refer to when we say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

It was the great object lesson which the fallen angels saw that constituted to them the great sermon that gave them a ground for hope.  On several occasions the fallen spirits, when commanded to come out of human beings, declared that they knew Jesus.  In the long ago they had known Him, when, as the Only Begotten of the Father, and His Representative, He had created them and all things that are made, and was also the Mouth-piece for all Divine orders and regulations.  They realized that He had come into the world to be its Redeemer; they perceived the great stoop that He had made from His lofty position on the heavenly plane to the servant position on the human plane.  They admired His loyalty and faithfulness to God, but doubtless believed Him to be foolish; they never expected Him to rise from the dead.  But when they perceived His resurrection on the third day, to glory, honor and immortality, “far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named,” His sermon to them was complete, namely, that “the wages of sin is death,” but that “the gift of God is eternal life.”  (Rom. 6:23)  And as they realized thus the power of God and the love of God for His human creatures, the Apostle’s words imply that this constituted to them a message of hope.  Perhaps if they would show full contrition God eventually would have mercy upon them, even as He had had mercy and had provided for humanity.

The lesson is one for all.  God’s power is Infinite, so is His love, His mercy, His goodness.  Nevertheless, every willful sin will have its punishment, a just recompense of reward, and only the willing and obedient shall have the Divine favor and everlasting life.  Let each apply the lesson to himself.

Voice of Distinction

HVN_Iogo_largerWhen he hath put forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice – John 10:4

We might wonder how it has been possible for the good Shepherd to go before his sheep throughout the Gospel Age. Yet that is what has been happening, as the divine Word says. The Lord is our pattern, he goes before us always. The Adversary, who is the god of this world, rules all mankind; he dazzles them, but his light is darkness because it is selfishness and not love, the real light.

If you are able to distinguish the voice of the good Shepherd, you can follow it, and it is with self-renunciation that this becomes possible. The day you will no longer renounce, God’s Spirit withdraws, and you are no longer in the condition of a disciple of Christ. God leads his people, He blesses them wonderfully day by day; as you observe this faith increases. Trust is one of the essential foundations of faith, it is a part of love, whereas distrust is a part of hatred. The Lord tells us that no rich man shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; one must therefore be trustful and give up riches, or else give up the idea of being a disciple of Christ. That is the first step. The second step is to consecrate yourself fully to God, to deny your own will to go in quite another direction, to take upon yourself the wrongness of others, to pray for the guilty that the Lord forgive them. If we are prepared to pray for the guilty, to take their wrong-doing upon ourselves, it is the Lord who will bear our sins.

The dear Savior cleanses you day by day through faith, so that your sacrifice may become living, holy and acceptable to God. You make no more complaints, and if any man does you harm you forgive him; you associate in your beloved Savior’s work. As you follow that road faithfully the Lord gives you a little more of his Spirit which enlightens you and opens up new horizons to you.

Joy increases in your heart as you perceive that you can bring about a change in your sentiments till you attain to resemblance with the glorious character of our Lord Jesus. The Spirit of glory comes upon you because you follow after the dear Savior.

Our Lord never lacked for anything, and neither did his disciples. He showed us what it means to walk by faith; that is why we are glad to follow him either as consecrated disciples, or as members of the Host of the Lord.

 

The Light of the World

i-am-the-light-of-the-worldBelief in Jesus is necessary to eternal life. This is insisted upon by the New Testament and has been the conviction of the Church through the centuries. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved” is a phrase that was coined within a few weeks of the death of Christ and it is still declared at street corners by open-air evangelists and in many a tract and book designed to catch the attention and interest of the unconverted. A few generations ago Salvation Army lasses used to lead the “drunks” out of the beerhouses into the local Citadel and to the penitent form and if these in their semi maudlin state expressed belief in Jesus a shout of Hallelujahs went up; the man was “saved”. In present days attendants at revivalist rallies will answer the appeal to “come forward” and, perhaps somewhat more clear-headedly and intelligently, declare their conversion, and again the Lord is praised aloud for brands snatched from the burning and the counselors get busy to establish the new-found faith of the converts. But always the emphasis is upon the impossibility of salvation without this definite profession of faith.

In modern times this attitude is being questioned, not only by “modernists” who claim, with truth, that “there is good in all religions”, but also by some thinking Christians who realize that there have been, and are, some exceedingly good men who nevertheless are not Christians. One might cite the case of the Mahatma Gandhi, who, had he professed the Christian faith, would undoubtedly have been considered a saint. A character manifestly fit for Heaven, yet living and dying in the Hindu faith, is he to be denied entry on that account? It would be easy to quote similar examples and almost everybody could find such among their personal acquaintances in daily life.

Nevertheless, the New Testament is adamant. There is a future never-ending life but no one will attain it without deliberate and intelligent avowal of faith in, and acceptance of, and the linking of life with, the Lord Jesus Christ. “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” insisted Peter in Acts 4:12 — “Believe in the name of Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” said Paul to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:34). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart . . . . thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). There is no escape from this basic principle, so clearly enunciated so many times in Scripture; there is no possibility of eternal life for any man, however moral, noble, and good, unless and until he has consciously and intelligently accepted Christ and begun to conform his life and his being to the will and purpose of God. It is not that God has established an arbitrary dictum which he will modify or dispense with in individual cases when he sees fit; this demand is fundamental to the nature of Divine creation and things cannot be otherwise than they are.

There is a reason for this. We do not understand all the secrets of life and Nature, although researchers have made a lot of progress in recent years, but we do know that God is the source and sustainer of all life and the origin of all power — energy. Without access to that power and life man would cease to be. “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh shall perish together and man shall turn again unto dust:, said Elihu the philosopher. (Job 35:41). We do not understand in anything like fulness the relationship and unity which exists between the Father and the Son, but we do know that the Son is the manifestation of the Father to man and the channel through which life comes to man. Hence the insistence of Scripture in so many places; “My sheep hear my voice . . . . and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (John 10:27-28). “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Now what the Scriptures call eternal life has a quality which does not exist in the measure of animal, physical, life which we possess at present. This is a life which must inevitably be terminated by death; that is a life which is infinitely continuous, never-ending. This life is one which, resulting from the original implanting of life in our first parents at the beginning, has been cut off from its sustaining source in God by sin, and is thereby defective and cannot endure. That is life continuing in full union with God through Christ, and being thus continuously derived from the immortal source of life will never end. But an essential factor in this union with the source of life is belief in, and acceptance of, and union with, the channel through which it comes and that is why the New Testament writers were so adamant that conscious and deliberate acceptance of Christ as Lord and acknowledgment of belief in him as Savior and medium of union with God is essential to salvation.

This is what is meant by being “born again”, to use a very familiar expression, although a more accurate rendering of the Greek is “begotten again”. The next step after conversion and acceptance of Christ as Lord is the unreserved and unconditional dedication of life, abilities and possessions to him for his service and the conscious deliberate resolve to live for him and in union with him, for the remainder of life and for all time. The Apostle Paul says that one who has reached this point has become a “new creation”, that old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the point at which the inner being is quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of a new and eternal life which comes to the believer through Christ; this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11). And this means something much more than mere mental belief in the reality and the saving power of Christ or an outward verbal profession of faith in him; it means a vital linking of life with Christ and willing association with him in all for which he stands, even unto death. “We are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 5:4-5). There is purpose in all this, for those who thus give themselves in complete consecration to the end of life become thereby members of the Church which is his Body, associated with Christ in all that he does in all the coming ages of eternity. These are they who are said to “reign with him” when he comes to rule the world in the day of his power; these are they who are gathered to him at his promised Second Coming when the “dead in Christ” are raised to life and the “living that remain” changed” to spiritual life to see him as he is and to be like him. (Revelation 20:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:5-53; 1 John 3:2).

This, then, is the path to the eternal state for all who, in this present Age, hear the invitation of God in Christ, and hearing, heed, and convert, and accept, and follow in the footsteps of the Redeemer, trusting in the efficacy and the power of his death on their behalf, until at the end of earthly life they find themselves at the beginning of a new and more abundant life in a sphere where sin and evil, frustration and imperfection, disease and death, are no more, and where Christ is All in All (see Colossians 3:11). From then on, life is without flaw, one of continuing progress and development and achievement in the ever-present radiance of the glory of God.

But what of those who have never heard, or whose capacity for hearing is so impaired that they cannot respond to the Divine invitation, and so, unwittingly and through no fault of their own, live life through and pass into death without even hearing, or at least without having ability to understand, the significance of the only Name given under heaven whereby men can be saved. What has God provided for them?

Our Lord Betrayed and Denied

“Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men.” – Matt. 17:22.

Our lesson constitutes one of the saddest chapters in history. It reveals to us the depths of human ingratitude, selfishness, weakness, and fear to a remarkable degree. Nevertheless, it is a most helpful lesson to those who are in the right attitude of heart to receive it, because it warns against weaknesses more or less common to all and against dangers to which all are exposed. It emphasizes our Lord’s words to the twelve apostles, words which are applicable also to all of his followers – “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” And in respect to the Apostle Peter’s experience and our Lord’s magnanimity in dealing with him, the lesson gives encouragement to others who, like Peter, have strayed from the right path unwisely.

To get the proper bearings of this lesson we go back to the early hours of the same evening when Jesus and his chosen twelve met to eat the Passover Supper. For three years our Lord had been training those twelve men, preparing them to be his representatives in the world, his mouthpieces to the Church. They had seen his power, known his teachings and themselves had exercised the power of healing and casting out devils, his power operating through them. He had been on the alert to instruct them as to the need of humility; that they must become as little children, simple, earnest and obedient in order to be fitted for the Kingdom which they were called to share with him. On several occasions he had been obliged to call to their attention the necessity for meekness and humility, as he perceived the spirit of ambition and rivalry amongst them. On this last evening which he would spend with them in the flesh he had noted with regret that when assembling for the Passover Supper they had neglected the usual hospitalities of the time not only toward each other but also toward him, their Leader, their Master whom they professed to believe was the special Son of God, the Messiah. They had neglected to wash one another’s feet and his feet, a custom, almost a necessity to comfort in that dusty land, where sandals are worn instead of shoes.

“I, YOUR LORD – SERVANT OF ALL”

Forgetful of his own weight of care and sorrow, and anxious for the welfare of his followers, Jesus improved the opportunity to teach them all a great lesson in humility. He took water in a basin and a towel and did the feet-washing, while the disciples, ashamed, confused, [R4167 : page 140] knew not what to say or do under the circumstances, except Peter, who protested that he could not thus have the Master act as his servant; but when Jesus explained that there was a symbolical meaning to the matter, Peter also was anxious for the washing. Lest they should fail to get the lesson, our Lord, after he had finished, explained it, saying, If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, have displayed humility and willingness to serve any of you in the most menial capacity, you surely ought to be willing to follow the same example with one another, and to perform the most menial service for one another, even to the extent of washing one another’s feet, as opportunity may offer.

It was not long before this that Jesus, talking to the apostles, told them plainly that he would be delivered up to the authorities and that the disciples would all forsake him. This seemed a hard statement to the apostles; an intimation that Jesus lacked confidence in them, and it was the impulsive Peter who spoke up and declared that although all should deny the Lord and forsake him he would never do so. It was then that our Lord prophetically told him that before the second cock crowing at night he would deny his Master, and assured him that Satan desired to capture him, but that he was praying for him that his faith would not fail. Surely these statements were of value to the Apostle in his hour of temptation; surely they helped to put all the apostles on guard against what was to be expected.

“LORD, IS IT I? LORD, IS IT I?”

Proceeding further in his cautioning our Lord declared, “Verily I say unto you, one of you shall betray me!” What consternation must have prevailed! Could it be that amongst those who were so highly favored of the Lord and so long associated with him there could be one so base as to deny his Lord?

Let us not lose the force of this lesson; let us remember that the Lord’s disciples down through the Gospel Age have been as the Apostle here declares of the twelve, “Men of like passions with you,” men from the common walks of life, neither above nor below the average standard of human imperfection! Let us remember that the same Lord who cautioned those twelve respecting the trials coming upon them is still mindful of his Church, his flock, and we may suppose especially mindful of all who are in any prominent place of responsibility amongst the brethren. He still guards us, warns us, seeks to keep us from falling under the power of the Adversary. He still prays for his faithful, those who at heart are loyal to him, but who have weaknesses of the flesh which are liable to make their temptations more severe. As our Lord’s interest in and efforts for the apostles increased as they neared the special hour of their temptation, so we may be sure that it is also with respect to his Church in general today, when the last members of his Body, the “feet of him,” are approaching the crucial hour, “The hour of temptation that cometh upon the whole world to try them.” – Rev. 3:10.

The Master does not speak to us in audible tones, as he did to those twelve, but has he not spoken to us with equal force and earnestness? Do not the words and actions of the Lord to those disciples come to us today with the same lesson and with as much force as they bore to them? Have we not, in addition to these examples and warnings, special declarations of the Scriptures respecting the end of the age? Did not our Lord, in the parable of the suitable and unsuitable fish, explain to us that in the end of this Gospel Age there would be a separation of those in the Gospel net? Does he not again in the parable of the wheat and tares tell us of the separation due to take place in the harvest time of this Gospel Age, when only the true and the ripe wheat will be gathered into the barn? Does he not through the Apostle forewarn us that in the end of the age perilous times shall come because men will be lovers of their own selves – selfish, ambitious – lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? (2 Tim. 3:1,2.) Does he not tell us that it would be at the time in the divine plan when God would send [permit] strong delusions, so that all might believe a lie who shall not have received the truth in the love of it and with zeal? – 2 Thess. 2:11.

“THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION THAT SHALL TRY”

Does he not also tell us that the temptations of this hour will be such as would, if it were possible, deceive the “very Elect,” but that in their case it will not be possible because of their love, their zeal and the consequent blessings and privileges that divine favor will provide for them! And if to Peter special encouragement was given – “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not” – have we not a full equivalent of this in the Scriptural assurance, “Lo, I am with you alway,” “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in your weakness”? (Matt. 28:30; 2 Cor. 12:9.) Surely we have much advantage every way over the apostles in their trial, and this advantage is emphasized in the fact that their trial came upon them before their anointing with the holy Spirit, whereas our testings come to us at the time we are of the anointed Body. When we now look out into the future and hear the message, “The morning cometh, but a night also” (Isa. 21:12), we may well be forewarned as to what to expect in that short night of trouble which will affect the consecrated followers before it reaches the world in general. We must expect in this hour of trial that “a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee”; yet we must remember that this promise is limited to the class specified, to those who have made the Lord, even the Most High, their refuge and habitation; for no evil can come nigh their dwelling place. (Psa. 91:7,9.) Therefore, dearly beloved, putting on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand in this evil day, we will need to watch unto prayer for ourselves and for those over whom the holy Spirit hath made us overseers, that we may feed the flock of God, which he hath purchased with the blood of his own Son. – Acts 20:28, Diaglott.

As the eating of a meal together was a pledge of faithfulness, so for the Master to dip a special sop was a special mark of favor, and this was given to Judas at the supper to indicate the one who would betray the Lord. We can better imagine than describe how the apostles, in various tones, asked the Lord, “Is it I?” and how Judas likewise asked the same question! We can imagine the look of our Lord’s eye as he gave him the sop, saying in action and look, Judas, why do you resist the loving kindnesses which I have bestowed upon you? You have professed to be my friend and disciple; I surely have done the part of a friend toward you. That glance and that sop should have overwhelmed the selfish Judas, but as the mercy of the Lord, in the taking away of the plagues from Pharaoh had so much the more hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so every additional manifestation of our Lord’s humility and kindness seems to have had the effect of hardening the heart of Judas. In answer to our Lord’s glance and sop Judas, so far from repenting, was more embittered, more determined to carry out his program. It shone in his eye; our Lord read his thoughts and answered in the words, “What thou doest, do quickly.”

Let us not lose the lesson in its application and bearing upon the Lord’s people of today. If any amongst the consecrated are cultivating selfishness and personal ambition, they are preparing themselves for such a termination as that of Judas. The influence of the spirit they are cultivating will lead them further and further from sympathy with the Lord’s cause and the faithful brethren until, like Judas, they shall be ready to sell the truth for a little personal advantage. And when such a condition of heart has been reached by those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, no power will hinder them from going to the limit of their evil course. Their minds become so poisoned against the truth that the very sops of favor animate them the more toward evil. As in Judas’ case we read that then Satan entered into him, so with a similar class here; we may expect the Adversary to get fuller power and control over them.

THE LESSONS OF GETHSEMANE

One would think that the impressive lessons of that night would have so filled the minds of the apostles and made them so alert that sleep would have been far from their eyes. But not so; they scarcely understood how to take the Master’s words; he had said so many remarkable things which they did not comprehend; it seemed so incomprehensible that he who had come to be the Messiah and reign should be betrayed and crucified, and that they whom he had promised should sit with him in his throne should all forsake him and flee. Hence the repeated instruction that they should watch and pray made little impression. Even the three special friends of Jesus, the ones whom he made his special confidants and took with him to the Mount of Transfiguration on another special occasion without the others – even these three slumbered, except as from time to time the Lord visited them and awakened them and they noted certain incidents which they recorded for us.

“LEST ANY ROOT OF BITTERNESS SPRING UP”

How is it now? The night of trouble nearing, the hour of trial that shall try all that dwell upon the face of the whole earth coming close, and with the many warnings of the Master through the Word that we should watch and pray lest we enter into temptation! – how is it with us? Alas! many of those who, like Peter, James and John, have been specially favored of the Lord, especially near to him, fail to realize the importance of the time in which we are living, fail to realize that the foretold temptations are about to come upon them and that, like Peter, they will be in great danger of being swept away, sifted out from amongst the Lord’s faithful.

We can imagine our Lord’s condition to some extent. His great hour of trial was upon him; he realized it to the full; it meant not only that his own faithfulness, past and present and on the day following, would decide respecting his loyalty to the Father and his right to obtain the high reward of glory, honor and immortality, but it meant additionally that the interests of the whole world of mankind were in the balance! Victory would mean eventually the deliverance of all the prisoners in bondage to sin and death; failure would mean the loss of everything! Can we wonder that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, and that in his intensity of feeling bloody perspiration oozed from his pores? Ah, dear Master! Well was it written of him, “Of the people there was none with me.” Even his most intimate and most beloved disciples failed to appreciate the conditions and to render him the sympathetic aid which he craved. What would those disciples afterward not have given to have had back the opportunity of ministering to their Lord in his hour of trial! What a privilege they let slip! There is a lesson here for us also, for although the Master is not in the flesh and will suffer no more, some of his members are still in the flesh, some who must suffer with him if they would reign with him. Our sufferings are not all just like those of the Master, nor are they just the same with each of us; each has his own experiences to prove, to test, to fit, to polish him that he may be made meet for the Master’s use. Have we, each for the other, that sympathy, that yearning love which would lead us to help one another and to bear one another’s burdens and thus to fulfil the Law of Christ, the Law of Love? or have we the Judas spirit to injure? or have we the spirit of slothful indifference and lack of appreciation which would lead us to slumber while the interests of others of the Body are at stake, while the brethren are suffering and are in trial? Our practical answer to these questions the Lord is looking for, and his love and his favor will be upon those who manifest most of his Spirit. To us much has been given, in that the hour of testing along these lines comes to us after we have received the anointing of the holy Spirit. Of us correspondingly more will be expected – “We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

AN ANGEL MINISTERED UNTO HIM

When our Lord in his agony prayed the Father, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me,” we are not to suppose that he meant the cup of death, for he had already explained to his disciples that this death was necessary, and that he had come into the world for this very purpose. What, then, was the cup which he asked might pass from him? We reply that quite probably he referred to the particular ignominy which would be associated with his crucifixion; which would attach to his execution as a blasphemer against God and between two thieves. Another Scripture gives us to understand that the severity of our Lord’s anguish was in respect to his own faithfulness, upon which depended his resurrection. If he failed in even one little item, one jot or tittle of the Law, his own life would have been condemned and forfeited as much as was Adam’s and as a result he would have had no resurrection and no future life, and the whole work, for which he had come into the world, would have been a failure. The Scripture we refer to says, “Who in the days of his flesh offered up strong crying and tears unto him who was able to save him from [out of] death. And he was heard in respect to the thing which he feared.” Although none of his disciples gathered around him to assure him that he had been without spot and blemish and that every act of his life had been in full conformity to the divine will, God more than made up to him such encouragement by sending specially an angel, who ministered unto him, who served him in respect to the thing which he feared, who therefore must have given him assurance from the Father that he had been faithful, that he was approved.

On the strength of that assurance our Lord arose firm, calm, strong for all the coming events of that night and the next day up to the moment of his death. And so it should be with us: Properly there should be some anxiety in respect to the future; the Lord will not be pleased if we are careless as respects the matter of making our calling and election sure. We are to appreciate life, and particularly the life more abundant which has been promised to us if we prove faithful. We are so to appreciate this that our eyes will be toward the Lord for such ministrations of his love and favor as will give us assurance that we are still his and that the glorious hopes and promises are still ours. And his assurances or comfort may not come through earthly ministrations; the Lord himself will see to it that every member of his Body who is deeply earnest and anxious on the subject will have the proper witness of the Spirit, the proper testimony to his heart of his continued acceptance and faithfulness.

JESUS BETRAYED WITH A KISS

Treachery is universally despised and properly so, hence Satan, the traitor to God, and Judas, the traitor to our Lord Jesus, stand out prominently as representatives of that condition of mind and heart which should be shunned by all, the condition of heart which the Lord declares merits and shall have the Second Death, everlasting destruction. From the various Gospel records we find that Judas, leaving the company of the Lord and the eleven apostles, went again to the Chief Priests, with whom he had already been in conference. He finished the bargain and became the guide of a band of temple guards or temple policemen and their followers. These, armed with their clubs or maces, took with them lights needed for the searching of the foliage, although the moon was at its full. From the standpoint of the rulers the midnight hour was the most favorable because a large concourse of people then in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover included many who knew Jesus and had been witnesses of his miracles and his arrest in day time might have led to a tumult. Our Lord probably went to the Garden because it belonged to a friend and because in the open his disciples would have a better opportunity for escape from arrest; though it does not appear that there was any special endeavor to make an arrest, except that mentioned by Mark of a young man who followed with the crowd as they led Jesus away and who had on a long, loose garment, and when they laid hold upon it he fled from them naked. This is supposed to have been John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark, and that he lived on the premises of which the Gethsemane Garden was a part.

Our Lord’s agony, prayer and comforting at an end, he returned to the apostles, saying, “Sleep on now, and take your rest.” Your opportunity for watching with me or speaking a word of comfort has passed; your opportunity for waking your own hearts and minds to prayer as a safeguard against coming trials and testings is past. Behold the band of those who will arrest me! A little ahead of the band came Judas, who indicated the Master by the traitorous kiss, which John, for very shame, did not record. Judas, finding his deception recognized as the Master said, “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” left him and joined the band who had come for his arrest, while Jesus, coming out of the cover into the open, said, “Whom seek ye?” After he had answered their reply, saying, “I am he, let these my friends go their way,” we read that the men went backward and fell on the ground. This was doubtless the result of a power our Lord exercised upon them, the power by which he might have resisted them entirely had he so desired. What he did was sufficient to show them and his apostles that his surrender was not one of necessity, but that the Father’s will might be done.

Awhile before Jesus had said that they should have some swords, and, finding that there were two, he said they were enough. The Apostle Peter was evidently the bearer of one of these and as the armed men approached the Lord, Peter used the sword and smote off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. This incident was evidently of the Lord’s intention to show that his surrender was not because of cowardice on the part of the disciples or himself. It also furnished the opportunity of healing an enemy by our Lord’s touch and the opportunity of saying to Peter, “Put up thy sword; they that take to the sword shall perish by the sword”; in other words, My followers are not to fight with carnal weapons, my Kingdom is not to be established in this manner.

Annas had been the High Priest for a number of years and had been followed in the office by several of his sons and now his son-in-law, Caiaphas, filled the position. Nevertheless, Annas in a certain sense was recognized and hence our Lord was first taken before him. Annas questioned him but did not attempt a judicial investigation. This was had before Caiaphas and apparently in another part of the palace of the High Priest.

It was apparently while our Lord was being examined by Annas that Peter, who warmed himself at the fire, was questioned three times respecting his identity with our Lord as one of his followers, and three times he denied and directly the cock crowing began. Peter heard it, and our Lord, while being led from the presence of Annas to the judgment seat of Caiaphas, looked upon Peter. What a sermon there was in the glance toward Peter! He who had boasted of his courage that he never would deny the Lord had failed. How much weaker he was than he had supposed! How the Lord’s prophecy had come true, Before the second cock crowing thou shalt deny me thrice! He went out and wept bitterly, sick at heart and thoroughly ashamed of himself, resolving, no doubt, that he would be less boastful in the future and do more of the watching and praying which the Master had enjoined.

We know not how close parallels to some of these experiences may lie before some of the Lord’s dear people now. But let us hope that if any of us should come so sadly short of our own hopes and privileges that the Master would not only pray for us, as he did for Peter, but that he would turn upon us also his glances of reproof, of chiding, and also such glances as would remind us of his sympathy and love that we might not be overwhelmed with our own sense of weakness and shame, but that our repentance, unlike that of Judas, should be like that of Peter, sincere and acceptable to the Lord.

 

Our Lord’s Glory Shared With Church

Our Lord declares, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” This seems to carry with it the thought, elsewhere suggested in this prayer, that our Lord had by this time come to a full realization of the Father’s plan, namely, that his disciples were to be developed for the purpose of becoming his joint-heirs in the Kingdom, sharers in his glory. At first thought such a sharing of the great glory of the Kingdom might appear to be a lessening of the great glory of Jesus, just as the appointment of the seventy elders of Israel to be associates with Moses in judging Israel seemed at first to be a contraction or diminution of the dignity or authority of Moses.

But as Moses in the type was very meek, and gladly welcomed all the elders to joint-service, saying, [R3553 : page 138] “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29), so the Lord Jesus, so far from feeling that the gathering out of the Church to be his joint-heirs in the Kingdom would diminish his glory, joined heartily in the divine plan, and declares here that he set himself apart, he separated himself from that feature of the glory and dignity of the Father’s reward that his followers might have a share in it, that they might become his joint-heirs, being set apart and brought to this honor through the Truth, through the great and precious promises bestowed upon them. This same thought seems to be presented in the words (vs. 22,23) – “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one: I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

The love of God pervades our hearts so that selfishness has no room there, and thus it was that our dear Redeemer, instead of feeling jealous that any others [R3553 : page 139] should be exalted to the divine nature, participators in the Kingdom, in this prayer to the Father declares his full acquiescence in the plan, his hearty cooperation, his joy to have it so. What a thought this gives to us as the prospective Bride, already espoused to the heavenly Bridegroom. He is pleased to exalt us from our lowly estate to be one with himself in his Kingdom, in his throne, in his Father’s love.

Wonder of wonders! Where will the divine compassion cease! While we were yet sinners, under divine condemnation of death, we were loved and redeemed at a great price; and now, having been redeemed, we hear the voice celestial saying, “Come up higher,” yea, even to the throne, to joint-heirship with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Could we keep ever before our minds this grand display of love and unselfishness how thoroughly it would scatter from the minds of all who are seeking to be copies of God’s dear Son every thought of rivalry one with another. How it would cause us to rejoice in the growing usefulness and advancement in the Lord’s service of every member of the body. How we should more and more feel what the Scriptures describe as “in honor preferring one another,” and which rejoices in the prosperity of a brother, in his growing usefulness in the Church, in the growing evidences of his favor with God and man. Those who can thus rejoice in the prosperity of the fellow-members of the body have another evidence of their growth in the likeness of our great and glorious Head. Those who are without this sentiment should strive for it and be very discontented until it is attained.

Our Lord’s prayer, “That they all may be one,” has been fulfilled throughout the age. All who have been truly his have had a oneness of heart, a oneness of purpose, a oneness of spirit, with the Father and with the Son – a fellowship divine which cannot be produced by earthly creeds and fetters. So it is to-day, and so it is always between those who are truly the Lord’s. They know each other not by outward passwords or grips or signs, but by the touch of faith and love which it gives and which each recognizes. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, in that ye have love one for another.” “We know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” True, we love all men and seek to serve all as we have opportunity, but, as the Apostle explains, “especially the household of faith,” especially those who love the Lord and are trusting in the precious blood, and are fully consecrated to him and, so far as they are able, doing his will and seeking to further know that will day by day.

WITH CHRIST, SHARING HIS GLORY

Our Lord’s words (v. 24), “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me go with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.” This is not a petition, but a declaration of the Lord’s will, as though he were saying, Father, I understand that this is thy will in respect to these my followers, and I will it also, acquiescing in this great and liberal arrangement which thou hast made. I will be glad to have my followers ultimately on the same plane of glory with me, and that they may there be blessed by seeing and sharing the glories thou hast conferred upon me whom thou hast loved always even before the foundations of the world – even before the arrangements were made for these my disciples.

The closing words of the prayer are beautiful and give us an insight into the Lord’s confidence in the Father and fellowship with him. He knew the Father, and so he has declared respecting us that this is the highest evidence that could be granted us of our acceptance with the Father and of our participation in the life eternal which he has provided, namely, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Our Lord declares, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” And I have made known unto them thy name, thy character, thy greatness, thy goodness, thy love, thy benefactions, and will make known still further as they are able to bear it, as they grow in knowledge of the Truth, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them.

How wonderful is this love of God and love of Christ! How impossible it seems for us to measure its lengths and breadths and heights and depths! Those who have accepted the Lord as their Redeemer and have entered into covenant relationship with him, giving him their little all and accepting from him a participation in all these blessings of his provision, if ever cast down because of weakness or opposition or what not, should call to mind this great love which the Father has for us and which the Son shares, the love which not only redeemed us while we were yet sinners, but which since then has called us to such wonderful blessings and privileges, making us joint-heirs with Christ our Lord, if so be we suffer with him; – this love will not be lightly turned away, this love would chasten us rather than permit us to fall away into the second death; this love will [R3553 : page 140] finally deliver, either in the little flock or in the great company, all who continue to trust in Jesus and continue to hold the faithful Word. But in proportion as this love of God dwells in us richly, in proportion as Christ is enthroned in our hearts, in that same proportion we will have a responsive love which will delight to do those things which are pleasing in our Father’s sight and acceptable to our Lord, and in the same proportion we will be loth to do anything which would bring a cloud between the Lord and our souls. Let us, then, have fresh courage because of what we discern of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of love divine, and let this love of God constrain us to greater zeal and devotion to him and to his cause.

 

Christ Died for All

CrossJehovah’s love for the sin- cursed and dying race has been made operative through the gift of his Son to be man’s Redeemer. In John 3:16 we read, “God So loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This text limits the receiving of everlasting life to those who “believe.” But, as Paul asks, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) And the same apostle also explains that the “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) This indicates that as long as Satan continues to rule this “present evil world,” even those who do hear the Gospel imperfectly presented do not have a fair opportunity to believe.

One of the biblical words used to describe the redemptive work of Christ is “ransom,” and Paul explains that a knowledge of the ransom will be testified to all in due time. To Timothy he wrote: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there Is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the ma Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”—1Ti 2:3- 6

The sequence stated in this text is most revealing. Paul says that it is God’s will that all shall first be “saved” and then come to a “knowledge of the truth.” So far as eternal salvation is concerned, it must be based upon a knowledge 01 the “ransom for all” and a belief and obedience in harmony therewith. What, then, does Paul mean by being “saved’ before  coming to a knowledge of the truth? Obviously this is reference to the fact that in order to have a genuine opportunity to know about the “ransom for all,” the entire unbelieving world will need to be “saved,” or awakened from the sleep of death.

It will be after the people are awakened from death, as Paul indicates, that the glorious truth of the ransom and the manner in which is gives evidence of God’s love will be testified” to them. That will be the “due time” when the “sea” will be converted unto the Lord. Satan, the great deceiver, will then be bound, and the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth. Then the way will be made plain, So plain that “wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”—Isa 35:8 The word “ransom” means a price to correspond, or a price to offset. When Adam sinned he was a perfect man, the “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) God’s just law, demanding an “eye for an eye,”a”tooth for a tooth,”a”life for a life,”meant that if Adam was to be redeemed another perfect man would have to take his place in death. (Exodus 21:23,24; Deuteronomy 19:21) It was for this purpose that Jesus was made flesh—a perfect human being, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.’ ‘—Gal 4:4; Hebrews 7:26 The claim has been made that Adam was not redeemed by the blood of Christ because he was a willful sinner. The fact is that if Adam had not sinned willfully God could have forgiven him without a ransom. It was because God loved him despite his willful sin that, in order to give him another opportunity for life, he sent Jesus to be a ransom for him. Addressing those who have believed on Jesus and have already accepted the provisions of the ransom, Paul wrote, “If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:26) From this it is clear that if another sacrifice for sin were to be made, the willful sin of those who now have a knowledge of the truth would be atoned for, and they could return to harmony with God if they wished. It is only because there will be “no more” sacrifice for sin that the reconciliation of present willful sinners will never be possible. Jesus atoned for the willful sin of Adam, So Adam will be awakened from the sleep of death and given another opportunity to live forever.

Adam’s children inherited his sin and the sentence of death which came upon him because of his disobedience. (Romans 5:12) Thus, when Jesus redeemed Adam, it meant that he also redeemed his offspring, who lost life through him. Paul explains the philosophy of this, saying: “If by one man’s offense 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. Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even s by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all mer [including Adam] unto justification of Iife.”—Ro 5:17- 19 Christ stated that he came to give his life a “ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) The Greek text reads, “the many.’ The word “many” as used in this text means an indefinite large number. In the Greek it is polus, and it was this word which Jesus used when he said to his disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous [polus], but the laborers are few.’ (Matthew 9:37) This contrasting use of the word polus strongly indicates that it denotes a great number, and what better word could Jesus have used to describe the countless millions whom he came to ransom by his precious blood?

The Apostle Paul emphasizes the largeness of this number when he says that Jesus gave himself a ransom for “all”—that is, for the entire human race. This does not mean, o course, that the entire human race will be eternally saved as result of the ransom, for it Is mandatory that there be an individual acceptance of this provision of Jehovah’s grace ii order to receive everlasting benefit from it. But the provision has been made for all; and because of this no one will remain in death because of Adam’s sin, for all have been ransomed therefrom.