2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
But, is there no moral difference between Paul's infidels or unbelievers, and the misbelievers of our day? Misbelievers acknowledge the existence of the Eternal Spirit, and that Jesus is Christ, the Son of Deity; that he died for sin, and rose again, and is now at the right hand of power. But, because of their ignorance, they do not believe the doctrine he taught, and commanded the apostles to teach. Yet, they are very conscientious, admire his character greatly, and are as correct in their deportment, socially, as the most enlightened saint.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1866
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
When we say "through Christ ", we bring into view the fact that the law has been made operative in him. He was "made under the law" (Gal. 4: 4), to which he was obedient in all things; and for his obedience "even unto death" he became "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). Thus the law was made effectual through Christ. The law was not a failure; God's word never "returns to him void".
It accomplished its mission in two directions. It condemned Israel, who were disobedient--every man of them, more or less--" stopping every mouth", and it bestowed its blessing on Christ, who "magnified the law and made it honourable" (Isa. 42:21). The mode of his death brought him under its curse, but without the surrender of his righteousness, since his submission to that mode of death was in itself an act if obedience. It was necessary that he should bear its curse away "to redeem them that were under the law" It was therefore necessary it should come upon him, yet that it should come righteously, that all the ways of God might be consistent one with another.
The law was a rule of procedure towards mortal men. It ceased to be a rule of procedure towards Christ when he died and rose again. As a rule of procedure towards all others, it could only condemn them, because they are all transgressors. Therefore righteousness for transgressors in the sense of forgiveness unto life eternal cannot come by the law. This was Paul's great contention against the Judaism of his day. His argument is drawn to a focus in the statement of Gal. 2: 21, "If righteousness come by the law, then is Christ dead in vain". But he has not died in vain. He died to declare the righteousness of God as the ground of invitation for sinners to receive forgiveness. He died to remove the old covenant as a rule of procedure towards men.
The "learned" of this world misconceive the subject altogether. While they truly recognize the limited or tribal character of the Sinaitic enunciation, they draw wrong conclusions from it through the effects of a wrong theory in another direction. They assume that all men are immortal, and on a footing of equal acceptability to God, and that therefore a system like the Mosaic system, which limited its proposals to a particular nation, and ignored the rest of mankind, must have had a human origin. The argument really turns the other way; that the Mosaic limitations being divine are a confutation of popular views as to the nature and position of the human race.
The ten commandments as the authentic formulation of divine will concerning the deportment of individual man are of unspeakable moment. They embody the fundamental principles that regulate human life.
Law of Moses Ch 3
The Gentile (Constantine) Sabbath
The Mosaic law enjoined the observance of the seventh day: Constantine appointed the day after, or the first day of the week, as the Sabbath. There are some in our day who make this a reason for contending for the observance of the seventh, and not the first day of the week. If it were a question of Moses versus Constantine, this contention would be unanswerable. But in truth it is not a question of one or the other for the brethren of the Lord.
Constantine is not their lawgiver; and they are certainly "not under the law" (Rom. 6: 14-15), but under Christ, who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4), and who never enjoined the observance of the Sabbath.
He is never found by his own mouth enjoining the law of Moses on believers. He rather seeks to fasten attention on himself. Though he was born under the law (Gal. 4:4) and obedient in all things (Heb. 5: 8-9), he places himself above the law in the precepts he enjoins, as manifest from the recurring phrase in" the sermon on the mount": "Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time ", thus and so (" hate thine enemy "). "But I say unto you, Love your enemies" (Matt. 5: 43-44; also 21, 27, 31, 33 and 38).
This over-vaulting authority is also asserted in those remarkable expressions: "A greater than Solomon is here... a greater than Jonas is here... in this place is one greater than the temple" (Luke 11: 31-32; Matt. 12: 6). Jesus truly came to fulfil the law, but he came to "fulfil" in much higher sense than merely conforming to the letter of its enactment. He came to end it by accomplishing in himself all that it foreshadowed, plucking the sting out of it by giving himself up to its curse in suffering himself to be crucified.
These things are testified, and will not be ignored by minds in earnest about truth. The testimony is explicit. "Christ is the end of the law" (Rom. 10: 4). "The law is a shadow of good things to come... the body is of Christ" (Heb. 10: 1; Col. 2: 17). He "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col. 2: 14). "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree .... The law was our schoolmaster. We are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3: 13, 24, 25).
Law of Moses Ch 6
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
In Rom. x. 7, abyss is used by Paul in asking, "Who shall descend into the abyss?" in the C.V. deep: and he tells us what sense he attaches to the word in letting us know the purpose of the descent -- "that is," says he, "to bring up Christ again from among dead ones, ek nekron." This is an abyss which is "never full;" still bottom can be reached when there shall be no more death, and the grave shall be destroyed.
In this use of the word, abyss does not signify "the invisible receptacle of departed spirits," but the common receptacle of dead bodies; or more strictly speaking, the aggregate of dead bodies themselves. These are a sea of death, which when living were
"a troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" (Isa. lvii. 20).
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
To bring to mind, to keep in mind, to renew our faith, then, are the great desiderata. This is the true meaning of edification: the building of one another up in our most holy faith. Now that which gives us the faith in the first instance is that which must keep the faith. The reading that will plant the faith is the reading that will preserve and nurture it. The human mind is like shifting sand in relation to everything-not only in relation to things divine, but things human; though more especially things divine.
Human memory is a very feeble thing. The substance of the mind, as it were, is always on the move-always changing, always receiving new impressions, new thoughts. The thoughts and impressions of yesterday are feebler to-day than when first received; and as time goes on, they become feebler and feebler, until we are almost unconscious of them. To keep a thing constantly in the mind, it must be held continually in contact with it in some shape or form.
The faces of friends seen daily are not forgotten. Now the truth is our great friend. If we look in its face daily, we shall keep it in mind; but if we live in neglect of it, if we abandon or refrain from reading the scriptures, or assembling one with another, the face of friend Truth will become dim. The impressions that the truth has made upon our minds will gradually fade, until they disappear altogether, and we shall become worldly-minded.
What a mistake for any of us to give the preference to any friend above friend Truth. Friend Business, Friend Sociality, Friend Enjoyment, will cheat us at last; but Friend Truth is a tree of life to them that lay hold of her. Happy is everyone that receiveth her; she will never deceive us but be precious and refreshing to our last mortal hour, and crown us with life and joy for evermore.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Nov 1868