Enter subtitle here
2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
The Holy Oracles
If Paul were more faithfully followed, there would be infinitely less hesitancy in accepting the infallibility of the Scriptures. It is profitable to recall the passages which exhibit the Apostle's mind. Take first his expression to Felix:
"I confess unto thee that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets" (Acts xxiv. 14).
The same thought comes out in the statement to Agrippa: "I continue unto this day witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which Moses and the prophets did say should come" (xxvi. 22).
It is also recorded in another place that Paul persuaded men concerning Jesus, "both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets from morning unto evening." Surely such a mode of tuition is very significant! Deluded, indeed, must the man be who affirms that when Paul said "all things," and "none other things," he did not mean what he said! And that when he appealed to Moses and the prophets, he did not appeal to them as an unerring authority!
Yet how many to-day are endorsing this indefensible position. If Paul is worth following, let us follow him wholly. Let us contend with him that the Scriptures are "the oracles of God" (Rom. iii. 2); that they are "holy" (Rom. i. 2); that they are "the word of truth" (2. Tim. ii. 15); that they have all been given by inspiration, and are all profitable (2. Tim. iii. 15-16).
Paul upon this matter was not double-minded-with him it was not an attitude of yea and nay. ATJ
The Christadelphian, July 1887
3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
Hence, professors of Gentilism say, that "the New Testament is their only and sufficient rule of faith and practice." This is tantamount to saying, that "all the prophecies concerning the Messiah are fulfilled in Jesus, and therefore recorded in the New Testament;" for if this be not the case, then there are things to be believed concerning the Messiah which are not there, and the New Testament is not the sufficient rule of faith.
Assuming, however, that the Gentile notion is a true statement in relation to Jesus, it is taken as a ground of objection to his claims as King of the Jews and Redeemer of Israel. "We," say the Jews to the Gentiles, "agree with you, that there is but one personal advent of the Christ. Jesus appeared once in our country; and his biography has been sketched by four of his contemporaries, which, you say, is a record of all that need be expected to happen in regard to him upon earth. Now this being so, with what we know is actually on record in the holy prophets, concerning the office and character of Messiah, and which no one will pretend to say has ever been fulfilled in, by, or through Jesus, we cannot recognise in him the personage of whom Moses did write in the law." "Only prove to us that all the prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus," says Mr. Benjamin Dias; "the Jews will then be converted; for they require nothing else."
If the assailants be professors of Gentilism, who deny the second personal appearing of Jesus, the restoration of Israel, and the establishment of David's throne and kingdom in the Holy Land, this position of the Jews is impregnable. All things spoken concerning the Messiah by the prophets were not fulfilled in Jesus; yet he says, that all things spoken there must be fulfilled.
The truth is, that comparatively few things spoken there were fulfilled in him.
The Messiah's mission is prophetic, sacrificial, sacerdotal, military, regal, and imperial.
Jesus came as a prophet, suffered as a sacrifice; and now performs the functions of a High Priest in the Most Holy, but to those [ONLY] who believe the gospel and are united to his name. He has yet to appear as High Priest of the Twelve Tribes, as a conquering hero, reigning king of Israel and Emperor of the world. But more of this anon.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1853.
9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
Man, as the propagation of Adam's condemned earthy nature, is by nature, a mortal and afflicted being: but there are degrees in the afflictedness. There is such a thing as a healthy mortal, and there is such a thing as a diseased mortal. The law of Moses deals with both--both literally and typically. For the healthy mortal, it prescribes circumcision and sacrifice; for the unhealthy, separation and special treatment. It is the spiritual or typical meaning we are concerned with at present.
We have discerned this in its treatment of the healthy: the healthy, though mortally healthy, are recognized as "all under sin", to use Paul's expression (Rom. 3:9), because the decendants of the sinners of Eden, and the individual transgressors of the divine law, and are therefore held at arm's length, as we might say, unless they humble themselves and confess and approach in the way appointed, and then they are received for blessing and ultimate healing. Their mere mortality is no bar when the divine conditions of reconciliation are complied with. But here are diseased mortals whose cases not only receive special treatment physically, but whose connection with special sacrifice appointed shows they have a special significance typically.
The distinction is a natural one physically, and it seems a natural one spiritually, for there is a great difference between human frailty by natural constitution, against which a man may be struggling in the way of righteousness, and human wickedness which a man may be following from taste and preference and wilful bent. The one, we may take it, is represented by healthy human nature under the ordinances of the law, and the other by diseased human nature in the same relation. The divine view of the two cases, as expressed in type, is not unuseful to us, who, though "not under the law but under grace", must be desirous "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).
Law of Moses Ch 27
The text, in Col. 2:14,
Blotting 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;
relates to the same topic as that in Ephesians; namely, the taking away the cause of division between Jews and Gentiles, the Mosaic law, or hand-writing, which made it
"an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation."
While this handwriting was in force, there could be no union between Jews and Gentiles in "one body," as members of which they were to love as brethren. The law divided them and set them at variance; as the gospel now separates those that obey it from all religious fellowship with disobedient unbelievers.
The Abrahamic Covenant, which was ratified by God for Christ 430 years before the law of Moses was given, knows nothing of that law. The law was an addition, not to it as a codicil, but as a distinct covenant, or will, additionally presented and enjoined upon the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, until The Seed, or Christ, should come, to whom the promise of the everlasting possession of the Holy Land was made in the Covenant ratified for him.-
"It was added because of transgressions"
among the Israelites, who while in Egypt served the gods of the Egyptians; and were fast merging into forgetfulness of the good things covenanted to their nation under Christ.
The Abrahamic Covenant contains no cause of enmity between Jews and Gentiles; for it promises among other things that
"In Abraham's Seed (Christ) shall all the Nations of the earth be blessed."
All nations, include Jews and Gentiles. Not so the law however. It was a "fiery law." In itself "holy, just, and good;" but notwithstanding its intrinsic excellence, "it was weak through the flesh" in which, Paul says, "no good thing dwelleth." On account therefore, of this weakness, the holy, just, and good Mosaic law, which was ordained for the life of all under it, saying, "If a man do it he shall live by it," was "found to be death" to every Israelite; for it said, "Cursed be every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them;" which was too great a demand upon poor weak humanity to accord.
Even Jesus, who was without sin, no fault being found in him, was cursed by it, saying,
"Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree;"
thus he became a curse for us.
This law, then, was found to be death to him; can it therefore after this be found to be life to any other mortal? By no means! Hence it condemns to death every Israelite, and every one else that seeks justification by it. And if God's people Israel with their King were sentenced to death by it, of what avail can it be to us Gentiles? Certainly of none; and therefore it is written,
"Are we Jews better than they the Gentiles? No, in no wise: for both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin;" so that "all the world becomes guilty before God."
Here, then, we behold mankind in an awful dilemma-naturally, under the sentence pronounced upon Adam, which is death; and Mosaically, cursed to death by a law ordained for life, because humanity is too weak to keep it. If the state of the case had continued thus "the gates of hades" would have prevailed for ever over Jew and Gentile, patriarch and prophet, from the first transgression to the natural extinction of the race, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah alone excepted as exceptions to the rule.
The wisdom of God in a mystery, however, devised a happier result than this. The world "being dead in sins," that is, dead Adamically and Mosaically because of transgression, he sent Jesus into the world to take the Mosaic Handwriting out of the way by nailing it to his cross. And this he did by fulfilling all the righteousness shadowed forth in that law which cursed him on the tree; a part of which representative righteousness was the atonement for sin by blood.
Being nailed to the cross as the result of his voluntary surrender of his life, he may be said to have nailed himself to the cross by the hand of sinners; for, saith he, "No man taketh my life 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;" and therefore it was not suicide, but "obedience unto death."
In being without sin and in perfecting the sacrificial righteousness of the law, he nailed it to the cross, when he nailed himself there. Now, being Yahweh's representative in regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, he was the Mediator or Testator of that covenant; and had therefore of necessity to die that it might come into force.
Having therefore perfected the righteousness of the law in himself, the shadow was no longer necessary as the substance had come. In dying, consequently, he proclaimed "It is finished!" and being perfected, in a few years after "it vanished away." Thus, 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; having in this way divested the authorities and the powers of Israel (for they derived their ecclesiastical and civil authority from the law) triumphing over them in rising from the dead, he exposed them with boldness of speech by the apostles.
The Mosaic Covenant being taken out of the way by the sacrificial death of Jesus, the Abrahamic was brought into force by the same means; for the blood of Jesus which perfected the Mosaic Sin-offerings, also rendered purifying or consecrated the Abrahamic covenant, called "The New" though made before the law, because it came into force on nailing the Mosaic to the cross. The Abrahamic covenant, I say, was rendered purifying by the blood of Jesus; so that "whosoever believeth" the things of the covenant, his faith and resulting disposition shall be counted to him for repentance and remission of sins in His name.
Sacrifice in the Age to Come - Herald Dec 1854
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
...the object was to make man feel his native powerlessness, and that he might be placed in a position in which salvation should be a gift by favour of God on the condition of faith leading to obedience.
Law of Moses Ch 1
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
We find that the "shadow" feature of the law had two aspects: first, the figurative exemplification of the actual situation of things between God and man--as when Paul alleges that the tabernacle was "a figure for the time then present", and explains the solitary entrance of the high priest once a year into the holiest of all with the blood of animals to be a signification by the Holy Spirit "that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (Heb. 9:9, 8).
And second, the foreshadowing, or showing beforehand in an enigmatical manner, the purpose of God as to the method by which He would open the way for free communion with Himself on the part of sinful man. This second aspect of the matter is plainly affirmed in the statement that "the law was a shadow of good things to come": that the law was "the form of knowledge and of the truth" (Rom. 2:20), and that the body (or substance) of the law-shadows "is of Christ" (Col. 2:17); further, that the promulgated righteousness of God by faith in Christ without the law was "witnessed by the law" (Rom. 3:21).
This view of the matter enables us to understand how Christ could say that he had come to fulfil "the law and the prophets", and that "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17, 18).
Keeping carefully distinct these two elements of the typical law--which might be described as the present and the future significance of the general shadows--we shall be the better able to see what the law was designed to teach without falling into the mistake sometimes made of attributing to the law a power which it did not and never was intended to possess.
We shall find it was a shadow both of the ruptured relations of God and man and of the means by which He should restore those ruptured relations in His own time; but not having in itself the justifying efficacy that some in Paul's day imagined (Acts 15:5, 24; Gal. 5:4; 4: 21-31); but, on the contrary, was a purely temporary institution destined to pass away when its mission should be accomplished in silencing man and developing God's righteousness in Christ (Gal. 3:19-21; 4:3-5; Rom. 3:19-20; Heb. 7:18-19; 8:7-13; 10:3-4).
Law of Moses Ch 1
Adam fed upon the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge all the time from his eating of the natural fruit until he died. The natural fruit in its effect was figurative of the fruit of transgressing the interdict, which said, "thou shalt not eat of it." The figurative fruit was of a mixed character. It was "good," or pleasant to the flesh; but "evil" in its consequences. "By the law," says the apostle, "is the knowledge of sin;" for "sin is the transgression of law " (Rom. 3:20 ; 1 John 3:4).
Sin is pleasant to the flesh; because the deeds forbidden are natural to it. It is that "good" fruit which the animal man delights to eat. The flesh, the eyes, and life, have all their desires, or lusts, which, when gratified constitute the chiefest good that men under their dominion seek after. But, God has forbidden indulgence in these lusts. He says, "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world " (1 John 2:15-16).
And again, "the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4): and, "if ye live after the flesh ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13).
This language is unmistakeable. To indulge then in the lawless pleasures which "sinful flesh" terms "good," is to "bring forth sin" (James 1:15), or to bear fruit unto death; because "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:21-23). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption" (Gal.6:7-8). All "the ills that flesh is heir to" make up the "evil," which has come upon man as the result of transgressing the law of God, which said to Adam, "thou shalt not eat thereof." The fruit of his eating was the gratification of his flesh in the lusts thereof, and the subjection of himself and posterity to the "evil" of eating of the cursed ground in sorrow all the days of their lives (Gen. 3:17-19).
All the posterity of Adam, when they attain the age of puberty, and their eyes are in the opening crisis, begin to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Previous to that natural change, they are in their innocency. But, thenceforth, the world, as a serpent-entwined fruit tree, stands before the mind, enticing it to take and eat, and enjoy the good things it affords.
To speculate upon the lawfulness of compliance is partly to give consent.
There must be no reasoning upon the harmlessness of conforming to the world.
Its enticements without, and the sympathizing instincts of the flesh within, must be instantly suppressed; for, to hold a parley with its lusts, is dangerous. When one is seduced by "the deceitfulness of sin," "he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14,15); in other words, he plucks the forbidden fruit, and dies, if not forgiven.
Elpis Israel 1.2.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
The Powerlessness of Animal Blood
Yet Paul says, "The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin", while the blood of Christ can. So here is another problem which we enquire into. The problem is this, Why could not the blood of bulls and of goats take away sin, seeing the shedding thereof was apparently as much a confession and abjuration of sin on the part of the offerer as the man who comes to God through the shed blood of Christ?
We find the key to this problem in the expression made use of by Paul concerning the death of Christ, in Rom. 3:21-22, "The righteousness of God without the law is manifested in Christ". Verse 25,
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, 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 that believeth in Jesus".
If we ponder this, we shall find it yields a complete explanation. First of all, it places forgiveness in the foreground, "through God's forbearance", which is at variance with the substitutionary idea. The substitutionary idea blots out forgiveness by suggesting that the debt in the case is paid by another. It is not so. God does forgive: this is the most prominent feature in the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel--"Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." "Be baptized for the remission of sins." "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
The Blood of Christ
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
God says now:
"If you will recognise your position, repent, and come under that man's wing, I will receive you back to favour and forgive you. My righteousness has been declared in him; I have crowned him with everlasting days; because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and was obedient unto death, I have crowned him with life eternal. It is in him for you if you will submit and believe in him and put on his name, which is a confession that you have no name of your own that will stand. Obey his commandments, and I will receive you and forgive you for his sake, and ye shall be my sons and daughters."
This is a splendid issue of kindness and wisdom. It is a different thing from the dry legality that would give us the blood of Christ as a sort of precious stuff, with which to touch ourselves and be pure. God operates in the whole transaction. We are cleansed from sin by this beautiful means, that God forgives us because of what Christ has done, if we will accept him and be baptised.
In baptism we are provided with a ceremony in which we are baptised into his death, and in which, by a figure, we are washed from our sins in his blood. There is a connection in this view of the case, between what God offers us in Christ and our own acts. That is, the cleansing result of the atonement is dependent upon our compliances.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST - 'HEAVENLY ETIQUETTE'
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
The Standard -- God's Truth
Do not judge the Truth of God by the people you find in it. Judge the people (if judging is necessary) by the Truth.
The Truth of God is perfect. It never changes. No one of mortality ever attains to its perfection.
The people of God are those alone who are striving and agonizing toward that perfection, deeply conscious of their own pitiful shortcomings. Wisdom will understand and join them in the struggle.
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
"Grace" is favour. The whole arrangement is one of favour, and not of claim or obligation at all. It is based on forgiveness-
"Forgiveness freely by His grace."
God was not obliged to forgive because Christ died. He required Christ to die that His righteousness might be declared, and His name exalted; and that man might be thoroughly humbled before He felt at liberty to exercise the prerogative of mercy unto eternal life. But being dead, it was of grace that He raised him, and it was of His grace that he caused repentance and remission of sins to be preached in his name to all who should submit in the broken and contrite heart in which he takes pleasure. We are "justified freely by His grace" in the whole arrangement. Through Christ, we have access to it, in the assumption of his name in baptism, and in communion with him all through a life of faith and obedience. When we have done all, we have only obtained access to a favour. Men who talk of "claiming" eternal life as a right, have not learnt the way of God.
"By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
By grace we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, to be manifested upon the earth when "the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him."
Bro Roberts - The inside of the Truth
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
All men are sinners, by nature and action (Rom. iii. 23; Eph. ii. 3); and "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. vi. 23). Consequently, men of themselves, are wholly under the dominion of death. But "since by man came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor. xv. 21). In what way resurrection came by man is to be read only in the life of Christ: "By the obedience of one" (Rom. v. 19). "He was obedient unto death" (Phil. ii. 8). He laid down his life. No man took it from him; it was a matter of the Father's arrangement and requirement (Jno. x. 18).
In the wisdom of God, the ceremonial condemnation of sin in the person of a sinless possessor of the nature under its power, was a necessity in the opening of a way for the pardon and return of sinners to life everlasting. It was a necessary declaration of God's righteousness, that God might be just, while justifying the sinner who might believe in this arrangement of God's mercy (Rom. iii. 25-26).
In this condemnation of sin in the flesh, the sinning nature had to be representatively nailed up to death in the eyes of all the world, in one who, without sin himself, was a partaker of the nature that had come under death by its power (Rom. viii. 3; Heb. ii. 14). Had he been a sinner, he would have been as other sinners, and resurrection could not have come by him: for sin would have held him in death as all others. But Jesus was without sin.
Had he possessed any other than the very nature of condemned man, he would not have been a suitable sacrifice for man. And his blood would have been like the blood of the animals shed under the Mosaic system of things, "which could not take away sin" (Heb. x. 4). Hence, the emphasis with which John insists on the importance of receiving the fact that he "came in the flesh" (1 Jno. iv. 3; 2 Jno. 7), and Paul, that "in all things he was made like unto his brethren": and "in all points tempted like them, yet without sin" (Heb. ii. 17; iv. 15)
He was specially prepared for the work. In crucifixion, he gave his flesh for the life of the world, and poured out his blood for their sins -- that is, for those who should believe in him, and have faith in his blood as the Passover sacrified for them. Those who learn of him as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and who believe in him as the righteousness of God, and come unto God in faith and submission through him, figuratively eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man in thus receiving the truth concerning these things.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 35.
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Now, the citizenship of the Old Israelites commenced on earth; while the politeuma, or citizenship of the New Israelites begins in heavens, en ouranois huparchei. The citizenship of mere common, or outward Jews, begins with circumcision -- with the flesh. If they omit this, the accident of birth from Jewish parents goes for nothing, they are regarded by the law as cut off from their people, having broken the covenant of Yahweh in the omission of the rite on the eighth day (Gen. xvii. 14). They are neither "Israel" nor "of Israel."
But the citizenship of the New Israelites, or Israelites of the New Covenant, begins in heavens, and also with circumcision -- it begins with faith, with the truth believed and obeyed, with the Spirit.
A Jew, or Greek, comes to
"believe the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity,
and of the name of Jesus Anointed;"
and to fall in love with them above all other things; he acquires a "faith," in other words, that "purifies his heart," and "works by love" -- he receives the doctrine of the kingdom of the Deity as a little child -- with all humility and teachableness; and demands only to know what the Lord would have him to do, that he may do it.
He is required, then to be circumcised in Christ, to "purify his soul in the obedience of the truth" -- to "put off the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ."
...such a Jew or Gentile as we are considering, being "filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding," knows that, by being buried with Christ in the one immersion, he puts on Christ; and that when thus invested with him as with a white robe, all his sins are covered over, remitted, or washed away; and that he stands "complete in him."
Jesus was circumcised the eighth day, according to the law; he was a Jew; the son of Abraham, David, and the Deity; the Heir of all things; he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; he is king, priest, and so forth. Now, it is only those Jews and Gentiles, the eyes of whose understandings have been enlightened by the word of the truth of the gospel of the kingdom, who can by immersion get into Christ; for men are saved "through the faith," dia tes pisteos; and "without faith," which Paul defines as, "the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" -- "it is impossible to please the Deity."
This, then, is the indispensable prerequisite for introduction into Christ, and completeness in him. Those who are thus qualified in the act of passing through the bath of water, pass into Christ. Before entering the bath, the truth believed has changed their minds, made them "dead to sin," and "quickened them with Christ" (Rom. vi. 2,11; Eph. ii. 5): when they are in the bath, and buried under the water, they are "buried with Christ by the immersion into his death," which was for sin.
...Hence, this water burial is their investiture with Christ as with a white robe. The burial is, therefore, a clothing, or covering over by which their sin-nakedness is metaphorically concealed; and they are in that situation in which it may be said of them, in the words of the Spirit,
"Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered over"