An Interpretation of the English Bible

 

GALATIANS, ROMANS

PHILIPPIANS, PHILEMON

 

by B. H. CARROLL

Late President of Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

 

Edited by

J. B. Cranfill

 

BAKER BOOK HOUSE

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

New and complete edition

Copyright 1948, Broadman Press

Reprinted by Baker Book House

with permission of

Broadman Press

ISBN: 0-8010-2344-0

First Printing, September 1973

 

PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING -MALLOY, INC

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

 

CONTENTS

 

(Return to Main Contents)

 

Galatians

I                  Author’s Introduction to Galatians (1:1-17)

II                 Paul's Visit to Jerusalem (1:18 to 2:21)

III                Justification of a Sinner Before God (3:1-14)

IV               Justification of a Sinner Before God (Cont.) (3:15-22)

V                 Induction into Christ (3:23 to 4:20)

VI               The Two Covenants (4:21 to 5:12)

VII              Special Warnings and Teachings (5:13 to 6:18)

 

Romans

VIII             The Book of Romans, Introduction

IX               Paul's Salutation, Thanksgiving and Prayer (1:1-17)

X                 The Universal Necessity of Salvation (1:18-32)

XI               The Universal Necessity of Salvation (Cont.) (2:1-16)

XII              The Universal Necessity of Salvation (2:17 to 4:25)

XIII             The Gospel Plan of Salvation (5:1-21)

XIV             The Seminal Idea of Salvation (5:12-21)

XV              Salvation in Us (6:1 to 8:39)

XVI             Salvation in Us (Continued) (6:1 to 8:39)

XVII           The Final Work of Salvation in Us (6:1 to 8:39)

XVIII          The Harmony of the Problem of Jewish Unbelief

                   with the Plan of Salvation (9:1 to 10:21)

XIX             The Limitations and Merciful Purpose of God's Rejection of Israel (11:1-36)

XX              The Doctrine of Salvation by Grace Applied to Practical Life (12:1 to 16:27)

XXI             Some Fragments of Chapters 14-16

 

Philippians

XXII           The Book of Philippians, Introduction

XXIII          The Analysis and Exposition (1:1-30)

XXIV          God's Providence in Paul's Life (1:2 to 2:5)

XXV           The Deity of Christ (2:5-11)

XXVI          Paul's Libation and the Christian's Growth in Grace (2:12 to 3:14)

XXVII         The Ministry of Tears and Paul's Recipe for Happiness (3:15 to 4:23)

 

 

 

GALATIANS

 

I

 

(Return to Contents)

 

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION

Galatians 1:1-17.

 


The letter to the Galatians is one of the second group of Paul's letters. The first group consists of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and this group, mainly on the great controversy with Judaizing Christians, consists of 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans.


On the letter to the Galatians we have abundant, good and accessible literature. The best book is by Lightfoot, and every preacher ought to have it in his library. I also commend Luther on Galatians. Galatians was the storehouse of Luther from which he drew the weapon of the Reformation. In short homilies he commented on this letter. His comments make a book of considerable size. Luther's Commentary on Galatians is very valuable in showing the crucial point at issue between the Protestants and the Romanists in the time of the Reformation. Its German style makes heavy reading to an Anglo-Saxon. John Wesley said it surprised him more than any other book of fame. Perhaps a large part of his surprise grew out of the fact that he and Luther were opposed on the doctrines of grace. The third book which I commend is Dr. Malcolm McGregor's Divine Authority of Paul's Writings. He uses the letter to the Galatiana more than any other part of the Scriptures.


This letter was evidently written A. D. 57 or possibly 56. It was written from Corinth or from Macedonia, with a strong probability in favor of Corinth. The letter to the Galatians bears the relation to the letter to the Romans that 2 Peter does to Jude, and that Colossians does to the Ephesians. The chief topic in Galatians and Romans is largely the same. It is as if the letter to the Galatians were a fiery, offhand sermon, and after the storm of combat had passed away the preacher had quietly and calmly prepared a masterly treatise on the same subject, Romans being the great treatise and Galatians the offhand discussion.


The occasion of the writing of the letter is very much the same as that of 2 Corinthians: Paul had been challenged as an apostle and his gospel assailed by the emissaries from. Jerusalem. There are shades of difference between the issue at Corinth on this subject and the issue in the churches of Galatia and the church at Rome. But the most pronounced form of Judaistic teaching as contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ is the form that he combats in this letter. He got word that these churches had apostatized from what he considered the gospel, and had gone over root and branch to the Judaizers.


Here arises an Important question which in modern times has developed considerable controversy. Does the New Testament use the word "Galatia" in its ethnological sense or in its political sense? If it means Galatia as a place where the Galatians proper lived, there is very little reference in Acts to Paul's preaching there. If it means the Roman province, including Galatia proper and certain sections of Phrygia and Lycaonia, then the churches in Galatia were the churches at Lystra, Derbe, and Antioch of Pisidia. We have a full account in Acts of the establishment of these churches. Dr. Ramsay, a very brilliant modern writer, has written a book to show that when Paul uses the term, "Galatia," he uses it in the sense of the Roman province inhabited by the Galatians. About 25 B.C. Asia Minor fell under the power of Rome, which, disregarding the old-time ethnological boundaries relating to nations, established provinces for purposes of government, sometimes including three or four of these nations. Ramsay makes a remarkably strong argument which has never been satisfactorily answered. But he leaves unanswered some strong internal evidences on the other side. For example: (1) It is hard to harmonize the contents of this letter with the account in Acts of the establishment of the churches in Antioch of Pisidia, Lystra, and Derbe. (2) All the characteristics of the people addressed in this letter fit better the Celtic population of Galatia proper. Like other Celts, whether in Gaul, Wales, or Ireland, their emotions were easily excited and as quickly subsided. (See Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of Paul on this point.) They were intensely emotional, easily enthused, bubbling over like a mountain spring, variable, and illogical. So we commend the research and scholarship of Dr. Ramsay and respect his masterly argument, yet many, in view of the counter arguments, deny that he has fully sustained the contention. While I myself am charmed and delighted with his book, and sometimes carried away almost to the point of agreement with him, yet, in spite of my prepossessions in his favor, the pendulum swings back to the old position that Paul is writing to Galatians proper, and not to a different people artificially enclosed in the Roman province of Galatia. The silence in Acts concerning his establishing real Galatian churches is no more than its silence concerning much of his work in other places.


Now we come to a matter of history. How do we account for such a multitude of Gauls colonized in Asia Minor? There are three words used to describe these people: Celts, Gauls, and Galatians. The Galatians evidently came from the territory that we now call France. Caesar tells us much of these Gauls – a restless people, bent on changes, migrating to broader fields. Earlier Roman history tells us that a great wave of these people crossed the Alps, swept over Italy, and under Brennus captured Rome itself. Later they passed into Greece and Macedonia, and a strong band, managing to get shipping, crossed the Bosporus into Asia Minor and settled a strip of country northwest of Tarsus about 200 miles wide and of considerable length. They went even farther and fought a great battle with the king of the Syrians, but were defeated. They were unlike the Romans, the Phrygians, or the Greeks – they were Gauls. An Irishman is a Galatian – quick, passionate, fickle. We have in this letter to deal with a class of people unlike any other that the gospel has yet reached. It is strange that Luther in his commentary makes these Galatians Teutons, or Germans. The latter shows when Paul first preached to them how impressible they were, subject to quick, deep emotion. It was easy to get a foothold among them, and easy to lose it.


The occasion of Paul's preaching among them, as we learn from the letter itself and other sources, was providential; that he was taken, when trying to get to another point, with a great sickness – that thorn in the flesh – so that he was unable to travel because of his almost total blindness and feebleness, and that his preaching to them resulted in marvelous manifestations. The account harmonizes with the marvels of the recent great revival in Wales or with what has been called "the sanctified row" in a Methodist camp meeting. Nowhere else in Paul's ministry was there such enthusiasm – such demonstrations in receiving his message. We learn in Acts of two visits that Paul made to Galatia.


The genuineness of the book has never been questioned. Men who are ready to deny the authenticity of other books of the Bible all agree that this is genuinely Pauline. First and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans have never been questioned. The letter seems to be divided into the following outline:


1. Introduction (1:1-5).


2. Historical narrative (1:6 to 2:1-21) in which he defends his gospel and apostolic authority.


3. The doctrinal part of the epistle (3-4), relating to justification by faith without works.


4. Chapters 5-6 are devoted to exhortations based on the doctrine.


Let us take up the introduction: "Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)." Even in the introduction he strikes the keynote of the letter. In that parenthesis of the first sentence he marches square up against the opposition, the Judaizers having contended that he was neither one of the twelve, nor commissioned by them. He concedes the fact, but turns it in his favor. He is an apostle though not of men, not as Matthias, who was elected, but he received his apostleship direct from the Lord. Usually Paul leads up to his subject by gradual approaches, but here he abruptly leaps into the middle of things. This letter is like dropping a coal of fire into a powder magazine.


"I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." At the outset he recognizes that this revolt did not originate with them. It was superinduced, imported. Nor did he believe that it was merely human opposition. It was a matter of amazement to him that people who had welcomed him so lovingly, heard him so tenderly and obeyed him so joyously, should, in such a short time, be switched off completely from the true gospel. All through the letter we see that the wonder is in his mind, and he evidently attributes it to some power more than human: "O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, that you should turn a somersault in theology and doctrine so quickly?"


He does not mince words: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema." There is but one gospel – the gospel of grace through Jesus Christ. Anything different is not gospel, though an angel brings it. It is to be rejected, and the one who brings it should be counted as accursed from God. Paul was a mild man, exceedingly courteous and patient, suffering a great many personal indignities, but when one struck at the gospel he preached he was full of indignation and fiery wrath, because he believed that gospel to be the only hope of the lost world: "As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema."


The skeptic argues against the New Testament because so much of it is devoted to issues local and transitory. But this is to misread and misinterpret human history. The natural man is ever ready to prefer works to grace. If he cannot have a salvation all of works, then he insists on a salvation partly of works and partly of grace. He will at any time prefer rites and ceremonies to spiritual things. In medieval time, the dark ages preceding and necessitating the Reformation of the sixteenth century, all Europe under Roman Catholicism, reverted to the old covenant with its priesthood, sacraments, types, burdensome ritual and imposing customs and ceremonies, mixed up with compromises and borrowings from heathendom around. Luther made this letter the banner of the reformation for Central Europe, and we need it now as much as when Paul wrote it or Luther used it. There are hundreds of pulpits today that do not preach the gospel, and even some Baptists are aping Rome.


I am reminded of the interview I had with Sam Jones when he came to Waco. He was sick and I called on him. The first thing he asked me was, "What do you think of me? What do you think of my gospel?"


"I think," I said, "you are a thousand miles from the gospel. I would suggest that when you get back to that big congregation you preach a gospel sermon for variety, just to show what a different thing it is from what you are preaching. You are preaching pretty good morality. Not only are you not preaching the gospel, but you are creating a false impression on the public mind, that heeding what you preach they will be saved."


He burst out laughing and said, "I like you. You come to hear me when I get well and I will preach a gospel sermon."


He did preach a really great gospel sermon on the blood of Jesus Christ. But he stopped at that. In his next sermon he was picking his teeth before the audience and said: "Look here, the thing to do is to join the church and then get religion. Join the church whether you have any more religion than a horse." Those were his exact words.


I turned to Dr. King, a Presbyterian, and said, "I think we just as well leave."


"Yes," he said, "I think so."


And I did not go back any more.


Paul felt just that way – that the salvation of men was a matter too important to be trifled with, and there was only one thing that could save men and that was the gospel of Jesus Christ; that the church and ordinances were for the saved, not for the unsaved; that the gospel of Christ is a distinct thing from the moral or ceremonial law of Moses; that the preacher should preach the gospel of salvation, grace, and freedom, and then go back to the weak and beggarly elements of the types was to Paul a matter of amazement.


He tells us how he got his gospel: “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man." In other words, "I did not educate myself into this gospel and did not get my conception of it from any man on earth, but by direct revelation Jesus Christ made known to me what the gospel is." Some men now get their conceptions from reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Paul did not; they were not then written. Some men get their conceptions from hearing others who had heard Christ. But the gospel facts were communicated directly to Paul, and that is why I insist on saying, "Five gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul" – and Paul's gospel is the most comprehensive of all. Note the beginning and the end of each gospel: Mark commences with Christ's public ministry and stops at Christ's resurrection. Matthew commences at Abraham and stops with the resurrection. Luke commences with Adam and stops with Paul in the city of Rome. John commences in eternity before the world was and stops with the revelation of paradise regained. Paul commences where John does in eternity and goes beyond him to the turning over of the kingdom to the Father. Paul shows in Corinthians how he received his knowledge of the Lord's Supper and his gospel: "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also he took the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (1 Cor. 11:23-25). "I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:1-4). As bearing upon the history of Paul, and as bearing upon the nature of the gospel that he preached, the letter to the Galatians contains some historical facts of incalculable importance that can be found nowhere else.


He proceeds in the rest of chapter I to recite what had been his attitude before his conversion; that he persecuted the church; that he had advanced beyond others in the Jewish religion, and was exceedingly zealous in the traditions of the fathers. In other words, these Galatians were going back where Paul was before he was converted. He adds that his being an apostle and in the ministry was not an afterthought with God, as some people teach. He scouts any such idea. He said, "God set me apart from my mother's womb." He was born about the time Christ was born. The mission of Paul was as clear to omniscience as the mission of Christ. To him all great things root back in eternity – in the divine purpose, in election, in predestination, in foreordination. He could not conceive of God as being surprised by some new set of events that had accidentally come to the front, necessitating a new adjustment to fit these unexpected events. "And called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles." Notice the connection of the thought: "I was set apart from my mother's womb. When I got to be a man he revealed his Son to me, that is, in my conversion, and called me to preach to certain people."


He combats one of their objections that his information was secondhand: "Straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me; but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned into Damascus." There is a seeming conflict between Luke's "Straightway he preached in Damascus" (Acts 9:20), and Paul's "Straightway" (Gal. 1:16). He did commence to preach in Damascus, but he did not confer with anyone, nor go up to Jerusalem to know if the men there would approve of what had been done, but he says, "I went away into Arabia," that is, he went to Mount Sinai, and there, on the scene of the giving of the law, which these Jews are trying to persuade the Galatians is the way of salvation, he received his gospel and studied out the great problems of the meaning of the Sinaitic covenant and its contrast with the new covenant which he discusses in this letter in a way that we find nowhere else in the Bible.


The Galatian churches were going back to Mount Sinai to be circumcised, to keep the whole law as a way of life, to put themselves in bondage to a yoke that their fathers were not able to bear – going back to a covenant that gendered bondage and ended in death. He is compelled to say, "I went away into Arabia." In other words, "God sent me there before he sent me to preach, that I should understand the difference between the law and the gospel; that I should, on the scene of the giving of the law, comprehend the purposes of that law."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What books constitute the first group of Paul's letters, and what books the second?

 

2. What three books on Galatians commended?

 

3. What the date of his letter?

 

4. Where written?

 

5. What relation does this letter bear to the letter to the Romana? Give examples of such relation.

 

6. What wag the occasion of this letter?

 

7. Where was Galatia, what do we know from Acts about its people, and what churches were in Galatia?

 

8. What is Dr. Ramsay's contention, and what your reply?

 

9. Who were the Galatians, and what their characteristics?

 

10. Give an account of their migration into Asia Minor.

 

11. What was the occasion of Paul's preaching to them, and what the results?

 

12. Locate in Acts the account of two visits that Paul made to Galatia.

 

13. What of the genuineness of the book?

 

14. Give a brief outline of the book.

 

15. What charge against him may be inferred from his introduction, and how does he reply to it?

 

16. How did Paul regard his gospel?

 

17. What is the doctrinal importance of this letter, and what the author's illustration?

 

18. What is the fifth gospel, and how does it compare with the other four as to their beginning and end?

 

19. What was Paul's attitude before his conversion, and what great doctrine does he make the basis of his conversion and call into the ministry?

 

20. How does Paul answer their charge that his gospel was second band?

 

21. Where in Acts may we insert the history in Galatians 1:16-17?

 

22. Why did Paul go into Arabia before he commenced to preach, how long there, and what the bearing of these facts on Christianity? (See author's sermon on, "But I Went into Arabia.")

 


 
II

 

(Return to Contents)

 

PAUL'S VISIT TO JERUSALEM

Galatians 1:18 to 2:21.

 


This discussion commences at Galatians 1:18 and extends through chapter 2, completing the historical part of the letter. It is evident that there is a relation between Paul's visit to Jerusalem, the headquarters of the apostles, and his independent authority as an apostle and his special gospel. There is a special value of this letter to the Galatians in that it gives definite information concerning matters more briefly and more generally given in Acts, which certainly saves us from erroneous inferences that would necessarily be deduced from the account in Acts alone. This is most evident in the history of Paul's visits to Jerusalem after his conversion, and the intervals between the visits. Five of these visits are recorded in Acts, as follows: First visit – Acts 9:26-30; 22:17-21; second visit – Acts 11:27-30; 12:25; third visit – Acts 15:1-30; fourth visit – Acts 18:22 (this one we would not know if we did not look closely at the Greek); fifth visit – Acts 21:15 to 23:25.


These are the five visits, so far as Acts records them, of Paul to Jerusalem after his conversion. I raise two additional questions: (1) What visits had he made to Jerusalem before his conversion? And (2) did he ever visit Jerusalem after the history in Acts closes? The answer to which is that while he lived at Tarsus he received his theological education at Jerusalem; that was doubtless his first visit, at least it is the first of which we have any account. But as he did not know Christ personally, he evidently was not in Jerusalem during the lifetime of Christ; therefore he must have gone back to Tarsus. But we do find him again in Jerusalem a rabbi of the Cilician synagogue, an opponent of Stephen, and a member of the Sanhedrin, and the object of his second visit was to become a member of the Sanhedrin, but that is all before his conversion.


After the history in the book of Acts closes we have no means of knowing that Paul ever visited Jerusalem. Indeed, we have only scraps of information concerning what he did after the first imprisonment at Rome. We gather some information from the letters to Timothy and Titus. Whether that included another visit to Jerusalem we do not know.


What is the relation of his visit to Jerusalem to his special and independent gospel and his independent apostolic authority? The Roman Catholics teach that Peter was the first pope, and that all authority was derived from Peter; therefore if their position be correct, Paul must have derived his authority from Peter. This letter to the Galatians grinds to fine powder the whole Roman Catholic theory of the pope, and hence it was one of the books of the New Testament that was so tremendously read in the Reformation.


Of the first and third of these visits to Jerusalem, recorded by Luke in Acts, we find parallel accounts in this letter to the Galatians. There was no occasion in this letter to refer to the second visit to Jerusalem, for at that time he simply went up to carry some alms to Jerusalem, and had no opportunity to have any conversation with the apostles. The persecution was raging; James was killed and Peter was in prison, and as soon as Peter got out he left; so, that visit to Jerusalem is not germane to our discussion, but the third visit is. The fourth and fifth visits to Jerusalem cannot touch this letter because they took place after this letter was written; so that the thing that we are to study 'in this chapter is the bearing of these two visits upon Paul's independent, apostolic authority and his independent gospel, viz.: The first visit, as recorded in Acts 9 and the parallel account in Galatians 1, and the third visit, as recorded in Acts 15 and paralleled by Galatians 2.


We may best get at the additional and more definite information in this letter by comparing the two accounts thus: First, by reading Acts 9:17-19, then Galatians 1:15-17, then Acts 9:20-25, then Galatians 1:18 (except last clause), then Acts 9:26-27, then Galatians 1:18 (last clause) to 20, then Acts 9:28-29 (except last clause), then Acts 22:17-21, then Acts 9:29 (last clause) to 31, and then Galatians 1:21-24. (For an arrangement of these passages in parallel columns see "An Interpretation of the English Bible," Acts, chap. 18.)


The following are the new and more definite particulars that we gather from inserting the Galatian passage that way: First, we learn from Galatians the time interval, three years, between his conversion and his first visit to Jerusalem. That three years after he was converted had passed before he ever saw Jerusalem or any of the twelve apostles. Second, we learn what he did in this interval of three years and what he did not: (1) That his call to the apostleship was not only directly from the Lord himself, but his acceptance of it and obedience to it was instant, without conferring with flesh and blood. His call was not at Jerusalem but at Damascus, not through Peter, but through Christ directly; Christ did not tell him to go to Peter, but the Holy Spirit selected the special man, Ananias, and sent him to him. (2) That, as his call to the apostleship was not dependent on the ratification of the twelve, he was set apart from his mother's womb. (3) That his apostolic call had its emphasis in a different direction from the emphasis of the call of the twelve apostles, their mission being to preach to the Jews primarily, and his being to preach primarily to the Gentiles. (4) That instead of having been instructed in the gospel by the original twelve, he went, not to Jerusalem, but to Arabia to receive his gospel from the Lord himself by direct revelation. (5) That instead of waiting to act on his call to preach until the twelve refused it or authorized it, he commenced his preaching at Damascus and not at Jerusalem. (6) That he had been exercising his apostolic call and receiving revelations and preaching for three years before he was ever seen by any of the original twelve. (7) That when he did go to Jerusalem he saw only one of the apostles – Peter – but he saw James, the brother of our Lord, who was not an apostle. So we must infer that at the time of his visit the other eleven apostles were out on the field. He saw but one, and he was there only fifteen days, and while there that fifteen days Jesus, in a vision in the Temple, peremptorily ordered him to leave them, to go to the Gentile work. See how these points are brought out and urged by the Judaizing Christians, inasmuch as he was not one of the twelve, and not commissioned by the twelve, therefore he was not a true apostle. He is explaining all this in his defense. (8) That for nine years after leaving Jerusalem, while he was preaching and establishing churches in Syria and Cilicia, they did not see his face. It was during this Cilician period that he received the revelation recorded in 2 Corinthians 12. So that not a shred of his authority as an apostle, not a word of his gospel, is derived from the original twelve or from any other man. Galatians says nothing about the fact, but I will interpolate, that from Antioch he and Barnabas went to the heathen on their first missionary tour, not under Jerusalem direction, but under specific and direct authority of the Holy Spirit.


The object of Paul's second visit to Jerusalem, after he had finished his Cilician tour, was simply to carry alms to the poor saints in Jerusalem, because of a revelation of a famine through a prophet. There could have been no conversation with the apostles from the fact that the persecution by Herod was raging, in which James was killed, and when Peter got out of prison he immediately left. There is another matter stated in Acts, though Galatians does not refer to it. We find in Acts 13-14 that when he did go out as a foreign missionary he did not go under any authority conferred by the twelve apostles, but that he and Barnabas were sent out particularly by the Holy Spirit, and that this first missionary tour that we find recorded was under special, direct orders from God and not from man.


In order to get at the account of his third visit to Jerusalem we have to carefully read nearly all of Acts 15 and every bit of Galatians 2. The object of this visit was (1) to find out how these Judaizing Christians were supported, (2) to carry out this divine injunction. (He says in the letter to the Galatians that when he made those three visits to Jerusalem he did not go because he was summoned, but by special revelation, showing that he was still under divine guidance.) (3) To show that the initiative was not taken by the Jerusalem church, but by the church at Antioch. Certain Judaizing Christians had a gospel similar to that of those who had come to Antioch and taught that they could not be saved without becoming Jews – that they would have to be circumcised or faith would not save them at all. Paul and Barnabas squarely met them, but inasmuch as the disturbance had come on the ground of comity, they carried the question to the church where it originated. Just as one would do if he were the pastor of the Broadway Church in Fort Worth, and some of the people of Dallas were to come and raise a row in the church – a row that involved his ministerial authority – then he ought to refer this to those Dallas people, saying, "Do you send these men here, or do they come by your authority?" So we see that in that third visit to Jerusalem he went with a definite object in view, not in order that he might be made an apostle, but in order to settle a great question of salvation, and that very question was being agitated in the Galatian church then, that is, the necessity of being a Jew in order to be saved.


Galatians says that Paul went to that meeting to take a test case, and the test case was Titus. Titus was converted, had been baptized and received into the church, and he determined to take Titus up there and say, "Now do you demand that Titus shall be circumcised in order to be saved?" Then he went up as he said, by revelation, to have the matter settled forever as to whether he was an apostle to the Gentiles or not. So we learn in Galatians that when he got there and sprung that question upon Titus, though Titus was not circumcised, they lost the case. Then we learn from Galatians that before the church met in conference Paul had met the elders and the pastor of the church, James, and sprung this question on them, "Do you acknowledge that this authority that I have to go to the heathen is from God, just as your authority to go to the circumcision is from God?" And he said that they conceded and gave him the right hand of fellowship, he and Barnabas only. This is a very important matter that we learn from chapter 2, but that isn't all that we learn. He says that from them he received nothing; that they conceded that he was not behind them in anything; that the pillars of the church at Jerusalem – the apostles and the pastor – acknowledged that they conferred nothing on him, and that he was their equal. He did not get his gospel from them, but this is not the cream of the case. He adds something that we do not find anywhere else. The Holy Spirit and the apostles and the church at Jerusalem united in the decision, embodied it in writing upon all of these points, and sent it to the churches where these questions were likely to come up.


We come now to a most startling fact. After this happened Peter made a visit to Antioch, and when he first got there he did as he did in the case of Cornelius – took a meal with the Gentiles. Here come some people from Jerusalem, and while they admit that a man did not have to become a Jew to be a Christian, yet they contend that they must not violate the old law about eating with the Gentiles. We learn from Galatians that it shook Peter, and we have already learned that Peter was easily shaken, and that it shook Barnabas also. In this new question we learn that Paul alone stood up and contended to Peter's face and rebuked him. What a position for a pope! He told him that he was tearing down what he had already established; that what God at Joppa had shown him that he had cleansed, man should not call unclean. But Peter was dissimulating and holding back because certain of these Judaizing teachers from Jerusalem came up there and 'insisted that this business must stop.


What would have been the effect if Paul had not taken the stand he did? Christianity would have been a mere sect; it would have lost its individuality; its wings would have been clipped; it could neither fly nor soar; it could only crawl, and it would have perished at Jerusalem but for that fight that Paul made. What would we think if the "upper tens" of our church would say, "I am willing to welcome these poor people to the church, but don't expect me to go to see them. We can't do that"? I have always contended that but for Paul's going away into Arabia and receiving his gospel direct from the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of having it handed down to him by somebody else, and the stand that he took when this great controversy threatened to rend Christianity of that day in its struggling childhood, we Gentiles would have had no gospel, and what the Jews would have had would not have been worth anything. It was a question of life and death. The very essence of the gospel was involved. It was as if they proposed to take the keystone out of the arch, or the foundation from under the building.


There are some incidental questions on chapters 1-2 that we had better look at a little. Paul said that when he went to Jerusalem that first time, he saw James, our Lord's brother. Here come up some theories. The extreme theory held by the Catholic Church, the middle theory held by the Church of England, and the other theory held by Baptist, viz.: What is meant by calling these the Lord's brothers and sisters? The Catholics say that they were only his cousins; that Mary never bore but one child; that she was born a virgin, so she remained a virgin, and they claim that her body was taken up to heaven as was the body of Elijah – "the Assumption of the Virgin" – and that she was immaculately conceived, as Christ was conceived. That is what they call the doctrine of "the Immaculate Conception." The second theory is that they were children of Joseph by a former marriage. But there is not a hint of such a marriage in the Bible. The third theory is that they were children of Joseph and Mary, the mother of our Lord. People, who, for sentimental reasons, believe that Mary had not a lot of children after Christ, who believe that they were not Mary's children, evolve that thing out of their own consciousness. The fact is that James and Jude who wrote books of the New Testament, and some sisters were actually half brothers and sisters of our Lord, and the children of Joseph and Mary. They were half brothers of Jesus because they had the same mother, but their father was not his; God was his father.


Another thing Paul says is that those churches in Judea from whom it was alleged that he derived his authority and his gospel, did not even know his name, but they held him in respect and glorified God in him. I took that as my text when I was appointed to preach the annual sermon before the American Baptist Publication Society in Chicago – "They Glorified God in Paul" – showing that the workman is known by his works. They said there was a mighty revolution in this Saul of Tarsus; that somebody did it, and glory to the one that did 'it. Somebody made him the mightiest power as an evangelical force that earth has ever known. Who did it? God. So they glorified God in Paul, and brethren will glorify God in us as our lives are pure and as our work is faithful, but if we live in sin as any other sinner, and if we preach something that God did not give us to preach, if conviction and conversion do not follow our ministry, if our preaching does not stir up others, then I am sure that people will never attempt to glorify God in us. They will find nothing to glorify.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the special historical value of this letter to the Galatians?

 

2. In what particular is this most evident?

 

3. How many and what visits of Paul to Jerusalem recorded in Acts, and what the scripture for each?

 

4. What visits had he made to Jerusalem before his conversion, and what the proof?

 

5. Did Paul ever visit Jerusalem after history in book of Acts closes?

 

6. What is the relation of his visits to Jerusalem to his special and independent gospel and his independent apostolic authority?

 

7. To which of these visits recorded in Acts do we find parallel accounts in Galatians, and why are not the other visits to Jerusalem referred to in Galatians?

 

8. Where in Acts are the sections corresponding to the two visits to Jerusalem recorded in Galatians?

 

9. How may we best get at the additional and more definite information in this letter?

 

10. What are these new and more definite particulars that we gather from inserting the Galatian passages in the Acts passages?

 

11. What was the object of Paul's second visit to Jerusalem, and what opportunity did this visit afford for conversation with the twelve apostles, and why?

 

12. What matter stated in Acts brought in here by the author?

 

13. What the object of Paul's third visit to Jerusalem, what the case at Antioch, and what two important matters were settled authoritatively on this visit?

 

14. What social questions sprang up at Antioch soon after this, what its history, how settled, and what if Paul had not taken the stand that he did?

 

15. What the bearing of Paul's independent gospel and apostleship, together with Galatians 1:12 to 2:14 on the alleged primacy and supremacy of Peter?

 

16. What the three theories of our Lord's relation to James, and which is the true one?

 

17. What did Paul here say of the churches in Judea, and how may the people glorify God in the preacher?

 

 

III

 

(Return to Contents)

 

JUSTIFICATION OF A SINNER BEFORE GOD

Galatians 3:1-14.

 


We commence this chapter with a great question, not how shall a man as originally created in righteousness, knowledge, and true holiness be justified before God, but how shall a fallen, depraved, sinful, and condemned man be made just before God? This is the great question that Paul discusses. While this question is treated fragmentarily in many passages of both the Old and New Testaments, it is discussed elaborately and logically in only two books – Galatians and Romans – the latter speedily following the former. So far as Galatians is concerned, the argument is confined to chapters 3-5, and as the argument is continuous without a break, it is a pity to have it broken up into chapter divisions. These discussions will disregard the chapter divisions and follow the one line of thought straight through, classifying and numbering the several points as they are logically developed in the progress of the argument.


So far in this book, i.e., in chapters 1-2, we have considered the author of the letter in his apostolic call and qualifications, and his independent gospel received by direct revelation. But now we turn to his discussion of the great question as stated above. The intent of the argument is to convict the Galatians of their folly and sin in leaving the gospel they had received and relapsing into Judaism, if Jews, or turning to Judaism for salvation, if Gentiles. However, in making his argument, Paul employs many striking antitheses, or contrasts. A mere glance through the three chapters enables one to note the more important of these striking antitheses, and as the power of the argument lies most in his way of putting these contrasts, we should carefully consider each one as it comes up in the progress of the discussion proper or the exhortation based thereon. These antitheses are as follows:


1. The works of the law versus the hearing of faith.


2. The Spirit, or its fruit, versus the flesh, or its fruits. In chapter 5, putting things in contrast, he says, "The works of the flesh are manifest, . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love." He tells what they are, Just as if he had put two trees before us. A tree is to be known by its fruits. One tree bears blasphemy, lust, hatred, malice, and strife. This is the tree of the flesh, and is a bad tree because its fruits are bad. The other tree bears joy, love, peace, etc. I say his favorite method in this letter is to argue by antitheses, putting one thing over against another. To form an antithesis is to take two theses and show how they are diametrically opposite. "Antithesis" is one thesis against another thesis. The first one, as we have said, 'is the works of the law versus the hearing of faith. The second is the Spirit, or its fruit, versus the flesh, or its fruit. The third is the curse of the law versus the redemption of Christ. The fourth is the law versus the promises. Salvation does not come by law; it comes from the Spirit. The fifth is the covenant with Abraham versus the law covenant with Moses. If in any place in the world these covenants are held up in contrast, we find it in this letter. He says the covenant with Abraham was 430 years before the law, and that it was a covenant that God made and ratified. It could not be disannulled by the covenant made for another purpose 430 years later. Sixth, this antithesis, which appears more evident in the Greek, is – The child (pais) led by a slave, and under tutors versus the son (huios) come to freedom and inheritance. Or to put it in another form, the bondage of tutelage versus the freedom of the adoption of sons after one comes into his inheritance. Seventh, Mount Sinai versus Jerusalem, the allegory of the slave woman who is a mere concubine, and bears children unto bondage. The slave woman bearing children unto bondage versus the free woman or lawful wife bearing children unto freedom, is this antithesis. Eighth, born after the flesh versus born after the Spirit. Paul says that he that was born after the flesh was Ishmael; that Isaac was the one that was born supernaturally, or according to promise. Ninth, the circumcision of the flesh versus regeneration, or circumcision of the heart. (For the expansion of this thought see Romans 2:28-29.) Tenth, the Jew, or one nation circumcising males only, versus the fact that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female; all are baptized unto Christ. The woman is initiated, we may say, through baptism as well as the man, but the woman was counted but little under the Mosaic covenant, as there only the male children received the sign of the covenant. So we see that the force of this argument lies in the way of putting these contrasts. We do well to study these antitheses.


Since this section deals with such a great subject and is so greatly discussed, we will take it verse by verse. The first point that he makes is that it was not only folly in them before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified, i.e., for a man that had believed in the crucified Christ in order to salvation, to turn away from salvation by faith to the works of the law, but it was folly superinduced by some evil superhuman means: "Oh, foolish Galatians [there is the folly], who hath bewitched you?" That is, "you are not acting honestly; you could not be guilty of such folly as this if there was not exercising on you some evil influence that impelled you to go wrong." The thought would have been the same if he had said, “O, foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, to turn you away from Christ to the Mosaic law?" It was the hallucination of the devil, no matter who the human instrument was. There was a Jew from Jerusalem that did it.


His next argument is that the Spirit that they received when they were converted came by the hearing of faith, and not by the works of the law. See how he says it: "His only would I learn from you: received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" This is an appeal to their past experience, as if to say, "Let us go back to the time you were converted, and you received the Spirit, the witness of the Spirit, or the Spirit shining into your hearts to lead you to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is the greatest thing. The question is, Did that come to you by conformity to the Mosaic law, or did you hear the preaching of Christ crucified and believe? Did it come by faith?" This is a pretty searching question, going back to their conversion.


Notice the next point, "Are you so foolish? Having begun. in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?" In other words, "How did your religious life start? It started in the Spirit. Now do you want to perfect what was started in the Spirit by going back to the flesh?" Just as the hearing of faith stands opposite to the law, so the work of the Spirit stands opposite to the works of the flesh. If we start in one principle, perfection comes by following up that principle. The teaching is that he who hath begun a good work in us, will perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ. The next point is, "Did ye suffer so many things in vain, if it be indeed in vain?" In other words, "It is for the consideration of righteousness through faith that ye were persecuted, and because you, by the hearing of faith, received Jesus as your Saviour, and the Spirit as your guide, you had to suffer a great many things. If you turn to another system, then the value of that suffering is all passed away." Here is a nice little question of interpretation, "Did ye suffer so many things in vain? If it be indeed in vain." What does it mean by saying, "If it be indeed in vain"? There are two interpretations, one of which assumes that they started right which he had hope to believe; then the suffering that characterized that start would not be in vain; though they might temporarily be turned aside, they would come back. But there is another interpretation which is probably the right one, viz.: this suffering that they received would not be in vain from a Christian standpoint. If they were not Christians it would have meant something worse than in vain, i.e., even if indeed it was just in vain it would bring to them a disaster greater than the sufferings that they first experienced. I never saw a book in my life where more care should be taken in the interpretation of the words.


In verse 5 he thus presents another view of the point about their receiving the Spirit by the hearing of faith: "He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" In other words, "It is God that ministered the Spirit to you, and it is God that worked the miracles among you." Having looked at that subjectively) let us look at it again. "You received the Spirit certainly by the hearing of faith. When he ministered it, did he minister it on the condition that you would keep the law of Moses, or was it on the condition of faith?" Christ said in one place that he could not do many mighty works because they lacked faith in the miracle-working power. So that God who ministered to them spoke on the condition of faith, and they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith. God ministered the Spirit to them on the condition that they believe in the miracle-working power for such a purpose.


We come now to a new point that extends down to the end of verse 17. In verses 6-7 he presents a new argument – the parallel between Abraham's faith and the Christian faith. Abraham believed on God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Genesis 15 shows when Abraham was converted. It is the first place in which the Incarnate Word presented himself to Abraham in a vision, and it is said he believed in Jehovah and he reckoned, or imputed it to him for righteousness. This is the first time we find the phrase "imputed righteousness." He imputed Christ's righteousness to him through faith. Abraham believed in Jehovah; Jehovah imputed or reckoned it unto him for righteousness. Now Paul's argument is this: Who is the father of the whole Jewish people? Abraham. How did Abraham become just before God? How was he justified? He was reckoned righteous. Righteousness was imputed to him; he was not righteous through his works, but he became just before God through faith in another. What conclusion does he draw from that? "Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham." These Jews whom these Judaizing teachers attempted to turn to the law as a means of salvation are the children of Abraham by faith. They are not his children according to the flesh, but the true children of Abraham are those who have faith in God. Abraham had faith; those are his children who have faith. As he says, "Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham," just as he argues that he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but who is one inwardly.


We now come to one of the strongest testimonies to the inspiration of the Bible. "The scripture, foreseeing" – there the scripture is personified, as having the prophetic gift. The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham. The scripture saw that in the ages to come the whole world would become the children of Abraham and preached the gospel to him. In what expression did it preach it? Where it says, "In thee shall all the nations be blessed." The blessings could not come to all the nations as children of Abraham by lineal descent, so they are to be children by faith in Jesus Christ. We understand that when Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees God said to Abraham, "In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." If that interpretation of the scriptures is right, then this follows, presented in the next verse: "So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham." "In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." What was the blessing? Justification. They are to be justified before God. That is what the scripture foresaw and therefore anyone may receive the blessing of justification and become the child of Abraham.


In verse 10 he brings up a new witness for his argument – the testimony of the law itself: "You want to go back and seek salvation from the law but what does the law say? As many as are under the law are under the curse, for it is written [written in the law] cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." If they should go back to the law system of salvation he tells them to listen to what the law says: "If you ever make a break, if you turn to the right hand or to the left hand, if you violate the law in any single instance, you are cursed."


In verse 11 he makes still another argument and we must distinguish between these arguments: "Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident; for, the righteous shall live by faith." This is from Habakkuk 2:4. That is the testimony of the prophet. The prophet comes in now to support his general line of argument. The law says, "You shall continue to live by continually living in perfect obedience." Habakkuk 2:4 says, "The just man [the man who hath justification] continues to live by faith." He starts by faith and keeps on by faith. This brings us to a general question. This passage in Habakkuk is quoted three times by Paul – in the passage here, in Romans 1:17, and also in Hebrews 10:38. In how many senses did Paul use that passage, "The just shall live by faith"? For instance, it means in one place that . the just by faith shall live, in another place that the justified shall continue to live by faith, and then when we examine that brief passage in Hebrews we see how the inspired apostle keeps getting meanings out of a passage of Scripture. It is like drawing many buckets out of a well, and still the well is not exhausted. He goes on to say that this prophet distinctly gays that the just shall live by faith. Then he says, "But you know what the law says." We have to put what the law says over against the "by faith." We know that the law is not by faith, but it is by perfect obedience – "He that doeth these things." Moses described the righteousness of the law, saying that they that do these things shall live by them, and then he says, "But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise." Thus he presents it in contrast.


Verse 13 says: "You seek to go back to the law, but when you go back you are under the curse, for Christ redeemed us from under the curse of the law. When you turn from Christ to Judaism you turn from redemption to the curse itself." Redemption means to buy back, and that is why Christ died for us. He redeemed us from the curse of the law. Now, he says, "having become a curse for us," that is, he became the vicarious expiation (vicarious means in place of another) ; Christ became a curse for us, as it is written, "Cursed is every man that hangeth on a tree." What was the object of Christ's redeeming us from the curse of the law? He says in verse 14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessings of Christ that we might receive the promise of grace through faith. I commend "The Bible Commentary" and Lightfoot's commentary, which as a rule are safe commentaries. "The Bible Commentary" is safer than the "Cambridge Bible," and ten thousand times safer than the "Expositor's Bible." I also recommend Luther's Commentary on Galatians.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Where may we find an elaborate discussion of how a fallen, depraved, sinful, and condemned man can be made just before God?

 

2. What is the intent of the argument thus made in Galatians?

 

3. How is this argument set forth?

 

4. Give the ten antitheses of this argument.

 

5. What folly does Paul charge the Galatians with committing. Who was responsible for it primarily, and who secondarily?

 

6. What the argument based upon their experience?

 

7. What is the principle of attaining perfection, and the argument based thereon?

 

8. Give the argument based on their past sufferings, and interpret the expression, “If it be indeed in vain.”

 

9. Give the argument based on their reception of the miraculous gift of the Spirit.

 

10. What the argument based on the parallel between Abraham's faith and the Christian’s faith?

 

11. What the testimony of the law itself on this point?

 

12. What the Prophet's testimony on this point?

 

13. Give Paul's three applications of Habakkuk 2-4.

 

14. What the argument based upon the fact that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, and what the object of our redemption?

 

15. What books commended?

 

 

IV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

JUSTIFICATION OF A SINNER BEFORE GOD (CONTINUED)

Galatians 3:15-22.

 


This discussion commences at Galatians 3:15, thus: "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: though it be but a man's covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed, no one maketh it void, or addeth thereto."


There. is no reference to that in either the Sinaitic covenant or the grace covenant. Man's law concerning a covenant between men requires that the agreement be kept according to its terms, whether verbal or written. Nothing not expressed can be added or substituted. A mental reservation on the part of either of the makers of the covenant, nor any afterthought on the part of either can be considered in human law. So long as the covenant is tentative, i.e., under consideration, terms of agreement may be modified, but when it is consummated and ratified it must stand on the terms expressed. This applies not only to all trades between individuals but to all treaties between nations. Even in human judgment Paul means to say that the character of man or nation stands impeached when a ratified covenant is broken. Disgrace attaches to the covenant breaker. See in Paul's terrible arraignment of the heathen the odious place and company of "covenant breakers" (Rom. 1:29). Here he is showing the immorality of the heathen life in that they have refused to have God in their knowledge. God gave them up, "Being filled with all unrighteousness) wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness ; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers." If we notice the place that covenant breakers occupy in that, and also notice the company in which they are placed, we get a conception of how even human law judges a man that breaks a covenant. The brand of infamy burned on the covenant breaker derives its odium, not merely from the fact that all social order depends upon the keeping of faith according to compact, but from the fact that ratification involves an appeal to God as witness to the compact made in his name and under oath expressed or implied. See Hebrews 6:16, and compare the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech (Gen. 21:22-32). There is a covenant between two men. After clearly staling the terms of the covenant, sacrifices are offered, and the oath to God is taken that they will keep that covenant. Then turning to Genesis 31:44-53, we read the covenant between Jacob and Laban, his father-in-law. There again is an oath and a memorial called Mizpah: "God shall witness between thee and me as to how we keep this covenant." The brand of infamy burned on the covenant breaker derives its significance from the customs among nations of regarding a compact of that kind as being made under witness of God and under oath to God. It is in this light that we understand the famous scripture describing the citizen of Zion, in Psalm 15: "Lord who shall ascend unto thy holy hill? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart and that sweareth to his own hurt and that changeth not," that is, a man makes a trade with his fellow man and afterward finds put that the trade is very disadvantageous to him; he must not take it back; he swore to his own hurt but he didn't change; he stood up to his word, that is, having made the compact he sticks to it, no matter how disadvantageous to him, and in this light we understand the reproach cast upon the Carthaginians by the Romans in the proverb, "Punic faith," because, as they alleged, the Carthaginians violated solemn treaties ratified by oath and sacrificed to the gods. I am explaining in giving this illustration what Paul means by saying, "I speak after the manner of men." Luther, in his comment on this verse, is mistaken in limiting the meaning of the diatheke (covenant) to man's last will and testament. In only two verses in the New Testament is diatheke to be rendered a ''last will and testament," viz.: Hebrews 9:16-17, where the author finds a resemblance on one point between a covenant' which becomes binding when ratified by the blood of the sacrifice and a will which becomes binding on the death of the testator.


But Paul's argument here is from the lesser to the greater. If man's law will not permit the annulment of a covenant ratified between men by any subsequent emergency or after thought, how much more God's promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-13) concerning all nations could not be annulled by the Sinaitic law covenant with one nation.


The force of the argument is overwhelming as Paul develops it:


1. The Sinaitic covenant was 43o years after the solemn promise of God concerning all nations.


2. The "seed" of the promise in Abraham's case is one; he says, "of seed" not seeds; not many as in the law covenant; there the seed of Abraham with which that covenant was made is plural, about 3,000,000 of them standing there. A covenant of one kind made with the multitude cannot annul a promise which is given to one person.


3. The promise carried a blessing through the one seed, Christ, to all nations, whereas the law covenant, while it was with the fleshly seed of Abraham – lineal descendants (plural), a great multitude – concerned one nation only.


4. The first was by promise and not by law; hence a vast. difference in the terms or conditions of inheritance. An inheritance by .promise cannot be an inheritance by law, and vice versa. It will be noticed that this section says in the next place that this promise to Abraham was confirmed before of God. When was it confirmed and how was it confirmed? It was confirmed when Abraham offered up Isaac as set forth in Genesis 22. It was given before, but it was confirmed then and it was confirmed by an oath. Men confirm what they say by an oath. Witnesses go into court concerning a pending murder trial, and every man and woman of them has to swear to the evidence given. Men confirm their testimony by an oath. In the letter to the Hebrews the author says "For when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men swear by the greater; and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of .the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil; whither as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." Or, as Paul expressed it in Romans 4: "For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." Mark the reason that the promise might be sure to all seed. The law covenant could not make things sure, it could not in its time, for it had to be repeated every day, every week, every month, every year and so over and over again. It could not be made sure, because if they kept the law one day, or one year, or one hundred years and then violated it in one particular the next year, they were out; it could not be sure. But the inheritance by promise is absolutely sure, because it is based on a promise.


Now, I will give an explanation of the last clause of verse 17 of this chapter and of verses 18-20, of which no commentary known to me has ever given a satisfactory explanation. I might cite many different explanations. In verse 17 Paul distinguishes between the grace covenant confirmed of God and announced to Abraham and the promise of that covenant given to Abraham, and argues' that the law covenant given 430 years later for quite another purpose and to different persons could not disannul that promise. In the verses following, up to verse 20, he is not contrasting the grace covenant with the law covenant but the promise of the grace covenant with the law covenant. Just here come the words hard to be understood: "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one." How are these words to be construed relevantly with the argument? I am able to see but one way. The law was given through a mediator because there were two distinct parties between whom Moses should be the "go-between" or mediator. But in the case of the promise there was only .one party. God. who of grace freely promises. Hence, there is no need of a mediator in the case of a promise. "God is one," not two. God promises of himself. In the law covenant there were two, God and the people. His point is just this, that the law covenant had two parties to it, and these parties being at variance, a mediator, Moses, was employed to bring them into agreement. In Order to have the mediator there must be two parties, but in a promise, there is only one and that is God, no mediator, but a promise. An inheritance by promise cannot be inheritance by law, and vice versa.


5.The nature of the inheritance was different. The object of the promise was to secure spiritual blessings and a heavenly country; the object of the law was to secure earthly blessings and an earthly Canaan.


6. In a naked promise of pure grace there is no mediator because there 'is only one, not two, and he, of pure grace in himself, not from obligation of a compact with nations, promises a blessing to all nations, but as there were two in the law covenant there was a necessity for the mediator, Moses, the "go-between" of the two parties. It is impossible to interpret intelligently the last clause of verse 17 and verses 18-20, if we ignore the fact that Paul in these particular passages is contrasting, not covenant with covenant, but promise with covenant. He does indeed in this last clause of verse 17 and throughout verses 18-20, contrast promise with covenant in order to show how inheritance comes. There is no mediator in a promise, because there is only one party, God, who of pure grace in himself, promises, and not of a compact obligation. At Sinai were distinctly two parties; God, the party of the first part, proposes a covenant to the Jewish nation, the party of the second part, through a mediator, Moses. But when he promised that in Abraham's seed, singular number, meaning Christ, all the families of nations, nations of the earth, should be blessed, God, who is only one, was indeed present, but the nations, thousands of them yet unborn, were not present. Hence there was no compact between God and the nations, and hence no mediator was necessary. The nations assumed no obligation. A promise relates to the future, and this promise was not given on any assumed condition hereafter to be performed by them. The blessing of the promise was not in them nor conditioned on what they would be in meeting compact terms. It was in Christ, and on the condition of what he would do. In saying that there is no mediator in a promise to men given freely by one party alone, it is not said that there is no grace covenant whose benefits Christ mediates to men. That covenant does have parties to it. But man is not one of the parties, for in a strict sense it was not made with Abraham, but only the promise of its blessings given to him. The parties to the grace covenant were the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and it was made in eternity before the world was, and each of these parties had stipulations to perform in behalf of men who were to receive the blessings of the covenant, the Father to give his only begotten Son to become the sinner's substitute in death and judgment, and then to give him a spiritual seed, the Son to do the Father's will in an assumed nature, in obedience unto death on the cross, and the Spirit to apply the vicarious sacrifice of the Son and to regenerate and sanctify those to whom the application is made. And from this eternal covenant, arise in eternity election and predestination, calling, justification, and regeneration on earth, and glorification in eternity after the Lord's final advent. I say this covenant was not made with Abraham, but the promise of its blessings was made to him; made to him, however, in his one promised seed, even Christ. The law covenant was temporary; it was only, as the text says, to last until the promised seed comes; it was transitory. The law covenant, because inferior, was given through the disposition of angels. It was subsidiary. I use the word, "subsidiary." I will show what I mean. Our text says that the law covenant, 430 years after the promise, was superadded. What is meant by "superadded"? It was added to something that went before. What is it that went before? The grace covenant and the promise of the grace covenant. The law covenant did not come in to annul what preceded it, but it came in to be subsidiary to what preceded.


We come now to one of the greatest questions in the Bible, and Paul raises it squarely, "What then is the law?" Or as King James Version reads, "Wherefore then serveth the law?" If the law does not annul the grace covenant or its promise, what is it for? A man is a theologian who can answer that question scripturally. Here I give some scriptures to study and which must be interpreted before one can answer the question, "What then is the law?" I answer first negatively. Our text says it was not given as a law by which life could come. If we think a moment we see why; these people were sinners, already under condemnation. How could any attempt on their part to keep the law in the future bring them life? Suppose the sinner should say, "I want to obtain life from the law," and the law should put on its spectacles and say "Were you born holy, or did you start right?" That question knocks him out at the start. If there was not anything else he is gone. In Romans we see how Paul elaborates this. Our case was settled before we were born. Suppose we waive this question of starting right, can we perfectly keep this law? Let us assume that we say, "Yes." Now, what part of our life is absolutely perfect? If we are guilty of one point, we are guilty of all. If we should obey the law perfectly thirty years and then fail on one point we are gone. "What then is the law?" or "Why the law?" It certainly was not intended to confer life. And it was not intended to bring us the Holy Spirit, for I have already proved in the beginning of the chapter that the Spirit was received by the hearing of faith Take the great blessing – forgiveness of sins and justification was the law intended as the way of justification? It was not intended as a way of life; it was not intended to justify, for "By the works of the law shall no flesh in thy sight be justified." What then is the law? Here are the scriptures to be read: Galatians 3-4; Romans 7:1-14; 5:20; 3:31; 4:15; 2 Corinthians 3:6-9. When one can expound these scriptures he can answer the question, "What then is the law, or why: the law?" What purpose does it serve? Paul says it was superadded to the grace covenant and subsidiary to the promise. Why was it added? Because of transgressions. But what the import of this reason?


The object of the law is not to prevent in, but to discover sin, t is a standard of right living, but it is not a way of life.


A man is a sinner and does not seem to know it. In order to serve a certain purpose of the grace covenant, the law must be superadded. Let us hold this standard right up before the man's life, and whenever the life does not conform he is shown to be lawless. What is the purpose? To discover sin. I am sure we cannot set the man into the grace covenant, who has not discovered sin. Again the law was given to provoke to sin, to make sin abound, to provoke it to a development of all its potentiality, that sin may be seen as exceedingly sinful. So that the standard of the law not merely discovers sin, but by provocation develops it to its utmost expression. Sin must be made to appear exceedingly sinful. If we want to find what is in a boy, let us pass a law that he should not stand on top of a pole on one foot, and we shall see the boys climbing that pole and doing that very thing. It shows the lawless spirit that is in a child, even now. We thus see how law is subsidiary to the grace covenant, because one must realize sinfulness before we can bring him in touch with the promise of grace. Again, it is the object of the law to condemn and not to justify. Justification is the opposite of condemnation. If a man doesn't feel that he is condemned, why should he seek to be justified? A great many people are quite sure that they are not under condemnation and therefore they do not need to be justified by the hearing of faith. What else? The law was added for wrath, to reveal the penalty of the sin. The law was added to gender bondage and death, to make a man see that he is a slave and doomed to death. The subsidiary nature of the law appears again in this expression of the context: "The law is a pedagogue unto Christ." What is a pedagogue? Let us get back to the etymology of the word. The Greek word “pedagogue” originally did not mean a schoolmaster, but meant the slave that carried the little boy to the school that the teacher might teach him. The law does not teach a man the way of life, but it is the pedagogue – the slave – in whose charge he puts his little son before that son is grown, and the duty of that slave is to accompany that little boy to school. Why? If there were not somebody along the little boy might play truant and go fishing or hunting. This slave's business was not to teach; it was to take him to the school where the teacher was to teach him. Now, says Paul, the law was intended to be our pedagogue to Christ. So -we4 see the point and force of the "superadded." The law is subsidiary; it does no saving itself, but it brings the sinner to one who can do something for him. An old preacher said, "When I find a perfectly hardened sinner that thinks he can stand on own record I take him to Mount Sinai and turn him over to it, smoking and thundering and let the hell-scare get him and when that hell-scare gets him he will look out for relief. He will know that he is a sinner." The law is a pedagogue I unto Christ. An old Presbyterian preacher once said that he I sent Moses after a sinner, and by the time Moses knocked him down a time or two he would be ready to take the Saviour.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Expound Galatians 3:15, "though it be but a man's covenant’ showing (1) The requirements of a man's covenant. (2) The extent of their application. (3) The disgrace attached to a covenant breaker. (4) From what the brand of infamy on a covenant breaker derives its odium. (5) Old Testament examples of covenants so regarded. (6) The reproach cast upon the Carthaginians. (7) Luther's mistake. (8) The nature Paul's argument in this verse.

 

2. Give the force of Paul's argument under the following heads; (1) The difference of time. (2) The "seed" of the promise. (3) The "all nations" versus one nation. (4) The condition of inheritance. (5) The promise confirmed – when? (6) The purpose of the promise. (7) The nature of the inheritance. (8) The mediator of the covenant versus no mediator of the promise, expounding particularly verses 17-20.

 

3. In saying that there is no mediator in a promise to man given freely by one party alone, what is not said?

 

4. Who is the mediator of the grace covenant, who its parties, when made, and what the stipulations? From this covenant what great doctrines arise, (1) in eternity, (2) in time, (3) in eternity after the Lord's advent?

 

5. What, then, Abraham's relation to it?

 

6. What the argument based upon the fact that the law covenant was given by the disposition of angels?

 

7. How long was the law covenant to last?

 

8. Wherefore, then, the law, under following heads: (1) What scriptures to be studied here? (2) Meaning of "superadded" – added to what? (3) Why added? (4) How does law (a) discover sin, (b) provoke to sin, (c) condemn sin, (d) gender to bondage and death, (e) reveal wrath or penalty?

 

9. How is the law a pedagogue unto Christ?

 

 

V

 

(Return to Contents)

 

INDUCTION INTO CHRIST

Galatians 3:23 to 4:20.

 


While in the last discussion we anticipated somewhat by dipping a little into Galatians 4, I commence this chapter at 3:23: "But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed." The part of that verse that needs explanation is the word "faith." Faith is used in the following senses:


1. The act. or exercise, of believing in Christ. That is not what is meant by the word here, because the Old Testament people, looking through the types, believed in Christ and had witness borne to their faith, as we learn from Hebrews II. Therefore the error was radical when a Baptist preacher said that there was no faith in Christ until after Christ came and died, and no forgiveness of sins. And not only did I hear a Baptist preacher say that, but I heard a Campbellite preacher misapply it in the same way, saying there could be no remission of sins until Christ actually died, and then the sins of the Old Testament saints were remitted. But sins were remitted in Old Testament times on God's acceptance of what the Surety would do at the proper time. We must not confound expiation and remission. I will give a financial illustration. Paul writes to Philemon: "If Onesimus oweth thee aught, put that to mine account." The very moment that Philemon charged it to Paul he could no longer hold it against Onesimus. It was remitted to Onesimus. The surety was held, and not the original contractor of the debt. It stood remitted against Onesimus, since it was put to Paul's account. The debt was not actually paid to the creditor. Only the personal responsibility for the debt was changed. It was paid whenever Paul should pay it later. Just so God was in the world in Old Testament times not reckoning, or charging, or imputing their sins to them, but was charging them to Christ and reckoning them to Christ, and so sins were remitted just as freely in the Old Testament times as in the New Testament times, but the actual expiation was not made until Christ died. I quote from the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith" the following:


Art. VIII, Sec. 6: "Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ until after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy and benefit thereof was communicated to the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world...


Again Art. XI, Sec. 6: "The justification, of believers under the Old Testament, was in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament." And what is more authoritative than any confession of faith is the testimony of God's Word in Romans 4:7 and 2 Corinthians 5:19. Nevertheless one should either subscribe to the confession of his denomination on vital points or quit the denomination.


2. Faith sometimes means the body or system, of gospel truths, usually preceded by the article "the." But evidently that cannot be the meaning here. In what sense then is "faith" used in Galatians 3:23? Here is the reading which supplies the modifying words: "But before the object of faith came we were kept in ward under the law." The object of faith is Christ, the antitype. The simple meaning of the whole section is, that an Old Testament believer, though his sins were remitted and he was justified, must yet observe the law of types until Christ came. Just as in chapter 4 it says, "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant, though he is Lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father." Being shut up under the law meant that the Old Testament saint, though his sins were remitted by faith in the antitype, yet had to keep on fulfilling the requirements of the law as to feasts and ceremonies and the observance of days. He was in the position of an heir but had not yet ob- gained his majority, but had to keep up the type until the antitype came. We need to get that meaning clear in our mind, because in the New Testament an argument is based on it. We have Moses who had real faith, and David and Enoch and Elijah, who had real faith, but they kept up the ceremonial law. The form was symbolic in the Mosaic law, and in the law preceding Moses. Why do we not now do as did the early people? Because the object of faith came, and the heirs of faith are now out from under the law. We are not. under stewards and governors as the Old Testament people were.


I now explain the next verse: "So that the law has become our tutor to bring us unto Christ." The Greek word is compound, pais, "a child." and agogos, "a conductor." Agogos is from the verb agein, to lead, or conduct. To complete the analogy we have only to refer to the heathen custom of entrusting the care of a child in his nonage, to a slave. This. slave was not necessarily the teacher, in the modern sense of pedagogue, but would lead the child to the school where the real teacher would instruct him. So the law, a slave, leads to Christ, the great teacher. In this sense the law evidently was not to annul the previous covenant of grace, but was added to it in a subsidiary or helpful sense. But now that the object of faith is come, we are no longer under the tutor. In many places Paul thus argues against any lapsing into Judaism. It was going back to the rudiments, the weak and beggarly elements of an obsolete dispensation. The whole book of Hebrews is written on that subject.


So a man who observes the seventh day instead of the first day proclaims that he is still in the Old Testament.


We come now to a thought not discussed before, verse 26: "For ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." The Jews, as Jews, were not sons by faith, but sons by lineal, fleshly descent. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." What is the force of "baptized into Christ"?


I had a Campbellite brother say to me, "You Baptists have no method of induction into Christ."


"What is your method?" I asked.


"We baptize into Christ," he said.


"How will you reply," I asked, "to the Roman Catholic when he says you Campbellites have no method of inducting Christ into you? You ask them how they induct Christ into men and they answer, 'By eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ in the mass.' "


I reply to both, for the Catholic has better ground than the Campbellite – that each ordinance is a symbolic, pictorial induction. Baptism does not really put us into Christ. On the contrary, says Paul, "By faith we enter into this grace wherein we stand." Eating the bread and drinking the wine does not really put Christ into us, for by the Spirit Christ is put into us, or "formed in us the hope of glory." (See also 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6.) Baptism does not really put us into Christ; it is only figurative of it. Paul says, "By faith we are all children of God." By faith, and not by baptism, so that the form of being baptized into Christ is not the reality of putting us into Christ. In baptism we put on Christ, as an enlisted soldier puts on the uniform which is the external emblem, or symbol, of his enlistment.


The next verse calls for some explanation. "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus." What are the distinctions between the two covenants? Under the Mosaic covenant a Jew only belonging to the nation by fleshly descent was in the covenant. But in the new covenant it is neither Jew nor Greek. There is no distinction of nationality. That is the first point. They all come in just alike, as the animals went into Noah's ark through one door. There was just one door; the eagle had to swoop down and go in the same door that the snail crawled through.


The second point of distinction is not national, but in Christ there is no distinction between a slave and his master. Abraham's slaves were circumcised because they belonged to him. But in the new covenant the slaves of a believer are not baptized because they belong to him. Neither the relation of children nor slaves put them in the covenant and entitles them to the ordinances. Earthly relations do not count at all in the new covenant. Here the individual alone counts. The child of a preacher must himself repent and believe and must be baptized for himself. The preacher's wife must repent and believe and be baptized for herself. She must take no religious step because of her relation to her husband, such as joining "his church" to be with him or in order to "commune with him." This passage means even more than that. In the old covenant only the males received the token of the covenant. In the new covenant there is no distinction as to ordinances between male and female. The woman is baptized as well as the man. If one was a slave of a Jew, the law required that the slave should be circumcised, becoming a member of the covenant through circumcision. Under the new covenant, it is clearly said that there is neither bond nor free – that a slave does not come in because he is a slave belonging to some one in the covenant, but comes in on his own personal faith in Christ, just as any other sinner comes in.


I repeat that the next point of difference in that verse is one of sex. Under the Jewish covenant only the male received the token of the covenant. The woman's position in the Mosaic covenant was a very subordinate one, but in the new covenant the woman receives the ordinance of the covenant just the same as the man. She is a human being and comes in by her own personal faith in Christ, and is received by baptism just the same as if she were a man. So we see that makes a very important distinction in the two covenants.


Verse 29 needs just a word of explanation: "And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise," whether a heathen, a Jew, a Scythian, Bohemian, a man, or a woman. If one gets into Christ by faith then he belongs to Abraham’s seed – not his fleshly see, but his spiritual seed, as Paul says, "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly." The real circumcision is not the circumcision of the flesh, but of the heart. He is repeating what I have explained before: "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father." So the Old Testament saints as children were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world, that is, bound to observe those ceremonial laws of sacrifice and the entire sabbatic cycle. "But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." We are not children of God by ordinary generation. We are children of God by regeneration. When born naturally I was not in the kingdom, not in the church, not in anything religious, yet some denominations teach that the church consists of believers and their children. We don't get in because we are the sons of some member that is in, or the slave, or the wife of somebody that is in – we do not get in that way. We come in by adoption. What is adoption? Adoption is that process of law by which one, not naturally a member of the family, is legally made a member and an heir of the family. Naturally we do not belong to God's family. We could not call God Father.


Now comes a point more precious than any I have presented, 4:6: "And because ye are sons [by adoption, by regeneration], God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father."


I remember as distinctly as I can remember anything that ever came in my experience, the day, the place, and the hour when in my heart I could say for the first time, to God, "Father"; when the realization of God's fatherhood and when the filial feeling toward God came into my soul. That was when I accepted Christ.


There was nothing in the old covenant that gave one that individual assurance, that inward witness. It could not, as it came by natural descent, but here is a very precious thing in the new covenant that to all those who by faith enter into this covenant, there is given a witness: "God's Spirit witnesseth with our spirit that we are the children of God." The filial feeling comes to us. The first time I preached on that subject I used this illustration: If I were to go to spend a night with one of the neighbors and, not knowing his children personally, would see the children come in from school, I could tell by watching them which ones were the children of that home and which were the neighbor's children, without asking any questions. The real child of the house has perfect freedom. There is no form nor stilts. The little girls just run right up to their mamma and say, "Give me this," or "give me that," but the neighbor's child is more ceremonious in making requests and taking familiar liberties, because there is no filial feeling. An orphan received into a home, after having been legally adopted, will at first be shy and distant. Only when by long usage the child begins to exercise the filial feeling does he feel that be belongs there. When in such case that filial feeling begins to appear in the child there is something that somewhat answers to the Spirit's witness to our spirits that we are children of God and may say, "Father."


As a sinner I thought of God often, that is, his holiness, his justness and his omnipotence, and the thought was more terrifying than pleasant, but as a Christian there is nothing sweeter in the heart than when I think of God as Father. It is the sweetest thought I ever had – "our Father." He is no longer dreadful to me nor distant, but the filial feeling in my heart toward God gives me a freedom of approach to him. I count that one of the most precious blessings of the new covenant.


To continue: "So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods [ye were 'idolaters]: but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?" We can understand how a slave should want to step out of bondage into the privileges of sonship and heirship, but it is more difficult to understand that a son and heir should desire to go back to the position of bondage.


I heard a Baptist preacher once say that repentance is "to know God." I told him that it was much more important for God to know us than for us to know God; that our title to heaven did not consist of our being sure that we knew God, but in being sure that God knew us; that many in the last day would say, "Lord, Lord, open unto us; we have prophesied in thy name," but he will say, "You claim to know me, but I never knew you."


A passage in Paul's letter to Timothy is much in point just here. The apostle is describing how some who once claimed to know God had made shipwreck of the faith. He rebukes the idea of our standing in God's sight by what we know, or claim, by describing the seal of a true Christian. This seal bears a double inscription. Un one side the inscription reads: "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and on the other side the inscription reads: "Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." This gives two real tests of one's profession: (1) Does the Lord know him to be a Christian, as Jesus says, "I know my sheep"? (2) Does he bear fruit? Does he depart from iniquity? In other words, does the sheep follow the Shepherd? The passage is 2 Timothy 2:19 where he rebukes the errorists, who had overthrown the faith of some, by saying, "Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his," and, "Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness." What a theme that is for a sermon!


We may be mistaken in thinking we are Christians, but he doesn't make any mistakes. Spurgeon says, "Our title to salvation does not depend on our hold on Christ, but on his hold on us." We may shake loose our hold on Christ, but Christ doesn't turn us loose. Peter turned loose and thought he was gone, but Christ did not turn loose, so Peter was not gone. That is why he changes that expression, "Rather to be known of God."


I was attending a meeting in Burleson County conducted by our Methodist friends (and they do hold some mighty good meetings), and a great many penitents went forward.


"Come into the altar and help those laboring souls," a brother said.


So I went and sat down by a man that was crying and groaning, and I said,


"My brother, what are you crying about?" He says,


"Well, I have been converted a dozen times and I always fall, and now I have fallen again." I said,


"Perhaps you are mistaken on one or the other of these points."


"No, sir; I know I am not mistaken; I know I was converted and now I have lost it."


"Then what are you crying about?" I asked. "Tears are quite useless in such a case."


"What do you mean?" he asked.


"On your statement," I replied, “your case is hopeless according to this scripture: 'For as touching those that were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.' ”


"My friend," I added, "You see why this is so. I can neither help you nor comfort you in any way until you can give up one or the other of your positive assertions. You are making your fallible knowledge of two vital points the standard. What have I or any other preacher to present to you? If I present Christ as the only name whereby one can be saved, you say you have tried him and he failed. If I present faith as the only means of laying hold on Christ, you say you have tried that and it failed. If I present the Holy Spirit as the only one who can apply Christ's blood and regenerate and sanctify you, you say you have tried him on all these points and he failed. I am sure I have nothing more to offer you. The only three-ply rope that can lift you to heaven you say has been broken in all its strands in your case; so there is nothing left for you but to get ready for hell."


He quit crying at once and said, "Maybe I was mistaken on one of those points."


"Just so," I replied, "and the sooner you can determine on which one the sooner I can direct you what to do. If on the first point, then seek a salvation you never had, just as any other sinner. If on the second point only, then seek healing as a backslider."


Verse 10: "Ye observe days, and months, and seasons) and years." That is an unmistakable reference to the sabbatical days of the Old Testament economy – their seventh day sabbath, their lunar sabbath, their annual sabbaths and their jubilee sabbath, which means that one so doing prefers the Old Testament economy to that of the New Testament. Compare his strong teaching on this point in his letter to the Colossians (Col. 2:20-23).


Verse 11: "I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain." Here he questions not himself, nor what he preached, but fears that their profession was empty and vain. For if they had truly accepted Christ, why should they leave the substance for the shadow, thus practically saying that Christ had not come yet?


In verse 15 we note a question: "Where then is that gratulation of yourselves?" (American Standard). "Where then the blessedness ye spake of?" (Common Version). The point of the question is this: They counted themselves as so great beneficiaries of Paul in the first meeting that he to them was an angel from heaven, and their gratitude so great they were ready to pluck out their own eyes to give to him; it was marvelous that all this had so rapidly passed away, and a contrary attitude assumed toward him. It called for an adequate explanation which must be sought on supernatural grounds or the intervention of bewitching power. Mere fickleness of mind on their part, since he hadn't changed, could not explain. Let the reader compare the prophet's address to Ephraim and Judah (Hos. 6:4), and point out the expression in the famous hymn, "Oh, for a closer walk with God," based on the common version rendering of this verse.


We note another piercing question in verse 16: "Am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?"


Many years ago I read an account of two visits of Henry Clay to Lexington, Kentucky. He was very popular in Kentucky. On one occasion the whole town turned out to welcome him. Houses were covered with banners, bands were playing "Behold the Conquering Hero Comes." Later he made a second visit to that town and they greeted him with rotten eggs.


What had changed them? Clay had not changed. A very beautiful incident occurred on that last visit. Among the crowd that was against him on the last visit was an old mountaineer, a hunter, with his long Kentucky rifle in his hand, who came up and said, "Mr. Clay, it breaks my heart to tell you. I have been standing by you all my life, but that last vote of yours in Congress has turned me, and I have to go back on you." Clay looked at him and reached out and took hold of his gun saying, "Is this a good old Kentucky rifle?" "Yes, sir; never a better." "Has it never happened when you were out hunting because there was no meat 'in the house, that you saw a big buck in easy range, and lo! your gun snapped?" "Yes, sir; it has happened." "What did you do – throw away the gun, or pick the flint and try it again?" The old hunter said, "I see the point; I'll pick the flint and try you again."


In verse 17 Paul lays bare the motive of the authors of this sudden change: "They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them." Their object was to shut out their credulous victims from Paul that they might be sought as teachers themselves.


We come to two verses that need a little explanation: "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you" – then he stops and never does finish the sentence. There is a dash there showing that his own mind is in doubt as to whether they were false professors or backsliders. "But I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I am perplexed about you." He did not know just how to treat them – whether to present a personal Christ to them as to those never having had any real faith, or whether to try to bring them back as backsliders. He could not tell what was in their hearts. He could not read them. "I am perplexed." "If I just knew your real state, I would know how to talk to you; if, like God, I could know whether you are Christians or not I would know what to say to you." So all preachers in their experience have that perplexity of mind when dealing with some people.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is the meaning of "faith" in Galatians 3:23?

 

2. Give several meanings of the word "faith."

 

3. Illustrate a misinterpretation of faith in this verse.

 

4. Give the financial illustration of how Old Testament saints were justified.

 

5. Why did they keep up the ceremonial law, and why do we not keep it?

 

6. Explain the law as a pedagogue unto Christ.

 

7. What is the force of "baptized into Christ"? Give the position of the Campbellites, Catholics, and Baptists on this point.

 

8. What are the distinctions between the two covenants – (1) As to nationality? (2) As to slaves and their masters? (3) As to sex?

 

9. What is adoption, and upon what is this legal process based?

 

10. How is the fatherhood of God realized? Give the author's illustration.

 

11. What is the result? (See 4:&-7.)

 

12. What is the difference between knowing God and being known of God, which the more important, and why?

 

13. What inscriptions on the Christian's seal?

 

14. What is the reference in 4:10, "Ye observe days, months, etc.," and what Paul's teaching on this in Colossians 2:20-23?

 

15. Contrast their present attitude toward Paul with their former attitude, and illustrate.

 

16. Compare the prophet's address to Ephraim and Judah, and point out the expression in "Oh, for a closer walk with God," based on the common version rendering of 4:15.

 

17. What the motive of the authors of this sudden change?

 

18. What doubt is indicated by the dash in verse 19, and what the perplexity indicated by it?

 

 

VI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE TWO COVENANTS Galatians 4:21 to 5:12.

 


This discussion commences at Galatians 4:21, and we note first the distinct paragraphs in what remains in this letter. From verse 21, where we commence, to 5:1 is a distinct paragraph. That chapter division is very unfortunate. Chapter 5 should commence at verse 2. The next paragraph is from verses 2-6. There the most of the argument of the book ends, though he takes up an argument after that. The next paragraph is 5:7-12. The next paragraph is 5:13-26. The next paragraph is 6:1-10. Then we have the closing paragraph. It would be well if, instead of chapters and verses, the book had been divided on the paragraph plan as I have suggested, and as we would find if we were studying it in the Greek.


I call attention to some textual matters: Galatians 4:31 and 5:1 ought to be really just one verse, and it is an exceedingly difficult matter, according to the manuscripts, to tell just how that verse should stand as to its parts. The oldest manuscripts are followed in the American Standard Revision. Lightfoot insists that we should read those two verses this way: "Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid [or bond woman] but of a freewoman in the liberty with which Christ has made us free; therefore stand and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage." That is the way Lightfoot would read it. It is just a question of the manuscript about the position of the words. The Revised Standard Version follows the best manuscripts, making it read just as we have it here, only it is not all one verse: "Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid but of the freewoman. For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." I would call attention to a great many others of that kind if we were studying the Greek. In the Standard Revision 4:25 reads: "Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children." Some manuscripts make that read: "Sinai is a mountain in Arabia." I don't agree with those manuscripts at all. Everybody knows that Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, and the Revised Version follows the best texts in that.


We will now take up the exposition of 4:21: "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?" I call attention to the fact that what the law here says does not occur in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy, but it occurs in Genesis, and the point about it is this, that the New Testament as well as the Old Testament, calls the history in the Pentateuch law, as well as the legislation itself. The history is the background of the statutes – the whole of it. History and legislation is called the law. If we get that clear in our minds it will save us from the mistakes of the radical critics. Whether it be history in Genesis or legislation on Mount Sinai, it is called the law.


Verse 22: "It is written that Abraham had two sons." He says the law (which is in Genesis) tells us that there was one by a handmaid and one by a freewoman. The next verse shows us the distinction between the births of those children. The son of the handmaid 'is born after the flesh – a perfectly natural birth. The son of the freewoman is born through promise. The birth of Isaac was just as supernatural as any miracle can be. There were no powers of nature in either Abraham or Sarah to bring about the birth of Isaac. It was supernatural. Now that is what the scripture says. Paul expounds that scripture in order to show that the Old Testament history is itself prophetic – that it has more than a literal, historical sense. It has that, but it has more. He says, "Which things contain an allegory." That part of the history of Genesis, besides its literal meaning, contains an allegory. Here the radical critics object to what they say is a strained interpretation that Paul puts upon plain history, and they say that he gets his allegory from Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, or he follows the rabbis in allegorizing the history of the Jewish people. Did Paul get the idea of the allegorical significance in that history from Philo the Jew, or from the rabbis, and if from neither, where did he get it? It is true that Philo did allegorize, but his allegories and Paul's are poles apart as we see if we put them down and read them together as I have done many times. In the second place, Paul did not get the idea from what the rabbis had said, but he got it from the Old Testament, and particularly, from the book of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah consists of two parts. Chapters 1-39 relate to one thing, and the rest of it relates to spiritual Israel, and it is called the Old Testament Book of Comfort. And whenever Isaiah from chapter 40 on, speaks of Israel, he is referring to spiritual Israel. For instance, in chapter 51 he refers to Abraham and Sarah, and then in chapter 54 he uses the language that Paul cites here in the context, showing that Sarah occupied a representative and allegorical position in his mind, and the quotation is specified here: "Sing, 0 barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife." That is Isaiah's use of it in which he is addressing Sarah as representing the motherhood of spiritual Israel, and she that hath been barren is called desolate; because no children have been born to her, she is called more desolate than Hagar. So Paul gets his theory from the inspired people; he simply follows the history when he says, "that scripture contains an allegory."


Let us now see what the allegory contained. These women are two covenants. As, in the dream of Pharaoh, the seven lean kine are seven years of famine. Pharaoh uses the verb, "are" in the sense of "represent," is., the seven lean kine represent seven years of famine. And, as where our Saviour says, "this is my body," that is, "this unleavened bread represents my body." He is showing what the allegory represents – that those two women represent two covenants – one from Mount Sinai bearing children into bondage which is Hagar. The Hagar woman represents, allegorically, the Mount Sinai covenant. He goes on to say in the next verse that Hagar, that is, this allegorical Hagar that he is speaking about, is Mount Sinai in Arabia and answereth to the Jerusalem that now is and is in bondage with her children. Sarah represents the Jerusalem, not the Jerusalem that now is, but the Jerusalem which is above that is our mother. We, the children of the freewoman, represent the Jerusalem which is above. It is necessary to make clear the meaning of Jerusalem above as contradistinct from the Jerusalem on earth. In Hebrews, 12:18ff., distinguishing between the two covenants the two regimes, this language is used: "For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and into blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them; . . . and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake." In other words, "Ye Christians are not under the Mount Sinai regime, but ye are come unto Mount Zion, . . . the heavenly Jerusalem." That is the Jerusalem above, or in the place of "heavenly" we may use "spiritual." We are not come to the literal mountain in Arabia, nor are we come to the literal Jerusalem situated over yonder in the Holy Land, but to the spiritual Jerusalem. How many of our hymns are written with that ideal In Revelation that thought is elaborated about the spiritual Israel, the spiritual city, Revelation 3:12: "He that overcometh I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out hence DO more, etc.," and in the closing part of Revelation, "I saw the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven." In view of this, I point out the folly of the crusades, preached by Peter the Hermit and encouraged by subsequent popes. The object of the crusades was to rescue the Holy Jerusalem from infidels – that Jerusalem which has lost 'its value. They were to rescue the empty tomb of Jesus. The crusades did an immense amount of good, but there never wag a more profound piece of folly than to think it was necessary to rescue the city under the curse of God, with an empty tomb in it, as a religious duty.


We will go on with our allegory: "For it was written." Here he quotes that passage in Isaiah 54, and here is his conclusion from the allegory in verse 28: "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise" – i.e., supernaturally born, regenerated – "but as then he that was born after the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so also it is now." The literal Jerusalem and the Judaizing spirit will persecute the spiritual Israel. Just as Ishmael did, so will the Jews do now. Verse 30: "Howbeit what saith the scripture?" Notice then that the scripture is again personified. The words, ta hiera grammata refer to the whole collection of scriptures; every one of those scriptures is God-inspired. So Paul takes a part of the history in Genesis and says, "The scripture saith."


I am giving this to show the folly of the people who say, "The book contains the word of God, but not all of it is the word of God." Well, what did the scripture say? "Cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman." Sarah used these words to Abraham: "This bond-slave child should not inherit with my child; cast her out and her son." It grieved Abraham until God spoke to him and endorsed what Sarah said, God having in mind not only what was best for them at that time, but having in mind the allegorical meaning of those two women.


Here is an important matter: The ablest debater that I ever read after was the great Presbyterian, N. L. Rice, and here let the reader note just what Rice said about the covenant and how the covenant puts the infants in the church. A certain man was once quoting Rice to me on that and he said, "The Old Testament put the children in with the parents; and now if it put them in, how are you going to put them out?" I said, "Here is the passage, 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son.' " That casts the covenant out and infant membership. It is true that the children come in the new covenant; it is true that we baptize every child in the new covenant, but he is a regenerated child – a spiritual child – and nobody in the world can answer that. And yet I never heard a pedobaptist make an argument that he did not bring in the relation that the children bore to the old covenant, viz.: that they were in the covenant. That is their first and, indeed, their only respectable argument.


A certain Baptist wrote a book with this title: Baptists the only Pedo baptists, i.e., the Baptists are the only denomination that really baptize children. They baptize every spiritual child if he is only converted, and if his spiritual childhood is only an hour old. The Baptists baptize him, and others don't do that; they baptize the goats – those that are not children. He makes a very fine argument, and if we just understand him, he is hitting the nail on the head. The Baptists don't baptize anything but children, but they belong to spiritual Israel, and they often baptize them the very day they are new born. They don't wait eight days.


Let us now consider those joined verses of chapters 4-5: "Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman. For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." Where does Christ himself discuss that just as Paul does? It is very important to see that Christ and Paul are in agreement in that very matter. John 8:31: "Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, if ye abide in my word, then are ye truly-my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered unto him, We are Abraham's seed, and have never yet been in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin. And the bondservant abideth not in the house forever; the Son abideth forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed [that Is, the fleshly seed]; yet ye seek to kill me, because my word hath not free course in you." Verse 39: "They answered and said unto him, Our father is Abraham. Jesus sayeth unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I heard from God; this did not Abraham. Ye do the works of your father. They said unto him, We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." Verse 44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do." Paul says, "For freedom did Christ set us free." I am showing that Christ taught precisely on the line that Paul did here in this letter to the Galatians.


I now commence chapter 5 at verse 2. This paragraph consists of the following thoughts (in verses 2-6 he discusses circumcision): First, he says, "If you insist on circumcision Christ will profit you nothing. Second, if you insist on being circumcised, then you are a debtor to do the whole law. Third, if you insist on being circumcised and being a Jew in order to salvation, then you are severed from Christ; you are fallen away from grace."


A man once said to me, "Does the Bible teach falling from grace?" I said, "Yes." "Well," he says, "I thought you didn't believe in apostasy." I said, "I don't; we mean by apostasy, (1) that a man has to be regenerated and (2), that this regenerated man is finally lost. This falling from grace here does not mean that; it simply means that a man who will turn from salvation by grace to being a Jew in order to be saved, that that man is fallen from grace. The Bible does not teach that he severs himself from Christ."


The next thought presented here is that "Christians through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness." What is the hope of righteousness for which the Christian waits? He is speaking of the doctrine of justification by faith, and that doctrine by faith had a certain hope in it. And what is the hope? The hope includes everything that is involved in the final coming of the Lord to give the crowning glories to those that are justified by faith; it has a hope that refers to the future. That hope is, If my name is written in the Lamb's book of life, it not only stands secure, but it will bring everything else that it has promised, as "whom he justified, them he also glorified."


The next thought is, that "in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything." We don't get into Christ because we are circumcised, and we don't get into Christ because we are not circumcised. We get in on an entirely different term, as the next thought shows, "faith working by love." The Roman Catholics teach certain doctrines based on this verse, "Faith worketh by love," that is, they say that "worketh" should be translated "wrought." Therefore, the Catholics have a doctrine that they call fides caritate formosa, "Faith made by love," that is their special doctrine based on that verse. But the verb is not in the passive voice. It isn't "being worked;" it is the doing, the working. And this leads me to another observation that when Paul talks about faith working by love he bridges an apparent chasm between him and James. James, in his letter, says that the faith that is apart from energy, or work, is dead. Paul says that the faith that justifies is the faith with energy; it works by love. As that passage bridges the apparent chasm, there is no discrepancy between Paul and James. Practically the argument closes here, but he brings up some argument later.


The next paragraph is verses 7-12: "Ye were running well; who hindered you?" Let us consider that as it is in the Greek' the idea is that of a foot race. The foot race is along a prescribed or prepared track. Here is a man running on that prepared track, and suddenly he comes to a place where the track is all broken up. The word "hindered" means a broken-up track. "You were running well? Who broke up the track? He who started you would not break up the track ahead of you; if that track is broken up, the enemy did it." The next thought in this paragraph is that they seemed to have said that if they had gone astray it was a small matter, and he is answering that when he said "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." "You think the wedge 'is little, but that wedge will split the whole log. It is a vital and fundamental thing."


The next thought is the distinction which Paul makes between the Galatians and the one that side tracked them. He says, "Now, brethren, I am confident that you will come to my way of thinking about this. I don't think that about the one that is misleading you." There he mentions him in the singular for the first time. "Whoever broke up that road will have to bear his penalty and will have to pay the penalty of what he has done."


The next thought is that he seems to reply again to an accusation that they had made saying, "Why does he object to our views of circumcision? I am told that he circumcised Timothy and preached circumcision himself." He answers that: "If indeed I preach circumcision as you are preaching it, i.e., if I am on a line with them, why am I persecuted?" Then he said, "If I presented it to you as they do I would take away the stumbling block of the cross and there would be no issue between me and these men who are misleading you." "The Jews find the cross a stumbling block," says Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. He says here, "I would that they that unsettle you would even go beyond circumcision." What does he mean by that? The thought is this: "You are insisting upon the physical mutilation of the body; now why not go to the whole length like the idolaters that were among you?" They mutilated themselves, cut their bodies with knives. "If you are going to insist on this use of the knife, why not take it to that extreme?"

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What does the law of 4:21 say, where is it found, and what bearing has this on the meaning of the word "law," as used in the Old and New Testaments?

 

2. Explain the allegory in 4:21 to 5:1 from these standpoints: (1) Where did Paul get the idea of this allegory, and what the evidence? (2) Ishmael and Isaac. (3) Hagar and Sarah. (4) Jerusalem that now is and the Jerusalem above. (5) Show the parallel in the two covenants. (6) Give the distinctions as expressed in Hebrews. (7) What the folly of the crusades? (8) What the attitude of the children of the flesh toward the children of the Spirit? (9) What argument is sometimes made for infant church-membership, and what the answer? (10) Then who the children of the handmaid and who the children of the free woman?

 

3. What the exhortation based upon this allegory, and where does Christ discuss this same idea?

 

4. What four things does Paul show are the result of their insistence on being circumcised? Explain particularly the last clause of 5:4.

 

5. What is the hope of righteousness for which the Christian waits?

 

6. Expound "but faith working through love." What the Catholic interpretation of it, and how does the true interpretation bridge the apparent chasm between Paul and James?

 

7. Explain verse 7: "Ye were running well; who hindered you, etc.?"

 

8. What is the force of "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump"?

 

9. What distinction does Paul make between the Galatians and the one who side tracked them?

 

10. What accusation does Paul seem to reply to in 5:11, what the stumbling block of the cross, and what does he mean by "beyond circumcision" in verse 12?

 

 

VII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

SPECIAL WARNINGS AND TEACHINGS

Galatians 5:13 to 6:18.

 


This discussion commences with Galatians 5:13. Throughout the rest of this chapter there are warnings against false conclusions from the doctrines of justification by faith apart from works. The first warning is that our liberty is not to be construed or used as a license to do any kind of evil. The liberty referred to is freedom from the law, which does not mean freedom from the law as a standard, but it is freedom from the law as a way of life. This same subject comes up again for discussion in the letter to the Romans where Paul avows that he has liberty to eat meat offered to idols since these idols are no gods to him; that personally it would not hurt him, but he said that we would refrain from it if it was harmful to other people.


One of the most infamous propositions ever made was that made by a Baptist preacher who said that when a man and a woman were engaged they could commit a sin for which they would not be held responsible. This is exactly what Paul warns against: "Ye were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh." The Arminians and Romanists unite in denying the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith and not of works, because they say it is demoralizing in its tendencies; that a man will draw false conclusions from it; that he will use the liberty wherewith Christ made him free as a license to do evil. Just at this point Paul raises his first warning cry in the letter to the Romans. He puts it in the form of an answer to a supposititious question. He had affirmed that grace abounded above sin, then the questioner says, "Shall we sin the more that grace may abound still more? And in reply to that he said, "God forbid," or as he very strongly presented it in the letter to Titus (2:12; 3:4-8).


I once heard an Antinomian (that means, anti, "against," noma, "the law" – against the law) preach. He was one who believed that a Christian is free from all law – that is he is not even under the law to Christ. I had to follow him that afternoon. He took as a text Titus 3:4-7: "But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." His theme was the grace of God that bringeth salvation. That afternoon I took my text from Titus 2:11-12: "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." He presented the grace of God, but he presented a conclusion that the grace of God does not teach. I showed that that very grace of God that he commended so highly taught that right here in this present evil world we should live soberly and righteously and godly. He stopped at verse 7, and I read on a little: "Faithful is the saying, and concerning these things I desire that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." So I preceded his text with Titus 2:11ff., and followed it with the next verse and caught him between the upper and nether millstones and ground him to powder. Finding that he was irreformable, I never did rest satisfied until that Baptist preacher was out of the ministry.


I would not make the impression for one moment that we are not saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, and our works must not be associated with grace in order to our justification in God's sight but I would teach that this doctrine of salvation by faith has this end in view, that the justified man should perform good works; that we are created unto good works. So those are the first warnings. I might select another scripture: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." There was an old man that he derived through Adam. In Christ there was a new man. Having shown that by the creative power of God's Spirit, we pass from the old man to the new man, he immediately adds, "put on therefore the new man in righteousness and holiness." It is easy to see as a conclusion from this salvation by grace, that we should render loving service to each other. We are children of God by faith. What then? Shall we fight? Shall we devour each other, or shall we render to each other the service of love? Those Galatian churches were as much noted for fighting each other as the Irishmen at a wake are said to be – a regular "Kilkenny cat" fight. Paul says that that is a false deduction from the doctrine he had been teaching. While on that point he used this expression, "The whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." What is meant there by "fulfilled"? Does it mean that if I love my neighbor that I have obeyed the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart"? If it doesn't mean that, what does it mean? The whole law is filled up, filled full in this, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" that is, this is the last part of the summary that Moses gives. The first part is, "Love the Lord thy God, etc.," that is, we fill it full if we love our neighbor as ourselves. It is the commonest thing to hear people that want to evade duty to God say that religion consists of being honest, paying our debts, etc. But that is not the sense of this "fulfill." It completes, fills full the other half of it that had been filled before. For instance, if it takes four pecks to make a bushel, the fourth peck fills the measure, if the other three have been put in. There is a remarkable passage misinterpreted by Alexander Campbell, viz.: 1 Timothy 1:5 (King James Version): "But the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned." What is meant by "the end of the commandment"? When we say the end we are not denying that there is a beginning. The end of a commandment is love out of a pure heart, out of a good conscience, out of faith unfeigned. There we get the other element that shows the idea of filling up, filling full. The love that the outsider talks about is unknown in the Bible. Here it is – a love that springs from faith; faith brings a good conscience and that good conscience leads to a pure heart and a pure heart leads to love. So the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, out of a good conscience, out of faith unfeigned.


The third warning that he gives is that being justified by faith our walk must be in the Spirit not in the flesh. We are not justified by faith if we walk after what is fleshly and not the spiritual, and if we have drawn from the doctrine of justification by faith any such conclusion as that, then we have misinterpreted the doctrine.


He presents two kinds of fruit, as follows: "Walk in the Spirit but not in the flesh." What is it to walk in the Spirit? "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness) goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." What is the fruit of the flesh? "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraiths, factions, divisions, parties, envies, drunkenness, revels, and such like." And to cap the climax he says that the man that does these things shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. He is saying to them, "You must not make the mistake that by mere intellectual perception of doc trial truth you have therefore exercised the faith of the gospel."


We may put it down as settled that no religion is worth a cent that does not make a man better than he was before; a son a better son, a father a better father, a mother a better mother, a daughter a better daughter.


If it doesn't produce good fruits, John the Baptist tells us that "every tree that bringeth forth not good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire."


We now come to chapter 6, which is divided into two paragraphs. The first paragraph is verses 1-10, and presents a case of discipline, or a case where the man, though a Christian, has committed an offense: "Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." We must not draw the conclusion that because Paul said just before, "I forewarn you that they that practice these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God," he means that to step aside once is fatal. As proof that he doesn't mean that, he supposes a case of a man that has been overtaken by a fault.


I was at a church conference once and three cases were presented, all of which claimed to be cases "overtaken in a fault." They asked my opinion and I said, "Brethren, there is such a thing as being overtaken by a fault, and there is such a thing as a man overtaking a fault; when he sees it plainly and follows it until he overtakes it then he is not overtaken in a fault. One of your cases is a case of 'overtaken by a fault,' another case the fellow overtakes the fault, and your third case is a mixture. It reminds me of a McClelland saddle. We don't know when we see it whether we are meeting it or overtaking it. It is the same in the rear as in the front."


The second thing is to harmonize verse 2 with verse 5: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ . . . For each man shall bear his own burden." Is there any contradiction in the meaning? One case is evidently different in the meaning from the other case. What is the difference in the meaning?


The third point that he presents is this – verse 6: "But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Or I will put it in plainer language: "Let the church member who is spiritually instructed contribute in money or kindness, to the one that instructs him." There are some people who are so afraid of being misunderstood – that what they preach will be assigned to a motive that they do not have, they leave it out of their preaching.


I heard a man say once, "I just simply can't preach on the money question; I will be misunderstood. If the brethren want to help me they can do it; if they don't want to help me, then it can go." Paul was Just as sensitive a man as we are, and he knew that they that preached the gospel should live of the gospel. One of the principal things that the Galatians were trying to do was to stop this collection. He says, "See that ye abound in that grace as well as those other graces." I have seen Christians that could shout, "Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel," and when the contribution box was passed around they shut their eyes for fear they would see the wings with which it is to fly.


A man is sent with a message for God and the responsibility on him is not to vary one jot or tittle on that message. He ought to be able, as Paul said he was, to be free from the blood of all men because he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.


They accused him of manipulating a big collection; while he did not do it himself, they said he did it through Titus. He knew these questions would arise because those who are evil-minded do suspect. They would suspect the Lord or the angels from heaven.


We cannot evade being suspected of evil. We are to take pains to live right, and so live that we may appear to live right, but that will not exempt us from being criticized.


I have oftentimes wondered at the goodness of this man, that he could say upon that subject what he did concerning the crowd that hated him, even the church at Ephesus. See 1 Timothy 6:17: "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high-minded nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." And he charges them, "that they be ready to distribute, that they be willing to contribute." It took pluck to preach that to these people, for they were high-minded, because they were rich, but he was to present that to them as if putting them on their oath: “O rich man, in the name of Christ, I put you on your oath before God, be not high-minded but rich in good works as well as in money. Be ready to distribute as well as to make the money." Plucky man!


The next thought is in verses 7-8: "Be not deceived." A point upon which we might be deceived is what follows that doctrine. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." He is not fooled. "For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." We can't reverse the natural law, and we can't reverse the spiritual law. In both the spiritual and the natural realm there is a crop between the sowing and the harvest. If we sow weeds we cannot look for a barley crop. The crop is going to be according to the seed that we put in the ground, and let us not be deceived; we can't fool God. He applies that: "He that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life." The harvest is going to correspond with what we sow.


He advances to another thought of incalculable importance. We are justified by faith, and in view of that justification by the grace of God which teaches us not only to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world, but also to do well, he exhorts; "Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."


I remember once preaching from that text on an important occasion. We had just had a great meeting; hundreds of people had sturdily commenced to do right from a motive of love to God. Then they began to drop off; they got tired. "Let us not weary in well doing."


It is that great persistence that wins, notwithstanding that it is an uphill path; notwithstanding that we have wind and tide against us. Anybody can float down stream, a dead fish can do that, but it takes a live fish to go up stream. "Let us not be weary in well doing." He gives the reasons: first, we shall reap; second, we shall reap in due season. We may not reap tomorrow, or next week or next year, but at the appointed season (and every seed has its season), in due season we shall reap.


Having expounded that section I associate it with 1 Corinthians 15:58: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord." Then with that I put the psalm which says, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." I comment on that passage in Psalms. First, there is activity; the people go forth; we must venture out. Second, they went bearing precious seed; we must go out with the word of God, which is the seed – "he that goeth forth bearing precious seed and weeping." We must go in earnest. Some people think tears are unmanly, and some tears are, but not all. "Jesus wept."
Did Christ o'er sinner weep, And shall our cheeks be dry? It was one of the most glorious testimonies of Henry of Navarre by Macaulay: He looked upon the foeman and his glance was stern and high; He looked upon his comrades and a tear was in his eye.


That is his exhortation against weariness in well-doing, because the labor is not in vain. We may fail in other things, but if we take the gospel, if we take it earnestly, if we sow in tears, the heavens may fall, but our harvest will come without a shadow of a doubt. "Doubtless he shall return, bringing his sheaves with him." It is that harvest home, when the laborer comes bringing his sheaves with him, to which the mind of the preacher should be often turned.


Paul says to the Thessalonians, "Ye are my crown of rejoicing in the time of Jesus Christ" – "bringing his sheaves with him," not coming up to heaven empty-handed. Coming up he says, "Lord, this man in yonder world I led to thee; Lord, this broken heart I healed; Lord, this orphan I comforted, bringing his sheaves with him." His association with him of every rightful tear that is shed, every good deed that he has accomplished, is one of the most precious things in connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he says, "As we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith." "As we have opportunity." Opportunity! Dr. Richard Fuller, in a great sermon before the Southern Baptist Convention, gave a picture of opportunity as with swift wing, no bird of the air flying so fast, passing by and never coming back. "Wherefore as we have opportunity" means that we must be wide-awake.


We come now to the last paragraph, and what is the meaning of it? "See with how large letters I write unto you with mine own hand." The King James version says, "You see how large a letter I have written, etc." Galatians isn't a big letter, but what Paul says is, "See with how large letters I write you with mine own hand."


I have been very much amused in contrasting the views of Farrar and Lightfoot. Generally, Lightfoot is much better than Farrar, but Farrar gets the best of him on the meaning of that passage. Lightfoot says the meaning is "I am writing to you about weighty matters, and I wrote you a great big letter." He had to force that into it. It isn't there. Paul's acute eye trouble is evident from a previous expression. He says, "You would have taken your eyes and given them to me, if you could." He was writing with his own hand, and a man that is nearly blind has to make big sprawling letters, and there is a touching thought in it. "Do you remember why I have to write with large letters? Don't you remember when I was groping in my blindness, and your sympathy was so tender you would have given me your eyes? Now you see with what large letters I am writing." I think Farrar's explanation much more reasonable. Quickly Paul takes up his argument! He would take up an argument in the midst of his "amen" if he thought of something that he should have said that he had not said. He is giving a contrast between himself and these that insist on being circumcised. He says, (1) that they do this to avoid Jewish persecution, (2) that they do it that they may glory in the flesh, and (3) that they don't do it from love of the law, for they know that they don't keep the law; that circumcision obligates one to keep the whole law.


Then he represents his glory in contrast with theirs: "But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For neither is circumcision anything nor uncircumcision." Then he adds, that they should so walk according to this canon (canon means rule) and as they should walk by this rule, circumcision or uncircumcision would avail nothing, but a new creature, everything.


"Henceforth [that is, having presented this attack on me in 2 Corinthians, and in Galatians, and having made this reply 1 let no man trouble me," as if to say, "I don't want to go into this matter any more." "Now why ought not ye trouble me?" "Because," he says, "I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." In other words, "I am covered all over with scars; the Roman lictors have smitten me with rods; the Jews have scourged me and left me for dead; once I fought with wild beasts in the arena, and I count these marks of Jesus as Christ's brand of ownership." It is a very beautiful thought.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What warning does Paul give against false conclusions from the doctrine of justification by faith?

 

2. What is antinomianism?

 

3. Give several scriptures which disprove it.

 

4. What is meant by "fulfilled" in "The law is fulfilled in 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself "?

 

5. Explain "end of the commandment" in "The end of the commandment is love."

 

6. Contrast the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit.

 

7. Explain "overtaken in a fault."

 

8. Harmonize "Bear ye one another's burdens" and "Each man shall bear his own burden."

 

9. What the teaching here on ministerial support?

 

10. Give the law of sowing and reaping.

 

11. Take Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Psalm 126:5-6 and give a brief outline of an evangelistic address.

 

12. What is opportunity? Illustrate it.

 

13. What is the meaning of "large letters" in 6:11?

 

14. Give three reasons for circumcision on the part of those who were troubling the Galatians.

 

15. Contrast Paul's glory with theirs.

 

16. What the meaning of "henceforth let no man trouble me"?

 

 

ROMANS

 

VIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE BOOK OF ROMANS INTRODUCTION

 


The prophet Daniel gives a forecast of the rise of five consecutive, great world empires: Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and the kingdom of God as set up by our Lord. He shows how the people of Israel came in touch with each empire in turn. In this discussion we need to trace out, in historical order, the salient points of contact between Israel and Rome, Daniel's fourth world empire. The first notable contact was when the Jews were resisting the aggressions of the Seleucids who, with Antioch in Syria as a capital and the head of one of the four divisions of Alexander's Greek Empire, and who in contending with the Ptolemys of Egypt, another division of the Greek Empire, conceived it necessary to occupy the intervening Holy Land. Their aggression culminated in the attempt of Antiochus Epiphanes to destroy the Jewish religion. The apocryphal book of Maccabees and Josephus give a vivid history of this conflict. It was in this struggle between these parts of the divided Greek Empire that Rome, rapidly rising to supreme power, intervened and became a staunch friend to the Jews, crushed between the two. The Romans for a long time were faithful to all treaty obligations toward the Jews, but as the Jews developed internal parties among themselves, one or the other, from time to time, would appeal to Rome. In this way Rome became the umpire of Jewish contentions, and finally the master. The whole Herodian dynasty were dependents of Rome.


About 70 B.C. Pompey came into power and in 63 B.C. captured Jerusalem and led away to Rome multitudes of Jewish captives who, though enslaved were usually kindly treated, and many of them who were set free became Roman citizens. Probably in this way Paul's father became a Roman citizen, so that Paul himself was a citizen free-born. In the development of the history, a vast number of Jews were settled in Rome, having a special Jewish quarter in the city beyond the Tiber. The Roman classics abound with references to the Jews at Rome: Tacitus, Suetonius, Martial, Juvenal, Horace, Persius, Cicero, and others. It is a notable fact that 8,000 Jews at Rome protested against Archelaus being allowed to have all the dominion of his father Herod. This led to a division of Herod's kingdom into four parts; hence the name tetrarch, the ruler of a fourth part, to which we have references in the life of our Lord. The Jewish restlessness and turbulence led finally to the appointment of procurators, one of whom was Pilate. Moreover, the points of Jewish contact "with Rome multiplied as they also came in contact with the rising fifth world empire, the spiritual kingdom of our Lord, and culminated A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Titus, and the wider dispersion of the Jewish people among the nations.


Our next historical question is, How was Christianity established in the city of Rome? Doubtless many Jews from Rome attended the annual feasts in the time of our Lord and became, to some extent, acquainted with the issue between our Lord's kingdom and the ruling part of Jerusalem. It is certain that, among the great number of Jews gathered together from various nations, Roman Jews and proselytes heard Peter's great sermon on the day of Pentecost, some of whom doubtless were converted on that day. Through these converts on their return the gospel may have been carried to Rome. It is much more probable that Stephen's ministry may have sent converts to Rome, particularly after the dispersion following Saul's persecution. We, at least, note in the salutation of this letter certain kindred of Paul who were in Christ before him. This very fact may account for the bitterness and madness of Paul's persecution of the church, since under Stephen's mighty power a breach had been made into his family circle. The kindred, we know, were in Rome at the time this letter was written. Then Paul's acquaintance and friendship with Aquila and Priscilla banished from Rome by Claudius would increase his knowledge of the personnel of Roman Christians. Moreover, his great meetings held in Syria, Cilicia, Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia necessarily brought many Romans, both Jews and Gentiles, under the influence of his ministry. Hence we note in this letter salutations to his converts in Asia. The travel and traffic to and from Rome along the lines of the great Roman roads, extending to the boundaries of the empire, would continually enlarge Paul's knowledge of the Christians at Rome, whether Jews or Gentiles. In this natural way we account for the intimate personal salutations at the close of this letter.


There was no one central church at Rome. They had no common meeting place, but there were several churches meeting in private houses. At least three, we may gather from this letter, particularly the one in the house of Aquila and Priscilla. Hence the letter is not addressed to the church at Rome, but to all the faithful in Rome. In accounting for the establishing of Christianity here we must not lose sight of the labors of Christian women, whom he calls fellow workers, so manifest in the salutation.


It is a lying tradition that makes Peter the founder of Christianity at Rome and the first bishop of the church there.


As we see from this letter there was no central church and there was only a possibility of Peter's indirect influence through his Pentecostal sermon. Stephen's influence in this direction is more to be credited than Peter's, and Paul's much more than both of them. Aquila and Priscilla should have the credit of establishing the first church there, and the noble Christian women saluted by Paul share the honors with all of them. The Romanists indeed contend that Peter went to Rome immediately after the events recorded in Acts 12:1-18, and remained twenty years. But this contention contradicts the scriptures, for we find him soon thereafter at the council, Acts 15, and still further afterwards at Antioch, Galatians 2:11, and it may be inferred from 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter was at that time traveling as an apostle to the circumcision. And so as late as his first letter we find him in Babylon where were many Jews. That he was not at Rome when Paul wrote this letter is evident from the absence of any salutation to him among so many; nor there when Paul arrived more than two years later as a prisoner. There is no reference to him as being in Rome in the letters of either the first or last imprisonment there of Paul.


It has also been contended that the household churches cited by Paul in this letter were only worshiping and not organized bodies, but this is contrary to the meaning of the word "church," and also to the uniform apostolic method of ordaining elders in every congregation and otherwise fitting them up for housekeeping. They were not like cowmen on the range marking, branding, and letting loose. Indeed, there is only one passage in the New Testament that at all connects Peter personally with Rome, and that one only by a more than questionable interpretation, and, moreover, written long after this letter, viz.: 1 Peter 5:13. The contention is that by "She that is in Babylon" Peter means heathen Rome, mystical Babylon, a style followed by John in Revelation. But John writes a confessedly mystical book; not of this kind is Peter's first letter. Moreover, John's mystical Babylon is not heathen Rome, but the apostate Christian church – the woman in purple and scarlet. If Peter had been at Rome when Paul wrote this letter, why was he not saluted by Paul, as well as so many inferior ones? If he were there when Paul arrived as a prisoner, the silence of Acts is unaccountable. If he were there when Paul wrote the third group of letters during his first imprisonment, the silence of Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians. and Hebrews is marvelous. If Peter was in Rome during Paul's second imprisonment the silence of 2 Timothy is marvelous. Another argument against Peter's using Babylon in the sense of Rome, is that in his second letter, presumably from the same place, he quotes Paul's letter to the Romans using the phrase, "hath written unto you." If living at Rome he could not have been writing to Rome and quoting what Paul had written to them. The author does believe that the traditional evidence is sufficient to prove Peter's martyrdom at Rome, but it is mixed with so much incredible and evidently manufactured matter – manufactured for a later purpose – that the real evidence is discounted by its bad company. At any rate, Christianity was established in the city of Rome before this letter was written, though certainly not by the present personal ministry of any apostle. Let the rank and file of the scattered disciples "who went everywhere preaching the word" have their lawful credit here, as at Antioch and many other places. The claim that Peter was the first bishop at Rome is in every way absurd and unscriptural. The apostles never exercised the office of bishop, or pastor, of a particular church, not even at Jerusalem. Their office was general as contradistinguished from the local office of bishop, or pastor.


We next consider the author, date, and place of the letter. Paul's authorship has never been seriously questioned by the scholarship of Christendom. The letter avows it in the beginning, and every internal evidence and all its relations to Galatians and Corinthians support it. The date is largely determined by its relation to Corinthians and Galatians. In 2 Corinthians and Galatians he replies to a challenge of his apostolic authority with the internal evidence overwhelmingly in favor of Galatians following Corinthians. In Galatians and Romans he discusses justification by faith, with the internal evidence overwhelmingly in favor of Romans following Galatians, Romans being developed from Galatians. As Ephesians, the more general discussion, follows Colossians, so Galatians, being an offhand, fiery, impulsive letter, is followed by Romans – a calm, deliberative enlargement. The parallels between the two letters are very striking and abundant. The reader may find in Lightfoot on Galatians, or in the "Cambridge Bible", a fair statement of these remarkable parallels. So, we may say that Paul wrote this letter from the house of Gaius at Corinth about A.D. 58. Dr. Robertson's argument for this date in his "Student's Chronological New Testament” is very fine. Lightfoot’s arguments from internal evidence on the relative order of Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans is extraordinarily strong.


The occasion is evident from the letter itself. He is the guest of Gaius in the city of Corinth. He has concluded his labors in those parts, and is about to make his final visit to Jerusalem, carrying the alms for the poor saints there which he has gathered in the great collection in Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia Minor. After this Jerusalem visit he purposes a tour into Spain via Rome. To prepare the way for this forthcoming visit to Rome, he writes this letter, having an opportunity of sending it by Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, the eastern Corinthian seaport.


But the purpose of the letter goes far beyond the occasion. The attack on his apostolic authority, and the very heart of his gospel by the Judaizing Christians whom he has been resisting locally and in a somewhat offhand manner in his letters to the Corinthians and Galatians, he now realizes to be not only more than a local matter, more than a personal attack on his authority, but an incorrigible, far-reaching, fundamental assault on the whole plan of salvation by grace. Impulsive, offhand, and local replies do not meet the exigencies of the situation. There must be a calm, dispassionate, and elaborate exposition of the whole plan of salvation sufficient for every emergency and for all time to come. Such a discussion would likely accomplish the greater good and attain the wider circulation if addressed to the saints at the imperial capital, from which as a center radiated influences to all the circumference of the world. Moreover, this very discussion, forwarded at once to Rome, might anticipate and forestall the Judaizing tendency steadily moving westward from Jerusalem. Hence there is nothing local in his argument. The concluding part, with its personal salutations, might well be left out of copies sent abroad, as we actually find to be the case in some later manuscripts. Hence, while it is a letter, it is much more than a letter – it is a doctrinal treatise, a veritable body of systematic theology. While Ephesians, developed from the more local letter to the Colossians, is of the nature of a general circular, and in this respect somewhat resembling this letter, and while Hebrews bears resemblance in that it is an elaborate discussion of the two covenants, yet addressed to Christian Jews only, this letter is unlike anything else in the New Testament.


It is the most fundamental, vital, logical, profound, and systematic discussion of the whole plan of salvation in all the literature of the world. It touches all men; it is universal in its application; it roots, not only in man's creation and fall, but also in the timeless purposes and decrees of God before the world was, and fruits in the eternity after this world's purgation.


It considers man as man and not as Jew. or Greek. It considers law, not as expressed in statute on Mount Sinai, but as antedating it and inherent in the divine purpose when man was created in the image of God. It considers sin, not in ceremonial defilement nor as an overt act, but as lawlessness of spirit and nature. It considers condemnation, not as personal to an individual offender because of many overt acts, but as a race result from one offense of the one head of "the race. Consequently, it considers justification, the opposite of condemnation, not as an impossible acquittal of a fallen sinner on account of his many acts of righteousness but as resting on one act of righteousness through the Second Head of the race. It considers, not an impossible morality coming from a corrupt and depraved nature, but a morality arising from regeneration, sanctification, resurrection, and glorification. It considers, not the divine government and providence as here and there looking in on particular men, in special times and given localities, but as an all-comprehensive sweep from eternity to eternity reaching with microscopial minuteness every detail of the nature of man, and universal in its control of all forces, and all subsidiary to the original divine purpose. The God of this letter is God indeed – not a partial, local deity, not blind chance, not cold, inexorable fate, but a purposeful, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely holy, and infinitely loving God.


The integrity of the book has been questioned as follows:


1. Some have thought that the book should close, as they say, with the argument at 14:23, but chapter 15 carries on the thought of chapter 14.


2. Others have thought more plausibly that it should close at 15:33, with the benediction there. They think chapter 16, with its numerous salutations, should close the letter to the Ephesians where Paul had more personal knowledge. But that letter is a circular letter and designedly leaves out local references. Indeed, it would fit better to be called the letter to the Laodiceans.


3. These contentions are somewhat supported by the fact that later manuscript copies omit the concluding sections. But the oldest and best authorities give us the book as it is, and there are natural grounds, or reasons, for the omission of the conclusion in later copies. On the very highest external authority we may take the whole book as it stands. And we have already accounted for Paul's large acquaintance in Rome.


I must not close this introductory chapter without calling attention to the connection between the Old Testament and New Testament as shown by the great number of Old Testament quotations in the book. There are more than three score of these quotations in this book, covering an unusually wide range of books. Genesis is quoted five times; Exodus, four; Leviticus, twice; Deuteronomy, five; I Kings, twice; Psalms, fifteen; Proverbs, twice; Isaiah, nineteen; Ezekiel, once; Hosea, twice; Joel, once; Nahum, once; Habakkuk, once; Malachi, once; and there are others more indirectly used.


It is also notable that Paul sometimes quotes from the Hebrew, at other times from the Septuagint, and sometimes follows the spiritual impulse in giving the true sense in his own words.


We now come to the subject of analysis, better illustrated in this book than in any other Bible book. A noted writer has said, "Analysis presents the classification of correlated truth." Professor Agassiz says, "Thorough classification is but an interpretation of the thoughts of the Creator." Dr. H. Harvey says, "The Bible should be studied analytically. A cursory reading of the Scriptures does not interpret them; they must be carefully analyzed if one would penetrate into their full meaning." Dr. Francis Wayland says, "(1) We must have a knowledge of the several parts of which it is composed. But this alone gives a very imperfect conception. (2) We must also understand how these parts are put together. This will greatly increase knowledge; but it will still be imperfect. (3) It is necessary, therefore, that we should have a conception of the relation which the several parts sustain to each other, that is, of the effect which every part was designed to produce upon every other part. When we have arrived at this idea, and have combined it with the other ideas just mentioned, then, and not till then, is knowledge complete. It is manifest that this last notion – that of the relation which the parts sustain to each other – is frequently of more importance than either of the others." Dr. Shedd says, "All truth is logical. It is logically connected and related, and that mind is methodical which detects this relation and connection, as it were, by instinct. Now, a methodizing mind is one which by discipline and practice has reached that degree of philosophic culture in which these systematizing laws work spontaneously, by their own exceeding lawfulness and instinctively develop, in a systematic and consecutive manner, the whole truth of a subject."


Bearing these reflections in mind, I submit for consideration four analyses of the letter to the Romans, three of them here, and my own later. The first is by Albert Arnold Bennet, of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Japan, and is by all odds the best in many respects. In his book we have three parallel columns, the right hand column containing the Greek text according to Westcott and Hort, the middle column the revised translation verse by verse, and the first column the analysis itself in detail, carried entirely through the book. It is the most remarkable specimen of analysis I have ever known. I am very proud that a Baptist is the author of it. Who would expect such a thing from a Baptist Theological Seminary in Japan?

 

ANALYSIS OF ROMANS


(Albert Arnold Bennet, Baptist Theological Seminary, Japan.)


I. The Gospel plan of salvation by Faith (1-8).


1. The importance of the gospel shown by the moral condition of man, both Jew and Gentile (1-2).


2. The gospel plan of justification by faith (3-5).


3. The gospel plan of the sanctification and glorification of those justified by faith (6-8).


II. The problem of Israel's unbelief (a reconciliation of the gospel plan of salvation set forth in 1-8, with the seeming rejection of God'8 chosen people, 9-11.)


1. Israel's unbelief and God's severity (9-10).


2. Israel's unbelief and God's goodness (II).


III. Faith applied; or, the duties of those who have been saved by faith (12-16).


1. (Of broadest application) Duties, individual or common, belonging to every Christian, strong or weak (12-13).


2. (Of more limited application) Duties largely relative; especially duties of the strong on account of the weak, 14-15.


3. (Of narrowest application) Greetings, and directions about fellowship, mainly designed for the original readers only, (but suggestive, by inference, of application on a broader scale), 16.


The next outline is by Dr. A. T. Robertson:


Introduction (1:1-17).


1. The Doctrine of a righteousness from God (1:18-11:36).


(a) Its necessity (1:18-3:20).


(b) Its nature (3:21 – 4:25).


(c) Its results(5:l – 11:36).


(1) It makes possible peace and joy (5:1-11).


(2) It is analogous to the relation of Adam to the race, 5:12-21.


(3) It should lead to greater holiness (6-8).


(4) It throws light on the salvation of Jew and Gentile (9:11).


2. General and special exhortations growing out of a righteousness from God, 12:1 to 15:13.


3. Personal matters (15:14 to 16:23).


The closing doxology (16-25-27).



The third analysis is by my lamented and scholarly colleague. Dr. John S. Tanner:


Introduction 1:1-17


1) 1:1-7, Salutation.


(1) l:la, Author's name and character.


(2) l:lb, 6, His mission (apostleship).


a. l:lb. Source (divinely called).


b. 1:2-4, Nature: Gospel.


a) 1:2, Fulfillment of prophecy.


b) 1:3f, Concerning Christ.


c. 1:5a, Agency of Appointment (Christ)


d. l:5bf, Sphere: To all Gentiles, including Romans


(3) 1:7, Salutation proper.


2) 1:8-15, Paul's deep personal interest in the Roman Christians


(1) 1:8, Thanksgiving for their faith.


(2) 1:9-15, His desire to visit them.


a. 1:9f. Had prayer to this end.


b. l:11f, Motive of the visit


c. 1:13, Had often purposed to come


d. l:14f. The desire prompted by his obligation to all classes


3) l:16f. Theme of the letter: The gospel the power of God unto salvation universally available through righteousness of faith


I. 1:18 – 8:39, The plan of salvation.


1. 1:18 – 4:25, Method of justification.


1) 1:18 – 3:20, Not by works of law (legalism) because guilt and condemnation are universal


(1) 1:18-32, Case of the Gentiles.


a. 1:18, The wrath of God abides upon them; because


b. 1:19-23, They refused the light given them


a) 1:19f. They had a revelation of God in nature and conscience


b) 1:21-23, But they consciously turned from him to idolatry


c. 1:24-32, The result was to plunge them into the depths of guilt


(a) 1:24-28, God withdrew his beneficent restraints


(b) 1:29-32, Their depravity was deepened


(2) 2:1 – 3:19, Case of the Jews


a. 2:1-16, Argument stated: God'8 judgment will be on the basis of moral conduct


(a) 2:1-5, Folly of arrogant confidence ill special divine favor.


(b) 2:6-11, Judgment will have reference to moral conduct in view of the amount of light possessed


(c) 2:12-16, It is obedience, not to the letter, but to the spirit of the Jaw that is availing.


b. 2:17 – 3:8, Objections answered:


(a) 2:17-24. First objection: Being possessors and teachers of the law is assurance of their acceptance. Ans. – Additional sin in teaching what they do not practice.


(b) 2:25-29. Second objection: Circumcision is availing. Ans. Efficient circumcision is not of the flesh but of the heart.


(c) 3:lf. Third objection: Then the Jew has no advantage. Ana. – They have much advantage, particularly that they are the recipients of divine revelation.


(d) 3:3f. Fourth objection: For a Jew to be lost would annul the promises, Ans. – Not so.


(e) 3:5-8. Fifth objection: Unjust in God to punish sin that displays his righteousness. Ans. – This is absurd.


c. 3:9-19. Conclusion: Jew as well as Gentile is hopelessly lost.


(a) 3:9a. The Jew has no advantage in the matter of justification; because


(b) 3:9b, 18, Both alike are under sin


(c) 3:19, Purpose of the law is to convict of sin


(3) 3:20, Therefore, legalism as a method of justification is a failure.


2) 3:21 – 4:25, It is by grace through a righteousness of faith, available alike to Jews and Gentiles


(1) 3:21-26, This method stated and described


a. 3:21-24, Its character


(a) 3:21a, Apart from law


(b) 3:21b, A righteousness of God


(c) 3:21c. Witnessed by the Old Testament scriptures


(d) 3:220, Through faith in Christ


(e) 3:22b. Universal


(a) 3:226, Available to all


(b) 3:23, Needed by all


(f) 3:24, Distinctly gratuitous


b. 3:25f, Its basis: Propitiatory sacrifice of Christ


(a) 3:25n, A Propitiation provided by God


(b) 3:25bf, For the reconciliation of God's righteousness and the sinner's justification


(2) 3:27 – 4:25, Its bearing upon Jewish conduct and faith


a. 3:27-30, Upon their conduct


(a) 3:27f, Condemns their pride


(b) 3:29f, Condemns their exclusiveness


b. 3:31 – 4:25, Upon their faith


(a) 3:31, Does not subvert but confirms the Old Testament law


(b) 4:1-25, Is not contradicted, but confirmed by the case of Abraham


(a) 4:1-8, Abraham was justified by faith and not by works


aa. 4:1-3, The scriptures so declare


bb. 4:4f, This excludes a condition of works.


cc. 4:6-8, Confirmed by the observation of David


(b) 4:9-12, Circumcision not a condition; for Abraham justified before" circumcision


(c) 4:13-22, The promise to Abraham was conditioned on faith, not law


aa. 4:13, Statement of fact


bb. 4:14-17, A legal condition would annul the promise


cc. 4:18-22, The historical facts of the faith of Abraham


(d) 4:22-25, The method in Abraham's case equally applicable to all who believe on Christ


2. 5:1 to 8:39, The completion of salvation (sanctification), as based upon this method of justification


(1) 5:1-21, The method of justification promises the completion of the divine work of salvation


(1) 5:1-5, That it is by faith


a. 5:lf, Having received such a gift, we should realize our blessed state and be confident of the consummation


b. 5:3-5, We should embrace gladly God's trying means of discipline.


(2) .5:6-11, Christ's sacrifice for us as rebels insures the completion of his work of salvation in us as his children.


(3) 5:12-21, The same is further assured by the superiority of the redemption in Christ over the loss in Adam


a. 5:12-17, (First parallel and contrast) Christ's work more extensive; efficient for the multiplied sins and sinners


b. 5:18-21, (Second parallel and contrast) Christ's work more intensive; overcomes both Adam's sin and the sin of the individual developed through disobedience to the law


2) 6:1-23, This method of justification encourages not am but its abandonment


(1) 6:lfa, Proposition stated


(2) 6:2b-13, The change of personal relations involves a life of righteousness with Christ and a death to sin


a. 6:2b-6, This is set forth in baptism


b. 6:7-13, As Christ's death and resurrection were once for all, so should be the believer's death to sin and resurrection to righteousness.


(3) 6:14-20, That the believer has exchanged sin for grace as a master which forbids that sin should longer dominate him.


(4) 6:21-23, The mutual antipathy of sin and grace are evident from their opposite results, viz.: Death and eternal life


3) 7:1-25, The law a failure as an agency of sanctification.


(1) 7:1-6, The believer's objection to the law has been annulled by death, and he has entered into another companionship, viz.: A fruitful one with Christ.


(2) 7:7-23, The law, though righteous in itself, is unable to produce good works.


a. 7:7-13, In the unbeliever its effect is to manifest and aggravate the presence and character of sin.


b. 7:14-23, In the believer likewise, it aggravates, but does not overcome sin.


(3) 7:24f, Conclusion: Efficacy only in a personal relation to Christ.


(4) 8:1-27, The believer's sanctification is accomplished by the guiding and transforming work of the Holy Spirit.


(1) 8:1-8, He implants a disposition to holiness that freely attains in life and conduct what was impracticable as obedience to law.


(2) 8:9-11, The resurrection of Christ is a guaranty of the renovation and resurrection of those in whom the Spirit dwells.


(3) 8:12-17, The Spirit bears personal witness to the believer of the latter's sonship to God and joint inheritance with Christ.


(4) 8:18-27, The Spirit also prompts and guides to hopeful longing and righteous supplication for the consummation.


(5) 8:28-30, Believers are the elect of God, PREDESTINED to be called, justified, SANCTIFIED and GLORIFIED.


(6) 8:31-39, Triumphant peroration on the blessedness of the believer.


II. 9:1 – 15:13, PRACTICAL BEARING OF THESE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS UPON CHOICE, LIFE AND CONDUCT.


1. 9:1 – 11:35, The apostasy and rejection of the Jews.


1) 9:1-5, Paul's intense grief over the fact.


(2) 9:6 – 10-21, Moral responsibility for the fact.


(1) 9:6-29, God not culpable.


a. 9:6-13, His promise not broken.


(a) 9:6-8, The promise not given to all the natural seed of Abraham.


(b) 9:9-13, God's plan of discrimination exemplified in the cases of Isaac and Jacob.


b. 9:14-24, It could not transcend his absolute sovereign right.


(a) 9:14-18, Scripture proof that God's acts are sovereign.


(b) 9:19-24, His right unimpeachable.


c. 9:25-29, That only a. fraction will be saved, is according to prophecy.


(2) 9:30 – 10:21, The Jews themselves are to blame, for their rejection was caused by their self-righteous unbelief.


a. 9:30 – 10:3, Their zeal for righteousness has been misdirected.


b. 10:4-13, The true way, viz., belief in Christ upon testimony of the preached gospel, much simpler than the one they employed.


c. 10:14-21, Israel has heard and refused.


(a) 10:14f. Importance of preaching admitted.


(b) 10:16. Israel did not believe.


(c) 10:17f, Having heard the gospel.


(d) 10:19-21, And having been warned in prophecy of their apostasy.


(3) 11-1-32, Limitations of the fact.


(1) 11:1-10. It is only partial.


a. 11:lfa. The salvation of Paul himself proves it.


b. 11:2b-4. The doctrine of a remnant exemplified in the experience of Elijah.


c. 11 :5-10, God makes sure of a few by election of grace.


(2) 11:11-32, It in only temporary and conditional.


a. 11:11-24, Israel will surely be redrafted upon his native stump.


b. 11:25-32, His lopping off is only a part of the divine plan of universal mercy.


(3) 11:33-35. Exclamation over the supreme wisdom and knowledge of God.


2. 12:1 – 15:13, Reflections and exhortations on Christian conduct.


1) 12:1 – 13:14, On the general conduct proper for a Christian.


(1) 12: 1f, As a child of God.


(2) 12:3-21, As a member of the church.


(3) 13:1-7, As a citizen.


(4) 13:8-10, As a member of society.


(5) 13:11-14, As one who expects the judgment.


2) 14:1 – 15:13, Special directions concerning non-essentials of faith.


(1) 14:l-13a, One no right to interfere with another.


(2) 14:13b – 15:13, Obligation to self-restraint for the sake of others on basis of love and edification.


CONCLUSION: 15:14-16:27.


(1) 15:14-16, Paul's apology to the Roman Christiana for his letter to them.


(2) 15:17-22, Explanation of his past course.


(3) 15:23-29, His plan of future operations.


(4) 15:30-33, His request for their prayers.


(5) 16: If, Commendation of Phoebe.


(6) 16:3-24, Salutations.


(7) 16:25-27, Benediction.


Having these three analyses before us, and all of them good, it may seem immodest to submit my own. But there are to my mind overwhelming reasons arising from defects in the others, particularly on chapters 3-8ωthe most vital in the book. But my own analysis will appear in the body of the discussion.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Of what group of great letters is this a climax?

 

2. What prophet forecast the succession of five world empires, what the name of each, what the Jewish touch with each, especially what the salient points of Jewish contact with the Romans in historic order, and who the most important Jewish writer of this history?

 

3. How may we account for the multitude of Jews in the city of Rome, what position did they occupy there, and what Roman classical authors refer to them?

 

4. How was Christianity established in Rome, and what the credit due, respectively, to Peter, Stephen, Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla, and the women mentioned?

 

5. What the proof from the letter itself of at least a remote connection between the Jerusalem apostles and the planting of Christianity in Rome?

 

6. What the proof from the letter that Paul's converts were not the only factors in planting Christianity there?

 

7. How may we account for Paul's extensive personal acquaintance with Christians there?

 

8. To whom was this letter written, why not addressed to the church at Rome, and what is a better way to express it?

 

9. What the evidence that there were many Christiana in Rome at this time?

 

10. Were these Christians there Jews or Gentiles, or both? If both, which mainly?

 

11. Who was the amanuensis?

 

12. What the scriptural evidence pro and con for the Romanist contention that Peter went to Rome and remained there twenty years just after the incidents of Acts 12:1-18, and what the answer to the Romanist interpretation of 1 Peter 5:13?

 

13. How was it impossible for Peter to have been the first bishop of the church at Rome?

 

14. Is the traditional evidence credible that Peter was martyred at Rome, and if so, how is it yet discounted?

 

15. If there was not one central church at Rome, what evidence that the several worshiping congregations were organized bodies with officers?

 

16. Who the author of this letter, and what the proof from the letter itself?

 

17. What the date of this letter and how obtained, and where was it written?

 

18. What circumstances conditioned the writing of this letter as expressed in the relation of this letter to 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians?

 

19. What the internal proof of the relation of Romans to Galatians?

 

20. What the occasion of this letter?

 

21. What the purpose of this letter?

 

22. What is the nature of this letter?

 

23. What other books of the Bible may be classified with it as a discussion, or treatise, on a great theme?

 

24. How is it unlike anything else in the New Testament?

 

25. What questions have been raised as to the integrity of the book?

 

26. How does this letter emphasize the connection between the Old Testament and the gospel of the New Testament?

 

27. What the importance of an analysis? Quote the sayings of Professor Agassiz, Dr. Harvey, Dr. Wayland, and Dr. Shedd on this subject.

 

28. What analyses were commended by the author?

 

29. Which analysis is the most remarkable in literature, and what its excellencies?

 

30. In what two respects does Dr. Robertson's outline excel?

 

31. In Dr. Robertson's outline what is the great theme of the letter?

 

32. In Bennet's outline what the theme?

 

33. In Tanner's outline what the theme?

 

34. Are these three themes practically the same?

 

 

IX

 

(Return to Contents)

 

PAUL'S SALUTATION, THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER

Romans 1:1-17.

 


The theme of this letter is found in Paul's own words: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith." This theme condensed is, The Gospel Plan of Salvation. But someone asks, "Why not 'Righteousness of God' the theme?" Because this righteousness is only the means to the great end – "salvation."

 

THE SALUTATION (1:1-7)


We gather from the salutation the following things:


(1) The writer: "Paul." (2) Those addressed: "To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints," i.e., Christians. (3) The salutation itself: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The writer is particularly described, (1) In his status, as a "servant of Jesus Christ." (2) In his office, as "called to be an apostle." (3) In his ordination, as "Separated unto the gospel of God." (4) In the direct object of his work, as "Unto obedience of faith among all nations," including the Romans themselves: "Among whom are ye also." (5) In the ultimate reason for his work, as "For his name's sake."


His "gospel of God" is described, (1) As "promised afore through his prophets." (2) As recorded "in the holy scriptures." (3) "As concerning his Son."


That Son is described thus: (1) According to the flesh, the Son of David. (2) According to Spirit of Holiness, declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. (3) As our "Messiah and Lord." (4) As the author of grace and apostleship.

 

THE THANKSGIVING (1:8)


The ground of thanksgiving is thus expressed: "That your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world."


This universal proclamation of the faith of the Roman Christians may be accounted for as follows: Rome was the world's capital and center of governmental unity. To and from it, over the great military roads and ship lines, were constant tides of travel and traffic, so that a whisper there reached the boundaries of the empire. To Paul, at least, working along these roads or sailing over these sea courses there came continual news of the progress of the gospel there. There were his kindred, his converts, his acquaintances from many lands, with whom he had constant communication.

 

THE PRAYER AND ITS REASON (1:9-15)


This prayer is thus expressed: "If by any means now at length I may be prospered by the will of God to come unto you." It is described, (1) As sincere: "God is my witness." (2) As unceasing: "How unceasingly I make mention of you, etc."


The reasons for this prayer are, (1) To impart some spiritual gift looking to their establishment. (2) For mutual comfort in each other's faith. (3) That he might have some fruit in them as in other Gentiles. (4) Because he was a debtor to both Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish. (5) Because he was ready to preach at Rome as well as elsewhere. (6) He had been hindered in his purposes to visit them hitherto (see also 15:22). (7) He was not ashamed of the gospel in any crowd.


The following conclusions may be drawn from this prayer: (1) That he counted Rome in the sphere allotted to him. (2) That on account of its central and political position as the world's metropolis, its strategical importance as a radiating mission base surpassed all, others. (3) That the archenemy of the gospel understood this importance as well as Paul, and so far had barred him out of the field. Hence the necessity of this prayer. Twice in this letter he refers to this hindering of his purpose to come to them (1:13; 15:22) and in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 we find that Satan is the hinderer. (4) We learn from Acts 23:11 that it was the Lord's will for him to visit Rome according to this prayer, which says, "By the will of God." Thus we see Satan and his emissaries opposing Paul's approach to Rome, while Paul was longing and praying to get there. God's will overruling Satan's will in answer to the prayer. And he prayed "if by any means," leaving that also to God, and we learn that he went in bonds (Acts 27:1; 28:20). (5) This prayer with its reasons opens the way to a statement of the great theme of the letter.


Let us now analyze the theme of the letter (1:16-17). This theme involves the answer to these questions: What is the gospel, to whom addressed and on what terms, what its power, what the salvation unto which it leads, how is it a power to this end, what the righteousness revealed, what the meaning of "from faith unto faith," and what the varied uses of the quotation from Habakkuk? The gospel is the whole story of Christ's mediatorial work as prophet, sacrifice, priest, king, leader and judge, addressed to the whole human race, whatever the nationality, sex, or social condition, on the terms of simple faith in Jesus as he is offered in the gospel, the power of which is God himself, i.e., God the Holy Spirit. The salvation unto which it leads consists generally in (1) What it does for us. (2) What it does in us. (3) What it leads us unto.


We find in this letter that Paul uses salvation in the sense of justification. Man is saved when he is justified; but in another part of the letter we hear him talking about a salvation that is to be revealed at the last day, and we hear Peter talking about that too. Then we, in this letter, also hear him speaking of salvation in its symbols – in its figures. When we get to Romans 6 we have salvation in baptism and in the Lord's Supper – not actual salvation, but salvation pictorially presented. Then in this letter we hear him tell about the redemption of the soul, the buying back of the soul; then we hear him tell about the redemption of the earth on which man lives. So salvation is a big thing. Let us now define it. Salvation is the final, complete, and everlasting deliverance of the sinner's entire soul and body from the guilt of sin, from the defilement of sin, from the dominion of sin, from the bondage of Satan, and the deliverance of mans' habitat – this old world – from the curse upon it.


Note now what it is unto. It is unto something as well as from something. We have seen what it delivers from. Now it is a deliverance unto what? Unto an everlasting inheritance prepared in heaven. It can't mean less than that. We can't say it is all of salvation for the soul to be justified when the body is not saved; we can't say the body is saved until it is raised from the dead and glorified. And we can't say that we are saved unto our inheritance until we get to it. I will state in another form what salvation is. Salvation, in its legal aspects, is expressed by three words: First, justification. (Justification is the declaration of a competent court that one tried before it is acquitted.) The second legal term is redemption. (Redemption is the buying back of what had been sold.) The third term is adoption. That is a legal term also. We are not naturally children of God, and we get into the family of God by adoption. He adopts us into his family. Adoption is that legal process by which one, not naturally a member of the family, becomes legally so. Now I say that salvation, so far as legal aspects go, is expressed by these three words – justification, redemption, and adoption. Paul discusses every one of them in this letter. When I am justified before God, that delivers me from the wrath to come. I said that it was a deliverance from the guilt of sin. Justification does that – it delivers us from the guilt of sin.


Let us look at salvation as done in us. What are the terms? Those terms are regeneration and sanctification. What is regeneration? Regeneration is giving a holy disposition to the mind. The carnal mind is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither could be made subject to his law. Man in his natural state hates God, hates truth, hates light. It is not sufficient that a man be redeemed from the curse of the law, or the wrath of the law, and be acquitted. It is necessary that he have a mind in harmony with God. That occurs in us; God begins a good work in us, and continues it to the day of Jesus Christ. And that good work in us is expressed by regeneration and sanctification. Regeneration gives us a holy disposition, but the remnants of the flesh are still with us. Then sanctification commences and more and more conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ, as we go on from strength to strength, from glory to glory, from faith to faith. That is what it does in us.


The legal part is accomplished fully right here on earth. The very minute we believe, that day we are justified; that day we are redeemed; that day we are adopted. The salvation in us, referring to the soul, is consummated just as soon as the soul gets through its discipline and is freed from the body. On the other side we see the spirits of the just made perfect. That is the end of the salvation as far as the soul is concerned. But salvation takes hold of the other parts of the man – his body that lies mouldering in the ground. God provided in the garden of Eden for the immortality of the body. When sin expelled the man and he had no longer access to that tree, his body, of course, began to die. .Salvation must save that body. That comes in the resurrection which he discusses in this letter. In the resurrection these things all take place: First, the body is made alive, quickened. Second, it is raised. Third, it is glorified. And glorification means what? What these words say, "It is sown in weakness; it is raised in strength; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in honor; it is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown a mortal body; it is raised an immortal body." It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body. It is sown in the image of the first Adam; it is raised in the image of the Second Adam. That is the entire man, isn't it? I said it was the complete and everlasting deliverance of the entire man, soul, and body. Then fourth, we must bring those two saved parts together. So Christ brings the spirits with him. He raises the dead, and the spirits go back into the old house, now renovated and glorified.


We have not yet come to the end. That is what is done for us, and what is done in us, but it isn't the deliverance unto that inheritance that is reserved in heaven, that the heart of man never conceived of – the precious things that God has in reservation for those that love him. That is Paul's idea of salvation as it is presented in this letter, and never less than that.


There are a great many people that say, "I am saved from death." "How do you know you are saved?" I ask. "Well, I believe in Jesus Christ and am justified." "That is very good as far as it goes, but when Jesus laid hands on you didn't it mean more than redemption, justification, and adoption? Didn't he do anything inside of you?" So the salvation goes on in sanctification.


The King James version reads in verse 4: "Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness." Does that mean Christ's personal spirit of holiness or does it refer to the Holy Spirit? In other words, is it referring to the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit in quickening Christ's body, or does it mean that Christ rose from his inherent personal spirit of holiness? If we answer this correctly, we also answer one of the most difficult other passages in the Bible, to wit: 1 Peter 3, last clause of verse 18 and through verse 19: "Being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison." We have the same question in that passage. It is easy to see how the Revised Standard answers the question in both cases. But I say, "Does the Revised Standard rightly interpret either?" Precisely the same question recurs in 1 Timothy 3:'6, where the Standard Revision follows its usual interpretation. Is it right in any of them? I think not.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the theme of this letter in Paul's own words?

 

2. What the condensed theme?

 

3. Why is not "The righteousness of God" the theme?

 

4. What do we gather from the salutation?

 

5. How is the writer particularly described?

 

6. How is his "gospel of God" described?

 

7. How is the Son described?

 

8. What the ground of thanksgiving?

 

9. How may we account for the universal proclamation "of the faith of the Roman Christians?

 

10. What Paul's prayer here?

 

11. How. is it described?

 

12. Why this prayer?

 

13. What the conclusions from this prayer?

 

14. Analyze the theme of this letter (1:16-17).

 

15. What then is the gospel?

 

16. To whom addressed?

 

17. On what terms?

 

18. What the power of this gospel?

 

19. Of what does the salvation unto which it leads consist?

 

20. Define this salvation, and explain fully each of the aspects of salvation, defining also the terms used.

 

21. What the interpretation of 1:4, and what the parallel between it and 1 Peter 3:18-19 and 1 Timothy 3:16?

 

 

X

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE UNIVERSAL NECESSITY OF SALVATION Romans 1:18-32.

 


Having considered in the latter part of the preceding chapter the meaning of salvation, we now follow the apostle's argument in showing…

 

THE UNIVERSAL NECESSITY OF SALVATION


The argument applies to the whole human race, to man as man, both Jew and Gentile. In this discussion we have the case of the Gentiles. They are guilty of ungodliness. They are unlike God in their nature. Originally man was made in Gods' image and likeness:


And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them. Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, . . . to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. And God saw everything that he made, and, behold it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:26-31.


This original state of man shows his likeness, his dominion, and his commission. This image and likeness being lost through sin, they are out of harmony with the Creator.


They are guilty of unrighteousness. Their deeds are evil, proceeding from an evil nature. Their sin of deeds consists of both omission and commission. They have not only failed by way of omission to exercise their dominion and execute their commission, but they have actively done contrary to both. The wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against both their sin of nature and deed. This wrath is the assessed penalty of violated law. Here we need to understand the law. What is law? In its last analysis law is the intent, or purpose, of the Creator in bringing a being into existence. That intent is set forth in the passage cited (Gen. 1:26-31). This law inheres in the very constitution of our being, and hence as a principle antedates any particular formal statute. Indeed, all statutes are but expressions of antecedent, inherent, constitutional law, as the multitude of statutes are but expressions of the law principles in the constitution of nations and states.


Or, varying the definition, we may say that all law arises from and inheres in relations. Where there is no relation there is no obligation, as the relation of parent and child measures the reciprocal obligations binding parent and child. So the relation between husband and wife, citizen and the state, the creature and the Creator, the redeemed and the redeemer. With each new relation there arises a new obligation measured by the relation. Law, then, inheres in the intent of the Creator, and is antecedent to all statutes and independent of them, except only their fountain, or source. When he brings a being into existence, the law of that being inheres in the Creator, and in the relations of that being. This is law in its last analysis as set forth by the apostle, but in this very context (2:12) and many times elsewhere, he speaks of law, as that given on Mount Sinai to the Jew, which will be noticed more particularly later.


Sin therefore is lawlessness, or any lack of conformity with law, whether in nature or in omission or commission of deed. An omission of duty and commission of sin are but symptoms or expressions of a sinful nature. As our Lord said: "But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings" (Matt. 15:18-19). As he again said: "By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matt. 7:16-18). "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit" (Matt. 12:33). That preacher therefore had no adequate conception of sin who defined it as, "The wilful transgression of a known law." The greatest of all sin is a sin of nature. It is not dependent in obligation on our knowledge. Paul says, "Though I know nothing against myself, I am not thereby justified." Both natural and spiritual laws bind and have penalty notwithstanding our ignorance. The ignorance itself is sin, or may be a result of sin. And transgression is only one overt act of sin. It is equally sin to fall short of law or go beyond it, or to deflect from it. Righteousness is exact conformity with law. With this conception of law, and of sin, the apostle speaks of its penalty, the wrath of God – a wrath that is antecedent to its revelation. And yet this wrath is revealed. So now we consider

 

THE REVELATION OF WRATH


God has not left them ignorant of sin's penalty. The knowledge of God, and their relation to him, is manifest both in them and to them. There are two books of this revelation – the book of nature in them and the book of nature outside of them. He has planted knowledge in them. "The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, searching all his innermost parts" (Prov. 20:27). As the natural eye is the lamp of the body, so the spirit is Jehovah's lamp. "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matt. 6:2223). Or the apostle, in the context, further describes the revelation in us: "For when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them." Man, therefore, by the very constitution of his being, has a knowledge of God, law, sin, and penalty. Therefore by nature he is a worshiping being. When through sin the light in him is darkened he may and does worship false gods, yet everywhere he is a worshiper. This internal light is not a faint spark, but a great light. With every man in the world there is an internal sense of right and wrong. Men may differ among themselves as to what particular thing is right or wrong, but all have the sense of right and wrong. They are keenly alive to their rights and keenly sensitive to their wrongs. But there can be no right and wrong without some law to prescribe the right and proscribe the wrong. And there can be no law without a lawmaker. And there can be no law without penal sanctions, otherwise it would be no more than advice. And there can be no penalty without a judgment to declare it and a power to execute it. But every man knows that even and exact justice is not meted out in this world – that many times the innocent suffer and the guilty triumph. Therefore the conclusion comes like a conqueror, that there must be…

 

A JUDGMENT TO COME AND A WRATH TO COME


There never was a man who has not at some time, under a keen sense of wrong done him, appealed to this future judgment and invoked upon the wrongdoer the wrath to come. It is this knowledge or consciousness of future judgment and wrath that makes death frightful to the evildoer. And it is this consciousness of amenability to God's future infallible Judgment and inexorable wrath that restrains crime more than the dread of all human law and judgment. So it is demonstrated that there is in us a revelation of wrath against sin.


But the apostle argues a revelation of wrath outside of us and in the broad book of Nature. He says, "For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse" (1:20). His deity and his everlasting power are "clearly seen" in the universe which is the work of his hands. To the same effect speaks the psalmist:
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork, Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.


– Psalm 19:1-6.


And this apostle to the Athenians:
The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man. The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. – Acts 17:24-31.


Yea, not only Nature, but providence in Nature, as was said to Noah: "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22). And reaffirmed by this apostle: "And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17). Thus all nature in us or external to us, and God's marvelous providence proclaim the knowledge of him. Tom Paine, the deist, admitted all this, and expressed his admiration for Addison's paraphrase of Psalm 19:
The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heav'ns (a shining frame), Their great Original proclaim: The unwearied sun, from day to day, Doth his Creator's power display, And publishes to every land The work of an Almighty hand. Soon as the evening shades prevail, The moon takes up the wondrous tale, And nightly to the list'ning earth Repeats the story of her birth: While all the stars that round her burn, And all the planets, in their turn, Confirm the tidings as they roll, And spread the truth from pole to pole. What though in solemn silence all Move round the dark terrestrial ball; What though no real voice nor sound Amid their radiant orbs be found; In reason's ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice, Forever singing as they shine, The hand that made us is divine.


The stoic philosopher might magnify inexorable and pitiless fate, the epicurean philosopher, or his descendants, the modern evolutionists, might glorify chance in attributing this great universe and its people to "the fortuitous concourse of atoms," thereby proclaiming themselves brother to the fool that said in his heart, "no God." They need to read the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar, to whom God announced this sentence:
"Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. . . . The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws." – Daniel 4:16, 33.


The evolutionist indeed classifies himself with beasts by acknowledging a brute ancestry.


This revelation was sufficient to leave them without excuse because when they thus knew him as God they were guilty of these sins:


1. They glorified him not as God


2. Neither were thankful


3. Became vain in their reasonings


4. Darkened their senseless hearts


5. Professing to be wise, they became fools


6. Become idolaters, changing the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, birds, beasts, and creeping things. This brought on them judicial blindness.


God gave them up to the reign of their passions. Both women and men became shameless. As they refused to retain the knowledge, God being put out, with what were they filled?
And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful. – Romans 1:28-31.

 

THE RESULT

 

"Who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them. – Romans 1:32.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. How does the argument for the universal necessity of salvation apply to the whole human race?

 

2. What the four arguments applied to the Gentiles?

 

3. What is ungodliness?

 

4. What is unrighteousness?

 

5. What the consequent wrath of God?

 

6. What is law?

 

7. What its relation to formal statutes?

 

8. From what does all law arise?

 

9. What the principal relations from which all law arises?

 

10. What other use of the term "law" in this letter?

 

11. What then is sin?

 

12. What its penalty?

 

13. How is the wrath of God revealed?

 

14. What must follow the fact of right and wrong?

 

15. When and why a judgment of wrath?

 

16. What Paul's argument for a revelation of wrath from the book of nature, and what the logical conclusion with reference to the position of the Stoic and Epicurean, or the modern evolutionist?

 

17. Why were the Gentiles left without excuse, and of what sins were they guilty?

 

18. What the consequences?

 

19. Since they refused to retain, the knowledge of God, with what were they filled?

 

20. What the result?

 

 

XI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE UNIVERSAL NECESSITY OF SALVATION (CONTINUED)

Romans 2:1-16.

 


We have in the previous chapters shown: 1. The great theme of the letter to be (1:16-17) God's plan of salvation, and we have analyzed and defined the terms of the compound proposition which embodies it.


2. We have found that this plan contains a revelation of God's righteousness as the only ground of salvation.


3. We then in the last chapter commenced to study the necessity for this salvation as found in a revelation of God's wrath, which stands over against the revelation of his righteousness.


4. We found in part just how this revelation of wrath is made both in us and out of us, to wit: (a) In the very constitution of our being, "The spirit of a man being the lamp of the Lord." (b) In the operation of the conscience, either accusing or excusing, (c) In the order of the material universe which discloses the deity and power of the Creator. (d) In God's continual government of the universe by his providence evident in the recurring seasons, (e) In the appeal of all men to God's judgment for unrighted wrongs and the invocation of his wrath upon the wrongdoer, (f) In the social order of men established everywhere, whatever the form of government, through which men define and punish wrong. (g) In the worship of all men everywhere in which by sacrifice in some form they seek to placate the offended deity and appease his wrath, (h) In their very idolatries, by which they seek to lower the deity to their own level and even beneath their level, and in their veiling their pollutions under the cover of worship, they yet bear testimony to deity and their amenability to his judgment, (i) In that their lives showed that nature's light, whether external, internal, or providential, has no power to regenerate or sanctify, and no power to propitiate or justify. It could alarm and condemn, but could not save. It was sufficient, but not efficient. Hence the necessity of a plan that would have the power unto salvation.


Here I want to insert the contrast between the light of nature and the light of the gospel, both of them being very brilliant, but one of them sufficient and the other efficient. In Psalm 19, which has already been quoted in part, we have this language:
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.


This is an abundance of light, and a sufficiency of light, but notice the contrast:
The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple (Nature's light cannot help the fool). The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart: The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever: The ordinances of Jehovah are true, and righteous all together. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold ; Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned.


Here it is the design of the psalmist to put in contrast the light of nature and the light of God's word. In one of them the knowledge is sufficient, in the other the light is both sufficient and efficient. As bearing upon the sufficiency of that light I wish to cite the comment of an old Puritan preacher, who says:


Now the preaching of the heavens is wonderful in three respects: (1) As preaching all the night and all the day without intermission (v. 2). One day telleth another, and one night certifieth another. (2) As preaching in every kind of language (v. 3). There is neither speech nor language, but their voices are heard among them. (3) As preaching in every part of the world, and in every parish of every part and in every place of every parish (v. 4). Their sound is gone into all lands, and their words unto the end of the world. They be diligent pastors, as preaching at all times; learned pastors, as preaching in all tongues; and catholic pastors, as preaching in all towns
.


Let us compare the words of this old Puritan with what Paul says in this very letter to the Romans: In chapter 10 he quotes it and we see how he uses it, showing that if man was not a sinner he could learn in nature the way to nature's God. He says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without the preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things. But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings." Then he quotes Isaiah and also this very psalm:
But I say. Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world.


The last verse of chapter I affirms that there was sufficient knowledge so that God's ordinance made such deeds as were enumerated worthy of death, and yet it declares that they themselves wilfully disobeyed and consented to disobedience in others. I ask the reader to note particularly that it is very far from the apostle's thought to belittle the light of nature. He boldly avows its sufficiency, but in that it lacks efficiency there is necessity for another light which is "the power of God unto salvation."


Our present discussion continues the argument on that necessity as follows: Having this light, sinners are "inexcusable" because they, as individuals and as society, pass judgment on others, not excusing them, therein condemning themselves in all wrongdoing. He starts out with the declaration (2:1) that whenever the individual man passes judgment on a fellow man for alleged wrongdoing, and whenever organized society passes judgment on a member of society, that proves that they are inexcusable if they do wrong, since by their judgment they have established the principle of judgment. And in verse 2 he advances to a new thought: "And we know that the judgment of God is according to the truth against them that practice such things." What is that judgment of God that we know so confidently? How do we know it? What is the knowledge? The knowledge there is the knowledge that comes from nature. His argument demands that from the light of nature in us and outside of us we know that God's judgment on such things as are enumerated in chapter I is according to truth – that the things there enumerated are wrong, and that when God punishes them the punishment is just.


In verse 3 he asks this question: "Reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practice such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" On what kind of reasoning shall a man who lives entirely apart from the Bible, and yet does claim light enough to pass judgment on the wrongdoer, escape the judgment of God? If the wrong is done to him by organized society, whether tribe or clan or nation or republic or a limited monarchy, no matter what the government is, that government holds some things to be wrong and assesses punishment worthy of death. "Now," he says, "do you suppose that you will escape the judgment of God? You certainly cannot." We have no hope from such light as is in nature, because in nature every violation of law receives a just recompense of reward – every one, whether we know the law of nature or not. If a man puts his hand into the fire it will burn him. If he takes poison it will kill him. Confining our judgment to the law of nature, any hope that we may indulge and with which we may solace ourselves is foolish, since we cannot escape the judgment of God.


He advances in the argument: "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?" The thought there is that God doesn't punish every week – that in the moral government of the world a long time sometimes elapses between the commission of a crime and its exposure, and in multitudes of cases exact justice is never rendered in this world. Paul asks that question because of God's method of delay in his final punishment. What is the reason of the delay? He says that it is from "the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering." God is good; God is patient; God bears a long time before he strikes. "Now are you going to despise that?" As the apostle says, "Not knowing that the goodness of God was designed to lead thee to repentance." There you get at the real reason of God's delay in punishing in his moral government. There was no delay in the case of Adam. When he sinned God made the inquisition. He called him to his bar at once. Since that time why doesn't he do that? Because that very day grace intervened, and man was put upon a grace probation, and the gospel was preached that day in that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. And the throne of grace was set up that day. On the east side of the garden dwelt God with the cherubim to keep open the way to the tree of life. This delay comes from his goodness, his forbearance, and his longsuffering. And the reason for that goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering was to give the man, though guilty and worthy of instant death, the opportunity to repent) not through anything in him, but through grace. What Paul there says, Peter affirms. In 2 Peter 3 he answers the question, What construction shall be put upon the long delay of God in punishing men? What is meant by it? He says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [that is, that he will come and judge the world] as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to youward, not wishing that any should perish, but that 'all should come to repentance." That is his motive. The apostle asks a question: "Is it because you see that God doesn't strike the very minute that the sin is committed, is it because you despise that goodness and that forbearance, that delay, or is it ignorance of the motive of that delay that his goodness in that respect shall lead you to repentance – is that the reason?" We are told in the Old Testament, "Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11). They despise the goodness, and they ignore the motive of the delay.


He then in verse 5 makes this statement: "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath." "Thou dost treasure up wrath." The wrath of God is cumulative. If God waits to punish and a man despises his waiting and ignores his motive, then he has added to the cause of wrath, i.e., the wrath accumulates.


It is more important that we as preachers should understand this reason of God's delay, which is the idea of cumulative wrath, than to know anything else in the Bible except the very heart of the gospel itself.


I will illustrate that thought so that it may be clear. One Puritan preacher said that man's despising of the delay of God's punishment of sin reminded him of a foolish fellow that comes into an inn because he can buy things on credit, and ignores the fact that behind the door the innkeeper is scoring up, charging, charging, charging, for the pay day that will come. Another preacher has illustrated it this way: A man comes to a tiger's den when the old tiger is away and picks up a little cub and marches off with it, perfectly serene and unconscious that stealthy feet are following him, and at a turn in the road, with a scream that frightens him, the tiger springs upon him and rends him. Another preacher has used this illustration: A house had been built below a huge rock dam in a river, and a family had lived there for some time in security, and as day after day passed their sense of security became more confirmed and more formidable, and they were wilfully ignoring the fact that up above the stream was rising, that the water was increasing, that it was accumulating in volume and accelerating in speed, massing up, and after a while in one moment the dam split and the overwhelming water destroyed the hapless family.


Peter presents the same thought in the passage that I cited, but I did not conclude. In this he presents that cumulative thought: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief [that is, they will not be looking for it] ; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, . . . and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus, all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?" The day is deferred, but God is not slack as men count slackness. With him one thousand years is as one day, and one day is as one thousand years, but the day will come, and when it comes it will be as a thief in the night.


Take another illustration: God explained to Abraham how his descendants could not immediately take their territory. He says, "The measure of their iniquity is not yet full." Once in preaching on that I drew on a piece of canvas two vessels of equal size, one of them, the vessel of opportunity and the other the vessel of iniquity. As the vessel of opportunity empties, the other one fills up. As the opportunity grows less the iniquity measure grows larger. Whenever the vessel of opportunity is empty and the vessel of iniquity is full, God strikes.


Another preacher has used this illustration: A man buys a long rope and stakes out his horse. The horse prances around and grazes about as if he were a free horse, but other horses come by that are not staked, and he tries to go off with them, but he can only go to the end of his tether, and that rope measures the diameter of the circle in which he can graze. As he keeps running about, the rope winds round the stake, and every time he goes round, the rope gets shorter, and after a while his head is right up to the stake.


But the most forceful illustration of this thought is a sermon of Jonathan Edwards in New England. He took this text: "Their feet shall slide in due time." His discussion runs as follows: "They are rejoicing that they have sometimes kept their foot-hold when they walked over slippery ground and over ice. They have a vain confidence that they can stand, but in due time their feet will slide. The sinner's feet did not slip from under him last week, when he committed a sin. He was terribly frightened that first day, and the next day he was less frightened, and by the third day still less, until finally he forgot it, but in due time his feet will slip; God has appointed the time." He is really, as Jonathan Edwards pictured, walking on an incline plane as slick as glass, and when the right time comes it isn't necessary to push him – his feet will slip themselves, and at the other end of that plane are the depths of hell.


Hence judgment is, that in order for law to restrain crime there must be a certain punishment. As long as the transgressor in civil or criminal matters can think of escaping punishment or devising some expedient by which he shall not be punished, it has no restraining power over him, but when it is absolutely certain that whether it be soon or late every evil deed shall receive a just recompense of reward – whenever he gets that conviction on his mind, that restrains him. When God makes inquisition of faults he remembers, and when he holds up the light of revelation to the sinner's heart, he will make the man remember. When this light bores into his very soul, he will see the slime of every foul thought, every beastly act, every vile sin. God will make him remember.


We come now to a thought concerning this wrath that we must not forget, viz.: that this revelation of God's wrath is not immediate. It is a wrath to come. There are temporary judgments on man and on nations, and there are chastisements of God's people here on earth, but when we talk about the wrath of this text, it is the wrath of a certain, inexorable, definite day. It is the day of wrath. Hence Paul at Athens, while explaining how God has delayed to punish these heathen, and that God has overlooked the times of ignorance, i.e., passed over them temporarily, but now he calls upon all men to repent, because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained. And isn't it strange that when the Bible so many times speaks of that awful day in the future – speaks of it as a set day, and connects it indissolubly with the second advent of Jesus Christ, that men will talk about the advent of Christ being imminent, liable to come at any time?


It is not liable to come at any time. It can come but at one time, and that time is not a sliding scale. It is an appointed day, and as at his first coming he could not come till the fulness of time, so his second advent, as Paul says, cannot be until all these other things take place.


Not to make a mistake about that day, let us see what Paul further says about it. In 1 Corinthians 3 he says that this day will be revealed in fire, and that that revelation of fire will try every man's work, saint and sinner, and in 2 Thessalonians he expressly declares as follows:
Which is a. manifest token of the righteous judgment of God.... if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them. that afflict you, and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.


That shows that that day is to be revealed with fire, and the last book of the Old Testament closes with the declaration:


For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and ail that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings.


The next point about the judgment is that it will be universal on that day. It is not broken up into a series, the righteous judged, and one thousand years after that the wicked judged. Hence in Matthew 12:41 our Lord says, "The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation," one saved and the other unsaved, and again in Matthew 25:31 he says, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, . . . then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." Then comes the separation. They are all there together, good and bad, and hence in Revelation 20 John says, "I saw a great white throne and he that sat on it and all the dead, great and small, are gathered before him," and some are judged out of the book of life and saved; all not in the book of life were cast into a lake of fire.


This day of wrath is here considered apart from the gospel, for he has not come to the gospel yet. This day considered that way is according to works. In chapter 3 he takes up the gospel, but here he is discussing the necessity for the gospel: "Who will render to every man according to his works."


Let us look at each case: To them that by patience in welldoing seek for glory and honor he will render eternal life. If any man, leaving the gospel out, can show that he has been patient in well-doing, and that he has been seeking glory and honor and incorruption, God will render to him eternal life. Here is the other class: Unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish (notice the words, "wrath," "indignation," "tribulation," and "anguish") upon all without respect to race, the Jew first, also the Greek. But glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, that the judgment shall be without any respect of persons. That is the thought.


What is the extent of that judgment? Let our Lord speak. The extent is soul and body: "Fear him that [after man is dead] hath power to destroy both soul and body in hell," or as he presents it in Matthew 25: "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." This is the duration of the punishment. The extent is soul and body, the duration "unto everlasting punishment." Or as he says in another place, "Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." Or as he expresses it in yet another place: "In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw a great gulf fixed, that no man could pass over." And his memory worked: "Son, remember, remember, remember." It is without discrimination of race. Both Jew and Gentile are included. It is also without respect of persons: "For there is no respect of persons with God." This judgment is according to the light that a man has. If he has not the law, he perishes without the law. If he has the law of Moses, he perishes under the law of Moses. The last thought is the most stupendous. I will barely state it. When the day of wrath that nature tells about comes, it will be a day of wrath according to the gospel. That shows why the delay, why the punishment does not come at once. When he goes to judge, the judgment will be according to the gospel in order to show the heinousness of despising this delay. Following the motive of that delay, we come to the Judge: "according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ." God has committed all judgment to him. In all this argument he is laying the foundation for bringing in the plan of salvation. He is showing that the light of nature in us, while sufficient, is not efficient – that it cannot save, it cannot regenerate, it cannot sanctify, it cannot justify us.


Let us restate these thoughts with some additions. I first explained what the wrath meant, and then the several ways in which it is revealed. We now come to consider the part of the text which shows where, by whom, and for what this wrath, in the sense of a penalty, is exacted. Our text says, "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ." Let us look at that statement in all of its fulness. From the day that the original penalty due to Adam's sin was suspended by the intervention of the gospel of Jesus Christ under a probation of grace, all men, whether Jew or Gentile, have been freed from the immediate execution of that divine wrath. There have been earthly judgments on wicked men, and chastisements on Christian men, but the full penalty of the wrath of God has never yet been visited upon man. When a wicked man dies, he goes at once to hell, but if that were counted full execution of the divine penalty that man would not have to leave hell to come and stand before the judgment of God. And if a Christian when he dies goes immediately to heaven, that is not to be considered the full salvation of that man. The reason is that the body is not involved in either case. When this wrath of God is visited upon man it is visited upon both soul and body. We need to fix in our minds clearly the reason of a judgment day at the end of time, instead of ten thousand judgment days all along through time. I have given the first point. The second reason is that in the very nature of the suspension of the penalty under a covenant of grace, space is given for repentance. Peter and Paul both discuss that proposition, Paul here in the chapter where he says, "Not knowing that the goodness of God was intended to lead thee to repentance." Peter discusses it in his second letter where he says that we must construe the longsuffering of God toward sinners to mean salvation. The third reason is that neither a good man nor a bad man can thoroughly understand until the judgment day the reasonableness of God's government and be constrained, whether condemned or saved, to admit the righteousness of the sentence pronounced.


No man will realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding richness of God's forbearance, nor the fulness of God's grace in fixing the final decision until that day.


We know now only in part) but then we shall know as we are known. The wicked, as quick as a flash of lightning, will see the exceeding sinfulness of all their past sins. In the case of every man before his conversion he realizes that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? "I, the Lord." He is the only one. It is the easiest thing in the world for a man, when he looks at his good qualities, to take a telescope and look through the little end of it and see them more in number and larger in bulk than they really are. But he reverses that telescope to look at his faults, and sees them infinitesimally few and small, and by the same strange power that he sees double in the first group, he sees his faults blend and become fewer in number. He sees one star with the naked eye where there are two, and just a splash in the Milky Way where there are ten thousand distinct worlds. By a kind-of "hocus pocus" he takes up his little handful of evil deeds and begins to apologize for them, and finally stands off and says, with complacency, "Now, Lord, see my record. You can see how my good preponderates over the evil." Right at that time comes the flashing of the supernal light of infinite holiness upon the scales and presto! what a change.


These good deeds that look so mountainous and multitudinous begin to diminish in size and number and shrink and pulverize until they become like fine dust. One breath of wrath blows them away like powder. On the other side that little infinitesimal group of evil begins to multiply and magnify and swell and tower and blacken until it is a great mountain range, peak after peak, oozing with the putrid poison of that abominable thing which God hates – sin.


So in a sense never before, will all then admit that by the deeds of the law no man can be justified.


I am giving the reasons why that final light of judgment is postponed to the last day of time. I want to add another reason.


No man is competent to take account of the evil of his deeds or the good of his deeds until he sees the end of their influence. It is impossible for a man to do anything that terminates in himself, but it will surely touch everybody connected with him, father, mother, brother, sister, friend. Not only so, but after it has cast its gloom over all the circle of those that are nearest to him, by ties of consanguinity, there is that awful power of action and reaction that carries it on till the judgment day.


If we drop a little pebble into a placid lake – a stone no larger than the end of the finger – by the power of action and reaction the tiny ripples begin to radiate until they strike the utmost shores of that lake. So time is the ocean into which our deeds are dropped and the influence of our deeds in their radiating wavelets in every direction never stops until it strikes the shores of eternity. How then can any judgment inflicted now make that man see? Those that are in hell today don't see it. Those in heaven today do not see it.


It will take the light of the judgment day to bring out the full realization, and when that time comes there will be one instantaneous and universal dropping upon the knees. Every knee shall bow, all together – all the lost in hell and all the saved in heaven, and every tongue shall confess.


When a man is just about to turn around under the "depart" of God's final condemnation of soul and body and go into hell forever, before he goes he will say, "Lord God, in my condemnation thou art just."


Judgment of man here upon this earth is based upon uncertain proof. How many times the most notorious criminal is compelled to be acquitted simply from the lack of legal evidence! There is moral conviction in the minds of the judge and the jury that he is guilty, but the proof did not show it in a legal way. In that day all evidence will be in hand, and the law construed and vindicated with even and exact justice. There can be no suborning of testimony, no blindfolding the eyes of the judge with a bribe, no reticence on the part of witnesses as to what they saw or heard. The evidence will be complete, not only to God, but, as I have said, to man. If ever any Christian allows himself to indulge in feelings of pride and thinks that in the partnership between him and God his I is a capital letter and God is spelled with a small g, it won't be that way up there.


He will know that his salvation is not of works, but from its incipiency in God's election to its consummation in the glorification of his body, that athwart the whole long extended golden chain of salvation shall be written in the ineffaceable letters of eternal fire, "SALVATION is OF GRACE," and across the whole dark descending stairway to eternal hell, over every step of it, in letters of fire, "MAN'S DAMNATION is OF HIMSELF." God wisheth not the death of any man. God does not arbitrarily send any man to hell. The secrets of men! There never yet has been in human breast a heart that did not hide some skeleton secret, not only secrets because he keeps them to himself, but secrets that he is unconscious of through the dimness of his knowledge and callousness of his heart.


A writer has said that in that day, in the flash of an eye, memory will go back over all our past and bring up our sins, not in the glamour and rose color of their commission, but in the beastliness and ghastliness and horribleness with which God views them.


"In the day when God shall judge." That day is fixed. God has appointed a day, says Paul, talking to the heathen idolaters, in which he will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. It is strange that in view of the clear statements that the judgment day is just as much fixed and unchangeable as any past event, as to its time, and in view of the fact that it is correlated with the resurrection of the just and the unjust and with the second coming of Christ, that some men conceive that that day may be this evening or tomorrow, like the premillennial view of the second advent. Just as sure as Christ could not come at first until the fulness of time, and until all the preparatory steps had been taken, just so sure the second advent will take place only when all the predictions of coming events have been fulfilled. We don't know the day, but it is fixed and unalterable, and its penalties inexorable and without remedy.


Now comes another strange thought – that judgment in the last day will be, says Paul, "according to my gospel." The judgment of the heathen will be according to this gospel, and it will be well for him, even if a lost soul, that he be judged according to this gospel. There cannot be a case of a lost man in which it should be better for him to be judged by somebody else than Jesus. Here is a little baby that has never personally committed any sin. It dies one hour from its birth without ever lisping its mother's name. It has inherited sinfulness of nature. It died, in the sense of condemnation, when Adam sinned. To put it as an extreme case, let us call it a heathen baby. Suppose he was not judged by the gospel. He would be forever lost. But the gospel points to another Head, Jesus Christ the Second Adam. The death of Jesus Christ avails for the salvation of that one whose condemnation is only on account of Adam's sin and only on account of inherited depravity. If it were not for the gospel that child would perish throughout eternity, because the law could not save him. All the heathen children who die before they reach the years of personal accountability are saved. Take the adult heathen. Even if he be lost, it is better for him that he be judged according to the gospel than merely according to the law of nature. There is never any mercy in the law of nature. In the light of grace, Paul, speaking of the heathen, says: "The times of this ignorance God overlooks." In Christ he bears with the sins of the heathen in a way that the law could not bear. Let a baby and a man stick their hands into the fire. The fire burns the baby who is ignorant the worst because it is most tender.


But when Jesus judges the heathen, he judges them more kindly, because they lacked knowledge, and though the man be lost forever, there are degrees in hell. Not every man who goes to hell will have the same extent of suffering. It is not like running all the sentences into one mould so that they will all come out alike, as candles, in length and thickness, but according to light and opportunity Jesus will judge. The servant that knows not his master's will and does it not, shall be punished with few stripes. If there is one principle of the final judgment of Jesus Christ that is transcendently above any other principle it is this principle, that the judgment will be rendered according to the light, the privilege, the opportunity.


There will be discriminations made, based even on heredity. Say that some little child inherited a greater thirst for liquor than another in the same family. The sin of one who is consumed by this hereditary thirst will not be held as heinous as another's who wilfully acquired it. Then the question of environment enters into it. A little street Arab who was born in a dark alley in a great city and never heard one word of love, never the subject of one act of tenderness, never knew a mother except through her shame, never was in a Sunday school, not only taught but forced to steal. It is impossible that God would visit upon that thief the same degree of punishment that he would visit upon the Sunday school superintendent, whose father and mother were pious, who received a training in the Sunday school, held office in the Sunday school and talked continually and taught holy things, if he should turn thief and transgress God's holy law. His damnation would be deeper and darker than will be the case of the other. Hear the words of Jesus, "It shall be more endurable in the judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for these cities." Why? Because these had great light; those little light. That is why it is a benefit to a lost man to be judged by Jesus Christ. That is one of the sweetest thoughts that ever creeps into my mind – that Jesus shall be my judge. No wonder David, when God put the alternative before him, "Would you rather fall into the hands of your enemies or into the hands of the living God," said, "Lord God, let me fall into thy hands. Don't leave my chastisement to be assessed by men." I never think of God's judgment except with satisfaction. Even when I am thinking about things I have done that are wrong, I am glad that God is to be the judge.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. By way of review what have we found: (1) As to the theme of this letter? (2) As to the ground of salvation? (3) As to the necessity for this salvation? (4) As to how this revelation of wrath is made in us and out of us?

 

2. Having this light, why are sinners inexcusable? Explain, "And we know, etc.," (v. 2).

 

3. What is the force of Paul's question (v. 3)7

 

4. What is God's method of punishment (v. 4)?

 

5. What is the reason for the delay?

 

6. What is meant by cumulative wrath? Illustrate.

 

7. When is the "day of wrath?" Give proof.

 

8. How is it to be revealed? Give proof.

 

9. Give proof that the judgment on that day will be universal.

 

10. According to what?

 

11. What in each case?

 

12. What the extent of punishment?

 

13. What the duration? Give proof.

 

14. Show that it will be without discrimination of race.

 

15. Without respect of persons.

 

16. What part does the light a man has play?

 

17. Why a judgment at the end of the world?

 

18. Give proof that the judgment day is fixed.

 

19. How is the judgment to be by the gospel of Jesus Christ? Illustrate.

 

20. What the transcendent principle of the judgment?

 

21. What the effects of heredity at the judgment?

 

 

XII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE UNIVERSAL NECESSITY OF SALVATION (CONCLUDED)

Romans 2:17 to 4:25

 


I revert to Romans 2:6-9, referring to judgment: "Who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil." That discussion of the judgment is the judgment of law without gospel consideration. Otherwise it contradicts the whole plan of salvation set forth in the letter, for it makes patient continuance in well-doing the basis of salvation.


Another point in chapter 2 is that under the law, being a Jew outwardly could not save a man. The real Jew is one inwardly and has circumcision of the heart. He must be regenerated, and the publication of the grace plan all along ran side by side with that law plan, even in the Old Testament.


God never had but one plan of salvation from the beginning.


That leads to this question, If, being naturally a Jew and circumcised according to the Jewish law, and keeping externally the ritual law did not save him, as chapter 3 opens – what advantage then hath the Jew? The answer to that is that to the Jews were committed the oracles of God, and they had a better chance of getting acquainted with the true plan of salvation. Then what if some of these Jews were without faith? That does not destroy that advantage; they had the privilege and some availed themselves of it. Does that not make the grace of God of none effect? In other words, if God is glorified by the condemnation of unbelievers, how then shall the man be held responsible? His answer is, "God forbid," for if that were true how could God judge the world? That supposition destroys the character of God in his judgment capacity. If God were the author of sin and constrained men by an extraneous power to sin, he could not be a judge. All who hold the Calvinistic interpretation of grace must give fair weight to that statement. Whenever God does judge a man, his judgment will be absolutely fair.


Once when a party of preachers were discussing election and predestination I asked the question, "Do you believe in election and predestination?" The answer was, "Yes." "Are you ever hindered by what you believe about election in preaching a universal gospel? If you have any embarrassment there it shows that you have in some way a wrong view of the doctrine of election and predestination." A young preacher of my county went to the wall on that thing. It made him practically quit preaching, because he said that he had no gospel except for the sheep. I showed him how, in emphasizing one truth according to his construction of that truth, he was emphatically denying another truth of God. That brings up another question: If the loss of the sinner accrues to the glory of God, why should he be judged as a sinner? A supposition is made. Under that view would it not be well to say, "Let us do evil that good may come?" There were some slanderous reports that such was Paul's teaching. He utterly disavows such teaching or that any fair construction of what he preached tended that way.


We come now to his conclusion of the necessity of the gospel plan of salvation. He bases it upon the fact that under the law of nature, providence, and conscience, under the law of Sinai, under any form of law, the whole world is guilty.
There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth. There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable.


So apart from the gospel plan of salvation there is universal condemnation.


We come to his next conclusion (3:13-18) that man's depravity is total. Total refers to all the parts, and not to degrees. He enumerates the parts to show the totality. That doesn't mean that every man is as wicked in degree as he can be, but that every part is so depraved that without the gospel plan of salvation he cannot be saved:
Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.


With mankind universally guilty, and every member totally depraved, we get another conclusion – that whatever things the law says, it says to those under the law. No matter whether the law of conscience, the law of nature, or the moral law of Moses, those under the law must be judged by the law. That being so, he sums up his conclusion thus: "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight."


That brings us to consider the gospel plan of salvation (3:21 to 8:39) and covers six points – justification, redemption, adoption, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. For the present we will discuss that part called justification. He commences by stating that while there is no righteousness by the law, there is a righteousness apart from the law, and this way of salvation apart from the law is witnessed by the law itself and by the prophets, and that this righteousness is presented to both Jew and Gentile without any distinction, and that always has been the way from the beginning of the world to the present time. If God has seemed to discriminate in favor of the Jews, he looked toward the Gentiles through the Jews, and if he now seems partial to the Gentiles against the Jews, he is looking toward the restoration of the Jews. This righteousness is presented to all men on the same terms – faith – and this righteousness presented by faith is of grace. Man doesn't merit it, either Jew or Gentile – it is free.


It is the hardest thing in the world to convince a sinner that salvation comes from no merit of his, and that faith is simply the hand that receives. Throughout all the length of the great chain of salvation it is presented without discrimination of race, color, sex, or previous condition of servitude. We come now to the ground of it. That ground is redemption through Christ. To redeem means to buy back. It implies that the one was sold and lost. It must be a buying back, and it would not be of grace if we did the buying back. It is a redemption through Jesus Christ. He is the Redeemer – the one who buys back. The meritorious ground consists in his expiation reaching us through his mediation. He stands between the sinner and God and touches both. The first part of his mediation is the payment of that purchase price. He could not, in paying the purchase price, stand for God unless God set him forth as a propitiation. He could not touch man unless he himself, in one sense, was a man, and voluntarily took the position. The effectiveness of the propitiation depends upon the faith of the one to receive Jesus. That covers all past sins. When we accept Jesus we are acquitted forever, never again coming into condemnation. I said that that "covers past sins." We must understand this. Christ's death avails meritoriously once for all for all the sins of a man, past, present, and future. But in the methods of grace there is a difference in application between sins before justification and sins after justification. The ground is one, before and after. But the Holy Spirit applies differently. When we accept Jesus by faith as he is offered in the gospel, we at once and forever enter into justification, redemption of soul, and adoption into God's family, and are regenerated. We are no longer aliens and enemies, but children and friends of God. God's grace therefore deals with us as .children. Our sins thereafter are the sins of children. We reach forgiveness of them through the intercessions of our High Priest and the pleadings of our Advocate. (See Hebrews 9:25-26; 7:25; I John 2:1.) We may be conscious of complete peace when justified (Rom. 5:1), but our consciences condemn us for sins after justification, and peace comes for these offenses through confession, through faith, through intercession, through the application of the same cleansing blood by the Holy Spirit. So in us regeneration is once for all) but this good work commenced in us is continued through sanctification with its continual application of the merits of Christ's death. Therefore our theme says, "From faith to faith." Not only justified by faith, but living by faith after justification through every step of sanctification. We don't introduce any new meritorious ground. That is sufficient for all, but it is applied differently. Justification takes place in heaven. It is God that justifies. The ground of the justification is the expiation of Christ. The means by which we receive the justification is the Holy Spirit's part of regeneration which is called cleansing. Regeneration consists of two elements, at least – cleansing and renewing. But the very moment that one believes in Christ the Holy Spirit applies the blood of Christ to his heart and he is cleansed from the defilement of sin. At the same time the Holy Spirit does another thing. He renews the mind. He changes that carnal mind which is enmity toward God. Few preachers ever explain thoroughly that passage in Ezekiel: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean. I will take away your stony heart and give you a heart of flesh." There is the cleansing and the renewing. Jesus says, "Born of water and Spirit." There are no articles in the Greek. It is one birth. In Titus we find the same idea: He saved us "by the washing of regeneration," the first idea' and "the renewing of the Holy Spirit," the second idea.


This method of justification enables God to remain just in justifying a guilty man. If we could not find a plan by which God's justice would remain, then we could find no plan of justification. How do we understand that to be done upon this principle of substitution? J. M. Pendleton in his discussion of this subject based upon a passage in the letter to .Philemon, explains it. Paul says, "If thou hast aught against Onesimus, put it on my account." Now Philemon can be just in the remission of the debt of Onesimus, because he has provided for the payment of that debt through Paul; so Christ promised to come and pay our debt and the payment is reckoned to the man that accepts Christ, thus showing how remission of sins in the case of Old Testament saints precedes the actual payment, or expiation, by Christ. God charged Abraham's debts to Christ, and Christ promised to pay them when he should come into the world. Abraham was acquitted right then. So far as God was concerned, the debt was not expiated until Christ actually came and died. In our case, expiation precedes the faith in it. He expiated my sins on the cross before I was born. There came a time when the plan of salvation by that expiation was presented to me, and I received it, and then remission took place.


This plan of salvation by faith not only justifies God, but absolutely excludes any boasting upon the part of the man. If the man had paid the debt himself he could claim to be the cause of this justification. But since he did not contribute one iota to the payment of the debt, there is no possible ground for him to boast. This plan brings out God's impartial relation both to Jew and Gentile, since both are admitted upon equal terms.


We come to an objection that has been raised. If God acquits the man without his having paid the penalty of the law, does not that make the law void? His answer is an emphatic denial. It not only does not make the law void, but it establishes the law. How? The law is honored in that the Substitute obeys it and dies in suffering its penalties. Further by the fact that this plan takes this man saved by grace and gives him, through regeneration, a mind to obey the law, though it may be done imperfectly, and then through sanctification enables him to obey the law perfectly. It fulfils all of its penal sanctions through the one who redeems and through the Holy Spirit's work in the one that is redeemed. When I get to heaven I will be a perfect keeper of the law in mind and in act. We can easily see the distinction between a mere pardon of human courts, which is really contrary to law, and a pardon which magnifies and makes the law honorable. It was on this line that I once preached a sermon on the relation of faith to morals, showing that the only way on earth to practice morality is through the gospel of Christ. So we see that God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly.


Salvation that comes up to the point of justification will, ''through the same plan, be continued on to the judgment day. In his argument to prove that God's plan of salvation has always been the same) Paul illustrates it by the two most striking Old Testament cases that would appeal to the Jewish mind, one of which is the case of Abraham's conversion which is recorded in Genesis 15. Up to that time Abraham was not a saved man, though he was a called man and had some general belief in God. At that time he was justified, and he was justified by faith, and righteousness was imputed to him; it was not his own. That was before he was circumcised, and it deprived him of all merit, and made him the father of all who could come after him in the spiritual line. He proves this by the promise to Abraham and his seed, and shows that that seed refers, not to his carnal descendants, but to the spiritual descendant, Jesus Christ. Then he goes on to show that as Isaac, through whom the descent flowed, was born, not in a natural manner, but after a supernatural manner, so we are born after a supernatural manner. He then takes up the further idea that that was the only way in the world to make the promises sure to all the seed.


Take the thief on the cross. He had no time to get down and reform his life. He was a dying sinner, and some plan of salvation must be devised which would be as quick as lightning in its operation. Suppose a man is on a plank in the deep and about to be washed away into the watery depths. He cannot go back and correct the evils that he has done and justify himself by restitution. If salvation is to be sure to him, it must work in a minute. That is a great characteristic of it. David was their favorite king. His songs constituted their ritual in the Temple of worship. He testifies precisely the same thing: "Blessed is the man whose sin is covered," that is, through propitiation. Blessed is the man to whom God imputeth no transgression. He takes these two witnesses and establishes his case. He shows that the results of justification are present peace, joy, and glory, thus commencing, "Being therefore justified by faith, let us have peace with God."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What Judgment is referred to in Romans 2:6, and what the proof?

 

2. Who was the real Jew?

 

3. What advantage had the Jew?

 

4. Did all Jews avail themselves of this advantage?

 

5. Does that not make the grace of God of none effect, and why?

 

6. Does the doctrine of election hinder the preaching of a universal gospel, and why?

 

7. If the loss of the sinner accrues to the glory of God, why should he be judged as a sinner?

 

8. What is Paul's conclusion as to the necessity of the gospel plan of salvation, and upon what does he base it?

 

9. What Paul's conclusion as to man's depravity, what is the meaning of total depravity, and how is it set forth in this passage?

 

10. What his conclusion as to the law?

 

11. What then his summary of the whole matter?

 

12. What the theme of Romans 3:21 to 8:39, and what six phases of the subject are thus treated?

 

13. Is there a righteousness by the law, what the relation of the law to righteousness, and to whom is this righteousness offered?

 

14. How do you explain God's partiality toward the Jews first and then toward the Gentiles?

 

15. What the terms of this righteousness, and what its source?

 

16. What is this phase of salvation called, and what is the ground of it?

 

17. What is redemption, and what does it imply?

 

18. What the meritorious ground of our justification, and upon what does the effectiveness of it depend?

 

19. What the difference in the application to sins before justification and to sins after justification?

 

20. What is justification, where does it take place, what accompanies it in the sinner, how, what its elements and how illustrated in both the Old and the New Testaments?

 

21. How does this method of justification by faith enable God to remain just and at the same time justify a guilty man?

 

22. What J. M. Pendleton's illustration of this principle?

 

23. What bearing hag this on the case of Old Testament saints?

 

24. How does this plan of salvation exclude boasting?

 

25. What objection is raised to this method of justification, and what the answer to it?

 

26. How is the law honored in this method of justification?

 

27. What the distinction between a mere pardon of human courts and this method of pardon?

 

28. How does Paul prove that the plan of salvation has always been the same?

 

29. How does Paul show that that was the only way to make the promises sure to all the seed?

 

30. What the testimony of David on this point, and what its special force in this case?

 

 

XIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE GOSPEL PLAN OF SALVATION

Romans 5:1-21.

 


The first paragraph (1-11) of chapter 5 is but an elaboration, or conclusion, of the line of argument in chapters 3-4. There are two leading thoughts in this paragraph: (1) God's method of induction into the grace of salvation. (2) the happy estate of the justified.

 

METHOD OF INDUCTION


This method is expressed thus: "Being therefore justified by faith . . . through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." A vital question is here answered – "How do we get into Christ, in whom are all the blessings of salvation, each in its order?" The corresponding doctrine to our getting into Christ is getting Christ into us to complete the union with him as expressed by himself: "I in you . . . and you in me" (John 15:4). The names of these two doctrines are –


1. Justification through faith, or we into Christ.


2. Regeneration through faith, or Christ into us.


Elsewhere the doctrine of "Christ into us" through regeneration is presented thus: "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart" (2 Corinthians 3:3). "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (4:6). "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).


The proof that the method of this induction id also by faith is given by Christ. When Nicodemus asked as to the method of regeneration Christ answered, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God: and whosoever loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him" (I John 5:1). "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh', nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). "For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ" (Gal. 3:26).


But the Campbellites' method of induction into Christ is by baptism, based on Galatians 3:27; the Romanist method of induction of Christ into us is through eating the Lord's Supper, based by them on the words: "Take, eat, this is my body. . . . Drink, this is my blood," and on a misapplication of John 6:53: "Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves." We may name this double heresy, salvation by ordinances, i.e., salvation by water and material bread. The truth of these misapplied scriptures is that there is a double method of induction, viz.: We into Christ by faith and Christ into us by faith, symbolized in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper.

 

THE HAPPY ESTATE OF THE JUSTIFICATION


The difference between the common and the revised versions of Romans 5:1 is a difference in the Greek of the length of one letter in one word only, i.e., between a short o (omikron) and a long o (omega), and if the text be Echomen, the rendering of the common version is right: "We have peace with God." If it be Echomen, the Revision is right: "Let us have peace with God." The best MSS. (Alexandrian, Vatican, and Siniatic) have the long o (Omega.)


The value of the distinction is this: The common version would express the truth, if limited to God's sight. The justified truly have peace legally in God's eyes as soon as justified. But the danger comes in extending the meaning to our realization; we subjectively realize the peace. There is a time difference between a fact and our cognition of that fact; as, when looking at a man half a mile off on a prairie firing a gun, the explosion precedes our perception by sight of the smoke, or of the sound by the ear. The chickens of a mover whose legs have been tied during the day, do not realize that they are free as soon as they are untied. The sensation of being tied lingers until the circulation is restored.


So one may be justified in fact sometime before he realizes the peace to which justification entitles, as the experience of many Christians shows. It is God's purpose that we should realize it, and the sooner the better. To affirm that our subjective perception of an external act is necessarily simultaneous with the act is to limit the existence of things to our knowledge of things. So we may express the difference between the texts of the version by saying that one is an affirmation: "We have peace," while the other is an exhortation: "Let us have peace," i.e, justification now entitles to peace, but we need to lay hold of it. The fallacy of the affirmation consists of confounding justification, which is God's act, with subjective peace, which is our experience. Objective peace, legal peace, necessarily accompanies justification, but it may not be subjective. The battle of New Orleans was fought after the treaty of peace was signed, because Sir Edward Packenham and General Jackson did not know it.


I will name in order all the elements of the happy estate of the justified:


1. Peace with God.


2. Joy in hope of the glory of God.


3. Joy in tribulation, because of the series of fruits which follows.


4. The gift of the Holy Spirit.


5. The love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by that given Spirit.


6. The assurance that the justified shall be saved from the wrath to come, because:


(1) If reconciled, when enemies, much more will he continue salvation to friends.


(2) If reconciled through his death much more will he alive deliver us from future wrath.


7. Joy in God the Father, through whose Son we receive the reconciliation.

 

THE SEMINAL IDEA OF SALVATION (5:12-21)


By a new line of argument the apostle conveys assurance of salvation to the justified, an argument based on our seminal relations to the two Adams. This great doctrine is expressed thus: "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned" (5:12). "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall many be made righteous" (5:18-19). If we combine the several thoughts into one great text we have this: By one offense of one man condemnation came upon all men. So by one act of righteousness of one man, justification unto eternal life comes upon all men who by one exercise of faith lay hold on him who wrought the one act of righteousness.


This text startlingly offends and confounds the reasonings of the carnal mind which says,
1. One may not be justly condemned for the offense of somebody else, but only for his own offense, nor justified by the righteousness of somebody else, but by his own righteousness. 2. Condemnation must come for all offenses, not just one, and justification must be based on all acts of righteousness, not just one. 3. To base a man's condemnation or justification on the act of another destroys personal responsibility. 4. The doctrine of imputing one man's guilt to a substitute tends to demoralization, in that the real sinner will sin the more, not being personally amenable to penalty. 5. The doctrine of pardoning a guilty man because another is righteous turns loose a criminal on society. 6. The whole of it violates that ancient law of the Bible itself: "Thou shalt justify the innocent and condemn the guilty."


If the gospel plan of salvation, fairly interpreted, does destroy personal responsibility, does tend to demoralize society, does encourage to sin the more, does turn criminals loose on society, does not tend to make its subject personally better, it is then the doctrine of the devil and should be hated and resisted by all who respect justice and deprecate iniquity. But the seminal idea of condemnation and justification grows out of relations to two respective heads, and it results from varieties in creation, thus:


(1) God created a definite number of angels) just so many at the start, never any more or less, a company, not a family, incapable of propagation, being sexless, without ancestry or posterity, without brother or sister or other ties of consanguinity, each complete in himself, and hence no angel could be condemned or justified for another's act. The act of every angel terminates in himself. Therefore there can be no salvation for a sinning angel. And hence our Saviour "took not on him the nature of angels."


(2) But God also created a different order of beings, at the start just one man, having potentially in himself an entire race – a countless multitude to be developed from him. And in propagating the race he transmitted his own nature, and through heredity his children inherited that nature. No act of any human being arises altogether from himself or can possibly terminate in himself. In considering heredity Oliver Wendell Holmes has said, "Man is an omnibus in which all his ancestors ride." Moreover, man was created to be a social being, from which fact arises the necessity of human government whether in legislative, judicial, or executive power. The mind can conceive of only one human being whose act would terminate in himself, and under the following conditions alone: He must be without ancestry, without capacity of posterity, without kindred in any degree, without relation to society, living alone on an island surrounded by an ocean whose waves touched no other shore from which society might come. How much more the head in whom potentially and legally was the race could not do an act that would terminate in himself.


(3) The creature cannot deny God's sovereign right to create this variety of moral beings, angels, and man.


(4) Nature does not exempt children from the penalty of heredity.


(5) Human law neither exempts children from legal responsibility of parents nor acquits criminals because of hereditary predispositions.


The context bases the condemnation of all men on the ground that all sinned in Adam, the head, and so having sinned in him they all died in him. The context, "And so death passed unto all men" (even those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression) is the distinct proof of our proposition. Only one person ever sinned the sin of Adam and that was Adam himself, the head of the race. Now as proof that his posterity sinned in him, death passed upon all of his posterity who had not sinned after the similitude of his sin, that is, they sinned, not as the head of a race, but from depravity – an inherited depravity. Adam didn't have that inherited depravity. God made him. upright. Whenever I commit a sin I don't commit that sin from the standpoint of Adam, but I commit it on account of an evil nature inherited from Adam, and that sin is not after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Moreover, if I commit a sin, the race is not held responsible for my sin, because I am not the head of the race. The race does not stand or fall in me. Thus there are two particulars in which sins which we commit are not after the similitude of Adam's sin, and yet, says the apostle, with his inexorable logic, "Though they don't sin after the similitude of Adam, yet death, the penalty of sin, passed upon every one of them." The law was executed on every one of them; they died. Sin condemns on the ground of the solidarity of the law, the unity of the law. See James 2:10: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all."


Human law in this respect conforms to divine law. If a man be law-abiding fifty years and then commits one capital offense, his previous righteousness avails him nothing. Nor does it avail that he was innocent of all other offenses. If a man were before a court charged with murder he would derive no benefit by proving that he had not committed adultery. If he were guilty on the one point, his life is forfeited. That is on account of the solidarity of the law. Nor does it avail a man anything in a human court that he was tempted from without. So Adam vainly pleaded, "The woman tempted me and I did eat."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What part of chapter 2 is but an elaboration, or conclusion, of the line of argument in chapters 3-4?

 

2. What the two leading thoughts in this paragraph?

 

3. How is God's method of induction expressed?

 

4. What vital question is here answered?

 

5. What the corresponding doctrine to our getting into Christ?

 

6. What the names of these two doctrines?

 

7. How elsewhere is the doctrine of "Christ into us" through regeneration presented?

 

8. What the proof that the method of this induction is also by faith?

 

9. What the Campbellites' method of induction into Christ, and on what scripture based?

 

10. What the Romanist method of induction of Christ into us, and on what scripture based?

 

11. How may we name this double heresy?

 

12. What the truth of these misapplied scriptures?

 

13. What (he difference between the common and the revised versions of Romans 5:1, and what the translation in each case?

 

14. What the value of the distinction? Illustrate.

 

15. What the fallacy of affirming that subjective peace is simultaneous with justification? Illustrate.

 

16. What, in order, are the elements of the happy estate of the justified?

 

17. By what new line of argument in 5:12-21 does the apostle convey assurance of salvation to the justified?

 

18. In what words is this great doctrine expressed?

 

19. Combine the several thoughts into one great text.

 

20. How does this text startlingly offend and confound the reasonings of the carnal mind?

 

21. If the gospel plan of salvation, fairly interpreted, does destroy personal responsibility, does tend to demoralize society, does not tend to make its subjects personally better, then what?

 

22. What the explanation of the seminal idea of condemnation and justification growing out of the relations to the two respective heads?

 

23. On what ground does the context base the condemnation of all men?

 

24. What is the meaning of the context, "and so death passed unto all men," etc.?

 

25. On what ground does sin condemn, and what the proof?

 

26. How does human law in this respect conform to divine law?  

 

 

XIV

 

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THE SEMINAL IDEA OF SALVATION

Romans 5:12-21.

 


The one offense committed by the first Adam was his violation of that test, or prohibition, "Thou shalt not eat of the tree of death; thou shalt not experimentally know the difference between good and evil." In other words, he was an anti-prohibitionist. The law commenced with an absolute prohibition, and it didn't avail Adam a thing to plead personal liberty. Race responsibility rested on Adam alone. It could not possibly have rested on Eve, because she was a descendant of Adam, just as much as we are. God created just one man, and in that man was the whole human race, including Eve. Later he took a part of the man and made a woman, and the meaning of the word "woman" is derived from "man." When Adam saw her he said "Isshah," woman, which literally means "derived from man'". As she got both her soul and body from the man, being his descendant, it was impossible that the race responsibility should rest on her.


If only Eve had sinned the race would not have perished. She would have perished, but not the race. The race was in Adam. God could have derived another woman from him like that one. He had the potentiality in him of all women as well as all men. Some error has arisen from holding Eve responsible, such as the error of pointing the finger at the woman and saying, "You did it!" If we have ever committed this error, let us never do it any more. The text says, "By one offense of one man" and not by one offense of one woman. That Eve sinned there is no doubt; she was in the transgression. To the contrary, history shows that God connects salvation with the woman, and not damnation. He said, "The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." There we have the promise of grace. And he could not have said the seed of the man, for, if one be the seed of a man, he inherits the man's fallen nature.


This fact has a mighty bearing on the Second Adam. When the Second Adam came, the first and virtually essential proof was that a woman was his mother, but no man was his father – God was his father. If a man had been his father he would himself have been under condemnation through a depraved nature. Mary could not understand the announcement that she should become the mother of a Saviour who would be the "Son of God," since she had not yet married, until the angel exclaimed: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Hence whoever denies our Lord's birth of a virgin and that he was sired by the most High denies the whole plan of salvation and is both the boss liar of the world and antichrist. The essential deity of our Lord and his incarnation constitute the bedrock of salvation. It is the first, most vital, most fundamental truth. No man who rejects it can be a Christian or should be received as a Christian for one moment. See John 1:1, 14; 1 John 4:1-3; Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Timothy 3:16.


But this question comes up, "Did not Jesus derive his human nature, through heredity, from his mother, or since she was a descendant of fallen Adam, how could her Son escape a depraved nature?" This is a pertinent question and a very old one. It so baffled Romanist theologians that they invented and issued under papal infallibility the decree of "The Immaculate Conception," meaning not only that Jesus was born sinless, but that Mary herself was born sinless, which of course only pushes back the difficulty one degree. Their invention was purely gratuitous. There is nothing in the case to call for a sinless mother. Depravity resides in the soul. The soul comes, not from the one who conceives, but from the one who begets. This is the very essence of the teaching in the passage cited from Luke.. The sinlessness of the nature of Jesus is expressly ascribed to the Sire: "The Holy One who is begotten." And it is the very heart of Paul's entire biological, or seminal, idea of salvation, i.e., life from a seed. The seed is in the sire. The first Adam's seed is unholy; the Second Adam's seed is holy. Hence the necessity of the Spirit birth. So is our Lord's teaching in John 3:3-6; 8:44; I John 3:9; the parable of the tares with its explanation in Matthews 13:24-30, 3643; and especially 1 Peter 1:23: "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible." The propriety of salvation by the Second Adam lies in the fact that we were lost through the first Adam. All the criticism against substitutionary, or vicarious, salvation comes from a disregard of this truth.


Christ met all the law requirements as follows:


1. By holiness of nature – starting holy


2. By obeying all its precepts


3. By fulfilling its types


4. By paying its penalty


The value of the first three items is that they qualified him to do the fourth. If he had been either unholy in nature or defective in obedience he would have been amenable to the penalty for himself. But holiness in his own nature and his perfect obedience exempting him from penalty on his own account, he could be the sinner's substitute in death and judgment: "Him who knew no sin, God made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). "Ye were redeemed . . . with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:18-19). If he answered not to the types, he could not be the Messiah.


Christ's one act of righteousness, which is the sole ground of our justification, is his vicarious death on the cross. No one ought to preach at all – having no gospel message – if be does not comprehend this with absolute definiteness. If we attribute our justification to Christ's holiness, or to his perceptive obedience, or to his Sermon on the Mount, or to his miracles, or to his kingly or priestly reign in heaven where he is now, or if we locate that one act of righteousness anywhere in the world except in one place and in one particular deed we ought not to preach.


The one act of righteousness – the sole meritorious ground of justification – is our Lord's vicarious death on the cross, suffering the death penalty of divine law against sin. This death was a real sacrifice and propitiation Godward, so satisfying the law's penal sanctions in our behalf as to make it just for God to justify the ungodly. Our Lord's incarnation, with all his work antecedent to the cross, was but preparatory to it, and all his succeeding work consequential. His exaltation to the throne in heaven, his priestly intercession, and his coming judgment flowing from his "obedience unto the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8-9).


The particular proof of this one act of righteousness from both Testaments is as follows:


1. Proof from the Old Testament:


(1) The establishment of the throne of grace, immediately after man's expulsion from paradise, where God dwelt between the cherubim, east of the garden of Eden, as a Schechinah, or Sword flame, to keep open the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24) and was there acceptably approached only through the blood of an innocent and substitutionary sacrifice (Gen. 4:3-5; cf Rev. 7:14; 22:14), which mercy seat between the cherubim was to be approached through sacrificial blood, just as described in that part of the Mosaic law prescribing the way of the sinner's approach to God (Ex. 25:17-22).


(2) In the four most marvelous types:


(a) The Passover lamb whose blood availed when Jehovah saw it (Ex. 12:13, 23) showing that the blood propitiated Godward. See 1 Corinthians 5:7.


(b) In the kid on the great day of atonement (Lev. 16) which shows that the expiatory blood must be sprinkled on the mercy seat between the cherubim as the basis of atonement.


(c) In the red heifer, burned without the camp, and whose ashes, liquefied with water, became a portable means of purification, Numbers 19:2-6, 9, 17-18, with Hebrews 9:13, representing that first and cleansing element of regeneration in which the Holy Spirit applies Christ's blood. See Psalms 51:2, 7; Ezekiel 36:25; John 3:5 (born of water and Spirit); Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5.


(d) The brazen serpent, fused in fire and then elevated to be seen, which shows that the expiatory passion, a fiery suffering, must be lifted up in preaching, as the object of faith and means of healing, Numbers 21:9, explained in John 3:14-16; 12:32-33; Galatians3:l.


(3) In such striking passages as Isaiah 53:4-11. Compare the messianic prayer: "Deliver my soul from the sword," Psalms 22:20, with the divine response, "Awake, 0 sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith Jehovah," Zechariah 13:7, and hear the sufferer's outcry: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Psalms 22:1 and Matthew 27:45-46. When these passages are compared with Isaiah 53:5-10, Romans 3:25, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24, it cannot be reasonably questioned that he died under the sentence of God's law against sin, and that this death was propitiatory toward God and vicarious toward man, and is the one act of righteousness through which our justification comes.


2. Some of the New Testament passages, including several already given, are our Lord's own words in instituting the Memorial Supper: "This is my body given for you. . . . This cup is the New Covenant in my blood . . . even that which is poured out for you . . . which is shed for many unto remission of sins." We need to add only Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24; and Hebrews 10:4-14.


The combined text, "One exercise of faith," means that unlike sanctification, justification is not progressive, but one instantaneous act; God justifies, and our laying hold of it is a simple definite transaction. One moment we are not justified; in the next moment we are justified. One look at the brazen serpent brought healing. Zacchaeus went up the tree lost, and came down saved. The dying thief at one moment was lost, and the next heard the words: "Today shall thou be with me in paradise." At midnight the lost jailer was trembling; just after that he was rejoicing believing in God with all his house. There is no appreciable time element in the transition from condemnation to justification.


Considering Christ as a gift, how long does it take to receive him? Considering him as a promise, how long to trust? Considering Christ as the custodian of an imperiled soul, how long to commit it to him? Considering the union between Christ and the sinner as an espousal (2 Cor. 11:2) how long to say: "I take him"?


As a marriage between man and woman is a definite transaction, consummated when he says, "I take her to be my lawful wife," and when she says, "I take him to be my lawful husband," so by one exercise of faith we take Christ as our Lord. But as sanctification is progressive, we go on in that from faith to faith. But justification through faith in a sub statute does not tuna loose a criminal on society. If it be meant a criminal in deed, it is not true, because to the last farthing the law claim has been met in the payment of the surety. In other words, the law has been fully satisfied. If it be meant in spirit, it is not true, for every justified man is regenerated. A new heart to love God and man has been given, a holy disposition imparted, loving righteousness and hating iniquity. A spirit of obedience, new and mighty motives of gratitude and love are at work, and motive determines very largely the moral quality of action. In other words, the justified man is also a new creature.


It secures in the new creature the only basis of true morality. Morality is conformity with moral law. Immorality is nonconformity with moral law. The first and great commandment of moral law is supreme love toward God, and the second is love to thy neighbor as thyself. ~No unregenerate man can make a step in either direction any more than a bad tree can produce good fruit, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God and not subject to his law, neither indeed can be." The unregenerate is self-centered; the regenerate, Christ centered. The justified man, being regenerate, will be necessarily a better man personally and practically than he was before in every relation of life – better in the family, better in society and better in the state. A claim to justification without improvement in these directions is necessarily a false claim.


The writer in 2:17 has already introduced the word, "law," in a special sense when discussing the case of the Jew as contradistinguished from other nations. And this is the sense of his word, "law," when he says, "For until the law sin was in the world." Law, to a Jew, meant the Sinaitic law. But the apostle is proving that law did not originate at Sinai, in any sense except for one nation, as was evident from sin and death anterior to it. First, there was primal law inhering in God's intent in creating moral beings, and in the very constitution of their being, and in all their relations. And this law, even to Adam in innocence, found statutory expression. in the law of labor, the law of marriage, and in the law of the sabbath, as well as in the particular prohibition concerning the tree of death. Immediately after Adam's fall and expulsion from paradise came the intervention of the grace covenant, with its law of sacrifices, symbolically showing the way of a sinner's approach to God through vicarious expiation. There were preachers and prophets of grace before the flood, as well as the convicting and regenerating spirit. All these expressions of law passed over the flood with Noah, with several express additions to the statutory law both civil and criminal. Death proved sin, and sin proved law, before we come to Sinai. Adam was under law. Adam sinned and death reigned over him. Adam's descendants down to Moses died. Therefore they had sinned, and therefore were under the law. But their sin was not like Adam's in several parties ulars: (1) They did not sin as the head of a race. (2) They did not sin from a standpoint of innocence and holiness, but from an inherited depravity. (3) They sinned under a grace covenant which Adam had not in paradise. This last particular is here emphasized, where grace in justification is contrasted with the condemnation through Adam's one offense.


If then the Sinaitic code did not originate law, what was its purpose? "The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound." This purpose of the law will be considered more elaborately later. Just here it is sufficient to say that the Sinaitic code under three great departments, or heads, is the most marvelous and elaborate expression of law known to history. Its three heads or constituent elements, as we learn in the Old Testament, are –


1. The decalogue, or moral law, or God and the normal man.


2. The law of the altar, or God and the sinner, or the sinner's symbolic way of approach to God, including a place to find him, a means of propitiating him) times to approach him, and an elaborate ritual of service.


3. The judgments, or God and the State, in every variety of municipal, civil, and criminal law.


So broad, so deep, so high, so minute, so comprehensive is this code, so bright is its light, that every trespass in thought, word, and deed is not only made manifest, but is made to abound, in order that where sin abounded grace would abound exceedingly.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What was the one offense committed by the first Adam?

 

2. On whom did race responsibility rest, Adam or Eve, or both; why?

 

3. If only Eve had sinned, what would have been the result?

 

4. What error has since arisen from holding Eve responsible?

 

5. What to the contrary does history show?

 

6. What bearing has this fact on the Second Adam?

 

7. How could Jesus, being born of a depraved woman, escape a depraved nature?

 

8. What the propriety of salvation by the Second Adam?

 

9. How did Christ meet all the law requirements?

 

10. What the value of the first three items?

 

11. What Christ's one act of righteousness, which is the sole ground of our justification?

 

12. What particular proof of this one act of righteousness from both Testaments?

 

13. What does the combined text mean by "one exercise of faith"?

 

14. How is it that justification through faith in a substitute does not turn loose a criminal on society?

 

15. How then is it that it does not demoralize?

 

16. Explain the parenthetic statement in 5:13-17 and also 5:20-21.

 

17. If the Sinaitic code did not originate the law, what was its purpose?

 

18. What the three constituent elements of the Sinaitic law?  

 

 

XV

 

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SALVATION IN US

Romans 6:1 to 8:39.

 


We have considered hitherto in this letter what salvation has done for us in redemption, justification and adoption. We have now before us in 6:1-8:39 what salvation does in us in regeneration and sanctification of our souls, and in the resurrection and glorification of our bodies.


Two questions properly introduce this section. In 3:21 he says, "But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." In view of this, in 6:1 he asks, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" The meaning is this: Does salvation by grace through faith in a debt-paying substitute encourage to more sin, because the sinner does not himself pay the penalty, and thus by more sin give greater scope to superabounding grace? Or, does imputation of the penalty of sin in a substitute make void the law to the sinner personally? Or does God's justification of the sinner, through faith, instead of his personal obedience, turn loose a defiled criminal on society eager to commit more crime because his future offenses, like his past offenses, will be charged to the substitute? These are pertinent questions of practical importance and if, indeed, this be the legitimate result of the gospel plan of salvation, it is worthy of rejection by all who love justice.


While we have already considered this matter somewhat, let us restate a reply embodying the substance of this section. The reply is in substance as follows: Whom God justifies them he also regenerates and sanctifies in soul and raises and glorifies in body. In the first element of regeneration – the application of the blood of Christ by the Holy Spirit – the sinner is cleansed from the defilement of sin. See Psalm 51:2,7; Ezekiel 36:25; Titus 3:5, first clause. "The washing of regeneration," Ephesians 5:26; "born of water," John 3:5, all of which is set forth in the type of the red heifer, Hebrews 9:13, 14, an Old Testament teaching for ignorance of which Christ condemned Nicodemus, John 3:10. See also Revelation 7:14 and 22:14, revised version. So that the justified man is not turned loose a defiled criminal on society.


In the second element of regeneration the justified sinner is delivered from the love of sin by his renewed nature, Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3, 5-6, "born from above . . . born of the Spirit;" Titus 3:5, second clause, "and renewing of the Holy Spirit." So that the regenerate man has the spirit of obedience, Ezekiel 36:27; Tutus 2:11-14; 3:8. And while the obedience of the regenerate is imperfect, yet through sanctification, when it is consummated, the regenerate in soul is qualified to perfect obedience, Philippians 1:6; 3:12-14; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. And when the body is raised and glorified then this justified sinner has become personally, in soul and body, as holy and obedient as Jesus himself, I John 3:2; Psalm 17:15, all of which is pictorially set forth in our baptism, Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12. So that faith not only does not make void the law to us personally, but is the only way by which we shall be made able to keep the law personally, and not only does not encourage to sin, but furnishes the only motives by which practically we cease from sin.


The doctrine of baptism as bearing upon this point set forth in 6:1-11 is this: A justified and regenerate man is commanded to be baptized. Baptism symbolizes the burial of a dead man – dead to his old life – his cleansing from the sins of the old life, and this resurrection to a new life. Christ died on the cross for our sins once for all. Being dead he was buried, raised to a new life and exalted to a royal and priestly throne. All this, in the beginning of his public ministry, was prefigured in his own baptism. As he died for our sins, paying the law penalty, so we in regeneration become dead to law claims because we died to sin in his death. Being dead to the old life, we should be buried. This is represented in our baptism: "Buried in baptism." But in regeneration we are not only slain, but made alive, or quickened. The living should not abide in the grave, therefore in our baptism there is also a symbol of our resurrection. But regeneration not only slays and makes alive, but cleanses, therefore in our baptism we are symbolically cleansed from sin, as was said to Paul, "Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins." So that not only both elements of regeneration, cleansing and renewal of soul are set forth pictorially in our baptism, but also the coming resurrection and glorification of our bodies.


In 6:7 we have this language: "For he that hath died is justified from sin." That means that there are two ways in which one can satisfy the law and meet all of its claims. He can either do it by perfectly obeying the law, or he can do it by meeting the penalty of the law. Therefore it says, "He that hath died is justified from sin." It is just like an ordinary debt. If one pays the debt he is justified from the claim. If a man commits an offense and the law decision is that he suffer the penalty of two years in the penitentiary, and he serves the two years in the penitentiary, he is justified in the eyes of the law. The law can't take him up and try him again. While the disobedience of the law is not justified in obedience, he has paid the full penalty. Now to make the application of that: Christ died for our sins; we died in his death, just as we died in Adam and came under condemnation for it. Now when we die with Christ, that death on the cross justifies us from sin. That is what it means.


The next point is the argument from the meaning of the declaration that he that is dead is justified from sin. That argument is presented in verses 12-13, and the reason for it is given in verse 14. Let us look at those verses. If we be dead to sin we should not let sin reign in our mortal body that we should obey the lusts thereof. Neither present our members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present ourselves unto God as alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto God. The reason assigned is, "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but under grace." In other words, "It is true that you didn't pay that law claim, but your substitute paid it, and that puts you from under the law of condemnation. Now if you set out to pay, you set out to pay unto grace. The spirit of obedience in you is not of fear, but of love to him that died for you." That is what is called being under grace in a matter of obedience and not under law.


What is the force of the question, "Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace?" In other words, "Because my obedience is not a condition of my salvation, shall I therefore sin?" That is the thought, and his argument against that is this: "God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" If a man presents himself unto grace as the principle of obedience, then it is not a life and death matter, but it is a matter of love and gratitude. It is on a different principle entirely. And in a very elaborate way he continues the argument down to verse 23: "For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Let us now explain the contrast in 6:23 and give the argument. Here he contrasts two things, (1) the wages. This is a matter of law – wages. (2) Over against that stands gift – free gift. That is not a matter of wages. The wages of sin is death – that is the penalty – but now the free gift is eternal life. It is impossible to put his meaning any plainer than these words put it: "Are you expecting to be saved on the ground of earning your salvation as wages, or are you expecting to be saved through the free gift of God unto eternal life?" That is the thought.


Let us see the force of the illustration in 7:2: "For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man." The force of that as an illustration of the married life is: "What God hath joined together let not man put asunder." The obligation of a wife to a husband, and their fidelity to each other, is a matter of law growing out of the relation that holds them together. So long as a husband lives and a wife lives, neither one of them can be free to marry except in a certain case, and that exception is discussed elsewhere. He is just discussing the general principles here. Now apply that illustration: "The law holds you to absolute fidelity in obedience just as the law holds the woman bound to her husband, and the husband to his wife. If you died with Christ, you are dead to that law, and therefore you can enter into another relation. You are espoused to Christ. The law that binds you now is the law of that espousal to Christ, and that is the law of freedom; not like the other, it is a matter of grace." That is the force of that statement.


Then in 7:7, "Is the law sin?" That is an important question and he answers it. Some things in connection with it have already been answered, and in answering it particularly I will take the following position:


(1) The law is not sin. It is holy, it is just, it is good. What, then, is the relation of the law to sin? He says here that it gives the knowledge of sin: "I had not known sin except through the law." If people were living according to different standards, every man being a judge in his own case, what A would think to be right B would think to be wrong, and vice versa. People would think conflicting things, and as long as a man held himself to be Judge of what was right and what was wrong he would not feel that he was a sinner. 80 the real standard, not a sliding scale, is put down among all the varying ideas of right and wrong. What is the object? It is to reveal the lack of conformity to the law: "I had not known sin, except through the law."


(2) The second reason is that it provokes to sin. He says, "Sin, finding occasion, through the commandment beguiled me, and through it slew me." If children were forbidden to climb telephone poles they would all desire to climb them, and they would never think of it if they were not forbidden. So that law was designed to show just what inherent nature will bring out. A snake is very pretty at certain times, and one may think that the enmity between him and the human race is hardly justifiable, but let him give a snake the opportunity to develop just what is in him, and then he will have a different opinion. Who would have supposed that it was in human nature to do the things done in the French Revolution? Man is a good sort of creature; he would not impale a body on a bayonet; he would not burn a woman at the stake; he would not put their fingers in a thumbscrew; he would not put a man on the rack and torture him; but nobody knows the evil that is in human nature until it has a chance to show what is in it.


(3) The law brings all that out; hence, one object of the law is to make sin appear to be sin, and to be exceeding sinful – to make it seem what it is, and not just a peccadillo, or a misdemeanor, but an exceedingly vile, ghastly, and hateful thing.


(4) Then the object of the law is to work death: "Sin, taking occasion by the law, beguiled and slew me." The death there referred to is the death in one's own mind. It means conviction that one is lost – that is the death he is talking about. For he explains immediately, where he says, "I was alive apart from the law once," that is, he felt like he was all right, but when the commandment came he saw that he was a dead man – under condemnation of death. And that is one of the works of the Holy Spirit bringing about conviction, making a man see that he is a sinner, .making him feel that he is a sinner, that he is exceeding sinful.


And we may distrust any kind of preaching that is dry-eyed, that has no godly sorrow, that has no repentance. If one thinks that he is a very little sinner, then a very little Saviour is needed. We depreciate our Saviour just to the extent that we extenuate our sin.


The next passage is also of real importance, (7:15-25). There is only one important question on it: "Is the experience there related the experience of a converted man, or of an unconverted man?" If one wants to see how men dissent on it, let him read his commentaries.


Let us see some of the points: "That which I do I know not [the word "know" is used in the sense of approve]; for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me . . . For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice. But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Now is that a saved or an unsaved man? Our Methodist brethren tell us that that is the experience of an unsaved man; that we don't get to conversion until we come to chapter 8. I say that there we strike sanctification. The point is this: If the mind of the flesh – the carnal mind – is enmity against God, if it is not subject to the law of God, and neither indeed can be, then how can that mind, "delight in the law of God in the inward man?" How can he approve that which is good? From verse 16 to the end of chapter 7 he discusses a certain imperfection attending the regenerate state. The experience of every regenerate man will corroborate this: "I know a certain thing is right. I am ashamed to say I didn't do it; I know a certain thing is wrong, and I approve the law that makes it wrong, and I am ashamed to say I have done that very thing." And if there is one thing that disturbs the Christian and troubles him, it is to find a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. That is expressed here: "Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" That expression of Paul's has been (and I think rightly) supposed to refer to an ancient penalty inflicted on a man that had committed a certain offense. He was chained to a dead body, and he had to carry that dead body with him everywhere he went. He alive, that body dead, he would want a pure atmosphere to inhale, and that body would be exhaling the stench of corruption. It was a miserable condition: "Who will deliver me from this body of death?"


One of the great French preachers preached on that subject before Louis XIV. We find a reference to it in Strong's Systematic Theology. He was talking about the two l's; "that which I approve I do not; that which I would not do that I do." And the French preacher was pointing out the two men in a man, and how they fought against each other, and the king interrupted him in his sermon and said, "Ah, I know those two men." The preacher pointed at him and said, "Sire, it is somewhat to know them, but, your majesty, one or the other of them must die." It isn't enough just to know them; one or the other of them is going ultimately to triumph. What is the meaning of 8:4: "That the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"? Here is the fulfilment in us. It is not imputed righteousness that is being discussed here; that is justification. But it is the object of regeneration and sanctification to make a personal righteousness. The object of regeneration and sanctification is that in us the law might be fulfilled as well as for us in the death of Christ. That is the meaning of the passage, and it is one of the profoundest gratifications to me that my salvation does not stop at justification. I am glad to think that the law has no claims on me, but I could not be happy, being only justified and loving sin. I not only want to be delivered from sin but from the love of sin in regeneration, and the dominion of sin in sanctification.


The apostle describes the two minds in 8:5-8: "For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh." Here flesh does not mean the body. The flesh does not mean the tissues and the blood. That would constitute only a physical man. What he means by the flesh is the carnal mind. Now he is discussing the two. He continues: "But they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." There are the two minds: "For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be; they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is just like trying to wash away the soul's sins in water.


We might take the sinner up and hold him under Niagara Falls and let it pour on him for ten thousand years and we could never wash away the soul's sins. It was impossible for the blood of bullocks to take away sin. It is impossible for the water of baptism to take away sin. This carnal mind cannot be made into a Christian. We can whitewash it, and there are many preachers that do that sort of business. It may be outwardly beautiful, like a tomb, but inwardly it is full of rottenness and dead men's bones.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What has been considered in this letter hitherto?

 

2. What now before us in 6:1 to 8-39?

 

3. What two questions properly introduce this section, and what their meaning?

 

4. What of the significance of these questions?

 

5. What the reply to them embodying the substance of this section?

 

6. What the doctrine of baptism bearing upon this point set forth in 6:1-11?

 

7. What the meaning of 6:7: "He that hath died is justified from sin"?

 

8. What the argument based upon that statement?

 

9. What the force of the question, "Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace"?

 

10. What the contrast and argument in 6:23?

 

11. What is the illustration in 7:2, and what the force of it?

 

12. la the law sin? If not, what its relation to sin?

 

13. Expound the passage, 7:15-25.

 

14. What is the meaning and application of 8:4?

 

15. How does the apostle describe the two minds, and what the teaching?  

 

 

XVI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

SALVATION IN US (CONTINUED)

Romans 6:1 to 8:39

 


In this chapter we continue the discussion of salvation in us, or regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. Regeneration is a change of mind. The carnal mind cannot be made into a Christian, hence there must be a change. Is the change simply using the old mind, but modifying it, or is it a change like this: A woman put her baby in the cradle at night and the next morning there was another baby in the cradle which she called the changeling? That was not any imitation of the baby that was in there before. Just so we waste our time if we try to make a Christian out of the carnal mind. We can't do it. That is why regeneration is called a creation, which is to make something out of nothing – not out of a material having already existed.


What Paul is expressing here is that we may take the fallen nature of man which he has inherited from Adam and commence an educational process in the cradle, and continue it up to the adult stage and get a very respectable church member, but not a saved person.


Education has no creative power at all. He may be very proper in his behavior; he may pay the preacher; he may go to Sunday school; he may do everything in the world that will enable him to appear to be a Christian, and yet not be a Christian. There must be a breaking up of the fallow ground. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except ye be born from above, ye cannot even see the kingdom of heaven."


The conclusion reached by the apostle in this argument is in verse II: "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Now the question, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death, this evil mind this evil body? It comes through Christ, but it is Christ working through the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that made Christ's body alive; it is the Holy Spirit that will make our bodies alive at the resurrection; it is the Holy Spirit that will glorify these bodies and when they come out they will be spiritual bodies and not carnal bodies.


There is a test presented in verse 14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Who are God's children? Those that have the Spirit – those that are led by the Spirit. We are regenerated by the Spirit, and under the guidance of that Spirit we turn away from sin. If we fall we try to fall toward heaven, and get up and try again. There is a sense of wanting to get nearer and nearer to God. We want to know whether we are Christians. Here is the test: We are led by the Spirit of God.


That brings us to the word "adoption." What is adoption? Etymologically it is that legal process by which one, not a member of a family naturally, is legally made a member of it and an heir. There are three kinds of adoption which the apostle discusses in this letter:

 

1. National adoption, Romans 9:4: "My kinsman according to the flesh who are Israelites, whose is the adoption." Many times in the Old Testament Israel is called God's son, the nation as a nation being his particular people.


2. The adoption of the soul of the justified man, Romans 8:15: "Ye received the spirit of adoption."


3. The adoption of our bodies when they are redeemed from the grave and glorified, Romans 8:23: "Waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."


The fact of our adoption is certified to us in Romans 8:1516: "For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God." That is a matter of our subjective experience. As in the case of justification there must be a difference of time between the fact of our justification and our realization of its privileges, so there must be and indeed often is a difference in time between the fact of our adoption and our realization in experience that we are adopted. The cry, "Abba, Father," means that in our experience a filial feeling toward God comes into the heart. Antecedent to this when we thought of God he seemed to us to be distant and dreadful, but when through the Holy Spirit given unto us came this conscious realization that God is a Father, it drove out all fear.


We do not feel ourselves under bondage to law, but we have the sense in our hearts of being God's children, and as a little child readily approaches a parent in expectation of either help or comfort, we have this feeling toward our heavenly Father. It is one of the sweetest experiences of the Christian life. There is no distinction of meaning between the spirit of adoption and the Spirit's bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, or if there is a distinction it is not appreciable in our consciousness, since it is the Spirit that bestows that filial feeling.


As an illustration of this filial feeling in the heart I cite a story of the west well-known to our boys. While two children, a little boy and his sister, were playing, the boy was stolen by the Indians and reared among them until he caught the spirit of an Indian and gloried in the Indian life. Finally he became chief of the tribe. In a war between his tribe and the white people, he was captured and it was discovered that he was not an Indian but a white man. Finally the proof accumulated as to who were his parents, yet he refused to acknowledge them. With the sullenness of a captured Indian he pined away for the wigwams and the freedom of his Indian life. Every effort to make him realize that he was a white man failed until his sister, then a grown woman, brought the toys with which the two were playing when the boy was stolen. As he looked at them his memory awakened and he stretched out his hands and claimed them as his and said, "Where is my mother?" Now here in him was a consciousness of filial feeling towards his parents from whom he had been so long alienated. Analogous to this very impression is our experience that God is our Father.


In a vivid way the apostle represents the earth, man's habitat, as entering sympathetically into man's longing for his complete restoration to God's favor through adoption, Romans 8:20-23: "For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body," the meaning of which is that this earth was made for man; to him was given dominion over it, but when he sinned the earth was cursed. In the language of the scripture, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." In Isaiah 55:12-13, we have this vivid imagery following conversion: "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all of the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." In other words, the joy that is in the heart of the Christian constitutes a medium of rose color through which all creation seems to him more beautiful than it was before. The birds sing sweeter, the flowers exhale a sweeter perfume, the stars shine brighter, all of which is a sign, or forecast, of the redemption of the earth from the curse when man's redemption is complete. This curse as originally pronounced upon the earth was not through any fault of creation, as our text says: "Subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who had subjected it in hope." And very impressive and vivid is the imagery that the groaning of the earth is as travail, waiting to be redeemed from the defilement and scars and crimson stains that have been put upon it through man's inhumanity to man on account of sin.


Other scriptures very clearly show that this redemption of the earth accompanies the redemption of man. As the earth was cleansed from defilement of sin practiced by the antediluvians through the flood, so at the coming of our Lord and the resurrection of our bodies it will be purged by fire. The language of the apostle Peter upon this subject is very impressive: "For this they wilfully forget that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; but the heavens that now are and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. . . . But the day of the Lord will come as a thief: in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? But according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:5-7, 10-13). In John's apocalypse, referring to the restitution of all things after the judgment, he says, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more" (Rev. 21:1). This is the day of fire referred to in Malachi 4:1-3: "For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and gambol as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under soles of your feet in the day that I make, saith Jehovah of hosts." This is the day of fire which the apostle Paul says shall try every man's work: "But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:12-15).


In continuation of the theme of this section the apostle further shows the power of the work of salvation in us through the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete. But the Greek word Paraclete needs to be defined. While our Lord was on the earth he was the paraclete, to whom as the paraclete the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray," and in many examples of his own praying and in many special lessons on prayer he taught the disciples, and they were sad at heart when at the last supper he announced his speedy going away from them, but comforted them with the assurance that he would pray the Father to send them another paraclete – the Holy Spirit, who would teach them to pray acceptably. Prayers not according to the will of God are not answered. We may ask for things, being in doubt as to whether it is God's will that such things should be granted, but the Holy Spirit is not in doubt. He knows what is according to the will of God, and hence when he moves us intensely to offer prayers those prayers will always be according to God's will, and so will be answered. Thus while Jesus in heaven makes intercession for us before the mercy seat, the other Paraclete – the Holy Spirit – here on earth makes intercession in us. We are not to understand that the Holy Spirit directly prays for the Christian, but his method of intercession is to prompt us to make the right intercession, and it is in that way that he makes intercession for us. He teaches us how to pray, and what to pray for. That is why great revivals of religion are in connection with these spiritual prayers offered by God's people. Hence the prophet says, "Thorns and briers shall come up on the land of my people till the Spirit is poured out from on high."


The most vivid illustration of the thought is found in the prophecy Zechariah in connection with an event yet in the future, to wit, the salvation of the Jewish nation. The language is,


And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in. bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there by a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Meggidon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the houses of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of the Shimeites apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. – Zechariah 12:10 to 13:1.


It is on account of the Spirit's intercession in us that backsliders are ever reclaimed. As we wander away from God we lose the spirit of prayer, and while we go through with the forms of prayer we are conscious that our prayers do not rise, do not take hold of the throne of God, but when the Spirit comes upon the backslider then his hard heart is melted, the fountain of his tears is unsealed, the spirit of grace and supplication comes upon him, and he is conscious that he is taking hold of the throne of mercy in his prayers.


As an illustration, many Texans have experienced the hardships of a long-continued drought, when the heavens seem to be brass and the earth seems to be iron. When vegetation dies, when dust chokes the traveler on the thoroughfare, and thirst consumes him, suddenly he comes to a well and in it is an old-fashioned pump. He leaps down from his horse, rushes to the pump, but in moving its handle he causes only a dry rattle. The reason is that through very long disuse and heat the valves of the pump have shrunk and hence cannot make suction to draw up the water. In such case water must be poured down the pump until the valves are swollen, and then as the pump handle is worked, suction draws the water as freely as at first. As that pouring the water from above down the dry pump is to its efficacy in bringing water up, so is the Spirit's intercession in us, causing us to pray successfully and according to the will of God. In that way the two elements of the gospel plan of salvation cooperate to the everlasting security of the believer. At the heaven end of the line Jesus, the first Advocate, or Paraclete, makes intercession for us as High Priest, pleading what his expiation has done for us, while the Holy Spirit, the second Advocate, or Paraclete, works in us an intercession for us here on earth. So that both ends of the line are secure in heaven above and on earth beneath. No backslider has ever been able to work himself into the true spirit of prayerfulness any more than a dry pump can be made to bring up water by working the handle. Whenever he does pray prevailingly, it is when the Spirit works in him the grace of supplication.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is regeneration? negatively and positively?

 

2. What the real import of what Paul says about it?

 

3. What the conclusion reached by Paul in. this argument?

 

4. What is the test presented in 8:147

 

5. What is adoption?

 

6. What the three kinds of adoption which the apostle discusses in this letter?

 

7. How is the fact of our adoption certified to us?

 

8. What is the meaning of the soul's cry, "Abba, Father"?

 

9. Is there any distinction between the spirit of adoption and the Spirit's bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God? If so, what?

 

10. Illustrate the filial feeling that comes to us when we are saved.

 

11. In what vivid way does Paul represent the earth, man's habitat, as entering sympathetically into man's longing for his complete restoration to God's favor through adoption?

 

12. What other scriptures very clearly show this redemption of the earth accompanying the redemption of man?

 

13. In continuation of the theme of this section, how does the apostle further show the power of the work of salvation in us?

 

14. Expound and illustrate this passage.  

 

 

XVII

 

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THE FINAL WORK OF SALVATION IN US

Romans 6:1 to 8:39

 


The final work of salvation in us is expressed in Romans 8:23 – the redemption of our body concerning which he adds: "For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." The body is an essential part of the normal man, who was made dual in nature, and even in paradise God had provided for the elimination of the mortality of man's body, through the continued eating of the tree of life. But the immortality of the body in sin would have been an unspeakable curse to man, and hence God, in expelling man from the garden, said, "Lest he put forth his hand and take of the tree of life and live forever." But when our souls are regenerated the hope enters the heart that the body also will be saved, and we wait patiently for that part of our salvation. While the meaning of a passage in Job is somewhat disputable, the author believes that the common version is correct. It expresses the idea of Job in these words:
Oh, that my words wee now written) Oh, that they were inscribed in a book I That with an iron pen and lead They were graven in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that my redeemer liveth, And that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, Yet in my flesh shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, And not another: though my reins be consumed within me.


– Job 19:23-27.


And the passage is akin to the expression in Psalm 17: "I will be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." This harmonizes with another very striking passage in Job:
For there is hope of a tree, If it be cut down, that it will sprout again, And that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old ill the earth, And the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, And put forth boughs like a plant. But a man dieth, and is laid low: Yea, mail giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, And the river wasteth and drieth up; So man lieth down and riseth not: Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, Nor be roused out of their sleep. Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, That thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember met If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, Till my release should come. Thou wouldst call, and I would answer thee: Thou wouldst have a desire to the work of thy hands.


– Job 14:7-15.


Here Job is deeply impressed with the hope of a tree cut down reviving. There is a resurrection for it, but he Bays, "When a man dies, where is he [that is, as to his soul] and if a man die shall he [as to his body] live again?" Inasmuch as the body was the work of God's hands and originally intended to be immortal, he expresses the hope that God would hide him in the grave and appoint a set time to remember him there and then desire the work of his hands and call him forth from his long sleep.


The fulness of the salvation in us is the regeneration of the soul, its ultimate sanctification, and the resurrection and glorification of the body. It has ever been impossible to satisfy the cravings of a human heart with the hope of soul salvation only. It is ingrained in the very constitution of our being that we long for the revivification of the body. A bird escaping from its shell to fly with a new life in the air cares nothing for the cast-off shell. A butterfly emerging from the chrysalis state cares nothing for the shell that is left behind. But from the beginning of time, through this ingrained hope of immortality for the body, man has cared for the body shell after the spirit has escaped. It is evidenced in the care for the dead body characteristic of all nations. It is evidenced in the names given to graveyards. They are called cemeteries, that is, sleeping places. It is evident in the sculpture on the tombstones and in the inscriptions thereon, all tending to show that man desires an answer to the question, "If I die, shall I live again?" And the thought being, not with reference to the continuity of existence in his spiritual nature, but in his body. Hence the resurrection of the dead is made in the Christian system, a pivotal doctrine, as we learn from the letter to the Corinthians: that our faith is vain, our preaching is vain, we are yet in our sins, our fathers have perished and God's apostles are false witnesses, if the dead rise not. That is the conclusion of the doctrine of salvation in us. All the rest of chapter 8 is devoted to a new theme.

 

THE EVERLASTING SECURITY OF THOSE WHO ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH


The argument extends from verse 26 to the end of the chapter, and it is perhaps the most remarkable paragraph in inspired literature. It should be memorized by every Christian. Every thought in it has been the theme of consolatory and encouraging preaching.


Let us now consider item by item this argument on the security of the believer:


1. He takes the latitudinal view, from top to bottom. Down here he finds a Christian. Up yonder at the other end of the line is the Advocate. But there is an Advocate here, too. And these Advocates, one here on earth in the depths, and the other yonder in the heights of heaven, are going to see to it that that Christian gets there all right through prayer and faith. If a Christian sins, he must confess it and ask God to forgive him. Sometimes he has not the spirit of prayer and does not feel like asking. But God provides an advocate, the Holy Spirit, that puts into his heart the spirit of grace and supplication. And the Holy Spirit not only shows him what to pray for, but how to pray. That makes things secure at this end of the line. Up yonder the advocate in heaven, Jesus Christ the righteous, takes these petitions that the Spirit inspired on earth and goes before the Father, and pointing to the sufficiency of his shed blood in his death on the cross, secures this salvation from depth to height.


2. The unbroken sweep of the providence of God: "To them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose."


With Christ on the mediatorial throne in heaven holding in his hand the scepter of universal dominion, constraining everything – beings in heaven above and on the earth beneath and in hell below – to work, not tangentially, but together for good – not evil – to them that love God, in the sweep of this providence all elements and forces of the material world and the spiritual world, are laid under tribute – fire, earth, air, storms and earthquakes, pestilences, good angels and bad, the passions of men, the revolutions in human government – all are made, under the directing power of Jesus our King, to conspire to our good. Fortune and misfortune, good report and evil report, sickness or health, life or death, prosperity or adversity, it is all one – the power of God is over them all. Satan is not permitted to put even the weight of a little finger upon the Christian to worry him except in the direction that God will permit, and that will be overruled for his good.


3. This sweep of providential government under our mediatorial King accords with a linked chain of correlative doctrines reaching from eternity before time to eternity after time. The links of this chain are thus expressed in verses 29 30: "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Before there was any world, a covenant of grace and mercy was entered into between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the evidences of which covenant are abundant in the New Testament, and the parts to be performed by each person of the God-head are clearly expressed, viz.: The Father's grace and love in agreeing to send the Son, his covenant obligation to give the Son a seed, his foreknowledge of this seed, his predestination concerning this seed, his justification and adoption of them here in time.


Then the Son's covenant was the obligation to assume human nature in his incarnation, voluntarily renouncing the glory that he had with the Father before the world was, and in this incarnation of humility to become obedient unto the death of the cross. The consideration held out before him, as a hope set before him, inducing him to endure the shame of the cross, and the reward bestowed upon him because of that obedience, was his resurrection, his glorification, his exaltation to the royal priestly throne and his investment with the right of judgment. And then the Spirit's covenant-obligations were to apply this work of redemption in calling, convicting, regenerating, sanctifying and raising from the dead the seed promised to the Son, the whole of it showing that the plan of salvation was not an afterthought; that the roots of it in election and predestination are both in eternity before the world was, and the fruits of it are in eternity after the judgment. The believer is asked to consider this chain, test each link, shake it and hear it rattle, connected from eternity to eternity.


Every one that God chose in Christ is drawn by the Spirit to Christ. Every one predestinated is called by the Spirit in time, and justified in time, and will be glorified when the Lord comes.


4. It is impossible for finite beings to say anything against the grounds of this security, because "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Because, "He that spared not his own Son, to deliver him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" Then the challenge is sent to the universe to find anyone who can lay any charge against God's elect – who in heaven, who among the angels, good or bad, who on the earth? No charge can be brought against a believer because it is God, the Supreme Judge, who has justified him. Justification is the verdict, or declaration, of the supreme court of heaven that in Christ the sinner is acquitted. This decision is rendered once for all, is inexorable and irreversible. It is registered in the book of life, and in the great judgment day that book will be the test book on the throne of the judgment. Whatever may be brought out from all the books that are opened, none of them are decisive and ultimate but one – the book of life – and it is not a docket of cases to be tried on that day, but is a register of judicial decisions already rendered; "and it shall come to pass that whosoever is not found already written in that book shall be cast into the lake of fire." Therefore the thrill excited in the heart by that song which our congregations so often used to sing:
When Thou my righteous Judge shall come, To take thy ransomed people home Shall I among them stand? Shall I, who sometimes am afraid to die Be found at thy right hand? 0, can I bear the piercing thought, What if my name should be left out!


5. The ground of this salvation is what Christ does. Spurgeon calls 8:34 the four pillars upon which rests the whole superstructure of salvation. They are: (a) The death of Christ, (b) The resurrection of Christ, (c) The exaltation of Christ to the kingly throne, (d) His intercession as our great High Priest. These four doctrines are strictly correlative – they fit into one another. The soul of the Christian does not at the beginning realize the strength of his salvation. Many a one has simply believed on Christ as a Saviour without ever analyzing in his own mind, or separating from each other in thought, the several things done by Christ in order to his salvation. But as he grows in knowledge of these things, he grows in grace and assurance. It was some time after my own soul was saved before I ever understood fully the power of Christ's exaltation, or kingly throne, and still longer before I understood the power of his intercession. I got to the comfort of this last thought one day in reading a passage in Hebrews. "Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing be ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). I had never before seen the difference between salvation in justification and salvation to the uttermost. In the same way we may not realize in our joy of regeneration the power of his continuing that good work in us until the day of Jesus Christ, and the great value of the Spirit's work in taking the things of Christ and showing them to us. And as we learn each office of Christ, and just what he does in that office, the greater our sense of security. He is prophet, sacrifice, king, priest, leader, and judge.


6. The final argument underlying the security of the believer is presented in verses 35-37, that none can separate us from the love of Christ after our union is established with. him. The words here are, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors." The argument is in full accord with the statement of our Lord, John 10:29: "My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." It is further expressed in another passage by the apostle when he says, "I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day." And it is further expressed in the seal of the Holy Spirit. We are sealed "unto the day of redemption."


When I was a schoolboy I was wonderfully stirred by an eloquent sermon preached by J. R. Graves in which he pointed out that fact that by faith we commit our lives to Jesus; that life is hid with Christ in God; that life is sealed with the impression of the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption, and then he asked, "Who can pluck that life out of the hands of God?" drawing this vivid picture: "If hell should open her yawning mouth and all of the demons of the pit should issue forth like huge vampires darkening water and land, could they break that seal of God? Could they soar to the heights of heaven? Could they scale its battlements? Could they beat back the angels that guard its walls? Could they penetrate into the presence of the Holy One on his eternal throne, and reach out their demon-claws and pluck our life from the bosom of God where it is hid with Christ in God?"


The pages of religious persecution are very bloody; rack, thumbscrews and fagot have been employed. Confiscation of property, expatriation from country, and bounding pursuit of the exile in foreign lands, exposedness to famine and nakedness and sword and other perils, and yet never has this persecution been able to effect a separation of the believer from his Lord. Roman emperors tried it, Julian the apostate tried it, Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles V, their son, and Philip II, his son, all tried it in their time. The inquisition held its secret court; war, conflagration, and famine wrought their ruin, but the truth prevailed.


All this illustrates the truth that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. The Genevan, the German, the English State churches have tried, in emulation of the Romanist union of church and state, to crush out the true spirit" of Christianity. They have been able merely to scatter the fires, to make them burn over a wider territory as it is expressed concerning the decree to scatter the ashes of Wycliffe in the river.


Now upon these arguments, the two intercessors, the sweep of God's providence, the link chain reaching from eternity to eternity, the impossibility of any being laying a charge against one whom God has justified, the four pillars, the inability of man or devil to separate from Christ – upon these, the apostle reaches this persuasion:


"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the final work of salvation in us?

 

2. What provision did God first make for the immortality of man's body?

 

3. What defeated that plan, and how is this immortality finally accomplished?

 

4. What Job's testimony to this hope; What the interpretation of the passage?

 

5. How is this hope in man evidenced in a singular way?

 

6. How does Paul elsewhere make the resurrection a pivotal doctrine in the Christian system?

 

7. Name the six arguments for the security of those who are justified by faith as taught in Romans 8.

 

8. Explain the argument based on the two intercessors.

 

9. What the providential argument, and what does it include?

 

10. What is the link chain argument, and how many and what links in the chain?

 

11. In the covenant of grace, what the parts to be performed by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, respectively?

 

12. What the nonchargeable elect argument, and what the book of life cited in this connection?

 

13. Recite the stanza from the old song given in this connection.

 

14. What the ground of this salvation, and what the four-pillar argument?

 

15. Show how one may not comprehend all this when first converted, and how he may afterwards get great strength from it.

 

16. What the nonseparation argument, what J. R. Graves', illustration of it, and how do the persecutions inflicted upon God's people illustrate a great scripture truth?

 

17. In view of these arguments, what Paul’s persuasion?  

 

 

XVIII

 

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THE HARMONY OF THE PROBLEM OF JEWISH UNBELIEF WITH THE PLAN OF SALVATION Romans 9:1 to 10:21.

 


Paul's statement of the plan of salvation closes with chapter 8, so we now take up the problem of Jewish unbelief, its effect on Paul, and the occasion and extent of his concern: So far as this letter goes we find the discussion in 9:1-5, and in 10:1-2, but this concern is equally evident in Luke's history of his labors, addresses and sermons in Acts, and in several other letters written by Paul. One of the deepest passions of his soul was excited and stirred by this problem of Jewish unbelief. The grounds of his concern are the following:


1. These people were his kindred according to the flesh.


2. It was his nation and country, and he had an intense patriotism.


3. They were God's adopted people.


4. They had all of the marvelous privileges of that adoption, and these privileges are thus enumerated by him in chapter 9, first paragraph:


(1) "Whose is the adoption and the glory." This glory was the cloud, symbolizing the Divine Presence.


(2) They had the covenants, the covenant of grace with Abraham in Genesis 12, and the covenant of circumcision as expressed in Genesis 17.


(3) Then they had the giving of the law on Mount Sinai – such a law as cannot be paralleled in the later world. The circumstances under which it was given were more imposing and impressive than the giving of any other code in the annals of time. They had that.


(4) Then they had the promises – the promise to Abraham, the promise to Isaac, the promise to Jacob, the promise to the nation, the promise to Moses, and so on. They had all the promises.


(5) Then they had the fathers, the patriarchs. It was an illustrious heritage. No other nation had such a list of fathers – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs, the great leaders all through their history.


(6) Then they had the services, that is, the imposing ritual of worship set forth in the book of Exodus from chapter 38 to the end, and in all of the book of Leviticus, and a great part of the book of Numbers. That service showed the place to meet God, the time to meet God, the sacrificial .means of hearings before God, the mediator through whom they could approach God. They had that service. No other nation has ever had anything like it. All the churches of the present time have not improved that ritual, including the Romans, the Greeks, the Catholics, the Epicureans, and some Baptists who wear robes in the pulpit and intone their services.


(7) The last and greatest of the privileges was, that of them came Christ according to the flesh, the line running through Seth, Heber, Peleg, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and on down until we come to Christ himself. They had Christ according to the flesh. That was the ground and the occasion of his interest. So the problem is, that Christ was rejected by his own people. More than once an infidel has said to me, "If the proof and the merits of Christ be so obvious, why is it that his own people did not take him?"


We now come to the extent of Paul's concern for this rejection of Christ. (1) He says in chapter 10, which is a part of this section, "I bear my people witness that they have a zeal toward God, but not according to knowledge. (2) I sincerely desire the salvation of my people. (3) Their rejection of Christ gives me continual sorrow and pain of heart. (4) Finally, I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren's sake." There is only one similar expression in the history of men, and that is where Moses, when all Israel had sinned and God said, "I will blot them out," stood in the breach and said, "If thou wilt not forgive these people, blot my name out of thy book." That disposition on the part of Moses and Paul not merely to suffer temporal death but severance from Christ if it would save the nation, approaches the feeling that was in the heart of the redeemer when he came to die the spiritual death for the salvation of men. Two others had the experience that is here illustrated, for instance, when Abraham offered up his only begotten son, and passed through the anguish of a father's heart in giving up his son. He is the only man in the world whose experience approximated the experience of God the Father, when he gave up his only begotten Son. And Isaac, in consenting to be so sacrificed, approximated the experience of the Son in voluntarily coming at the Father's bidding to die for the world. Higher than all the mountain peaks of time, stands these four names: Abraham, representing the sacrifice of the Father; Isaac, representing the sacrifice of the Son; Moses and Paul, representing the Spirit that prompted Jesus to be forsaken of God in order to the salvation of men.


We come now to the key-sentence of these three chapters, in verse 6: "But it is not as though the word of God hath come to naught." The object of the plan of salvation as presented in chapter 8 has this objection against it: Since the Jewish people did not believe it, how can we harmonize with that plan the problem of the unbelief of the Jews themselves? He starts off to argue that question by the affirmation that this Jewish rejection of Christ does not militate against the plan of salvation as set forth. That is his proposition, and the first argument that he makes is that all of Abraham's children – all of Abraham's lineal descendants – were never included in that national adoption. Abraham had two sons Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael and his descendants, the Ishmaelites, are not included. Keturah, Abraham's second wife, had a pretty large family, and these Midianites, descendants of Keturah, were not included. Then the next one after Abraham, Isaac, had two children, Jacob and Esau. Esau and the Edomites descended from him, though lineal descendants, were not included. He then presents a case of divine sovereignty concerning these two children of Isaac. He says that the selection of the one to be the people of God in the adopted sense and the rejection of the other, was not based upon any work, and good to be done by the one or evil to be done by the other. It was not according to the wish of the parents of those children. The selection was made before the children were born – before either one of them knew good from evil. So that it was not of Isaac that willed Esau to be the heir, nor of Esau that ran to get the venison in order that he might obtain the blessing of the heir, nor of the plotting of Rebekah and Jacob. Their plotting did not have anything to do with it. It was not of him that runneth, nor him that plotteth; it was the act of divine sovereignty.


Whatever is meant by this adoption of a nation, it was not based upon any merit in that nation, or in the particular individuals through whom this adoption came. Jerusalem when it was first established was no better than any other city; it was of God's sovereignty just as the raising up of Pharaoh. "For this purpose did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power." Right on the reels of that comes the question from the objector, "Why doth he still find fault? For who withstandeth his will?" Paul is not disposed to answer that question in this connection. We will find the answer before we get through with these three chapters, but here he waives it aside with a counter question: "Hath not the potter power over his clay to take one part of the lump and make a beautiful vessel for the parlor, and to take another part and make a very inferior vessel for the kitchen? And shall either one of the vessels object to the potter?" He waives it for the time being by merely denying the power of the Christian to intrude into the power of the divine sovereignty. His purpose is to show that the word of God touching salvation has not come to be ineffectual because the Jews rejected it.


That is the argument he is on now, and he then advances in it, and says, "Not even all the lineal descendants of Abraham in the select line according to the plan of salvation were to be saved; not all of them could see these two covenants side by side; one was a national covenant, with its seal of circumcision, and promising the earthly Canaan, and the other was the grace covenant that looked to a spiritual seed." Or, as he puts it in another place, "He is not a Jew (in the spiritual sense) who is just one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly. The circumcision is not the circumcision of the flesh, but the circumcision of the heart – regeneration." In the exercise of the sovereign purpose of God, there is nothing that the finite man can do concerning him. It is an ocean too deep for our line to fathom. We would have to be infinite to understand it, but we do know that in all human history, without any explanation to us, God's purpose is working. God bad a purpose in having this continent discovered just when it was. He had a purpose in the success of the American Revolution. He had a purpose in the redemption of Texas in the battle of San Jacinto.


High above human thought, beyond the scope of human sight, of the human mind, the Omnipotence and Omniscience is ruling, and his rule is supreme, and yet nobody is taken by the hair and dragged into hell, and nobody is taken by the hair and dragged into heaven, as he will show more particularly later.


Let us explain and give the application of the vessels of wrath and mercy. In chapter 9 is a passage, from verse 22 to the end of the chapter, about the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy. Those that were vessels of wrath, those who voluntarily stand against God, God patiently endured a long time, and his forbearance signified that he was giving them opportunity for repentance. Those vessels of mercy, they also had opportunity for salvation, whether they were Jews or Greeks. He shows that God is no respecter of persona in selecting the Jewish nation. But why did he select that nation? If he had selected the Jewish nation, every one of them to be saved in heaven, and rejected every other nation, then the objection would have been sustained, but it had a different purpose. The election of the Jewish nation looked to the salvation of the Jews and Gentiles that received the message of God, also the covenants, and the coming of Christ from them according to the flesh. That election looked through them to others and, so far as salvation in heaven is concerned, the Jews that believed were saved, and so far as other nations were concerned he quotes certain parts in Hosea and the Old Testament, the paragraph referring to the ingathering of the Gentiles: "I will call them my people which were not my people."


In objecting to God's selecting one nation and calling that nation "my people" he says, "I will call them my people which were not my people," and in a place where it is said, "They are not my people, there shall they be called sons of the living God," if they believe on Jesus Christ. He then quotes from Isaiah who distinguishes between the holy stock of Israel and the natural stock of Israel as if he had said, "If the number of Israel had been as abundant as the sands of the sea, it is only the remnant that are saved" – those that by faith accept Christ. We see he is laying the predicate for that olive tree illustration that he will introduce later in the discussion. Isaiah then goes on to say that if the grace of God had not been revealed, and the Lord God of hosts had not left a seed, the whole of them would have been as Sodom and Gomorrah. Nothing but divine grace saves those that were saved – not their ritual, not their law. He then reaches this conclusion, "What shall we say then?" The Gentiles who followed not after righteousness, that is, the Jewish way, attained to righteousness because they sought it in a different way. The Jew following the law had not arrived at righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but by works; they stumbled at that stumbling stone.


Next he shows that the rejection of the Jews was not total, He commences chapter 10 by slating that as far as he is personally concerned his heart's desire and prayer for Israel is that they would be saved, and he is willing to acknowledge that they had a zeal, but not the zeal of knowledge. They busied themselves to establish their own plan of righteousness, and he puts it in such a way that we can't mistake the law righteousness and leave the faith righteousness as they did. We must not forget that the law says, "Do to live," but faith says "Live to do." In other words, doing the will of God comes out of having been made alive to God. Life must come first; make the tree good, and then the fruit will be good. One of them makes doing the means of life, and the other puts life as a means of doing. Then he shows that while Moses had handed down this law and set before them its requirements that if one would have kept its requirements in strict obedience he would have been saved, but the law required him to start right in his nature and then to continue to do everything that is contained in the law. He goes on to quote from Moses. Paul quotes from the Hebrew and not from the Septuagint which runs thus: "The righteousness which is of faith saith thus, Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend unto heaven (that is, to bring the Saviour down, or to bring salvation down) or, Who shall descend from heaven (that is, to bring Christ up from the grave.)" This is the Septuagint idea. The Hebrew idea is not that a man tries to go to heaven as the ancient Titan tried to do – by piling Pela on Ossa to make a stairway. Nor that he tries to go directly into the depths, down into the abyss, and wrench salvation from the depths. The Hebrew represents him, not as going down, but as going across, saying that man does not go to the other side of the sea to find salvation to bring it back. Paul changes this a little and makes it correspond better than does Moses. Instead of going across the sea, he has the man going down into the depths of the sea, and he goes on, still quoting Moses, that the real salvation does not come from afar. Paul puts this explanation on it, that it was the word that he preached: "It is the word of faith which we preach."


The plan of salvation is not making tedious pilgrimages; it is not wearing a hairy undershirt to irritate; it is not wearing bracelets that have thorns on them, and to keep on doing penance; it is the word of faith.


Thus he says, "You may be sure that if from the heart you believe in Jesus Christ, and if with your lips you make confession of that faith, you shall be saved." It is not an intellectual faith – it is heart faith. But a good many people misunderstand the import of confession. It doesn't mean to confess sins to your brother, nor to a priest, nor even to God – that is not the confession he is talking about, but it is a public confession of Christ as Saviour. If we have not faith enough to confess the Christ that we say we believe in, we have not faith enough to be saved. Confession implies that whoever makes it must have a great deal of courage. In this time of peace it doesn't cost much to confess Christ, and even now sometimes shame prevents confession by young people. The young lady going into a city is told not to join a church because that will deprive her of all social functions. "Whoever shall be ashamed of me before this generation, of him shall I be ashamed before my father and the holy angels. And whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny." And if we are afraid or ashamed to come out in public, and say, "I take Christ as my Saviour," then the Father will be ashamed of us.


This law has no distinction as to nationality; there was only one door to Noah's ark. The elephant went in at the same door as the snail, and the eagle sweeped down through the same door that a little wren hopped in at. And there is not a side door for a woman to go in. We all go to Christ through the same door. While it is true that God called Israel out of Egypt, the same Bible says that he called the Philistines out of Caphtor, and he is the Lord of all nations, and the universality of the plan of salvation is expressed in "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Then comes up the question, How can any one call on God who has not believed in God, and how can be believe in a God of whom he has never heard? How can he hear unless somebody tells him – unless there be a preacher – and how can there be a preacher except he be sent? The sending there means God sent. What a marvelous theme for a missionary sermon!


Having stated that, he raises another question, "Have they not heard? Didn't they have preachers?" Has not the word gone to them? From Genesis we learn that the antediluvians had light enough to be saved, and Paul is here quoting a psalm: "Their sound went out through all the earth." Jesus Christ is the true light that lights every man that comes into the world. There has been light enough if the people had been willing to walk in the light.


I once heard a Methodist preacher state to a congregation that the heathen that did the best they could would be saved.


But he didn't produce any heathen who had done their best. And where is the man that has done his best?


The plan by which men are to be saved is the plan to make the promise sure to all. It is as quick as lightning in its application. It is a fine thing for a man to quit his meanness; it is a fine thing for a man to do the best he can, but certainly it is not the way of salvation; we don't secure salvation by that. "With a nation void of understanding will I anger you." In other words, "If you will have no God, you adopted people, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people," as Isaiah said, "I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them. But to Israel he said, I have stretched out my hands unto this disobedient and gainsaying people." Their whole record is no matter who called, who was sent, who preached, they rejected. Having shown them that God was not unjust in rejecting them, and that he did not violate the gospel plan of salvation, Paul says, "I am one of them; not all the Jews were lost; I am one of them." Neither in its totality nor in its perpetuity were the Jews rejected. Elijah supposed once that he stood by himself, and that he was the only one left. God says, "I have preserved 7000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal." Having shown from chapters 9-10 that the rejection of the Jews was not total, we will show from chapter II that it was not perpetual.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the problem of Romans 9:1 to 11:36?

 

2. How did it affect Paul?

 

3. What the grounds of his concern?

 

4. What the marvelous privileges of the Jews' adoption?

 

5. What the infidel argument on this point?

 

6. What the items which indicate the extent of Paul's concern for his people?

 

7. What Paul's meaning here, and what Old Testament examples of this experience and spirit?

 

8. What the key sentence of chapters 9-11, and what its meaning?

 

9. What is Paul's first argument on this point?

 

10. What the case of divine sovereignty concerning Jacob and Esau?

 

11. How is this principle illustrated in the selection of Jerusalem?

 

12. What illustration of this point from the history of Pharaoh?

 

13. What question from the objector here introduced, and how does Paul dispose of it?

 

14. What is Paul's purpose in thus disposing of this question?

 

15. What advance did he then make in his argument, and how does he illustrate it elsewhere?

 

16. What illustrations of the sovereign purpose of God cited by the author?

 

17. What the explanation of the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy in Romans 9:22ff?

 

18. How does Paul show that God was no respecter of persons in selecting the Jewish nation?

 

19. How does he prove this from the prophets?

 

20. What the conclusion of all this, then, as stated in the closing part of chapter 9?

 

21. What the argument of chapter 10?

 

22. What concession, does he make in favor of the Jews in. the first part of chapter 10, and what his objection raised?

 

23. What the difference between the law righteousness and the faith righteousness?

 

24. Why could not any one be saved by the law righteousness?

 

25. What the difference in the idea expressed in the Hebrew and that of the Septuagint?

 

26. What construction does Paul put on it, and what the application?

 

27. What is the meaning of the confession mentioned in this connection, and what its relation to salvation?

 

28. How does Paul show here that God makes no distinction between peoples of different nationalities, and what the author's illustration?

 

29. What the great missionary text in this connection?

 

30. What Paul's answer to the question, "Have they not heard?" and what the necessity of missionary operations?

 

31. With what reproof of the Jewish people does Paul close chapter 10?  

 

 

XIX

 

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THE LIMITATIONS AND MERCIFUL PURPOSE OF GOD'S REJECTION OF ISRAEL Romans 11:1-36.

 


Israel's rejection was neither total nor perpetual. The elect, or spiritual Israel, were never cast off. From Abraham to Paul every Israelite who looked through the types and by faith laid hold of the Antitype, was saved. In this sense there were no lost tribes, but out of every tribe the elect, manifested in the circumcision of the heart, not of the flesh, were saved. For example:


1. The apostle cites his own case. That he himself was an Israelite is abundantly shown here, and even more particularly elsewhere, (Phil. 3:4-6; Acts 22:3-15) and yet he was saved after Israel according to the flesh was cast off and the kingdom transferred to the Gentiles, as were all the Jews from Pentecost to Paul. The number of elect Jews thus saved was always greater than appeared to human sight, as evidenced in Elijah's time.


2. Elijah in his panic supposed himself to be alone, but Jehovah showed him that through grace there were seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal.


3. So it continued to be in Paul's time; there was a remnant spared according to grace.


But the apostle is careful to show that this elect remnant, never cast off, every one of them, was saved by grace, and not one of them by the works of law. Then he explains this finding of salvation by the elect Jews, and the casting off of the non-elect Jews by the two essentially different methods of seeking salvation. The elect sought it by faith and obtained it; the rest because they persistently sought righteousness by works of the law, rejecting God's righteousness, were judicially blinded as shown: (1) By the law itself (Deut. 29:4); (2) by the prophets (Isa. 29:10); (3) by the Psalms (Psalm 69:22).


Having shown the casting off was never total, and why, he then shows that it was not intended to be perpetual by proving the ultimate restoration of all Israel as a nation, whenever it should turn to the grace method of salvation, -the scriptural proof of which is as follows:


1. In the law itself, which denounces their casting off, is the promise of an expiation through grace (Deut. 32:43).


2. In the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple it is suggested (I Kings 8:46-53).


3. In the prophets it is clearly foretold, and all the method of it (Isa. 66:8; Ezek. 36:22 to 37:28; Zech. 12:9 to 13:1). The element of mercy dominant in the election of Israel as a nation is that they were chosen that through them all the nations might be blessed. The element of mercy in their rejection is that through their downfall life might come to other nations. The element of mercy toward the Jews in the call of the Gentiles was that cast-off Israel might be provoked to return to God. In saving Gentiles there was an aim at the salvation of his cast-off people. This is proved in his argument thus: "By their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy," and then he magnified his own office as an apostle to the Gentiles to provoke the jealousy of his own people in order that he might save some. He foresees a wonderful effect on the Gentiles in the restoration of the Jews. It will be even more beneficial than their downfall: "Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? . . . For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the-dead?" (11:12, 15). Then our concern, prayer, and labor for that great future event – the restoration of God's ancient people – is a concern for other nations who never will be thoroughly aroused until moved by redeemed Israel.


A passage from Peter shows the relation of the conversion of the Jews to our Lord's final advent, and a declaration of our Lord shows the time of this general salvation of the Jews. Peter says, "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old" (Acts 3:19-21). Our Lord says, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive unto all the nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). Then according to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, the means and methods of this great salvation of the Jews are as follows:


1. It will be preceded by a gathering together of Israel out of all nations.


2. Christ whom they pierced will be lifted up in Gentile preaching.


3. The Holy Spirit in convicting and converting power will be poured out on them, whereby they shall mourn and pray and see the Lord as their Saviour.


4. The nation shall be born of God in a day. The apostle bases this marvelous work of God upon the principle that "if the first fruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches. . . . And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins . . . For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of" (11:16, 27, 29). Then follows his illustration of the olive tree, the explanation of which is as follows:


1. Christ is the root.

 

2. The holy stock is the spiritual elect, Israel.


3. The branches broken off are the unbelieving Jews.


4. The branches grafted in are the believing Gentiles.


5. The principle is vital and spiritual connection with Christ, through faith, without respect to Jew or Gentile.


6. The unbelieving children of Abraham are like branches merely tied on the stock externally; there is no communication of the fatness of the sap into the veins of the branches tied on externally.


7. So a Gentile tied on externally, without this vital connection, will be broken off.


The divine purpose in shutting up both Gentile and Jew unto disobedience as shown in the argument (3:9-20) is expressed thus: "For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all" (11:32). We will conclude this discussion with an analysis of the doxology which is the climax of his argument:


1. An exclamation of the profundity of the riches of both God's wisdom and knowledge.


2. The incomprehensibility to the finite mind of his judgments and ways.


3. No finite being knew his mind or advised his actions.


4. No beneficiary of his goodness ever first gave to God as a meritorious ground of the benefaction.


5. Because he is the source of all good, and the medium of salvation from its initiation to its consummation, all the glory belongs to God.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the limits of Israel's rejection?

 

2. Wherein was it not total? Illustrate.

 

3. What is the apostle careful to show about this elect remnant never cast off?

 

4 How does he explain this finding of salvation by the elect Jews, and the casting off of the non-elect Jews?

 

5. How is the judicial blindness of the non-elect Jews shown?

 

6. How does he next show that the casting off was not intended to be perpetual?

 

7. What the scriptural proof of this ultimate restoration of Israel?

 

8. What element of mercy was dominant in the election of Israel as a nation?

 

9. What element of mercy in their rejection?

 

10. What element of mercy toward Jews in the call of the Gentiles? 11. How is this proved in his argument?

 

12. What effect on the Gentiles does Paul foresee in the restoration of the Jews?

 

13. What then our concern, prayer, and labor for that great future event, the restoration of God's ancient people?

 

14. Quote a passage from Peter showing the relation of the conversion of the Jews to our Lord's final advent.

 

15. Quote a passage from our Lord showing the time of this general salvation of the Jews.

 

16. According to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, what the means and methods of this great salvation of the Jews?

 

17. Upon what principle does the apostle base this marvelous work of God?

 

18. In the olive tree illustration what the root, the holy stock, the branches broken off, the branches grafted in, the principle, the condition of the unbelieving children of Abraham, and what of the Gentile tied on externally?

 

19. What then the divine purpose in shutting up both Gentile and Jew unto disobedience?

 

20. Give an analysis of the doxology.  

 

 

XX

 

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THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY GRACE APPLIED TO PRACTICAL LIFE Romans 12:1 to 16:27.

 


The prevalent characteristic of all Paul's teachings concerning the gospel is the unfailing observance of the order and relation of doctrine and morals. He never "puts the cart before the horse," and never drives the horse without the cart attached and following after. He was neither able to conceive of morals not based on antecedent doctrine, nor to conceive of doctrine not fruiting in holy living. He rigidly adhered to the Christ-idea, "First make the tree good, and then the fruit will be good." His clear mind never confounded cause and effect. To his logical and philosophical mind it was a reversal of all natural and spiritual law to expect good trees as a result of good fruit, but rather good fruit evidencing a good tree. So he conceived of justification through faith, and regeneration through the Spirit as obligating to holy living. If he fired up his doctrinal e