MAJOR BIBLE THEMES
Major Bible Themes
BY LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER
(In the Public Domain)
THIS BOOK IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED TO GEORGE C. STEBBINS
WHOSE INTIMATE COMPANIONSHIP HAS FOR THIRTY YEARS BEEN TO ME AN ABIDING INSPIRATION AND WHOSE INCOMPARABLE GOSPEL MUSIC LIKE CELESTIAL WINGS HAS CARRIED TO MULTITUDES OF SOULS IN EVERY LAND THE GREAT TRUTHS OF GOD'S WORD.
Much of the material in this book was published in the Sunday School Times (April to December, 1925) as the author's notes on the Whole Bible Lessons. Since the original series was incomplete as a representation of the more important doctrines of the Scriptures, several chapters have been added.
Those chapters which were written as Bible class lessons are outlined and named according to the direction given by the lesson committee and are based on the Scripture selections suggested by them.
This book is in no sense intended to be a treatise on systematic theology. In its preparation, a limited number of the most vital and practical themes have been chosen, and an attempt has been made to adapt these brief discussions to the needs of the untrained Christian. To each chapter a list of questions has been added which, it is hoped, may make the studies more useful both to individuals and to groups. The student who would be versed on these subjects should look up every passage cited and continue the study of each theme until all the questions can be answered from memory.
Although the writer presumably has made a careful study of the various subjects treated, it is not his prerogative to dictate what another shall believe; but rather to point out what the Bible teaches. Faith should always rest on a personal understanding of the Scriptures, rather than on the teaching of men.
Bible doctrines are the bones of revelation and the attentive Bible student must be impressed with the New Testament emphasis on "sound doctrine" (Matt. 7:28; John 7:16, 17; Acts 2:42; Rom. 6:17; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6, 16; 6:1; 2 Tim. 3:10, 16; 4:2, 3; 2 John 1:9, 10). Not knowing the doctrines of the Bible, the child of God will be, even when sincere, "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive"; the many well-meaning believers who are drawn into modern cults and heresies being sufficient proof. On the other hand, the divine purpose is that the servant of Christ shall be fully equipped to "preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." These chapters are released with the prayer that they may honor Him whose glory and grace are supreme, and that some among the children of God may be helped more accurately "to speak the things which become sound doctrine."
--Lewis Sperry Chafer
THE BIBLE: THE WORD OF GOD
It is a marvellous thing that we have an infallible Book from the hand of God. Every student and teacher should be fully convinced of this fact. There are two lines of evidence to be traced:
(1) That which is internal, or the Bible's own claim concerning itself, and
(2) that which is external, or outward, obvious facts concerning the Scriptures.
I. THAT WHICH IS INTERNAL
By hundreds of passages the Bible both directly declares and assumes itself to be the Word of God (note Psa. 12:6; 93:5; 119:18, 98, 99, 100, 105, 130; Isa. 55:10, 11; Jer. 23:29; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 2:15). Psalm 19:7-11 declares that the Old Testament is the Word of Jehovah. Six perfections of that Word are named with six corresponding transformations, which that Word accomplishes. Likewise, Hebrews 1:1-2 states that God is speaking in the Old Testament through the prophets and in the New Testament through His Son.
II. THAT WHICH IS EXTERNAL
Considering the external evidence that the Bible is the Word of God, the Book is a phenomenon and as such presents a challenge to the most sceptical among men. Certain facts should be noted:
1. Its Continuity.
The Bible appears in one volume in which there is a perfect continuity of historical sequence from the creation to the new heavens and the new earth; a perfect unfolding of doctrine from the blade to the full corn in the ear; from type to antitype; from prophecy to its fulfillment; and the anticipation, presentation, realization, and exaltation of the most perfect Person on earth or in Heaven. Yet this one volume which exhibits the most perfect continuity of thought that the world has ever seen is, nevertheless, a collection of sixty-six books ¦written by about forty authors - kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, physicians, statesmen, scholars, poets, and ploughmen - who could have known but little of each other, since their lives were lived in various countries and their writings were distributed over sixty generations of human history, representing a period of about sixteen hundred years.
2. The Extent of its Revelation.
In its unfolding of truth, the Bible is inexhaustible. Like a telescope it sweeps the universe from the heights of Heaven to the depths of hell, and traces the works of God from their beginning to their end. Like a microscope it reveals the minutest details of the plan and purpose of God and the perfection of His creation. Like a stereoscope it places all beings and objects whether on earth or in Heaven in right relation the one to the other. Though written in the earlier days of human knowledge when the present world discoveries could not reasonably have been disclosed, it is in harmony with every discovery made by man.
3. Its Output.
In fullest satisfaction the Bible is claimed by all races as their own, and is, as no other book, translatable into every tongue. It has already been translated into over seven hundred and seventy different languages and dialects. Thirty societies are now specializing in its publication, and over thirty million copies are printed annually. Of this number the British Bible Society publishes every hour more than two thousand copies. The French infidel Voltaire who died in 1778 predicted that the Bible would become obsolete within a hundred years. Contrary to the statement of this sceptic, the Bible abides. For nineteen hundred years it has endured the systematic, destructive attacks from Satan and men; but never has its predicted endurance been more tested than now when those who pose as its friends and exponents are subtly denying its most vital truths and its supernatural character. Its influence is transforming. To the unsaved it is the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17), and to the saved it is a cleansing, sanctifying, and reflecting power (Eph. 5:25, 26; John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18); it is the basis of all true civilization, law, and morality.
4. Its Subject Matter.
The supernatural character of this Book is seen in the fact that it deals as freely with the unknown and otherwise unknowable as it does with that which is known, and those who follow its teachings are unfailingly led in the paths of God's eternal Truth. Likewise, as no other book, the Bible accounts for those who do not receive its teachings. Of them it records that they are unregenerate men who receive not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can they know them because only by the Spirit are these things discerned (1 Cor. 2:13). Its qualities are real, for those who know it best love it most.
5. As Literature. (Ed. This comment can only be relevant to the A.V.)
Merely as literature, the Bible is supreme. It satisfies the simple-minded and entrances the sage; yet here, again, consideration should be given to the limitations of its human authors. To God alone be the glory!
6. Unprejudiced Authority.
This Book is not prejudiced in favour of men. It unhesitatingly records the sin, the weakness of the best of men and the doom of all who rely alone on those virtues and merits which are their own. Men do not so speak of themselves. It assumes to be a message from God to man rather than a message from man to man. It speaks with authority of things in Heaven and things on earth; of the seen and of the unseen; of God, of angels, and of men; of time and of eternity; of life and of death; of sin and of salvation; of Heaven and of hell. Apart from its message, there is no knowledge of these eternal issues in all the world: with its message, there is certainty, assurance, and peace.
7. The Supreme Character.
Above all else in this supernatural Book is its revelation of the Person and glory of God as manifested in His Son. Let no one suppose that this Character is a mere fiction - the invention of a mortal mind; for His perfections have never been comprehended by the wisest and holiest of this earth. If He were a mere fiction, let the mind which conceived Him be extolled and adored!
8. The Bible and Christ Compared.
Because of the combination of supernatural qualities which enter into the Bible, a similarity may be observed between the Bible as the Written Word and the Lord Jesus Christ as the Living Word. They are both supernatural as to their origin, presenting an inscrutable and impeccable blending of that which is divine and that which is human. They both exercise a transforming power over those who believe, and are alike allowed of God to be set at naught and rejected by those who do not believe. The untainted, undiminished divine perfections are embodied in each. The revelations which they disclose are at once as simple as the demands of a child, as complex as the infinite treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge, and as enduring as the God whom they reveal.
Review of Chapter 1
1. What are the two general lines of evidence that the Bible is the Word of God?
2. Name six transformations it accomplishes as stated in Psalms 19:7-11.
3. Since the Bible was written by so many different authors and in various ages, how do you account for its marvellous continuity?
4. Recount the various classes of men who are the human authors.
5. Does the Bible revelation conflict with modern discoveries?
6. To what extent is the Bible being circulated?
7. What was Voltaire's prediction in 1778?
8. Has the Bible ever been more assailed by its enemies than now?
9. Does the Bible hesitate to speak with authority on supernatural and eternal things?
10. What does it say of the limitation of man?
11. What is peculiar about its literary appeal?
12. What evidence is suggested by the fact that the Bible discloses the sins of all men?
13. What character is its supreme revelation?
14. Indicate the outstanding similarity between Christ and the Scriptures.
THE BIBLE: INSPIRED OF GOD
The Bible rightfully assumes to be God's message to man. The books of the world assume to be no more than man's message to his fellow-man. The Bible therefore deals with things eternal, infinite, and otherwise unknowable, as freely as other books deal with things temporal, finite, and known. In forming the Scriptures, it is true that God employed human writers, but these men, though they may have understood but little of the whole to which they were contributing, did nevertheless, under the mighty hand of God, produce a single Book in which there is infinite continuity and which manifests every evidence of being the work of one Writer who alone is its Author.
The true doctrine of inspiration contends that God so directed the human authors that, without destroying their own individuality, literary style, or personal interest, His complete and connected thought toward man was recorded. Various opinions have been advanced as to the extent of the divine control over the human authors. These have been called "theories of inspiration," and all students of the Bible should be clear in their own minds with regard to these vital issues.
I. GENERAL THEORIES OF INSPIRATION
1. Naturalistic. - This, as the name implies, is the theory that the Bible is only a human product and therefore void of any supernatural elements. This view, which discredits and degrades the Word of God, is held only by infidels and unregenerate men.
2. Partial. - By this term a theory of inspiration is indicated which suggests that only certain parts of the Scriptures, are inspired. When this theory is accepted, of necessity each person is left to determine for himself what portions of the Bible are inspired and what are not. All authority is broken down since people are not naturally inclined to receive and apply to themselves those words of reproof and correction which are contrary to their own wishes. Those who hold this theory usually make much of the words of Christ as being more authoritative than other portions of the Scriptures; disregarding the fact that Christ wrote nothing and that His words are, at best, the report of the very men whose writings they, in other connections, discredit.
However, it should be remembered that Christ declared His own acceptance of every word of the Old Testament to be the Word of God, and that He provided for the full authority of every word of the New Testament.
3. Gracious. - This theory of inspiration suggests that the writers of the Bible were inspired in the same way, though to a fuller degree, as Spirit-filled men are empowered today. The writings of the Apostle Paul are said to be comparable with the writings of John Calvin or Martin Luther, and equally liable to be marred by human error. This and the "Partial" theory of inspiration are the theories which are held by Modernists today.
4. Verbal. - This theory, as its designation implies, maintains that the Bible is, even to its very words, an inspired book. This claim is made for the original writings only and not for copies, translations, or quotations, even though they may date back to the early days of the Christian era. However, though no original manuscripts are now in existence, it is important to observe that the most careful study of those copies, translations and quotations which are available yields clear evidence that our present text of the Bible is a very close reproduction of the original.
It is sometimes claimed that it was not the very words but the thought, or concept, which was inspired. The sufficient answer to this suggestion is that, apart from the, exact words, there could be no precision in a mere conception, particularly such precision as is demanded in the Scriptures. So, also, the declaration of the writers who knew the facts is that they were responsible for words rather than the mere concept (note Moses, Exodus 34:27; David, 2 Samuel 23:2; Psalm 45:1; Solomon, Proverbs 30:6; Isaiah, Isaiah 6:5-8; Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:7; 36:1, 2; Zechariah, Zechariah 7:7; Christ, Matthew 8:17, John 14:10, 8:47, 12:48, 17:8; Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:4; Jude, Jude 1:17, 18: R.V.) Nor does the Bible's own claim to be inspired, even in its very words, limit the choice of words or the flow of style on the part of the human writers, for God is abundantly able to secure the exact expression He demands even within the literary limitations of a fisherman.
II. THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST
Beyond its own claims, the Old Testament was declared by Christ to be the inspired Word of God. When He spoke, none of the New Testament had been written, therefore He could have referred only to the Old Testament (John 17:17). Likewise, the New Testament was written according to His provision and promise. He had said that He would leave a revelation and that it would be completed after His departure (John 16:12, 13). This revelation was committed to certain men (John 15:27; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19; Luke 10:22), and He gave their words the same authority as His own (Matthew 10:14, 15; Luke 10:16; John 13:20; 17:14, 18; Hebrews 2:3, 4).
III. TWO IMPORTANT PASSAGES
1. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16). The word which is here translated inspiration is used but once in the New Testament. It means "God-breathed," and, according to this verse, this divine element extends to all the Scriptures. 2. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:21). The phrase, "moved by the Holy Ghost," is the vital element in this revelation and its literal meaning is that the writers were "borne along" by the Spirit of God. Such is the Bible's own claim to inspiration.
IV. QUALIFYING CONSIDERATIONS
1. Inspiration provides that the exact divine message be given. If it is God's Truth which is reported, it is recorded exactly. If it is Satan's lie, it is presented as a lie, for inspiration does not change a lie into truth. If it is history, it is true to the facts. If it is prophecy, it indicates precisely what will come to pass.
2. Inspiration aims at inspired writings and not at inspired men. The very infallible Scriptures themselves record the sins and failures of the human authors.
3. Since we depend upon the Bible alone for the knowledge of the most vital facts of our existence, there is every reason to contend for the divine accuracy of God's Word and to be grateful that it is "God-breathed" and therefore not merely as fallible as its human writers, but is as infallible as its divine Author.
Review Questions for Chapter 2
1. Wherein does the Bible assume to be God's message to man?
2. For what does the doctrine of Inspiration contend?
3. Define the Naturalistic Theory of Inspiration.
4. Define the Partial Theory of Inspiration.
5. Define the Gracious Theory of Inspiration.
6. Define the Verbal Theory of Inspiration.
7. Which of these do you accept?
8. Why is it that inspiration cannot be limited to the thought or concept?
9. What theory of inspiration does the Bible claim for itself?
10. Indicate Christ's attitude toward the inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures.
11. What provision did He make for the inspiration of the New Testament?
12. State the meaning of the word inspiration as used in 2 Timothy 3:16 and of the words moved by the Holy Ghost as used in 2 Peter 1:21.
13. Indicate the effect of inspiration on the recorded words of God, of Satan, of men, of history, and of prophecy.
14. Does inspiration aim at inspired men or inspired writings? What proof can be given for your answer?
THE BIBLE: ITS SUBJECT AND PURPOSE
Revelation from God is reasonable. In the presence of the fact of the material universe, a belief in a sufficient Creator is demanded of all rational beings. And, having recognized the Creator and man as the consummation of creation, it is reasonable to expect that the Creator will communicate with the creature, revealing His purpose and will. God the Creator has done this having revealed Himself in various ways:
1. Through Nature. - The eternal power and Godhead, we are told are revealed by the things which are created (Romans 1:20), but, while the revelation is limited in that it discloses nothing of those divine attributes which have to do with redemption and the destiny of men, it is sufficient to the extent that the heathen world is without excuse if they do not recognize that there is a God.
2. In Christ. - In the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), God became manifest in the flesh. The Son of God came into the world to declare God to men in terms of human understanding. By His incarnation, otherwise inscrutable facts concerning the eternal God have been translated into the limited range of human comprehension. This revelation contemplates not only the Person and power of God which was already set forth to a limited degree in the things created, but more particularly the love of God as set forth in the sacrificial death of Christ. Christ is an exact portrait of God (Hebrews 1:3), and we should always consider Christ as God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).
3. The Written Word. - This chapter has to do with the written Word as a manifestation. The Bible not only presents God as its supreme subject, but also unfolds His purposes. The written revelation is all-inclusive. It not only restates all the facts concerning God which are revealed through nature, and gives the only record concerning God's manifestation in Christ, but it enlarges the divine revelation into infinite detail regarding God the Father, the Son, the Spirit, angels, demons, man, sin, salvation, grace, and glory. In recognizing the unique character of the Bible, two things especially noted in the title of this chapter may be emphasized:
I. THE PURPOSE OF THE BIBLE
We understand from the written Word of God that there is one supreme purpose which actuates God in all He has done or will do from the beginning of creation to the farthest reaches of eternity whether it is in Heaven or on earth. For this one purpose angels were created; so, also, the material universe and man, and, though hidden behind an inscrutable mystery, we know that even sin was permitted and redemption was provided with a view to the realization of this supreme purpose. This supreme purpose is the Glory of God.
That God should bring all things to pass that He might be glorified would seem self-seeking to an infinite degree, from a mere human view-point; but this theme cannot be limited to the range of human conceptions. In the light of Scripture revelation, we conclude that because God is infinite in His being, His perfections, and His blessedness He is worthy of infinite glory, and it would be an injustice of infinite proportions should His creation withhold from Him that honour and glory which are rightfully His.
God is not self-seeking; He who is the fountain source of all truth must be true to Himself as Creator and Lord of all. It is man who is self-centred and who can conceive of nothing more desirable than that man should be exalted and glorified. It is man who does not understand the normal relation which should exist between the Creator and the creature, and does not ascribe to the Creator that glory which is rightfully due Him because of His person, His position, and His character (Exod. 24:10, 17; 1 Chron. 16:17-29; Psa. 57:11; Isa. 6:1).
Since the Bible is God's message to man, its supreme purpose is His supreme purpose; which is, that He may be glorified. The Bible records:
1. That "all things ... that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (for his glory, Col. 1:16). Angels and men, the material universe and every creature, are all created for His glory. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psa. 19:1).
2. The nation Israel is for the glory of God (Jer. 13:11; Isa. 43:7, 21, 25; 60:1, 3, 21; 62:3).
3. Salvation is unto the glory of God (Rom. 9:23), even as it will be a manifestation of the grace of God (Eph. 2:7), and is now a manifestation of the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10).
4. All service should be unto the glory of God (Matt. 5:16; John 15:8; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Pet. 2:12; 4:11, 14). The Bible itself is God's instrument by which He prepares the man of God unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
5. The Christian's new passion is that God may be glorified (Rom. 5:2).
6. Even the believer's death is said to be to this one end (John 21:19; Phil. 1:20).
7. The saved one is appointed to share in the glory of Christ (John 17:22; Col. 3:4).
II. THE SUBJECT OF THE BIBLE
The Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme subject of the Bible. Like a glass this book reflects "the glory of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18); but the Lord Himself has been manifested that He, in turn, might reflect the glory of God. "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" (2 Cor. 4:6).
Review Questions for Chapter 3
1. On what ground is it reasonable to expect that God would reveal Himself to man?
2. What passage of Scripture indicates that God has revealed Himself to man through nature?
3. What concerning God is thus revealed?
4. Is nature's revelation complete?
5. By what means has God made a perfect revelation of Himself to man?
6. Wherein is this revelation superior to that of nature?
7. Indicate the various aspects of the divine revelation as set forth in the Bible.
8. What is the supreme purpose of God as revealed in the Scriptures?
9. Why is it in no way self-seeking on the part of God to wish to accomplish His own glory?
10. Wherein is real self-seeking disclosed?
11. Name seven ways which are indicated in the Scriptures whereby God is said to be glorified.
12. Point out the Scriptures which state that all creation is for the glory of God.
13. In what way is God glorified through the salvation of a soul?
14. Describe how Christ is the manifestation of God's glory.
GOD THE TRINITY: HIS PERSON AND DEITY
Man recognizes the existence of God by intuition or innate knowledge. This means that the fact of God's existence is self-evident to a degree that attempted proofs are unnatural to the mind, and therefore uncalled for. Those facts which are received by intuition are more evident than others. Men do not ask for proofs of their own existence nor of the existence of material things which they recognize by their senses. Though God is unseen as to His person, His existence and immanence are so evident that men generally require no proofs of the fact of His being. However, man's innate conceptions of God are greatly strengthened by the contemplation of His works in creation, preservation, and providence. So, also, man's thoughts of God are enlarged by tradition, or those accumulated impressions which are passed from father to son; but the knowledge of God is perfected when due consideration is given to that complete revelation which He has given of Himself in the Scriptures of Truth. The ancient philosophers were deprived of any knowledge of the Bible revelation, and there are those, also, who through prejudice or unbelief will not receive the testimony of God. Both of these classes of men are of necessity left to mere speculation regarding the person of God and His creation. The theorizings of men throughout the ages have resulted in certain systems of philosophy:
(1) Polytheism, with its many gods;
(2) Hylozoism, which suggests that God Himself is that life principle which is found in all creation;
(3) Materialism, which contends that matter is self-functioning, and toward this theory all modern evolution tends; and
(4) Pantheism with its claim that matter is God and God is matter, that God is impersonal and therefore co-eternal with matter.
The arguments of men by which they have attempted to prove the existence of God apart from the Scriptures are also in four classes:
(1) Ontological, which contends that God must exist because men universally believe that He exists;
(2) Cosmological, which contends that every effect must have its sufficient cause and therefore the universe must have a Creator;
(3) Teleological, which contends that every design must have its designer, and therefore the whole creation must have a designer; and
(4) Anthropological, which contends that the very existence of man as a living person is assurance that there is a living God.
The child of God turns from these human arguments to the divine revelation with a sense of relief; for in the Word of God he discovers complete and satisfying revelations concerning God and His creation. In the Scriptures there are, however, certain distinctions to be noted:
I. THE UNITY OF GOD AND THE TRINITY
The Old Testament emphasizes the unity of God in particular (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 44:6; Exod. 20:3), with intimations as to the Trinity (.Gen.. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 7:14; 9:6, 7; Psa. 2:7; Gen. 1:2; Isa. 48:12-16; 63:9, 10). The New Testament emphasizes the Trinity - the Father, Son, and Spirit - in particular (note Matt. 28:19; John 14:16), with intimations as to the unity of God (John 14:9; 10:30; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:15; 2:9). The Old Testament references to Deity by various names are not references to the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit unless so specified, but to these Three in One.
The fact that there are three Persons in One is a revelation which belongs to the sphere of Heaven's perfect understanding (1 Cor. 13:12), and while we can now believe and receive all that God has said to us, these truths cannot be compressed into the limited sphere of human understanding. There is one God who subsists in a threefold personality. The Father says "I," the Son says "I," and the Spirit, also, is in every sense a person; yet these Three are not three Persons, but they are One. They are equal, and to them should be ascribed the same attributes, titles, adoration, worship, and confidence; yet they are not three Gods, but they are one God. In this divine relationship, three Persons are seen to be One; yet without blending or confounding the separateness of their infinite Beings. And in like manner, One Person is seen to be Three without a dividing of substance. The Trinity consists in three essential distinctions in the substance of the one God; yet these distinctions are presented as separate persons to the extent that the Father sends the Son into the world (John 17:18), and the Son sends the Spirit into the world (John 16:7). This procession or exercise of authority, it should be observed, is never reversed. If all this seems incomprehensible, it is only because the finite mind is unable to grasp infinite truth.
II. THE OLD TESTAMENT NAMES
In the Old Testament, when referring to Deity, three primary names are used. This fact alone suggests the Trinity. These names as translated in the Authorized Version of the Bible are: "God," "LORD," and "Lord." The name LORD when printed in capital letters means Jehovah, and the name Lord when printed in small letters means Master. These primary names are often combined as LORD God, and Lord God. (The meaning of these names and all other divine titles will be found in the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible, or in any good Bible dictionary).
III. THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
From the Scriptures it is revealed that there are certain qualities belonging to God. In no sense has He acquired these attributes; they are what He is, and ever has been, and ever will be, and He is the beginning or fountain source of each and all of them. God is a spirit (John 4:24), God is life (Jer. 10:10), God is self-existent (Exod. 3:14), God is infinite (Psa. 145:3), God is immutable (Psa. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17), God is truth (Deut. 32:4; John 17:3), God is love (1 John 4:8), God is eternal, (Psa. 90:2), God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16; 1 John 1:5), God is omnipresent (Psa. 139:8; Jer. 23:23, 24), God is omniscient (Psa. 147:4, 5), and God is omnipotent (Matt. 19:26).
The greatness of God cannot be fully comprehended by man, but it can at least be said that God is greater than the universe to the extent that the Creator is greater than the thing which He creates; yet His very greatness includes His ability and desire to care for the smallest detail of His creation. Not a sparrow falleth without His knowledge and by Him every hair of the head is numbered. His greatest undertaking is seen in the provisions He has made for the eternal salvation of sinners whom His infinite holiness must otherwise condemn for ever.
IV. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
God is supreme over all. He yields to no power, authority, or glory. He represents perfection to an infinite degree in every aspect of His being. He could never be surprised, defeated, or uncertain. However, without sacrificing His authority or jeopardizing the final realization of His will, it has pleased Him to release some measure of freedom of choice to men in the limited sphere of their own experience, and for its exercise He holds them responsible. The Bible states that men do not turn to God apart from the moving of His Spirit in their hearts (John 6:44; 16:7-11); yet it is declared that, on the human side, they must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Likewise, it is written that it is God who works in the believer both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13); yet He appeals to them to yield themselves to Him (Rom. 12:1, 2). Since God is supreme and since He controls the hearts and wills of men, it is necessary to believe that, when the history of the universe is completed, God's purpose and plan will have been wrought out according to His will even to the last degree. "He doeth all things well."
V. THE DECREES OF GOD
There are certain divine decrees, or undertakings, in which no other being can share; being wrought by God alone in His sovereign wisdom and power. The major decrees are: His creation, His preservation, His providence, His unconditional covenants, the dispensations, and His grace.
Review Questions for Chapter 4
1. What things do we recognize by intuition?
2. Is God, even though unseen, so recognized?
3. Name various ways by which we learn more about God.
4. Compare what men know apart from the Bible revelation with that which is known through that revelation.
5. Name and describe each of the four systems of philosophy regarding the Person of God.
6. Name four general arguments by which men have sought to prove the existence of God.
7. Regarding the Unity of God and the Trinity, where in the Scriptures are these two aspects of truth especially emphasized?
8. To what conception of God do His Old Testament names generally refer?
9. Why cannot man understand the doctrine of the Trinity?
10. Give a general statement of what may be known of the Unity of God and the Trinity.
11. Give the three primary names of God found in the Old Testament.
12. Name the attributes of God.
13. Has God acquired His attributes or are they an essential part of His Eternal Person?
14. Why is it reasonable to believe that God is greater than the sum total of all that He has created?
15. What is divine sovereignty? How is it exercised in the saving of men?
16. Name the decrees of God. Why are they termed decrees?
GOD THE FATHER
Three Persons are indicated in the blessed Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - and these three are one God. The Father is not the Trinity, the Son is not the Trinity, nor is the Spirit the Trinity. Since the Old Testament reference to Deity is almost universally to the Triune God, there is comparatively little mention in that portion of the Scriptures of the three Persons in the Trinity. But when the processes of redemption are in progress, as recorded in the New Testament, the clearest distinctions are drawn as to the Person and work of each. The Father is presented as electing, loving, and bestowing; the Son is presented as suffering, redeeming, and upholding; while the Spirit is presented as regenerating, energizing, and sanctifying. This chapter is concerned with the person of the Father - the first of the blessed Trinity - who is set forth in the New Testament in two aspects:
I. THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
The relationship which exists between the first and second Persons of the Trinity is, in the Scriptures, likened to that relationship which exists between a father and a son. The relationship, though nowhere clearly explained, is fundamental in the divine being and has always existed. He who was "the firstborn of every creature" was "the only begotten Son" from all eternity (John 17:5; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:5-10), and He who in the fullness of time that He might be incarnate was begotten by the overshadowing power of the Highest and born of a virgin (Luke 1:35), was with the Father and was co-equal with Him from the beginning (John 1:1, 2). While the relationship between the first and the second Persons of the Trinity is actually that of a father to a son and a son to a father (2 Cor. 1:3; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 1:2), the fact of this relationship is an illustration of vital truth which accommodates itself to the mode of thought of a finite mind. The truth that the Father is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, though slightly mentioned in the Old Testament (Psa. 2:7; Isa. 7:14; 9:6, 7), is one of the most general teachings of the New Testament.
1. The Son of God is said to have been begotten of the Father (Psa. 2:7; John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).
2. The Father acknowledged the Lord Jesus Christ to be His Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Luke 9:35).
3. The Father is acknowledged by the Son (Matt. 11:27; 26:63, 64; Luke 22:29; John 8:16-29, 33-44; 17:1).
4. The fact that God the Father is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is acknowledged by men (Matt. 16:16; Mark 15:39; John 1:34, 49; Acts 3:14).
5. The Son acknowledges the Father by being subject to Him (John 8:29, 49).
6. Even the demons recognize this relationship between the Father and the Son (Matt. 8:29).
II. THE FATHER OF ALL AMONG MEN WHO BELIEVE ON CHRIST
The student should be warned against the modernistic teaching which is now so general and which claims that God the Father is the Father of all mankind, and that there is therefore a universal brotherhood among men founded upon a supposed universal fatherhood of God. It is true that the human race at its beginning was "the offspring of God" (Acts 17:28, 29). But, when tracing the genealogy of Christ, Luke declared each and every generation until Adam to be the offspring of the preceding generation; Adam alone is called "the son of God" (Luke 3:38). On the other hand, the Scriptures teach that all who believe on Christ unto salvation are sons of God; not on the ground of their first or natural birth into the Adamic family, but on the ground of their second or spiritual birth into the family of God (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 2:19; 3:15; 5:1). By the regenerating work of the Spirit the believer is made a legitimate child of God. God being actually his Father he is impelled by the Spirit to say "Abba, Father." Being born of God, he is a partaker of the divine nature, and on the ground of that birth, he is heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ (John 1:12, 13; 3:3-6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:16, 17). The impartation of the divine nature is an operation so deep that the nature thus imparted is never said to be removed for any cause whatsoever.
When the teachings of the Scriptures relative to the present power and authority of Satan are considered, added proof is given that all men are not children of God by their natural birth. In this connection the most direct and faithful sayings of Christ are in evidence. Speaking of those who disbelieved He said: "Ye are of your father the devil" (John 8:44). Likewise, when describing the unregenerate He said, "The tares are the children of the wicked one" (Matt. 13:38). The Apostle Paul wrote of the unsaved as being "The children of disobedience," and "The children of wrath" (Eph. 2:2, 3).
Emphasis should be placed on the fact that it is not in the power of any one to make himself a child of God. God alone can undertake such a transformation, and He undertakes it only on the one condition which He Himself has imposed, that Christ shall be believed upon and received as Saviour (John 1:12).
The following passages give clear instruction regarding the Fatherhood of God: John 20:17; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:3; 2:18; 4:6; Colossians 1:12, 13, 19; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 1:3; 2:1, 22; 3:1.
Review Questions for Chapter 5
1. Where does the emphasis fall in the Scriptures on God as One Person, and where on the separate Persons of the Trinity?
2. What ministries are exercised by the Father, by the Son, and by the Spirit?
3. What human relationship is used in the Scriptures to illustrate the relationship which exists between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity?
4. What Scriptures indicate that this relationship existed from all eternity?
5. What Old Testament passages teach the relationship of Father and Son in the Godhead?
6. Name six ways in which the divine Father and Son relationship is acknowledged and asserted in the New Testament.
7. To whom other than Christ is God said to be Father?
8. Is the doctrine of the Universal Fatherhood of God and the Universal Sonship of Man taught in the Scriptures?
9. How may man be said to be the offspring of God?
10. By what process does he become a child of God?
11. What is imparted through the new birth?
12. Do the Scriptures imply that the new nature could ever be removed?
13. Indicate some Bible passages which describe the relationships which the unsaved sustain to Satan and to God.
14. Who alone is sufficient to accomplish a regeneration of lost men?
GOD THE SON: HIS PRE-EXISTENCE
Being at the same time perfectly human and perfectly divine, the Lord Jesus Christ was both like and unlike to the sons of men. The Scripture is clear regarding His likeness to men (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14-17), presenting Him as a man among men, who was both, who lived, who suffered, and who died. The Scriptures are equally clear as to His unlikeness to men; not only in the sinless character of His human life, His sacrificial death, His glorious resurrection and ascension, but in the fact of His eternal pre-existence.
On the human side he had a beginning; He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of a virgin. On the divine side He had no beginning; He was from all eternity. In Isaiah 9:6, we read: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." The distinction is obvious between the child which was born and the Son which was given. In like manner, it is stated in Galatians 4:4, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." He who was the eternal Son was, in the fullness of time, "made [the offspring] of a woman."
The fact of the pre-existence of the Son of God is established by two distinct lines of revelation - (1) as directly stated, and (2) as implied:
I. AS DIRECTLY STATED
The pre-existence of Christ is asserted in an extensive body of Scripture which is of great importance since it enters vitally into the revelation of the fact of His Deity. By these Scriptures the Son of God is seen to be in His infinite Person and eternal existence co-equal with the other Persons of the Godhead, and this fact is unaffected by His incarnation. The Scriptures state: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1, 2); "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah. 5:2; note also, Isa. 7:13, 14; 9:6, 7); "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58; note also, Exod. 3:14; Isa. 43:13); "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). The following passages are of equal import: John 13:3; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15-19; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 13:8.
II. AS IMPLIED
The Word of God constantly and consistently implies the pre-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the obvious proofs of this fact several may be noted:
1. The works of creation are ascribed to Christ (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:10). He therefore antedates all creation.
2. The Angel of Jehovah whose appearance is often recorded in the Old Testament is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Though He appears at times as an angel or even as a man, He bears the unmistakable marks of Deity, He appeared to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), to Abraham (Gen. 18:1; 22:11, 12; note John 8:58), to Jacob (Gen. 48:15, 16; note also, Gen. 31:11-13; 32:24-32), to Moses - (Exod. 3:2, 14), to Joshua (Josh. 5:13, 14), and to Manoah (Judg. 13:19-22). He it is who fights for, and defends, His own (2 Kings 19:35; Zech. 14:1-4; 1 Chron. 21:15, 16; Psa. 34:7).
3. The titles of the Lord Jesus Christ indicate His eternal Being. He is precisely what His names imply. He is "The Son of God," "The Only Begotten Son," "The First and the Last," "The Alpha and Omega," "The Lord," "Lord of All," "Lord of Glory," "The Christ," "Wonderful," "Counsellor," "The Mighty God," "The Father of Eternity," "God," "God with us," "Our Great God," and "God Blessed Forever."
These titles relate Him to the Old Testament revelation of Jehovah-God (comp. Matt. 1:23 with Isa. 7:14; Matt. 4:7 with Deut. 6:16; Mark 5:19 with Psa. 66:16; and Psa. 110:1 with Matt. 22:42-45).
Again, the New Testament names of the Son of God are associated with titles of the Father and the Spirit as being equal with them (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 13:14; John 14:1; 17:3; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:6; 22:3), and He is explicitly called God (Rom. 9:5; John 1:1; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).
4. The pre-existence of the Son of God is implied in the fact that He has the attributes of God - Life (John 1:4), Self-existence (John 5:26), Immutability (Heb. 13:8), Truth (John 14:6), Love (1 John 3:16), Holiness (Heb. 7:26), Eternity (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:11), Omnipresence (Matt. 28:20), Omniscience (1 Cor. 4:5; Col. 2:3), and Omnipotence (Matt. 28:18; Rev. 1:8).
5. In like manner the pre-existence of Christ is implied in the fact that He is worshipped as God (John 20:28; Acts 7:59; Heb. 1:6).
Therefore it follows that since the Lord Jesus Christ is God, He is from everlasting to everlasting.
This chapter, which of necessity has emphasized the Deity of Christ, should be closely connected with the following chapter, which emphasizes the humanity of Christ through the incarnation.
Review Questions for Chapter 6
1. What two widely distinct natures united in Christ?
2. Wherein was He like unto men?
3. Wherein was He unlike to men?
4. Name the two distinct lines of revelation which establish the pre-existence of Christ.
5. Indicate the important Old Testament passages which teach the pre-existence of Christ.
6. Indicate the important New Testament passages which teach the pre-existence of Christ.
7. Since it is recorded that He is the Creator, could it be possible for Him to have been created?
8. Point out the various ministries of Christ on earth as the "Angel of Jehovah."
9. Repeat from memory the various divine titles which are ascribed to Christ in the Old Testament.
10. Repeat from memory the various divine titles which are ascribed to Christ in the New Testament.
11. Name the attributes of God which are ascribed to Christ with Scripture references.
12. Is there any divine attribute which is not ascribed to Him?
13. What Scriptures prove that Christ was and is worshipped as God?
14. Are you fully convinced as to the pre-existence and absolute Deity of the Son of God?
GOD THE SON: HIS INCARNATION
John states (John 1:1) that Christ who was one with God and was God from all eternity, became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). Paul likewise states that Christ, who was in the form of God, took upon Him the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6, 7); and "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16); and He who was the effulgence of God's glory and the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3), took upon Himself the seed of Abraham and was in all things made like unto His brethren (Heb. 2:16, 17). Luke, in greater detail, presents the historical fact of His incarnation, both as to the conception and birth (Luke 1:26-38).
When considering the result of the incarnation, two important truths should be recognized:
(1) Christ became at the same time and in the absolute sense very God and very man, and
(2) in becoming flesh, He, though laying aside His glory, in no sense laid aside His Deity.
The Bible presents many contrasts, but none more striking than that one Person should be at the same time very God and very man. Illustrations from the Scriptures of these contrasts are many: He was weary, yet He called the weary to Himself for rest. He was hungry, yet He was "the bread of life." He was thirsty, yet He was "the water of life." He was in an agony, yet He healed all manner of disease and soothed every pain. He "grew, and waxed strong in spirit," yet He was from all eternity. He was tempted, yet He, as God, could not be tempted. He became self-limited in knowledge, yet He was the wisdom of God. He said (with reference to His humiliation, being made for a little time lower than the angels), "My Father is greater than I," yet He also said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," and, "I and my Father are one." He prayed, yet He answered prayer. He wept at the tomb, yet He called the dead to arise. He asked, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" yet He "needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." He said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" yet it was the very God to whom He cried who was at that moment "in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." He died, yet He is eternal life. He was God's ideal man, and man's ideal God.
From this it may be seen that the Lord Jesus Christ sometimes functioned His earth-life within the sphere of that which was perfectly human and sometimes within the sphere of that which was perfectly divine. His divine Being was never limited in any degree by the fact of His humanity, nor did He minister to His human need from His divine resources. He could turn stones into bread to feed His human hunger, but this He never did. The student should observe (1) the fact of Christ's humanity, and (2) the Biblical reasons for His incarnation. *
I. THE FACT OF CHRIST'S HUMANITY
1. The humanity of Christ was purposed from before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The significance of the Lamb-type is in the sacrificial, blood-shedding, physical body.
2. Every type and prophecy of the Old Testament concerning Christ was an anticipation of the incarnate Son of God.
3. The fact of the humanity of Christ is seen in His annunciation and birth (Luke 1:31-35).
4. His life here on earth revealed His humanity,
(1) by His human names: "The Son of man," "The man Christ Jesus," "Jesus," "The Son of David," and the like.
(2) By His human parentage: He is mentioned as "the fruit of the loins," "her firstborn," "of this man's seed," "seed of David," "seed of Abraham," "made of a woman," "sprang from Judah."
(3) By the fact that He possessed a human body, soul, and spirit (1 John 4:2, 9; Matt. 26:38; John 13:21). And
(4) by His self-imposed human limitations.
5. The humanity of Christ is seen in His death and resurrection. It was a human body that suffered death on the cross and it was the same body which came forth from the tomb in resurrection glory.
6. The fact of the humanity of Christ is seen in that He ascended to Heaven and is now, in His human glorified body, ministering for His own.
7. When He comes again it will be the "same Jesus" coming as He went in the same body, though glorified, in which He became incarnate.
II. THE BIBLICAL REASONS FOE THE INCARNATION *
1. He came to reveal God to men (John 1:18; 14:9; Matt. 11:27; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16). By the incarnation, the incomprehensible God is translated into terms of human understanding.
2. He came to reveal man. He is God's ideal man and as such is an example to believers (1 Pet. 2:21); but He is never an example to the unsaved since God is not now seeking to reform the unsaved, but rather to save them.
3. He came to provide a sacrifice for sin. For this reason He is seen thanking God for His human body and this in relation to true sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:1-10).
4. He came in the flesh that He might destroy the works of the Devil (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Col. 2:13-15; John 12:31; 16:11).
5. He came into the world that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God (Heb. 2:16, 17; 8:1; 9:11, 12; 9:24).
6. He came in the flesh that He might fulfill the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Rom. 15:8; Acts 2:30, 31, 36). In His glorified human body He will appear and reign as "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords," and will sit on the throne of His father David.
7. As incarnate, He becomes Head over all things to the Church, which is the New Creation, the new humanity.
In the incarnation, the Son of God took upon Himself not only a human body, but also a human soul and spirit. Thus becoming both the material and immaterial sides of human existence, He became entire man, and so closely and permanently related to the human family that He is rightly called "The Last Adam," and "the body of his glory" (Phil. 3:21) is now an abiding fact.
He who is the eternal Son, Jehovah-God, was also the Son of Mary, the Boy of Nazareth, the Teacher and Healer of Judea, the Guest at Bethany, the Lamb of Calvary. He will yet be the King of Glory, as He is now the Saviour of men, the High Priest, the Coming Bridegroom and Lord.
Review Questions for Chapter 7
1. Is it reasonable to believe that God in the Person of His Son for self-manifestation and for redemption should for a little time take upon Himself the form of flesh?
2. Name several passages which state both the Deity and the humanity of Christ.
3. In considering the Incarnation, what two truths should be recognized?
4. Indicate some of the strong contrasts between the divine and human natures of Christ which are presented in the Records of His life here on earth.
5. Did He ever minister to His human limitation from His divine sufficiency?
6. What relation do the blood-shedding types of the Old Testament bear to the humanity of Christ?
7. Suggest some proofs of His humanity from His birth and life here on the earth.
8. What proofs of His humanity are presented in the death and resurrection, the ascension, and the second coming of Christ?
9. How did He reveal both God and man through His humanity?
10. Was a human body essential in the sacrifice for sin?
11. Was a human body evidently essential in the work of destroying the works of the devil?
12. In fulfilling the high-priest type, was His incarnation essential?
13. As fulfiller of the Davidic covenant, was it necessary for Christ to be born into the human family?
14. Since He is Head over the New Creation which is composed of the redeemed from earth, is it essential that He shall be Himself incarnate?
GOD THE SON: HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH
Whether in Bible doctrine or in common speech, the word substitution means the replacement of one person or thing for another. Though not a Bible word, its specific meaning when related to the Scriptures is concerning the work of Christ on the cross, and by it is indicated the fact that those unmeasured, righteous judgments of God against the sinner because of his sin were borne by Christ substituting in the sinner's room and stead. The result of this substitution is itself as simple and definite as the transaction - the Saviour has already borne the divine judgments against the sinner to the full satisfaction of God. There is therefore nothing left for the sinner to do or persuade God to do; but he is asked to believe this good news, relating it to his own sin, and thereby claim his personal Saviour.
The word substitution fails to represent all that is accomplished in the death of Christ. In fact there is no all-inclusive term. By popular usage, the word atonement has been pressed into this service; but the word atonement:, which does not once appear in the original text of the New Testament, means, as used in the Old Testament, only to cover sin. However, the word atonement does clearly indicate the divine method of dealing with sin before the cross. In the Old Testament, while requiring no more than a symbolic animal sacrifice for the remission of sins (Lit. toleration, Rom. 3:25), and winking at sin (Lit. to overlook and not punish, Acts 17:30), God was acting in perfect righteousness since He was awaiting the coming of His own Lamb who would in no way pass over or cover sin, but who would take it away for ever (John 1:29).
In attempting to consider the full value of the death of Christ we should distinguish:
1. That the death of Christ assures us of the love of God toward the sinner (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9); added to this, there is, naturally, a reflex influence or moral appeal through this truth upon the life of the one who really receives it (2 Cor. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:21-24); but this appeal concerning the manner of daily life is never addressed to the unsaved.
2. The death of Christ is said to be a redemption or ransom paid to the holy demands of God for the sinner and to free the sinner from just condemnation. It is significant that the one discriminating word for, meaning "instead of," or "as a price paid for," is used in every passage wherein this aspect of truth appears (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6).
In like manner, the death of Christ was a necessary penalty which He bore for the sinner (Rom. 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13; Heb. 9:28). So, also, the death of Christ was an offering for sin, not as the animal offerings of the Old Testament which could only cover sin in the sense of delaying the time of righteous judgment; but as taking it to Himself, bearing it, and bearing it away forever (John 1:29; Isa. 53:7-12; 1 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:12, 22, 26; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19).
3. The death of Christ is represented on His part as an act of obedience to the law which sinners have broken; which act is acceptable to God in their stead (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:8; Rom. 5:19; 10:4).
4. The death of Christ was a priestly mediation by which the world was reconciled unto God. Reconciliation results when enmity is removed, and, while it is never implied that the world's enmity toward God is removed, it is declared that the judicial state of the world is so altered before God by the death of Christ that He is said to have reconciled the world unto Himself. So complete and far-reaching is this provision that it is added in the Scriptures that He is not now imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 2:20).
5. The death of Christ removed all moral hindrances in the mind of God to the saving of sinners. By that death God is propitiated and thus declared to be righteous when He,
(1) anticipating the value of the sacrifice of His Son, passes over the sins of His people who lived before the cross (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15, R.V.), and
(2) to be just at the present time when He justifies those who do no more than believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
This aspect of the death of Christ is to be distinguished from all others because of its effect upon God. Since, in that death, His infinite love and power are released from restraint by the accomplishment of every judgment which His righteousness could demand against the sinner, God is more advantaged by the death of Christ than all the world combined.
6. Christ, in His death, became the Substitute bearing the penalty belonging to the sinner (Lev. 16:21; Luke 22:37; Isa. 53:6; John 10:11; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18; Matt. 20:28). This fact is the ground of assurance for all who would come unto God for salvation. It presents something for every individual to believe concerning his own relation to God on the question of his own sin. A general belief that Christ died for the whole world is not sufficient; a personal conviction that one's own sin has been perfectly borne by Christ the Substitute is required - a belief which results in a sense of relief, joy, and appreciation (Rom. 15:13; Heb. 9:14; 10:2). Salvation is a mighty work of God which is wrought instantly for the one who believes on Christ.
7. The death of Christ is often misinterpreted. Every Christian will do well to understand thoroughly the fallacy of those misstatements which are so general today:
a. It is claimed that the doctrine of substitution is immoral on the ground that God could not in righteousness lay the sins of the guilty on an innocent victim. This statement might be considered if it could be proved that Christ was an unwilling victim; but the Scriptures present Him as being in fullest sympathy with His Father's will and actuated by the same infinite love (Heb. 10:7; John 13:1). Likewise, in the inscrutable mystery of the Godhead, it was God Himself who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). So far from the death of Christ being an immoral imposition, it was God Himself, the righteous Judge in infinite love and sacrifice, bearing the full penalty that His own holiness required of the sinner.
b. It is claimed that Christ died as a martyr and that the value of His death is seen in the example He presented of courage and loyalty to His convictions even unto death. The sufficient answer to this error is that, since He was God's provided Lamb, no man took His life from Him (John 10:18; Psa. 22:15; Acts 2:23).
c. It is claimed that Christ died to create a moral effect which is that, since the cross displays the divine estimate of sin, men who consider the cross will be constrained to turn from lives of sin. This theory, which has no foundation in the Scriptures, assumes that God is now seeking the reformation of men; while, in reality, the cross is the ground of regeneration.
Review Questions for Chapter 8
1. What is the meaning of substitution when related to the death of Christ?
2. If this work of Christ's is already accomplished, what obligation now rests on the sinner?
3. What is the Bible meaning of the word atonement, and what relation does atonement sustain to the sacrifice of Christ?
4. a. What assurance is given the sinner by the death of Christ?
b. Is there any appeal by the cross to the unsaved as to conduct?
5. a. Describe the death of Christ as a ransom.
b. To whom was the ransom paid?
c. Describe that death as a necessary penalty.
d. Describe that death as an offering for sin.
6. Describe Christ's death as an act of obedience.
7. a. Describe Christ's death as a priestly mediation.
b. Who was reconciled, and to what extent, in the death of Christ?
c. Why is God not now imputing sin unto sinners?
8. What effect did the death of Christ have upon God in respect both to the sins before the cross and the sins after the cross?
9. In view of Christ's substitution for sinners, what became of the necessary divine penalty imposed on men because of sin?
10. In the light of Satan's purposes, is it reasonable to expect that the doctrine of saving grace through the cross will be misunderstood by the unsaved?
11. What answer should be given to one who claims that the doctrine of Christ's substitution is immoral?
12. What answer should be given to one who claims that Christ died as a martyr?
13. What answer should be given to one who claims that Christ's death was only to produce a moral influence on men?
14. What answer do you give when the Word of God states that Christ died as a substitute for you?
GOD THE SON: HIS RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION
I. THE RESURRECTION
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). However, in John 5:25-29, wherein the universal resurrection is also mentioned, a sharp contrast is drawn between the resurrection which is unto life, and that which is unto condemnation (note Acts 24:15; Dan. 12:2). The order between these two aspects of resurrection and the resurrection of Christ is set forth as a procession (1 Cor. 15:20-24):
(1) Christ in His resurrection is said to precede all others and to be the "firstfruits." None other has been raised as He was raised (1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Tim. 1:10).
(2) "They that are Christ's at his coming." This group, it should be observed, is strictly limited to, and all-inclusive of, those who are Christ's, and in point of time their resurrection follows that of Christ by at least the present period which has already continued two thousand years.
(3) "Then cometh the end," meaning the last resurrection in the order of procession, and is the resurrection unto condemnation which includes all the remainder of the human race.
The time of the resurrection is declared to be "when he [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he [Christ] shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." This kingdom reign of Christ, it is stated, will be for a period of one thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6), and, in accordance with the above passages, will be followed by the resurrection of the dead, both small and great, who shall then be judged at the Great White Throne and there condemned for ever (Rev. 20:11-15). As added evidence that there will be a partial resurrection at the coming of Christ, it is stated that "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17), and Paul testified that he desired to attain to that particular resurrection which is out from among the dead (Phil. 3:11).
From the Scriptures which are cited above, it is seen that, in spite of the almost universal impression to the contrary, there is no so-called "general resurrection" including all the dead to be raised at one time.
The resurrection of Christ is unique. Others who were actually dead have been restored to life (2 Kings 4:32-35; 13:21; Matt. 9:25; Luke 7:12-15; John 11:43, 44; Acts 9:36-41); but all such were only returned to their former existence and were thus subject again to the first death. The resurrection of Christ was into a new sphere as the "last Adam," the Head of a new race or a new species. Christ came forth with the new, deathless, glorified body which is the pattern of that body which shall be given to every believer when Christ comes again (Phil. 3:20, 21). Though the soul and spirit are endless in their existence, it is only the resurrection body which is said to be immortal. Therefore, since Christ alone has received the resurrection body, it is written of Him that He only hath immortality, dwelling in light (1 Tim. 6:16).
The saints before the cross believed in the resurrection (Gen. 22:5; Psa. 16:9, 10; 17:15; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Hos. 13:14), though the word does not appear in the Old Testament. We have also the testimony of Job (Job 14:14, 15; 19:25-27), and of Martha who voiced the conviction of the people of her day (John 11:24). So, also, the resurrection is mentioned as one of the major features of Judaism (Heb. 6:1, 2). The Old Testament revelation was incomplete, for it was Christ who "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).
Since the import of the resurrection transcends all dispensational bounds and is eternal in its issues, it is to be classed as one of the seven greatest divine undertakings -
(1) the creation of the angelic hosts (Col. 1:16);
(2) the creation of the material universe including the first Adam;
(3) the incarnation;
(4) the death of Christ;
(5) the resurrection;
(6) the second coming of Christ; and
(7) the final bringing in of the new heavens and the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1; Isa. 66:22).
Of these great undertakings, two are closely related to the resurrection of Christ:
First. - His resurrection is related to His death as being the consummation of all that was undertaken and accomplished by the cross both in Heaven and on earth. He "was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25).
Second. - His resurrection is related to the first creation, which was ruined by sin, only to the extent that He is the Head of a New Creation which came into being when He arose from the dead and which partakes of His infinite perfection. The New Creation is composed of all those who have believed and being regenerated are united to Christ by the baptism with the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 6:17; Gal. 3:26), and are, therefore, accepted before God as He is accepted (Eph. 1:6), and destined to share His infinite glory (Col. 3:4; John 17:24). As the Sabbath was instituted to commemorate the accomplishment of the first creation (Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 16:29, 30; Neh. 9:13, 14), so the observance of the first day of the week commemorates the accomplishment of the New Creation. There is no commandment to observe, or any record of observance, of the seventh day after Christ rose from the dead (note Hos. 2:11; Col. 2:16).
There is but one general reason revealed for the death of Christ and that reason is because of sin; but there are at least seven reasons given for His resurrection:
(1) He arose because of what He is - being the Eternal Son, it is not possible for Him to be holden of death (Acts 2:24);
(2) He arose because of who He is - being the Son of David, He must yet sit upon David's throne (2 Sam. 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:25-31; Rom. 1:3, 4);
(3) He arose to be Head over all things to the Church which is His body (Eph. 1:22, 23);
(4) He arose to be the giver of resurrection life (John 12:24);
(5) He arose to impart His resurrection power (Matt. 28:18; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19, 20);
(6) He arose that sinners might be justified (Rom. 4:25); and
(7) He arose that He might appear in Heaven as the pattern, or first-fruits, of all who, being saved and conformed to Him, will yet appear with Him in glory (1 Cor. 15:20-23; Phil. 3:20, 21).
II. THE ASCENSION
The Scriptures indicate two ascensions of Christ into Heaven:
First. - On the day of His resurrection, Christ ascended into Heaven as the "Wave Sheaf." In fulfilling this Old Testament type and the eternal purpose of God, it was necessary that He should appear in Heaven as the earnest of a mighty harvest of souls whom He had redeemed and who, in the divine purpose, came out of that tomb with Him to share His eternal glory. So, also, He, having accomplished the sacrifice for sin, must present His own blood in Heaven (Lev. 16:1-34; Heb. 9:16-28). Not having yet ascended, He said to Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). That He ascended on that same day is evident; for He said unto them at evening, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see" (Luke 24:39). He returned to earth from Heaven to accomplish His post-resurrection ministry.
Second. - After forty days He ascended to Heaven and was seated on His Father's throne, and there took up His present heavenly ministry as Head over all things to the Church: (1) As the bestower of gifts (Eph. 4:8-11), (2) as Intercessor (Heb. 7:25), and (3) as Advocate (1 John 2:1, 2).
Review Questions for Chapter 9
1. What proportion of those who die will experience resurrection?
2. a. What event stands first in the order of resurrection?
b. What time period falls between the first and the second events?
3. a. What event stands second in the order of resurrection?
b. What time period stands between the second and the third events?
4. What event stands third and last in the order of resurrection?
5. a. Indicate the distinction that should be made between a resurrection and a restoration.
b. Have any, other than Christ, experienced a real resurrection?
6. a. What is immortality?
b. "Why is it yet limited to Christ?
7. What evidence have we that the Old Testament saints believed in a resurrection?
8. Name the seven greatest divine undertakings.
9. What relation does Christ's resurrection sustain to His death?
10. a. What relation does Christ's resurrection sustain to the New Creation and the recognition of the first day of the week?
b. How many celebrations of the resurrection of Christ has God appointed for each year?
11. Name the seven reasons indicated in the Scriptures for the resurrection of Christ.
12. What evidence have we that Christ twice ascended into heaven ?
13. State what was accomplished in the first ascension.
14. What ministries did Christ undertake at His final ascension?
GOD THE SON: HIS PRIESTLY MINISTRY
As High Priest over the true tabernacle on high, the Lord Jesus Christ has entered into Heaven itself there to minister as Priest in behalf of those who are His own in the world (Heb. 8:1, 2). The fact that He, when ascending, was received of His Father in Heaven is evidence that His earth-ministry was accepted. The fact that He sat down indicated that His work for the world was completed. The fact that He sat down on His Father's throne and not on His own throne reveals the truth, so constantly and consistently taught in the Scriptures, that He did not set up a kingdom on the earth at His first advent into the world; but that He is now "expecting" until the time when that kingdom shall come in the earth and the divine will shall be done on earth as it is done in Heaven. "The kingdoms of this world" are yet to become "the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15), and the kingly Son will yet ask of His Father and He will give Him the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (Psa. 2:8). However, Scripture clearly indicates that He is not now establishing that kingdom rule in the earth (Matt. 25:31-46), but that He is rather calling out from both Jews and Gentiles a heavenly people who are related to Him as His Body and Bride. After the present purpose is accomplished He will return and "set up the tabernacle of David which is fallen down" (Acts 15:13-18). Though He is a King-Priest according to the Melchisedec type (Heb. 5:10; 7:1), He is now serving as Priest and not as King. He who is coming again and will then be King of kings, is now ascended to be "head over all things to the church which is his body" (Eph. 1:22, 23). His present priestly ministry is threefold.
I. HE IS THE BESTOWER OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
According to the New Testament, a gift is a divine enablement wrought in and through the believer by the Spirit who indwells him. It is the Spirit working to accomplish certain divine purposes and using the one whom He indwells to that end. It is in no sense a human undertaking aided by the Spirit.
Though certain general gifts are mentioned in the Scriptures (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11), the possible variety is innumerable since no two lives are lived under exactly the same conditions. However, to each believer some gift is given; but the blessing and power of the gift will be experienced only when the life is wholly yielded to God. (In Romans 12, the truth of verses 1 and 2 precedes that of verses 6 to 8.) There will be little need of exhortation for God-honouring service to the one who is filled with the Spirit; for the Spirit will be working in that one both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
In like manner, certain men who are called his "gifts unto men" are provided and locally placed in their service by the ascended Christ (Eph. 4:7-11). The Lord did not leave this work to the uncertain and insufficient judgment of men (1 Cor. 12:11, 18).
II. THE ASCENDED CHRIST AS PRIEST EVER LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR HIS OWN
This ministry began before He left the earth (John 17:1-26), is for the saved rather than for the unsaved (John 17:9), and will be continued in Heaven so long as His own are in the world. As Intercessor, His work has to do with the weakness, the helplessness, and the immaturity of the saints who are on the earth - things concerning which they are in no way guilty. He who knows the limitations of His own, and the power and strategy of the foe with whom they have to contend, is unto them as the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. His care of Peter is an illustration of this truth (Luke 22:31, 32).
The priestly intercession of Christ is not only effectual, but is unending. The priests of old failed because of death; but Christ, because He ever liveth, hath an unchanging priesthood. "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost [without end] that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). David recognized the same divine shepherding care and its guaranty of eternal safety (Psa. 23:1).
III. CHRIST NOW APPEARS FOR HIS OWN IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The child of God is often guilty of actual sin which would separate him from God were it not for his Advocate and what He wrought in His death. The effect of the Christian's sin upon himself is that he loses his fellowship with God, his joy, his peace, and his power. On the other hand, these experiences are restored in infinite grace on the sole ground that he confess his sin (1 John 1:9); but it is more important to consider the Christian's sin in relation to the holy character of God.
Through the present priestly advocacy of Christ in Heaven there is absolute safety and security for the Father's child even while he is sinning. An advocate is one who espouses and pleads the cause of another in the open courts. As Advocate, Christ is now appearing in Heaven for His own (Heb. 9:24) when they sin (1 John 2:1). His pleading is said to be with the Father, and Satan is there also ceasing not to accuse the brethren night and day before God (Rev. 12:10). To the Christian, the sin may seem insignificant; but a holy God can never treat it lightly. It may be a secret sin on earth; but it is open scandal in Heaven. In marvellous grace and without solicitation from men, the Advocate pleads the cause of the guilty child of God. What the Advocate does in thus securing the safety of the believer is so in accordance with infinite justice that He is mentioned in this connection as "Jesus Christ the righteous." He pleads His own efficacious blood and the Father is free to preserve His child against every accusation from Satan or men and from the very judgments which sin would otherwise impose, since Christ through His death became the propitiation for our (Christians') sins (1 John 2:2).
The truth concerning the priestly ministry of Christ in Heaven does not make it easy for the Christian to sin. On the contrary, these very things are written that we be not sinning (1 John 2:1); for no one can sin carelessly who considers the necessary pleading which his sin imposes upon the Advocate.
The priestly ministries of Christ as Intercessor and as Advocate are unto the eternal security of those who are saved (Rom. 8:34).
Review Questions for Chapter 10
1. Where is Christ said to be throughout this present age?
2. What ministry does He now exercise?
3. Name the three services Christ is now undertaking in Heaven.
4. What is a spiritual gift and what is accomplished by it?
5. When did Christ's priestly intercession begin, and how long will it continue?
6. What aspect of the Christian's life does Christ's intercession affect?
7. Wherein does it guarantee the believer's safe-keeping?
8. How long will Christ's priestly ministry continue?
9. What aspects of the Christian's life does Christ's advocacy affect?
10. a. What is the penalty of sin in the Christian's life?
b. What must he do to be restored to fellowship and blessing?
11. a. How does Christ now fulfill the place of an advocate?
b. What effect would the Christian's sin produce were it not for Christ?
12. What is the significance of the title, "Jesus Christ the righteous"?
13. For whose sins is Christ the propitiation?
14. Why is it more difficult to sin after we understand we are eternally secure through the advocacy of Christ?
GOD THE SON: HIS COMING FOR HIS SAINTS
The doctrine chosen for this chapter is one of the most important themes of unfulfilled prophecy. The student should be reminded that prophecy is God's pre-written history and is therefore as credible as other parts of the Scriptures. Almost one-fourth of the Bible was in the form of prediction when it was written. Much has been fulfilled, and in every case its fulfillment has been the most literal realization of all that was prophesied. As pre-announced many centuries before the birth of Christ, He, when He came, was of the tribe of Judah, a son of Abraham, a son of David, born of a virgin in Bethlehem. In like manner, the explicit details of His death foretold in Psalm 22, a thousand years before, were precisely fulfilled.
The Word of God also presents much prophecy which at the present time is unfulfilled and it is reasonable as well as honouring to God to believe that it will be fulfilled in the same faithfulness which has characterized all His works to the present hour.
The fact that Christ is to return to this earth as He went - "this same Jesus," in His resurrection body, and on the clouds of heaven (Acts 1:11) -- is so clearly and extensively taught in the prophetic Scriptures that this truth has been included in all the great creeds of Christendom. However, the doctrine of the return of Christ demands most careful and discriminating consideration.
In common with Bible students generally, distinction is made between two yet future events. We therefore assign the study of one - Christ coming for His saints - to this chapter, and the study of the other - Christ coming with His saints - to the following chapter. Though but one aspect of truth is indicated by each of these titles, the Scriptures reveal that much more will be accomplished in each of these events than the titles suggest. Conforming to the incomplete statement of truth proposed by these titles, we observe that in the body of Scripture assigned to this chapter, Christ is seen descending into the air and there receiving to Himself the saints who are caught up from the earth to meet Him - some of these to be raised from the dead and some to be translated from the living state (1 Cor. 15:22, 23, 51, 52). However, in that body of Scripture assigned to the next chapter, He is seen descending to the earth (Zech. 14:4-7) with His glorified saints as His bride attending (Rev. 19:7, 8, 14; Jude 1:14), to sit upon the throne of David (Luke 1:32), which is also "the throne of His glory" (Matt. 25:31). Though these two events differ in every particular, they are often confused, and for this reason this chapter should be closely compared with the one which is to follow. In contemplating the prophetic doctrine of Christ's coming for His saints, it should be noted:
First. - The order of these two events is obvious: Christ cannot come to the earth with His saints until He shall have come for them. They must be gathered together "unto him" (2 Thess. 2:1) before they can "appear with him" in glory (Col. 3:4). Though these events are probably separated by only a brief period of time, according to prophecy, there is much to be fulfilled between these events which is world transforming (2 Thess. 2:3, 4; Rev. 4:1 to 19:10).
Second. - The long predicted second coming of Christ to this earth will be completely fulfilled when He comes with His saints, and, therefore, the coming of Christ for His own sustains no relation to it whatsoever. The two events are not two phases or aspects of one divine undertaking. The Scriptures present the coming of Christ for His own as a mystery or sacred secret (1 Cor. 15:51) - meaning something hitherto unrevealed, but to be understood after it is divinely disclosed (Deut. 29:29; Matt. 13:35). The New Testament revelation concerning Christ's coming for His own could not have been seen in the Old Testament since it is only one aspect of truth (God's way of taking His people out of the world) related to the Church; which Church is a sacred secret, having been nowhere directly anticipated in the Old Testament. Likewise, the Church could not have been revealed in the Old Testament since it is only one of the divine purposes in the present age; which age is itself a sacred secret, not having been revealed in the Old Testament (Matt. 13:11). In contrast to all this, the second coming of Christ is in no sense a mystery or sacred secret, since it is one of the most important themes of the Old Testament (Deut. 30:3; Psa. 2:1-9; 24:1-10; 50:1-5; 96:10-13; Isa. 11:10, 11; Jer. 23:5, 6; Ezk. 37:21, 22; Dan. 7:13, 14; Zech, 2:10-12).
Third. - As revealed in the Scriptures, His coming for His saints is the next event in the order of the fulfillment of prophecy, and is, therefore, that for which the child of God should be waiting (1 Thess. 1:9, 10), and looking (Phil. 3:20; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 9:28), and which he should be loving (2 Tim. 4:8).
The Scriptures bearing on the coming of Christ for His own are explicit: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 it is revealed that when Christ comes the "dead in Christ" will rise first and the living saints, together with them, will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord and to be forever with the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, the same fact of the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" and the transformation of the living is set forth; but with the added revelation that the translation and transformation of the living saints will be as suddenly as "the twinkling of an eye," and at the sounding of the "last trump." In John 14:1-3, it is disclosed that Christ will receive His own unto Himself: not into the mansions, but into the place which He has gone to prepare. Again, in Philippians 3:20, 21, it is stated that at His coming "he shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." In like manner, the time of Christ's coming for His own will be the time when they shall appear before His judgment seat to receive their rewards for service (1 Cor. 3:11-15; Matt. 16:27; Luke 14:14; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:10).
As certainly as the coming of Christ for His saints is not revealed in the Old Testament, so certainly it has no relation to the unsaved. To the Christian, however, it is, in the purpose of God:
1. A Comforting Hope. - Comfort is derived from the fact that Christ may come at any time and that there is not a whole lifetime, necessarily, or until death, before the believer may see his Lord, and also from the fact that when He shall come the child of God will be instantly in the presence and fellowship of those loved ones who were saved and who have gone on before (1 Thess. 4:18).
2. A Purifying Hope. - No one can contemplate the fact that Christ may come at any moment and not have his conduct affected by that belief (1 John 3:1-3).
3. A Blessed Hope. - There is nothing comparable to the expectation that, through riches of grace, the saved one will see his Lord face to face, be with Him, and be like Him (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 3:3).
1. a. What portion of the Scriptures was prophecy at the time it was written?
b. Is prophecy as credible as history?
c. In what manner has prophecy been fulfilled?
2. What may we conclude as to the literal fulfillment of unfulfilled prophecy?
3. What are the major differences between the events prophesied to accompany the coming of Christ for His Church and His coming to this earth with His Church?
4. a. Why must one of these predicted events precede the other?
b. Are they separated by an extended period of time?
5. What relation do these events sustain to each other?
6. What is the meaning of the word mystery as used in the Scriptures?
7. Why is the coming of Christ for His own a mystery while the coming with His saints is not?
8. According to prophecy what is the next event to be fulfilled?
9. What attitude should the child of God sustain toward the next event?
10. What is predicted to take place when the Lord comes for His own?
11. Is the coming of Christ for His saints a doctrine of the Old Testament?
12. What relation do the unsaved sustain to the coming of Christ for His own?
13. Name three impressions this truth should make on each believer.
14. What practical effect does this truth have on your own life?
GOD THE SON: HIS COMING WITH HIS SAINTS
Since the theme of this chapter is so commonly confused with that of the preceding one, it is important that the two be studied together in order that the contrasts which appear at almost every point may be discerned. The title of this, as of the previous chapter, is based on one aspect of truth within the whole doctrine which this chapter is supposed to cover. The doctrine to be considered contemplates all that enters into the world-transforming event of the Second Coming of Christ, while the fact that the saints will return to this earth with Him when He comes is, comparatively, a limited portion of the whole revelation.
I. CERTAIN VITAL FACTS ARE TO BE NOTED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS DOCTRINE:
1. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ, will return to this earth (Zech. 14:4), personally (Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 25:31), and on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7). It should not be difficult to believe the testimony of these Scriptures, since God has promised it and since He who went on the clouds of heaven has already spent forty days on the earth in His glorified, resurrection body.
2. The general theme concerning the return of Christ has the unique distinction of being the first prophecy uttered by man (Jude 1:14, 15) and the last message from the ascended Christ as well as being the last word of the Bible (Rev. 22:20, 21).
3. Likewise, the theme of the Second Coming of Christ is unique because of the fact that it occupies a larger part of the text of the Scriptures than any other doctrine, and it is the outstanding theme of prophecy in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact all other prophecy largely contributes to the one great end of the complete setting forth of this crowning event - the Second Coming of Christ.
II. THE COMING OF CHRIST PRODUCES FAR-REACHING EFFECTS:
1. The nation Israel, God's chosen earthly people, to whom at least five-sixths of the Bible is addressed and with whom the great covenants are made (Rom. 9:4, 5) - which covenants secure to that nation a land, a nation, a throne, a King, and a kingdom - are now scattered throughout all the nations of the earth (Deut. 4:26-28; 28:63-68; Jer. 16:13), and are to remain scattered until they are gathered into their own land (Deut. 30:3-6; Isa. 11:11, 12; 14:1-3; 60:1-22; Jer. 23:6-8; 32:37-44; 33:7-9; Ezk. 37:21-25; Micah 4:6-8) under the reign of Messiah at His return. Though every covenant with His earthly people was in full force when Christ came the first time, and had been for hundreds of years, not a semblance of their fulfillment was experienced at that time; but the Scriptures declare that all these covenants will be fulfilled when He comes the second time. These covenants are of endless duration and are as secure as the faithfulness of God who has sworn with an oath concerning them. The nation will possess their land at the coming of their King, and He will sit on David's throne (Luke 1:31-33). The Deliverer coming out of Sion shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. 11:26, 27. See, also, Ezk. 37:1-14). The return of Christ to the earth and its blessing to the nation Israel is the great burden of Old Testament prophecy.
2. The redeemed ones of this age - the Church which is His body - are seen coming with Christ when He comes again (Rev. 19:7-16; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 1:14). The Church is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-33; Rev. 19:7; 21:9) and as such will have right and title with Him as consort in His reign (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6; 22:5). Until the Church is taken to meet the Lord, she is His espoused awaiting her wedding day; her marriage will be in Heaven, and she will return with Him after the wedding (Luke 12:36).
3. The nations of the earth will be brought into judgment when Christ comes and when He sits on the "throne of his glory" (Matt. 25:31-46. Note, also, the "Smiting Stone" of Dan. 2:31-45). Three classes are in view at the judgment of the nations - the sheep, the goats, and "my brethren." Though the sheep and the brethren are both under divine favour, it must be observed that they are not the same. The sheep are to enter the kingdom on the ground of their treatment of the brethren. So also, the goats are to be rejected on the same basis. The Church is not in view. This judgment occurs after the Church has been received into Heaven, and after the "Great Tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) when Israel - "my brethren" - will have experienced her supreme suffering at the hands of the nations (Deut. 4:29, 30; Psa. 2:5; Jer. 30:4-7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:9-28; 2 Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 3:10; 7:13, 14; 11:1 to 19:6). This judgment will determine the nations which are to enter the kingdom of Messiah on the earth. Again, this judgment should be distinguished from that of "The Great White Throne" which follows a thousand years later, and after the kingdom rule of Christ in the earth.
4. All creation will be restored to its Edenic glory when Christ returns (Rom. 8:19-23).
5. Satan will be bound and confined to the abyss for a thousand years when Christ returns (Rev. 20:1-3).
III. TWO EVENTS DISTINGUISHED
The two events - Christ's coming for His saints and his coming with His saints may be distinguished thus (for brevity, the first event will be indicated by a, and the second event by b):
(a) "Our gathering together unto him"; (b) "The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:1).
(a) He comes as the "Morning Star" (Rev. 2:28; 22:16; 2 Pet. 1:19); (b) as "The Sun of Righteousness" (Mal. 4:2).
(a) The "Day of Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16); (b) "The Day of the Lord" (2 Pet. 3:10).
(a) A signless event: (b) its approach to be observed (1 Thess. 5:4; Heb. 10:25).
(a) A timeless event -- at any moment; (b) fulfillment of prophecy to precede it (2 Thess. 2:2, 3; note, "Day of Christ" should be "Day of the Lord" in verse 2).
(a) No reference to evil; (b) evil ended, Satan judged, the Man of Sin destroyed.
(a) Israel unchanged; (b) all her covenants fulfilled.
(a) The Church removed from the earth; (b) returning with Christ.
(a) The Gentile nations unchanged; (b) judged.
(a) Creation unchanged; (b) delivered from the bondage of corruption.
(a) A "mystery" not before revealed; (b) seen throughout the Old and New Testaments.
(a) Hope centered in Christ - "the Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5); (b) "the kingdom is at hand" (Matt. 24:14).
(a) Christ appears as Bridegroom, Lord, and Head to the Church; (b) He appears as King, Messiah, and Immanuel to Israel.
(a) His coming unseen by the world; (b) coming in power and great glory.
(a) Christians are judged as to rewards; (b) nations judged as to the kingdom.
Important Scripture: (a) John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 5:10. (b) Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Psalm 72. Note all the prophets; Matthew 25:1-44; Acts 1:11; 15:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Peter 2:1 to 3:18; Revelation 19:11 to 20:6.
Review Questions for Chapter 12
1. Describe the manner in which, according to prophecy, Christ will return to this earth.
2. What length of time has He already been here in His glorified human body?
3. What is the first prophecy uttered by man?
4. What is the last prophecy from the lips of Christ and the last word of the Bible?
5. What theme of prophecy occupies more of the text of the Scriptures than any other?
6. a. With what nation are the great covenants of the Scriptures made?
b. What do these covenants secure?
c. When are these covenants to be fulfilled?
7. What is the greatest burden of Old Testament prophecy?
8. a. What position does the Church occupy in the second coming of Christ?
b. What service is she appointed to render after His return?
9. a. What judgment awaits the nations at the coming of Christ?
b. What is the contrast between this judgment and that of the Great White Throne?
10. What Scripture announces the deliverance of creation at the second coming of Christ?
11. What changes are in store for Satan at the second coming of Christ?
12. Indicate fourteen contrasts between the coming of Christ for, and the coming of Christ with, His saints.
13. Do you recognize anything in common between these two events?
14. Is the coming of Christ for His saints mentioned in the Old Testament?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS PERSONALITY
The Godhead subsists in three Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Having in previous chapters considered the Bible teaching concerning both the Father and the Son, it yet remains for us to consider the Bible teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. This and the four following chapters are assigned to this subject. In teaching the fundamental truths relative to the Holy Spirit, special emphasis is always required on the fact of His personality. This is due, no doubt, to the effect produced through the divine arrangement by which the Spirit does not now speak from Himself or of Himself; He rather speaks whatsoever He hears (John 16:13. Comp. Acts 13:2 with Eph. 4:7), and He is said to have come into the world to glorify Christ (John 16:14). In contrast to this, the Scriptures represent both, the Father and the Son as speaking from themselves and of themselves, not only with final authority and by the use of the personal I, but they are presented as being in immediate communion, cooperation, and conversation - the One with the Other. All this tends to make less real the personality of the One who does not speak either from or of Himself. This reserve on the part of the Spirit may account in a measure for the fact that some creeds have slighted the Person and work of the Spirit; treating Him as though He were a mere influence or emanation from God. The corrective for this error and the preventive against it is the due consideration of all that the Bible teaches and implies relative to the Person and work of the Spirit.
I. THE SPIRIT'S PERSONALITY IS INDICATED IN THE SCRIPTURES
1. Since the Spirit is said to do that which is possible only for a person to do:
(1) He reproves the world, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8).
(2) He teaches, "He shall teach you all things" (John 14:26; Neh. 9:20; Note, also, John 16:13-15; 1 John 2:27).
(3) The Spirit speaks, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6).
(4) The Spirit maketh intercession, "But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26).
(5) The Spirit leads, "led of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:18. Comp. Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 16:6, 7; 20:23; Rom. 8:14).
(6) The Spirit appoints the service of men, "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2. Comp. Acts 20:28).
(7) The Spirit is Himself subject to appointment (John 15:26).
(8) The Spirit ministers: He regenerates (John 3:6), He seals (Eph. 4:30), He baptizes (1 Cor. 12:13), He fills (Eph. 5:18).
2. He is affected as a person by other beings:
(1) The Father sends Him into the world (John 14:16, 26), and the Son sends Him into the world (John 16:7).
(2) Men may vex the Spirit (Isa. 63:10), they may grieve Him (Eph. 4:30), they may quench (resist) Him (1 Thess. 5:19), they may blaspheme against Him (Matt. 12:31), they may lie to Him (Acts 5:3), they may do despite unto Him (Heb. 10:29), they may speak against Him (Matt. 12:32).
3. All Bible terms related to the Spirit imply His personality:
(1) He is called "Another Comforter" (Advocate), which indicates that He is as much a person as Christ (John 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1, 2).
(2) He is called a Spirit and in the same personal sense as God is called a Spirit (John 4:24).
(3) The pronouns used of the Spirit imply His personality. In the Greek language, the word spirit is a neuter noun which would naturally call for a neuter pronoun and in a few instances the neuter pronoun is used (Rom. 8:16, 26); but more often the masculine form of the pronoun is used thus emphasizing the fact of the personality of the Spirit (John 14:16, 17; 16:7-15).
II. THE SPIRIT IS ONE OF THE PERSONS OF THE GODHEAD AND AS SUCH IS COEQUAL WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON
1. He is called God. This fact will be seen by comparing Isaiah 6:8, 9 with Acts 28:25, 26; Jeremiah 31:31-34 with Hebrews 10:15-17 (Note, also, 2 Cor. 3:18, R.V., and Acts 5:3, 4 - "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? ... thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God"). Though the judgments of God have fallen so drastically on some who have lied against the Spirit (Acts 5:3) and though men are evidently not permitted to swear in the name of the Holy Spirit and though He is called The Holy Spirit, it is certain that He is not more holy than the Father or the Son; absolute holiness being the primary attribute of the Triune God.
2. He has the attributes of God (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 1 Cor. 2:9-11; Heb. 9:14).
3. The Holy Spirit performs the works of God (Job 33:4; Psa. 104:30; Luke 12:11, 12; Acts 1:5; 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:11; 12:8-11; 2 Pet. 1:21).
Through meditation on the Word of God and through the experience gained by trusting the Spirit for His power, His guidance, and His instruction, the believer may come to realize the personality and sufficiency of the Holy Spirit, the importance and value of which is beyond all estimation.
Review Questions for Chapter 13
1. What has tended to discredit the personality of the Holy Spirit?
2. What is the corrective against all false theories concerning the person and work of the Spirit?
3. Name eight activities predicated to the Spirit which prove that He is a person.
4. Name the proofs that He is a person which are based on His relation to other beings.
5. What are some of the titles by which the Spirit is designated which prove His personality?
6. Is it any discredit to the personality of God that He is called a spirit?
7. What are the proper pronouns to be used in speaking of the Spirit?
8. a. What is the gender of the word Spirit in the Greek language?
b. How has this affected translations?
9. Indicate important passages which assign absolute deity to the Holy Spirit.
10. Who was punished for lying against the Spirit?
11. a. Is the Spirit more holy than the Father or the Son?
b. Are men permitted to swear in His name?
c. Do they swear in His name?
12. Indicate the Scriptures wherein the attributes of God are assigned to the Spirit.
13. Indicate the Scriptures wherein the Spirit is said to perform the works of God.
14. How may the Spirit become more real to the child of God?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ADVENT
The Spirit's advent into the world, like His predicted departure from the world, can be understood only as it is seen in relation to the various dispensations and revealed purposes of God. In ages past, the Holy Spirit was in the world as the Omnipresent One; yet He is said to have come into the world on the Day of Pentecost. Beginning with the Day of Pentecost, He is to remain in the world for a divinely determined and unrevealed time. When He shall have departed out of the world, He, as the Omnipresent One, will still be in the world. In arriving at the understanding of the order and harmony of these facts consideration should be given to four aspects of the Spirit's relation to the world:
I. IN THE AGES PRECEDING THE FIRST ADVENT OF CHRIST
Throughout the extended period before the first advent of Christ, the Spirit was present in the world in the same sense in which He is present everywhere, and He wrought in and through the people of God according to the divine will (Gen. 41:38; Ex. 31:3; 35:31; Num. 27:18; Job 33:4; Psa. 139:7; Hag. 2:4, 5; Zech. 4:6).
II. DURING THE THREE-YEAR PUBLIC MINISTRY OF CHRIST ON EARTH
It is reasonable to suppose that the incarnate, active presence of the Second Person of the Trinity in the world would affect the ministries of the Spirit, and this we find to be true.
1. In relation to Christ, the Spirit first wrought as the generating power by which the God-man was formed in the virgin's womb. The Spirit is also seen descending in the form of a dove upon Christ at the time of His baptism. And again, it is revealed that it was only through the Eternal Spirit that Christ offered Himself to God (Heb. 9:14).
2. The relation of the Spirit to men during the earth ministry of Christ was progressive. We first read of the assurance which Christ gave to His disciples that they might receive the Spirit by asking (Luke 11:13). Though the Spirit had previously come upon men according to the sovereign will of God, His presence in the human heart had never before been conditioned upon asking, and this privilege, being so new, was, so far as is revealed, never claimed at that time by any one. At the close of His ministry and just before His death, Christ said: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16, 17). Likewise, after His resurrection the Lord breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22); but in spite of this reception of the Spirit they were to tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4).
III. DURING THE PRESENT AGE OF THE CHURCH
As promised by the Father (John 14:16, 17, 26) and by the Son (John 16:7), the Spirit, who as the Omnipresent One, had always been in the world, came into the world on the Day of Pentecost. The force of this seeming repetition of ideas is seen when it is understood that His coming on the Day of Pentecost was that He might make His abode in the world. "We are led to believe that God the Father, though omnipresent (Eph. 4:6), is, as to His abode, "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). Likewise, we know that God the Son, though omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; Col. 1:27), as to His abode now, is seated at the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3; 10:12). In like manner, the Spirit, though omnipresent, is now, as to His abode, tabernacling here on the earth. The taking up of His abode on the earth was the sense in which the Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. His dwelling place was changed from Heaven to earth. It was for this coming of the Spirit into the world that the disciples were told to wait. The new ministry of this grace-age could not begin apart from the coming of the Spirit.
Two revelations are given concerning the Spirit's abode in the world:
1. He is said to indwell each and every child of God (1 Cor. 6:19). This fact, which is age-characterizing, is to be the theme of a succeeding chapter.
2. He is said to be tabernacling in a structure of living stones - the habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:18-22). This temple of living stones is now "growing" and is none other than the whole company of the saved ones of this age. By the salvation of souls through the power of the Spirit this tabernacle is growing to its completion.
The redeemed who form the Church are mentioned in the Scriptures under various figures - the sheep, the branches, the stones of the building, the new generation, a kingdom of priests, the body, and the bride. Of these figures, the body and the building lend themselves to the thought of growth or gradual increase unto completion, and are so used in the Word of God (Eph. 2:18-22; 4:13-16).
When the elect number of this heavenly company of redeemed ones shall have been saved, the Spirit will have accomplished the purpose of His advent into the world and will then depart from the world as definitely as He came. He will, however, continue His ministry and presence as the Omnipresent One with His abode changed from earth to Heaven. Though His name is not revealed, His departure is indicated in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. He is most evidently the Restrainer who continues to restrain the evil of the world so long as He remains in the world. It should be observed that though the Spirit may remove His abode from the earth, as He will, He cannot depart without taking the saved ones with Him; for they cannot be separated from Him (John 14:16, 17).
IV. DURING THE KINGDOM AGE
As the Omnipresent One, the Spirit will have a peculiar ministry in the world during the Kingdom age, which period will immediately follow the present age of the out-calling of the Church (Isa. 11:1-3; Joel 2:28-32).
Review Questions for Chapter 14
1. In what sense was the Spirit present in the world before the first advent of Christ?
2. a. What was the ministry of the Spirit in connection with the birth of Christ?
b. What was His ministry at the beginning of Christ's public service?
c. What was His ministry in connection with the cross?
3. Why, may we believe, did the disciples fail to pray for the Spirit?
4. a. What is the petition concerning the advent of the Spirit in Christ's prayer as recorded in John 14:16, 17?
b. Could any prayer of Christ be unanswered?
5. In what sense did the Spirit, who is always omnipresent, come into the world on Pentecost?
6. Where is the home of the Father, and of the Son?
7. Where is the home of the Spirit during this age of grace?
8. Were the disciples appointed to wait for their own filling by the Spirit, or for the advent of the Spirit into the world?
9. What two aspects of the Spirit's present abode are mentioned in the Scriptures?
10. What Scripture indicates each?
11. By what process is the Spirit's temple growing?
12. What will be the consummation of the development?
13. a. When will the Spirit depart from this world?
b. Can He go without the Church?
14. What is said of the Spirit's ministry in the coming age?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ANOINTING
In His relation to the believer, the Holy Spirit is three times spoken of in the Scriptures as the Anointing (2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27 R.V.); however, as the Presence indwelling each child of God, which is the equivalent of the Anointing, He is many times mentioned. Since every Christian has received the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), every Christian has received the Anointing. This is clearly indicated in the three passages in which the word appears:
1. "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21, 22). Four immediate results of the Spirit's indwelling are here suggested:
(1) The baptism with the Spirit places the believer "in Christ"; thus each child of God is said to be established ... "in Christ" (1 Cor. 12:13; 6:17; Gal. 3:27).
(2) Likewise, by giving us the Spirit, God hath anointed us.
(3) Again, God through the Spirit hath sealed us (Eph. 4:30), and the Spirit Himself is the seal.
(4) So, also, God is here said to have given us the Spirit as an "earnest," and since an earnest is a part of the purchase money, or property, given in advance as security for the remainder, the Spirit is seen to be the earnest of the whole heavenly inheritance which belongs to every believer through infinite grace (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:4).
2. "And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things" (1 John 2:20 R.V.). Here, again, it is implied that every Christian, being anointed, is indwelt by the Spirit and therefore is in the way of knowing those "deep things" of God which are alone imparted by the indwelling Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10, 12, 15; John 16:12-15).
3. "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" (1 John 2:27). In this passage, the important truth disclosed is that the Anointing abides. He may be grieved (Eph. 4:30), but He is never grieved away. He may be quenched, or resisted (1 Thess. 5:19), but He never departs (John 14:16).
In view of the prevalence of the unscriptural teachings which assert that the Holy Spirit does not indwell every believer and that He is secured in the heart as a second work of grace, or second blessing, which is to be sought by the Christian after he is saved, it is important that the Bible teaching on this subject should be considered carefully. There is a "filling with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) which is conditioned upon the adjustment of the life of the believer to the Spirit of God, and this filling has to do with the believer's experience of power and blessing (Acts 1:8; 2:4; Eph. 5:18-20). The filling with the Spirit, which is often repeated, should not be confused with the once-for-all indwelling, or anointing, of the Spirit. It is only those who are indwelt by the Spirit who can be filled with the Spirit. The fact that the Spirit is present in every believer is stated in the following Scriptures:
John 7:37-39. "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive" (compare Acts 11:17; Gal. 3:2). Romans 5:5. "The Holy Spirit which is given unto us." This passage, like many more (note, Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 2:12; 12:3; 2 Cor. 5:5; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 4:13; 2:20, 27), is inclusive of all believers, and not of some class of especially sanctified individuals. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. - "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" This, again, is not a reference to some class of holy Christians; the text shows that those addressed are guilty of the most serious sin (5:1; 6:1, 2, 7, 8). They are not told that they will receive the Spirit if they are holy; rather, they are told that having the Spirit which is a gift of divine grace to all believers alike, they should live holy lives.
Careful study will disclose the fact that Luke 11:13; Acts 5:32; 8:12-17; 19:1-7 and Ephesians 1:13, when rightly translated, and when given their dispensational application, or when rightly understood, do not contradict the positive doctrine of the indwelling Spirit.
The fact that the Spirit is given to every believer when he is saved and as a vital part of his salvation, is not only Scriptural, but it is reasonable. The superhuman manner of life which the Christian must live if he honours his Lord is impossible apart from the enabling Spirit, and, since God has addressed this superhuman requirement to all believers, it is evident that He has provided the sufficiency for all.
The fact of the Spirit's indwelling or anointing is a characterizing feature of this age (Rom. 7:6; 2:29; 2 Cor. 3:6).
By the indwelling of the Spirit, the individual is sanctified or set apart for God. In the Old Testament the anointing oil typifies the present anointing by the Spirit; oil being one of the seven symbols of the Spirit.
1. Anything touched with the anointing oil was thereby sanctified (Exod. 40:9-15). In like manner, the Spirit now sanctifies (1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2).
2. The prophet was sanctified with oil (1 Kings 19:16), likewise Christ was a prophet by the Spirit (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18), and the believer is a witness by the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
3. The priest was sanctified with oil (Exod. 40:15), likewise Christ in His sacrifice by the Spirit (Heb. 9:14), and the believer by the Spirit (Rom. 12:1; 8:26; Eph. 5:18-20).
4. The king was sanctified with oil (1 Sam. 16:12, 13), likewise Christ by the Spirit (Psa. 45:7), and by the Spirit the believer is to reign.
5. The anointing oil was for healing (Luke 10:34), suggesting the healing of the soul in salvation by the Spirit.
6. The oil made the face to shine, which was as the oil of gladness (Psa. 45:7), and fresh oil was required (Psa. 92:10). The fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal. 5:22).
7. In the fittings for the tabernacle, oil for the lights is specified (Exod. 25:6). The oil suggests the Spirit, the wick the believer as a channel, and the light the outshining of Christ. The wick must rest in the oil; so the believer must walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). The wick must be free from obstruction; so the believer must not resist the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The wick must be snuffed; so the believer must be cleansed by the confession of sin (1 John 1:9).
The holy anointing oil (Exod. 30:22-23) was composed of four spices added to oil as a base. These spices represent peculiar virtues found in Christ. This compound thus symbolizes the Spirit taking up the very life and character of Christ and applying it to the believer. This oil could in no case be applied to human flesh (John 3:6; Gal. 5:17). It could not be imitated, which indicates that God cannot accept anything but the manifestation of the life which is Christ (Phil. 1:21). Every article of furnishing in the tabernacle must be anointed and thus set apart unto God, which suggests that the believer's dedication is to be complete (Rom. 12:1, 2).
Review Questions for Chapter 15
1. Name five ministries of the Spirit which are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22.
2. What is the value to the believer of each of these ministries?
3. Name three passages in which there is reference to the Spirit's anointing.
4. Indicate the Scriptures which teach that the Spirit indwells every child of God.
5. What are the contrasts between this ministry and that of His filling?
6. What motive is appealed to in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 for a God-honouring life?
7. Why is it reasonable as well as scriptural to believe that the Spirit is given to every child of God?
8. What Scripture presents the fact of the indwelling Spirit as a characteristic of this age?
9. Name the various meanings of oil as a symbol of the indwelling Spirit.
10. What three truths are taught by the figure of the light in the tabernacle?
11. What is suggested by the compounding of the four spices in the anointing oil?
12. What is suggested by the law that this oil should not be imitated?
13. What is suggested by the anointing of every article of furnishing in the tabernacle?
14. When, and on what condition, is the Spirit given to the believer?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS MINISTRY
The law dispensation continued to the very hour of the death of Christ (John 1:17; Gal. 3:14), and since the present peculiar and varied ministries of the Spirit could not have begun until the Pentecostal advent, there is imperative need that the relationships belonging to the past age shall in no wise be made the basis of doctrine which is applicable to this age. The experience of the disciples and the relationships which obtained before the death of Christ contribute little to the precise form of "present truth" (2 Pet. 1:12). It is therefore obvious that no other believers of this dispensation are called to the same progressive experience as that of the disciples; but, on the contrary, the experience of all other believers will, of necessity, be wholly within the limits of that which characterizes the present age. The present ministries of the Spirit, taken together, form a perfect system, or whole, which is wonderfully adjusted to the peculiar facts of salvation by grace and the believer's life under grace. The day of Pentecost with all its provisions for this age has "fully come" (Acts 2:1), and that day marks the new grace-ministries of the Spirit. These are seven:
I. AS THE ONE WHO RESTRAINS THE WORLD
The fact and force of this ministry rests upon but one passage of Scripture, in which the Spirit is said to be restraining the lawlessness of the world until He (the Restrainer) be taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:7). It is believed that the Spirit is the Restrainer since the restraining work is evidently undertaken by one of the Persons of the Godhead and the Spirit is the active power of God in the world during this age. The context indicates that Satan's supreme manifestations which are to be permitted in the Great Tribulation are now restrained by the Spirit until the Spirit shall have finished His work in the world and is taken out of the way.
II. AS THE ONE WHO REPROVES THE WORLD
Again the scope of an important ministry of the Spirit is limited to the statement of one passage (John 16:7-11). This ministry likewise is to the whole world. The reproving of the world is more than a mere deepening of personal sorrow for sin; it is an indivisible threefold enlightenment of the Satan-blinded mind (2 Cor. 4:3, 4) in respect to sin, righteousness, and judgment. The sin is that of unbelief in the Saviour, the righteousness is that righteousness which is from God and is upon all who believe (Rom. 1:16, 17; 3:22; 4:5), the judgment is that finished work of Christ which is past, whereby He suffered in our place. By His reproving ministry, the Spirit causes the unsaved individual who is blinded by Satan to comprehend these three vital facts in the Gospel relative to the divine provisions for the lost.
III. AS THE ONE WHO REGENERATES
By the regenerating power of the Spirit, the one who exercises saving faith in Christ passes immediately from spiritual death to spiritual life, is made a partaker of the divine nature, Christ is begotten in him the hope of glory, God legitimately becomes his Father, and he becomes the legitimate child of God, an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ.
IV. AS THE ONE WHO INDWELLS
This ministry of the Spirit, which was the theme of the last chapter, is one of the most vital facts concerning the Christian (John 7:37-39; Rom. 5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:17; Gal. 4:6).
V. AS THE ONE WHO BAPTIZES
Not only is the divine life in the believer through the indwelling Spirit, but the believer is so vitally joined to the Lord by the baptism with the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; 6:17; Gal. 3:27) that he is said to be "in Christ." To be in Christ is to have been taken out of the old creation in Adam and placed eternally in the new Creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Christ becomes the new Federal Head and all that Christ is or has done is imputed to the believer. As a branch is grafted into the vine, or a member might be joined to a body, so the believer is vitally joined to Christ by the baptism with the Spirit. According to Scripture usage, that which has power to receive into itself, to impart its own qualities, or to exercise a controlling influence, has power to baptize, and such baptism is never a "dipping into," but rather secures an abiding position and union. The believer is brought eternally under the limitless influence of Christ by the baptism with the Spirit, and the baptism with the Spirit being a part of salvation is common to all believers. The baptism with the Spirit is the theme of the following chapter.
VI. AS THE ONE WHO SEALS
Every child of God has been sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). The Spirit Himself is the Seal and His presence speaks of divine ownership and of eternal security.
It may be concluded that the Spirit's ministries in regenerating, indwelling, baptizing, and sealing are ¦wrought for the Christian when he believes, and form the very structure of his salvation, and since these blessings are never abrogated they are never wrought a second time.
VII. AS THE ONE WHO FILLS
The filling with the Spirit is unto Christian experience, power, and service. In contrast to the once-for-all regenerating, indwelling, baptizing, and sealing, there are many fillings (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:9). According to the one great command (Eph. 5:18), the believer is to be "getting filled" continuously. To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in the heart and life all that He came into that life to do. It is not to acquire more of the Spirit, but, rather, that the Spirit acquires more of the believer. To be filled with the Spirit is to be a normal, if not a usual, Christian. The Spirit came to do all that He does in filling, hence He needs not to be implored; He is imploring the unadjusted believer to the end that every hindrance may be removed.
The Spirit's filling results in certain manifestations:
(1) Christ-like character - the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23);
(2) Christian service - the exercise of a gift (1 Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:7-11; 2 Tim. 1:6);
(3) the Spirit's teaching (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10; 1 John 2:27);
(4) true praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:18-20;
(5) the Spirit's leading (Rom. 8:14; Acts 13:2; Gal. 5:18);
(6) the Spirit actualizing the unseen (John 16:13-15; Rom. 8:16); and
(7) the Spirit interceding (Rom. 8:26, 27).
Spirituality does not consist in negatives only. We are not spiritual because we do not do worldly things. Spirituality is a vital output or accomplishment in and through the believer from the indwelling Spirit. In order to be filled with the Spirit, it is required that all sin shall be confessed (1 John 1:9; Eph. 4:30); the whole life shall be surrendered to him (Rom. 6:13; 12:1; 1 Thess. 5:19); and that there shall be moment-by-moment reliance upon the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).
Review Questions for Chapter 16
1. Is the experience of the disciples who lived in two dispensations and through the transition from one to the other a safe guide for the Christian now?
2. Name the seven present ministries of the Spirit.
3. Who is the Restrainer and what is His undertaking as such according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7?
4. Describe the reproving work of the Spirit.
5. What is the result of regeneration by the Spirit?
6. a. In whom, according to the Scriptures, does the Spirit dwell?
b. By what other term is this ministry indicated? (see preceding chapter)
7. a. Into what is the believer baptized by the Spirit?
b. What New Testament figures illustrate this vital union to Christ?
c. Is the Spirit's baptism unto an abiding result?
d. Who is baptized with the Spirit?
8. What does the sealing of the Spirit indicate?
9. a. What is the filling with the Spirit?
b. In what particulars is this ministry different than His regenerating, His indwelling, His baptizing, and His sealing?
c. What is the precise command of Ephesians 5:18?
10. What are the seven manifestations of the Spirit which together form the Spirit-filled life?
11. Does spirituality consist only in the things a Christian does not do?
12. What is the first condition of a Spirit-filled life?
13. What is the second condition of a Spirit-filled life?
14. What is the third condition of a Spirit-filled life?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS BAPTISM
Since all the positions and possessions of the believer are his on the sole ground of his place in Christ through the baptism with the Spirit, misunderstanding of this doctrine is fraught with serious results. The safeguard here, as always, is in adhering strictly to the Word of God. In all the Scriptures, there are not more than eleven direct references to the baptism with the Spirit. In taking them up in order we discover:
1. A plain prediction by John the Baptist, mentioned once in each of the four Gospels, that there would be a baptism with the Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This four-fold prediction is important; but there is no light from these Scriptures as to what constitutes that baptism with the Spirit.
2. In Acts 1:4-5 we read: "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Revelation here advances only to the point of assurance that this ministry of the Spirit would be "not many days hence." This we believe anticipates the Day of Pentecost; but no light is yet shed on the exact meaning of this work of the Spirit.
3. In Acts 11:15-18, we have Peter's defence concerning his un-Jewish action in going to the house of Cornelius the Gentile. Peter states: "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" Particular attention should be given to this passage, for here, more than anywhere else in the Scriptures, false interpretations as to the meaning of the baptism with the Spirit are founded.
It should be noted that in this passage Peter makes three references to the Spirit: He states that
(1) the Spirit fell on them;
(2) Peter was reminded of the promise of the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:4, 5.); And
(3) the Spirit was given to the Gentiles as He had been given at Pentecost to the Jews. The error concerning this passage arises from supposing that the Spirit "falling on them" is identical with the baptism with the Spirit.
Turning back to Acts 10:44-48, where the first account is given of Peter's experience in Cornelius' house, we find that no reference is made to the baptism with the Spirit; but the Spirit, it is written, "fell on them," and as a direct result they "spake with tongues." "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." It is equally important to read the account of the advent of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as stated in Acts 2:1-4. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." It should be observed that they spake with tongues on the Day of Pentecost as a direct result of the Spirit's filling, and that, according to Acts 10:44-48, they spake with tongues as a direct result of the Spirit falling on them. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the Spirit falling upon them and the Spirit filling them are one and the same thing. In each case the result was identical; but if this be true, it is evidently unscriptural to relate any outward manifestations of the Spirit, such as speaking with tongues, to the baptism with the Spirit. Not discerning this error, multitudes today are "seeking the baptism of the Spirit," and are assured that if "it" can be gained, they, too, will speak with tongues.
4. Of five remaining passages which by any interpretation give direct teaching concerning the baptism with the Spirit (Rom. 6:1-4; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12; 1 Cor. 12:13), 1 Corinthians 12:13 alone gives any revelation as to the meaning and purpose of this ministry. The passage is as follows: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Every great theme of Scripture will be found to be taken up exhaustively in one central passage, and 1 Corinthians 12:13 is evidently the one clear revelation as to the meaning of the phrase, "the baptism with the Spirit." This passage clearly indicates that the baptism with the Spirit is the divine operation by which believers are made members in the Body of Christ, and are vitally united to Christ by partaking of one Spirit. The unsaved sustain no living relation to Christ; but the saved are all said to be "in Christ." There was a time when they were not in Christ, but now they are "in Him." If we inquire as to how and when they became thus related to Christ, the answer from God's Word would be that they were placed "in Christ" by the baptism with the Spirit, and that it occurred at the moment they believed and were saved. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ... and have been all made to drink into the Spirit."
In considering this great passage, certain crucial revelations which are contained in it should be noted in particular:
1. The pronoun "we," as used here, and throughout the Epistles, is an accurate classification of all saved people, in contrast with the unsaved. The word "we" excludes every unregenerate person and, as certainly, includes every regenerate person. No greater violence could be done to this Scripture than to interpret this word "we" as though it represented some inner group or favored class of Christians. And to give the strongest possible emphasis to the fact that every saved person is included, the word "all" is also employed.
2. When members are added to the body of Christ it is accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit, and this ministry is none other than the baptism with the Spirit. By that operation those who believe on Christ are vitally placed "in Him." As a living union is formed by the process of grafting, and the branch thus united is organically in the vine, and the vine by all its vitality and life is in the branch, so the believer thus united to Christ by the baptism with the Spirit is "in Christ" and Christ is "in him." Again, as a member might be vitally joined to a human body and thus be in that body as to position and relationship, and the life of the head flowing into that new member be imparting its life-giving energy and vital force, so, we being "in Christ," by the baptism with the Spirit, are vitally joined to Christ, and are in Christ as to position and relationship, and He is in us as the supply of our eternal life and every vital force.
Whatever the former position or relationship was of either the branch before it was grafted in, or the human member before it was newly joined to the human body, such relationship forever ceases, and the branch when grafted in, becomes a living part of the vine, and the member if joined to the human body, becomes a vital part of the very personality of the one to whom it might be joined.
It is important to note the unvarying fact that all that the believer is and all that he has depends on his place "in Christ" through the baptism with the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:6; 2:18).
Thus we may conclude that the baptism with the Spirit is in no way related to the outward manifestations of power in the life of the believer, which manifestations follow the Spirit's filling; it is rather the placing of the believer in that vital union with Christ wherein it may be said of him that he is "in Christ" and Christ is "in him" (John 14:20).
There are upwards of one hundred passages which emphasize the fact that the believer is "in Christ." Being in Christ is the essential fact of the believer's position in the New Creation. Therefore, the baptism with the Spirit is the divinely ordained method whereby he enters that marvelous sphere of relationship wherein Christ is the new Federal Head - the Last Adam.
Review Questions for Chapter 17
1. How many direct references to the Baptism with the Spirit are found in the Scriptures?
2. State the information on this theme presented in the four Gospels and Acts 1:4, 5.
3. State the information on this theme and use of terms in Acts 11:15-18; 10:44-48; and Acts 2:1-4.
4. Do any of these passages define the thing accomplished by the Spirit's baptism?
5. Name the remaining passages bearing on this theme and indicate the one which presents a definition.
6. What is accomplished by the baptism with the Spirit?
7. What class is included in this baptism?
8. When is this ministry undertaken by the Spirit?
9. What relation do the unsaved sustain to it?
10. State why you believe this ministry is not limited to some, or a portion of the believers.
11. What two illustrations are employed in the Scriptures in setting forth the joining of the believer to Christ?
12. Do all former relationships cease when one is baptized into Christ's body?
13. Are those thus placed in Christ ever taken out?
14. a. How is the New Creation formed?
b. Who is its Federal Head?
c. Will the Head of the New Creation ever fall?
As to time, the Bible may be apportioned into well-defined periods. These periods are clearly separated and the recognition of their divisions with their divine purposes constitutes one of the important factors in true interpretation of the Scriptures. These divisions of time are termed dispensations, which word is somewhat different than the word age in that the word age is more general, being used of any brief division of time or generation of men, though the word age is rightly used as synonymous with the word dispensation.
It is probable that the recognition of the dispensations sheds more light on the whole message of the Scriptures than any other aspect of Bible study. Often the first clear understanding of the dispensations and God's revealed purposes in them results in the beginning of useful Bible knowledge and in the fostering of a personal interest in the Bible itself. Man's relation to God is not the same in every age. It has been necessary to bring fallen man into divine testing. This, in part, is God's purpose in the ages, and the result of the testings is in every case an unquestionable demonstration of the utter failure and sinfulness of man. In the end, every mouth will have been stopped because every assumption of the human heart will have proven its unwisdom and wickedness by centuries of experience.
Each dispensation, therefore, begins with man divinely placed in a new position of privilege and responsibility, and closes with the failure of man resulting in righteous judgments from God. While there are certain abiding facts such as the holy character of God which are of necessity the same in every age, there are varying instructions and responsibilities which are, as to their application, limited to a given period. In this connection, the Bible student must recognize the difference between a primary and a secondary application of the Word of God. Only those portions of the Scriptures which are directly addressed to the child of God under grace are to be given a personal or primary application. All such instructions he is expected to perform in detail. In the matter of a secondary application it should be observed that, while there are spiritual lessons to be drawn from every portion of the Bible, it does not follow that the Christian is appointed by God to conform to those governing principles which were the will of God for people of other dispensations. The child of God under grace is not situated as was Adam, or Abraham, or the Israelites when under the Law; nor is he called upon to follow that peculiar manner of life which according to the Scriptures will be required of men when the King shall have returned and set up His kingdom on the earth.
Since the child of God depends wholly on the instructions contained in the Bible for his direction in daily life, and since the principles obtaining in the various dispensations are so diverse, and at times even contradictory, it is important that he shall recognize those portions of the Scriptures which directly apply to him if he is to realize the will of God and the glory of God. In considering the whole testimony of the Bible it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him. It is obvious that, apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world-transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come. Because of imperfect translations, some important truth is hidden to the one who reads only the English text of the Bible. This is illustrated by the fact that the Greek word aion, which means an age, or dispensation, is forty times translated by the English word world. Thus when it is stated in Matthew 13:49, "So shall it be in the end of the world," there is reference not to the end of the material earth, which in due time must come (2 Pet. 3:7; Rev. 20:11; Isa. 66:.22), but rather to the end of this age. The end of the world is not drawing near, but the end of the age is. According to the Scriptures there are in all seven major dispensations and it is evident that we are now living in the extreme end of the sixth. The kingdom age of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6) is yet to come.
A dispensation is more or less marked off by the new divine appointment and responsibilities with which it begins and by the divine judgments with which it ends. The seven dispensations are:
1. The Dispensation of Innocence.
The duration of this period is unrevealed. It began with the creation of man, was characterized by those conditions which obtained in the time of man's innocence, it includes the sin of man and ends with a divine judgment by which man received a sentence from God and was expelled from Eden (Gen. 1:28 to 3:22).
2. The Dispensation of Conscience.
Possessed with the knowledge of both good and evil, man, for about eighteen hundred years, was required to act according to his own conscience - choosing the good and rejecting the evil. His failure is recorded in the history of that period. In this time man became so wicked that the age was closed with the judgment of the flood (Gen. 3:22 to 7:23).
3. The Dispensation of Human Government.
Continuing more than four hundred years, the history of this dispensation records that man was given the new responsibility of government in the earth with the power of taking human life (Gen. 9:1-8), which power has never been withdrawn. Man's failure to govern for God and his success in governing for himself is seen in the ungodly assumptions with which the age ended. The divine judgment on this age was the confusion of tongues (Gen. 8:20 to 11:9).
4. The Dispensation of Promise.
In this period of more than four hundred years, extending from the call of Abraham to the giving of the law at Sinai, the new nation which began with Abraham is alone in view. By the terms of this dispensation they are under the gracious promise and covenants of Jehovah with varied instructions as to their relation to God, to the land of promise, and as to their walk before God. The period ends with that people in bondage in Egypt from which they are delivered by the mighty hand of God (Gen. 12:1 to Exod. 19:8).
5. The Dispensation of the Law.
This lengthened period began with Israel's assumption of the law at Mount Sinai (Exod. 19:8), was characterized by fifteen hundred years of unfaithfulness and broken law, and terminates with the Great Tribulation in the earth. Its course was interrupted by the death of Christ and the thrusting in of the hitherto unannounced age of the church. Thus the church age, while complete in itself, is parenthetical within the age of the law. At the removal of the Church when the Lord comes again to receive His own, the law age will be resumed and continue for that period known as Daniel's seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27) - which week is generally conceded to be Seven years.* Israel's judgments began with her dispersions, were continued in the destruction of Jerusalem and her final scattering among the Gentiles, and will end with that hour of her greatest afflictions in the coming tribulation. The greatest of her sins is the rejection of her Messiah at the first advent of Christ.
* (In determining the dispensation to which the Tribulation period belongs, it should be observed that it bears no relation to the features of this church age, nor has it the characteristics of a dispensation in itself. Though it is the consummation of divine judgment upon all men and their institutions, it is especially Israelitish. The continuity of that Jewish age which began at Sinai is incomplete apart from the events which belong to the Great Tribulation. As stated by Daniel, the seventieth week is required for the finishing of Israel's transgression and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24-27). The transgression to be "finished" could be no part of this age of grace, but is rather of the preceding age. The fact that the general features which obtain in the Tribulation are similar to those principles which were peculiar to the law age is also conclusive. The sabbath is re-established (Matt. 24:20), the temple worship is renewed - though in unbelief - (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4), the Old Testament kingdom-hope will again be announced (Matt. 24:14), and the legal principle of merit and reward for endurance will again obtain throughout that brief period (Matt. 24:13). Not only does the law dispensation require the yet future Tribulation period for the execution of those divine judgements which belong to it, but, by the recognition of the sequence connecting these two periods of time, the continuity of purpose is preserved wherein the Messianic, earthly kingdom, which follows the Tribulation, is seen to be both the legitimate expectation and the logical consummation of the dispensation of the law. By so much it may be observed that the present unforeseen dispensation of grace is wholly parenthetical within the dispensation of the law.)
6. The Dispensation of the Church.
Beginning with the death of Christ and the day of Pentecost, a new responsibility is imposed on all men - both Jews and Gentiles. This responsibility is personal and calls for the acceptance by each individual of the grace of God toward sinners as it has been provided in Christ, with good works as the fruit of salvation. While the primary purpose of God in this dispensation will be perfectly accomplished in the gathering out of the Church, the course and end of this age is characterized by an apostate church and a Christ rejecting world. The judgment will be personal as has been the responsibility. The dispensation of the Church continues from the cross of Christ and the advent of the Spirit to Christ's coming again to receive His own.
7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom.
As predicted in all the Scriptures, Christ will return to this earth and reign sitting on the throne of David. In that time Israel's covenants will be fulfilled and her earthly blessings will overflow. However, the age ends with a revolt against God and the judgment of fire from heaven (Rev. 20:7-9). The duration of this dispensation is clearly declared to be a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6), or from the second coming of Christ to the new heaven and the new earth.
As there was a dateless period before the creation of man in which there was both heaven and earth, so there will be a new heaven and a new earth after all dispensations have ceased.
Review Question for Chapter 18
1. According to the Scriptures into how many major divisions is time divided?
2. Define the meaning of the words dispensation and age.
3. What is the value of dispensational distinctions in Bible interpretation?
4. What is the divine purpose in the dispensation?
5. How is the beginning and the end of each dispensation indicated?
6. What is the primary and what is a secondary application of Scripture?
7. What relation does the believer sustain to the age of the law and its governing principles?
8. What lessons may be drawn from portions of the Bible which are subject to a secondary application?
9. Are we drawing near the end of the world?
10. Describe the first four dispensations.
11. a. Into what two portions of time is the age of the law dispensation divided?
b. What evidence is there that the period of the Great Tribulation is the continuance and completion of the age of the law?
12. What is the primary divine purpose in the dispensation of the church?
13. a. What will characterize its ending?
b. Are its judgments national, or personal?
14. Describe the age of the kingdom.
The Bible discloses the fact that it has pleased God to enter into covenants with men. Eight of these covenants are recorded and they incorporate the most vital facts in man's relation to God throughout the history of the race. Each covenant represents a divine purpose and the majority of them constitute an absolute prediction as well as an unalterable promise as to the accomplishment of whatever God has designed. Reckoning from the time a covenant is made, it always anticipates the future and is intended to be a message of assurance to those to whom it is addressed.
The covenants of God are grouped into two classifications:
1. Those that are Conditional.
A conditional covenant is one in which God's action is made to be contingent upon some action on the part of those to whom the covenant is addressed. A conditional covenant guarantees that God "will do His part with absolute certainty when the human requirements are met; it also declares with equal certainty that He will not do according to the expectation of the covenant should the human responsibility fail.
2. Those that are Unconditional.
An unconditional covenant is simply a declaration on the part of God as to what He is going to do and is made without reference to human action, purpose, or merit. This form of covenant is illustrated in Genesis 15:1-18. Believing fully in the promise of Jehovah concerning a seed (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:16-22), Abraham sought to have that promise ratified by an outward seal in action. Thus Jehovah directed in the preparation of the bodies of the animals to be used in this ratification, and though it was no doubt the custom that both parties thus entering into covenant should walk together between the pieces of the carcasses, God caused Abraham to become utterly inactive by a deep sleep while He passed through alone. Since this was an unconditional covenant in which Abraham had no responsibility, it was fitting that he should in no way appear in the ratification of the covenant. Jehovah had not said, So shall thy seed be, if; but He had said, "So shall thy seed be."
Since all human life is lived under some qualifying conditions belonging to the covenants of Jehovah, and since every passage of Scripture draws its colour to some degree from the covenant under which it belongs, the importance to the Bible student of a clear understanding of these age-characterizing, world-transforming declarations of Jehovah cannot be estimated.
The eight major covenants are:
1. The Covenant with Man in Eden (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:16, 17).
According to this record, God entered into a conditional covenant with Adam in which life and blessing or death and cursing were made to depend on the faithfulness of Adam. Human failure followed and the terms of the covenant were executed in righteousness.
2. The Covenant with Man after the Fall (Gen. 3:16-19).
This is an unconditional covenant in which God declares to man what his lot in life will be because of his sin. There is no appeal allowed, nor is any human responsibility involved.
3. The Covenant with Noah and His Sons (Gen. 9:1-18).
In declaring the far-reaching details concerning the course and destiny of the human family as represented in the sons of Noah, in faithfully promising that there would be no recurrence of the flood, and in establishing the authority of human government on the earth, God again entered into an unconditional covenant. However, this covenant anticipated the most minute control of all human life and destiny and could in no case be realized apart from the cooperative action of uncounted numbers of human wills; yet by the terms of this covenant God is committed to accomplish everything He has promised even to the moulding and moving of the will of each individual who makes up the countless myriads of humanity who were to appear on the earth.
There is an insoluble mystery presented in every effort to reconcile the facts of divine sovereignty and human choice; but in an unconditional covenant, God is seen to be in absolute authority over all the forces of the world as well as over every thought and intent of the human heart. Yet in the outworking of the covenant no human being is conscious of divine coercion or of restraint upon his own freedom of choice. "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance" (Isa. 40:15).
4. The Covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8).
In like manner, this covenant reaches on through all time and into eternity and involves the blessedness of all the families of the earth. It is unconditional in the most absolute sense, being set forth in seven I wills of Jehovah, and is confirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:24) and to Jacob (Gen. 35:12). This covenant anticipates the sovereign will of God in Abraham's personal blessing, in the everlasting mercy to Israel, and the coming of the Seed which is Christ.
Again, it should be observed that in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant God is committed to marvellous accomplishments which extend over the whole history of the race and into eternity. To guarantee this, which is infinitely more than merely foreseeing what man would do, man must be moved by a sovereign hand even to the controlling of every thought and purpose which has any part in the fulfillment of this covenant. Yet in its outworking, not one of the whole human family will be conscious of doing other than his own free choice may prompt him to do. The sufficiency of God to perform even as He has determined is not now a question of abstract speculation. Thousands of years of human history have witnessed a perfect fulfillment to the present hour; yet in the midst of this stupendous divine achievement man has not ceased to disbelieve in the sovereignty of God nor to belittle God in all his thoughts. The sphere of man's thought is limited to the circle in which his own will seems to him to be supreme.
5. The Covenant with Moses (Exod. 20:1 to 31:18).
In transmitting the three-fold law (the commandments, Exod. 20:1-17; the judgments, Exod. 21:1 to 24:11; and the ordinances, Exod. 24:12 to 31:18) to Israel through Moses, Jehovah entered into a conditional covenant with that nation. The terms of the law may be stated in the phrase - If ye will I will, and if ye will not I will not. In Deuteronomy 28:1-62, as in various portions of the Old Testament, these stipulations which condition the covenant of the law are expanded in greater detail as to their application. Though the covenant was made to depend on the faithfulness of Israel, Jehovah foretold their failure and the suffering that would follow (Deut. 28:63-68). History has only confirmed the divine prediction as to their failure. It should be noted that no child of God under grace is subject to this hopeless conditional covenant of law works (Rom. 6:14).
6. The Covenant with Israel concerning Their Land (Deut. 30:1-10).
This unconditional covenant looks on to Israel's final possession of the land. Nothing will hinder this blessing. Even Israel herself will be willing in the day of His power, regardless of what the modern Jew or the foe of Zionism may be saying today. Coming up out of Egypt, that nation came to Kadesh-barnea where Jehovah made it a matter of their own choice as to whether they would at that time enter the promised land. By so much He then put them upon a basis similar to that of a conditional covenant. They rebelled and were turned back into the wilderness for thirty-eight more years of wilderness wandering. Later, and without the slightest reference to any choice on the part of Israel, Jehovah took them into their land with a high hand. He did not take them in against their wills, but He so controlled their wills that they went in with songs of rejoicing. The time is coming when that nation, though scattered over all the earth, will be regathered into their own land to possess it forever. At that time Israel will not limit Jehovah by her own choice in the matter. God will regather them with sovereign power. Nor are their wills to be coerced; for it is written that they shall enter with songs of praise, and "everlasting joy" shall be on their heads (Isa. 35:10; 51:11; 55:12; 61:3, 7). The heart-attitude of Israel toward Jehovah in the kingdom is also anticipated in this covenant, which attitude is fully stated under the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-33). The final yet future placing of Israel in her own land is thus assured by an unconditional covenant of Jehovah which can never be changed or broken (Jer. 23:8; Ezk. 37:21-28).
7. The Covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:4-16).
This covenant, likewise, is unconditional. By its terms David is promised an unending royal lineage, a throne, and a kingdom, all of which are to endure for ever. In the declaration of this covenant, Jehovah reserves the right to interrupt the actual reign of David's sons if chastisement is required (2 Sam. 7:14, 15; Psa. 89:20-37); but the perpetuity of the covenant cannot be broken. As the Abrahamic covenant guaranteed to Israel an everlasting entity as a nation (Jer. 31:36) and an everlasting possession of the land (Gen. 13:15; 1 Chron. 16:15-18; Psa. 105:9-11), so the Davidic covenant guarantees to them an everlasting throne (2 Sam. 7:16; Psa. 89:36), an everlasting King (Jer. 33:21), and an everlasting kingdom (Dan. 7:14). From the day that the covenant was made and confirmed by Jehovah's oath (Acts 2:30) to the birth of Christ, David did not lack for a son to sit on his throne (Jer. 33:21), and Christ the Eternal Son of God and Son of David, being the rightful heir to that throne and the One who will yet sit on that throne (Luke 1:31-33), completes the fulfillment of this promise to David that a son would sit on his throne forever.
8. The New Covenant Made in His Blood (Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Jer. 31:31-33; Ezk. 37:26; Heb. 8:6, 10-13; 10:16).
This, again, is an unconditional covenant and it is most important for every child of God to recognize this fact since this covenant forms the very basis of his own relation to God. What may be proposed for Israel or the nations may be of interest to the believer, but it does not directly apply to him; but the covenant of divine grace is of infinite import to all who are saved.
The New Covenant guarantees all that God proposes to do for men on the ground of the blood of His Son. This may be seen in two aspects:
(a) That He will save, preserve, and present in Heaven conformed to His Son, all who have believed on Christ. The fact that it is necessary to believe on Christ in order to be saved does not form a condition in this covenant. Believing is not a part of the covenant, but rather is the ground of admission into its eternal blessings. The covenant is not related to the unsaved, but it is made with those who believe, and it promises the faithfulness of God in their behalf. "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6), and every other promise concerning the saving and keeping power of God is a part of this covenant in grace. There is no salvation contemplated for man in this age that does not guarantee perfect preservation here, and a final presentation of the saved one in glory. There may be an issue between the Father and His child as to the daily life, and, as in the case of David's sons, the Christian's sin may call for the chastening hand of God; but those questions which enter into the daily life of the believer are never made to condition the promise of God concerning the eternal salvation of those whom He has received in grace.
There are those who emphasize the importance and power of the human will and who contend that both salvation and safe-keeping must be made conditional on the cooperation of the human will. This may seem reasonable to the human mind; but it is not according to the revelation given in the Scriptures. In every case God has declared unconditionally what He will do for all those who put their trust in Him (John 5:24; 6:37; 10:28). This is a very great undertaking which must of necessity involve the absolute control of the very thoughts and intents of the heart; but it is no more unreasonable than that God should declare to Noah that his seed would follow the absolute channels which He had decreed, or that He should declare to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation and that of his seed Christ should be born. In every case it is the manifestation of sovereign authority and power. It is evident that God has given latitude for the exercise of the human will. He appeals to the wills of men, and men who are saved are conscious that both their salvation and their service are according to their own deepest choice.
We are told that God controls the will of man (John 6:44; Phil. 2:13) and at the same time appeals to and conditions His blessing on the will of man (John 5:40; 7:17; Rom. 12:1; 1 John 1:9).
The Scriptures give unquestionable emphasis to the sovereignty of God. God has perfectly determined what will be, and His determined purpose will be realized; for it is impossible that God should ever be either surprised or disappointed. So, also, there is equal emphasis in the Scriptures upon the fact that lying between these two undiminished aspects of His sovereignty - His eternal purpose and its perfect realization - He has permitted sufficient latitude for some exercise of the human will. In so doing, His determined ends are in no way jeopardized. One aspect of this truth without the other will lead, in the one case, to fatalism, wherein there is no place for petition in prayer, no motive for the wooing of God's love, no ground for condemnation, no occasion for evangelistic appeal, and no meaning to very much Scripture; in the other case it will lead to the dethroning of God. It is reasonable to believe that the human will may be under the control of God; but most unreasonable to believe that the sovereignty of God is under the control of the human will.
Those who believe are saved and safe forever because it is according to the unconditional covenant of God.
(b) The future salvation of Israel is promised under the unconditional New Covenant (Isa. 27:9; Ezk. 37:23; Rom. 11:26, 27). This salvation will be accomplished only on the ground of the shed blood of Christ. Through the sacrifice of Christ, God is as free to save a nation as He is free to save an individual. Israel is represented by Christ as a treasure hid in the field. The field is the world. It was Christ, we believe, who sold all that He had that He might purchase the field, and in order that He might possess the treasure (Matt. 13:44).
In contemplating the eight covenants, too much emphasis cannot be placed on the fact of the sovereignty of God as it is related to those covenants which are unconditional, and the absolute failure of man as it is revealed in the outworking of those covenants which are conditional. Whatever God undertakes unconditionally will be completed in all the perfection of His own infinite Being.
Review Questions for Chapter 19
1. Into how many major covenants has God entered with man?
2. Define a conditional covenant.
3. Define an unconditional covenant.
4. State how Genesis 15:1-18 illustrates an unconditional covenant.
5. What importance may be attached to the study of the covenants?
6. Name and describe those covenants which are conditional.
7. Name the covenants, giving Scripture references, which are unconditional.
8. a. What did the covenant with Noah promise?
b. What does it reveal as to divine sovereignty?
9. a. What did the covenant with Abraham promise?
b. What does it teach as to divine sovereignty?
10. a. What did the covenant with David promise?
b. What does it teach as to divine sovereignty?
11. What truth is illustrated by Israel's experience at Kadesh-barnea?
12. a. Name two objectives in the New Covenant.
b. Is that covenant conditional?
c. What relation does believing on Christ sustain to the New Covenant?
13. Distinguish between divine sovereignty and human choice.
14. On what basis will God be free to save the nation Israel as promised under the New Covenant?
The Bible reflects God's knowledge of the universe rather than man's; therefore, in the Scriptures, the angels, concerning whom man of himself could know nothing, are introduced with perfect freedom, being mentioned about one hundred and eight times in the Old Testament and one hundred and sixty-five times in the New Testament.
The word angel means messenger, and in its Biblical use is sometimes employed of God, when as the Angel of Jehovah, He Himself serves as a messenger to men (Gen. 16:1-13; 21:17-19; 22:11-16); it is used of men (Luke 7:24; Jas. 2:25; Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14); and of departed spirits of men (Matt. 18:10; Acts 12:15). Of the latter use of the word it should be noted that, though the departed spirits of men may be called angels, the angels are not departed spirits of men, nor do men at death become angels.
The angels are a distinct order of creation and have been given a heavenly position, or sphere, above the sphere of man (Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7; Rev. 5:11; 7:11). Three heavens are mentioned in the New Testament (2 Cor. 12:2), and in the Old Testament the word heaven is plural. When entering the human sphere, Christ was thereby, for a little time made lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9); when returning to Heaven, Christ again passed through the angelic sphere (Heb. 4:14; 9:24) and was seated far above principalities and powers (Eph. 1:20, 21).
Since we know that there are many forms of created beings of a lower sphere than man, it is reasonable to believe that, though invisible, there are beings of a higher order than man. Like all beings, other than the Godhead, the angels are created. In Colossians 1:16 mention is made of their creation, and in Ezekiel 28:13, 15, the creation of Satan - one of the angelic order - is mentioned in particular.
The angels are always referred to in the masculine gender, and as to their number we read of "an innumerable company" (Heb. 12:22, which word should be translated "myriads." Note Matt. 26:53; Dan. 7:10; Rev. 5:11). It is also implied that there is no increase of their number by generation (Matt. 22:30) and we know of no cessation of their existence by death.
If the angels have bodies, their bodies are of a spiritual order (1 Cor. 15:44). When seen of men they have, for the time being, a material appearance (Matt. 28:3; Rev. 15:6; 18:1). On the other hand, those of the angelic company known as demons are seen to be seeking entrance into the bodies of the creatures of earth (Luke 11:24-26).
Two classes of angelic beings are to be distinguished:
I. THE UNFALLEN ANGELS
1. Their nature. The unfallen angels are the "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14) who kept their first estate and are therefore designated as the "holy angels" (Matt. 25:31). In the Scriptures, these are in view in almost every reference to the angels.
Of the holy angels, several are mentioned in particular as well as certain classes:
(1) Michael the Archangel, whose name means "who is like unto God" (Dan. 10:21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7-10).
(2) Gabriel, whose name means "the mighty one," and to whom has been entrusted various heavenly messages (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26-38).
(3) The Elect Angels (1 Tim. 5:21).
(4) Principalities and Powers, which term is sometimes used of all angels, and sometimes of only the fallen angels (Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1 Pet. 3:22; Luke 21:26).
(5) Cherubim, or living creatures, who defend God's holiness from the pollution of sinful beings (Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:17-20; Ezk. 1:1-18. Note also the original purpose for which Satan was created, Ezk. 28:14).
(6) Seraphim (Isa. 6:2-7).
(7) The Angel of Jehovah, which title belongs only to God and is used in connection with the divine manifestations in the earth and therefore is in no way to be included in the angelic hosts (Gen. 18:1 to 19:29; 22:11, 12; 31:11-13; 48:15, 16; 32:24-32; Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 13:19-22; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chron. 21:12-30; Psa. 34:7). The strongest contrasts between Christ, who is the Angel of Jehovah, and the angelic beings is presented in Hebrews 1:4-14.
2. Their ministry. Of the ministry of the unfallen angels revelation declares:
(1) They were present at creation (Job. 38:7), at the giving of the law (Gal. 3:19; Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2; Rev. 22:16), at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:13), at the temptation (Matt. 4:11), in the garden (Luke 22:43), at the resurrection (Matt. 28:2), at the ascension (Acts 1:10), and they will yet appear at the second coming of Christ (Matt. 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7).
(2) The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14; Psa. 34:7; 91:11). Though we have been given no communication or fellowship with the angels, yet we should recognize the fact of their ministry which is constant and effective.
(3) The angels are spectators and witnesses of the things of earth (Psa. 103:20; Luke 12:8, 9; 15:10; 1 Cor. 11:10; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 14:10).
(4) Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22).
II. THE FALLEN ANGELS
The fallen angels have been divided into two classes: (1) those that are free and (2) those that are bound. Of the fallen angels, Satan alone is given particular mention in the Scriptures.
It is probable that when Satan fell (John 8:44) he drew after him a multitude of lesser beings. Of these, some are reserved in chains unto judgment (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; 1 Cor. 6:3); the remainder are free and are the demons, or devils, to whom reference is constantly made throughout the New Testament (Mark 5:9, 15; Luke 8:30; 1 Tim. 4:1). They are Satan's aids in all his undertakings and share his doom (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
Review Questions for Chapter 20
1. What is indicated as to the authorship of the Scriptures when they treat of angels as freely as they do of men?
2. a. What is the meaning of the word angel?
b. Of what classes is the title used?
3. Where is the abode of the angels in relation to man and in relation to Christ's present position?
4. What is revealed as to the gender of angels, as to their number, as to their increase, and as to their death?
5. Have the angels bodies?
6. What are the two general classes of angels?
7. Name the particular angels and classes of angels referred to in the Scriptures.
8. Who is the Angel of Jehovah?
9. In connection with what great events are the angels said to appear?
10. What relation do they sustain to the child of God?
11. What is said of the angels as witnesses?
12. What ministry was committed to them in connection with Lazarus the beggar?
13. Into what two classes are the fallen angels divided?
14. Describe the position and service of each of these classes.
SATAN: HIS PERSONALITY AND POWER
This chapter introduces the highest being among all the creatures of God. However, an immeasurable gulf exists between the uncreated, self-existent, eternal Persons of the Godhead, and this the chief of God's creatures.
I. THE PERSONALITY OF SATAN
Since he does not appear in corporeal form, Satan's personality, like that of the Godhead and like all the angelic hosts, must be accepted upon the evidence set forth in the Scriptures. Considering this evidence we may note:
1. Satan was Created as a Person.
The fact of the creation of all things that are in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, and that these were created by Christ and for Christ, is stated in Colossians 1:16. The time of the creation of the angelic host is not stated beyond the fact that their creation probably preceded that of all material things, and was itself preceded by that eternity of existence on the part of the Godhead, which existence is declared in John 1:1, 2.
Among all the heavenly hosts, Satan's creation alone is mentioned in particular. This fact suggests the supreme place which Satan holds in relation to all the invisible creatures of God.
In Ezekiel 28:11-19 there is recorded a lamentation addressed to "The king of Tyrus," and while this may have had some partial and immediate application to a king in Tyrus, it is evident that the supreme one among all the creatures of God is in view; for the one here addressed was said to be the "sum" of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. He had been in "Eden, the garden of God" (probably the primal Eden of God's original creation, rather than the Eden of Genesis 3), and by divine design was created and anointed as a covering cherub over the holy mountain of God, which, in Biblical imagery, represents the throne or centre of God's governing power. No king of Tyrus could answer this description. In fact, this description could apply to none other than Satan as he existed before his sin and fall.
2. Satan Exercises all the Functions of a Person.
Of many Scriptures which set forth the personality of Satan, the following may be noted:
Isaiah 14:12-17. Contemplating Satan as having completed his course and having been judged finally at the end of time, the prophet addressed him in this passage under the heavenly title of "Lucifer, son of the morning," and sees him as fallen from his primal estate and glory. He who "didst weaken the nations" is also guilty of opposing his own will against the will of God in five particulars, and in this passage, as in Ezekiel 28:15, his sin is said to be a secret purpose hid within his own heart which God discovered and disclosed (note 1 Tim. 3:6).
Genesis 3:1-15. By the events recorded in this passage, Satan gains the title of "Serpent," for through the serpent he appeared to Adam and Eve. Every word here spoken and design revealed is an evidence of Satan's personality (note 2 Cor. 11:3, 13-15; Rev. 12:9; 20:2). Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13. A revelation peculiar to these texts is that Satan has access to God (note Luke 22:31; Rev. 12:10) as well as to men (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 6:10-12), and that he exhibits every feature of a true personality.
Luke 4:1-13. Again the personality of Satan is revealed when in the wilderness he comes into conflict with the Son of God - the Last Adam. He who purposed to become like the Most High (Isa. 14:14), and who recommended this purpose to the first man and woman (Gen. 3:5), is now seen offering all his earthly possessions to Christ if only He will worship him. This proffered authority and power which Christ refused will yet be received and administered by the Man of Sin (1 John 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:8-10).
Ephesians 6:10-12. The strategies and warfare of Satan against the children of God as declared in this passage are proof positive of the personality of Satan. There is no mention in the Scriptures of a warfare by Satan against the unregenerate: they are his own, and therefore under his authority (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19, R.V.).
II. THE POWER OF SATAN
Though morally fallen and now judged in the cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15), Satan has not lost his position, and he has lost but little of his power. His power both as to personal strength and authority is disclosed in two forms:
1. His Personal Strength.
His personal strength cannot be estimated. According to his own declaration, which Christ did not deny, he has power over the kingdoms of this world, which kingdoms he said were delivered unto him, and which power he bestows on whom he will (Luke 4:6). It is said of him that he hath the power of death (Heb. 2:14), but that power has been surrendered to Christ (Rev. 1:18). Satan had the power over sickness in the case of Job (Job 2:7), and was able to sift Peter as wheat in a sieve (Luke 22:31; 1 Cor. 5:5). Likewise, Satan is said to have weakened the nations, to have made the earth to tremble, to have shaken kingdoms, to have made the earth a wilderness, destroying the cities thereof, and not to have opened the house of his prisoners (Isa. 14:12-17). Against the power of Satan even Michael the archangel durst not contend (Jude 1:9); but there is victory for the child of God through the power of the Spirit and the blood of Christ (Eph. 6:10-12; 1 John 4:4; Rev. 12:11). Satan's power and authority are exercised always and only within the permissive will of God.
2. Satan is Aided by Demons.
Satan's power is increased by the innumerable host of demons who do his will and serve him. Though he is not omnipresent, omnipotent, nor omniscient, through the wicked spirits he is in touch with the whole earth.
Review Questions for Chapter 21
1. On what ground must the personality of Satan be received?
2. By whom and for whom were all things created?
3. What is suggested by the fact that among all the heavenly hosts Satan's creation is mentioned in particular?
4. a. Give the passages in which Satan's creation and early condition are described.
b. What things are said of his first estate?
5. What evidence of his personality and power are indicated in Isaiah 14:12-17?
6. What evidence is indicated in Genesis 3:1-15 and Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13; Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:10-12; 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:10?
7. Mention the facts set forth in Luke 4:1-13.
8. Against whom does Satan wage his warfare?
9. a. In what sense is Satan fallen?
b. Is he cast out of Heaven (see Rev. 12:9)?
10. Is Satan's professed authority over the kingdoms of the earth the statement of fact?
11. Where is the power of death now invested?
12. What evidence have we of Satan's power as seen in Job, in Peter, and over the nations?
13. a. Did Michael contend with Satan in his own strength?
b. How, then, may the Christian be victorious?
14. How is Satan assisted in his undertakings by the innumerable demons?
SATAN: HIS WORK AND DESTINY
Two errors regarding Satan are current and since he alone is advantaged by them it is reasonable to conclude that he is the author of them.
1. Many believe that Satan does not really exist and that the supposed person of Satan is no more than an evil principle, or influence, which is in man and in the world. This conception is proved to be wrong by the fact that there is the same abundant evidence that Satan is a person as there is that Christ is a person. The Scriptures, which alone are authoritative on these matters, treat one to be a person as much as the other, and if the personality of Christ is accepted on the testimony of the Bible, the personality of Satan must also be accepted on the same testimony.
2. Likewise, others believe that Satan is the direct cause of sin in every person. This impression is not true (1) because Satan is not aiming to promote sin in the world. He did not purpose to be a fiend, but rather to be "like the most High" (Isa. 14:14); he is not aiming to destroy, so much as he is to construct, and to realize his own ambition for authority over this world system, which system proposes culture, morality, and religion (2 Cor. 11:13-15). The impression that Satan is the direct cause of sin is not true (2) because human sin is said to come directly from the fallen human heart (Mark 7:18-23; Jas. 1:13-16; Gen. 6:5).
I. THE WORK OF SATAN
The following are only a few of the many passages bearing on the work of Satan:
Isaiah 14:12-17. This passage reveals Satan's original and supreme purpose. He would ascend into Heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the most High. To this end he will use his unmeasured wisdom and power; he will weaken the nations, make the earth to tremble, make the world as a wilderness, destroy the cities thereof, and refuse to release his prisoners. Though every phrase of this passage is a startling disclosure, two in particular may be noted:
1. "I will he like the most High." As recorded in the Scriptures, the activities of Satan following his moral fall can be traced only in the line of this supreme motive. It was this purpose which in all seriousness he recommended to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5), and they, by adopting Satan's ideal, became self-centred, self-sufficient, and independent of God. This attitude on the part of Adam and Eve became their very nature and has been transmitted to all their posterity to the extent that their posterity are called the "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3; 5:6; Rom. 1:18), they must be born again (John 3:3), and, when saved, have a struggle to be yielded wholly to the will of God. Again, Satan's desire to be "like the most High" is seen in his passion to be worshiped by Christ (Luke 4:5-7). When the Man of Sin enters the holy place and is worshiped as God (2 Thess. 2:3, 4; Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; Rev. 13:4-8), for a brief moment, Satan's supreme desire will be realized under the permissive will of God.
2. He "opened not the house of his prisoners." The entire prophecy from which this phrase is taken is concerning the work of Satan as it will have been completed in the days of his final judgment. Doubtless there is a larger fulfillment yet future; however, we know that Satan is now doing all in his power to keep the unsaved from being delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son (Col. 1:13). Satan is the one who energizes the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2), blinds the minds of the unsaved lest the light of the Gospel shall reach them (2 Cor. 4:3, 4), and holds the unconscious world in his arms (1 John 5:19, R.V.).
It is also revealed that Satan in his warfare will counterfeit the things of God, which undertaking will likewise be in accord with his purpose to be "like the most High." He will promote extensive religious systems (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). In this connection, it should be observed that Satan can promote forms of religion which are based on selected Bible texts, which elevate Christ as the leader, and which incorporate every phase of the Christian faith excepting one - the doctrine of salvation by grace alone on the ground of the shed blood of Christ. Such satanic delusions are now in the world and multitudes are being deceived by them. Such false systems are always to be tested by the attitude they take toward the saving grace of God through the efficacious blood of Christ (Rev. 12:11).
Satan's enmity is evidently against God alone. He is in no way at enmity with the unsaved, and when he aims his "fiery darts" at the children of God, he attacks them only because of the fact that they are indwelt by the divine nature, and through them he is enabled to secure a thrust at God. Likewise, the attack against the children of God is not in the sphere of "flesh and blood," but in the sphere of their heavenly association with Christ. That is, the believer may not be drawn away into immorality, but he may utterly fail in prayer, in testimony and in spiritual victory. Such failure, it should be seen, is as much defeat and dishonor in the sight of God as those sins which are freely condemned by the world.
II. THE DESTINY OF SATAN
As the Word of God is explicit regarding the origin of Satan, so it is explicit regarding his career and destiny. Five progressive judgments of Satan are to be distinguished:
1. Satan's Moral Fall.
Though the time in the dateless past is not disclosed, Satan's moral fall, with its necessary separation from God, is clearly indicated (Ezk. 28:15; 1 Tim. 3:6). It is evident, however, that he did not lose his heavenly position, the larger portion of his power, or his access to God. 2. Satan's Judgment through the Cross.
through the cross a perfect judgment has been secured (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:14, 15), but the execution of that sentence is yet future. This sentence with its execution was predicted in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15).
3. Satan will be cast out of Heaven.
In the midst of the coming Tribulation and as a result of a war in Heaven, Satan will be cast out of Heaven and be limited to the earth. He will then act in great wrath knowing that he has but a short time to continue (Rev. 12:7-12. Note, also, Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18).
4. Satan will be confined, to the Abyss.
For the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth, Satan will be sealed in the abyss, after which he must be loosed for a "little season" (Rev. 20:1-3, 7).
5. Satan's Final Doom.
Having promoted an open rebellion against God during the "little season," Satan is then cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10).
Review Questions for Chapter 22
1. What are the two general errors regarding Satan?
2. Give the evidence from the Scriptures that Satan exists as a person.
3. What is Satan's supreme motive?
4. From what source does human sin arise?
5. What are the outstanding facts regarding Satan as recorded in Isaiah 14:12-17?
6. Whom is Satan seeking to imitate?
7. Trace his passion to be like the Most High in two events of history and one of prophecy.
8. What is Satan's attitude toward the unsaved as to their salvation?
9. How does he accomplish his ends?
10. What undertakings are predicted for Satan, in his counterfeiting the truth of God?
11. What one theme does he of necessity omit from his false systems?
12. Against whom, primarily, is Satan at warfare?
13. In what sphere does he attack the children of God?
14. Trace the five aspects of divine judgment upon Satan.
MAN: HIS CREATION
Discovering himself in the midst of a wonderful universe and being the highest order of its visible creatures, it is natural that man should seek to understand his own origin as well as the origin of all existing things; yet man, unaided, can discover nothing as to his origin. It is therefore reasonable to expect that God would reveal these facts to man. This He has done in the Bible. However, since God is revealed and becomes real only to those who are saved through Christ (Matt. 11:27-29), men who are not saved and to whom God is not real have turned from the Scripture records of the origin of all things, and have sought to account for existing things on the basis of supposed laws of evolution. According to these human theories, there was originally a primordial cell from which has evolved every existing form of life whether it be whale or hummingbird, elephant or mosquito, man or tadpole. Over against these theories are the clear teachings of the Scriptures, wherein it is not only directly stated (Gen. 1:1 to 2:25; Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3), but it is everywhere implied, that every living thing was created by the immediate power and will of God.
As to their theories concerning the origin of things, men are thus divided into two general classes. It is not a division between learned and unlearned men, or between good and bad men; but it is a division between men to whom God is sufficiently real and those to whom He is not sufficiently real to be accepted as the Creator of all things. There is an unalterable law which accounts for the capacity or incapacity of man to grasp the things of God (1 Cor. 2:12, 14; John 3:3). "By faith we understand" (Heb. 11:3); but the man without faith does not understand, nor can he ever understand until he is saved in Christ. And since the unregenerate cannot understand, God has commissioned the Gospel to be preached to them rather than a ministry of useless controversy.
According to the testimony of the Scriptures (which testimony every Christian will receive, since he is indwelt by the same Spirit who wrote the Scriptures - 1 Cor. 2:12), man, in his present human form, was created by God as the conclusion and consummation of all creation. Of man it is said that he was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26), and that God breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). These distinctions classify man above all other forms of life which are upon the earth.
Speaking generally, man's creation included that which was material - "the dust" (symbolizing the use of elements appropriate to the forming of a material body), and immaterial - "the breath of life." This general two-fold distinction is elsewhere indicated as the "outward man" and the "inward man" (2 Cor. 4:16); "the earthen vessel" and "this treasure" (2 Cor. 4:7). Likewise, contemplating the soul or spirit as representing that which is immaterial in man, we read that the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it (Eccles. 12:7); and there are those who are able to kill the body who are not able to kill the soul (Matt. 10:28). It was when God breathed the breath of life into the material body that man became a "living soul" (Gen. 2:7; note, also, 2 Cor. 5:8; 3 John 1:2).
1. When considering the immaterial part of man, it should be observed that the Scriptures, while sometimes using the terms interchangeably (Comp. Gen. 41:8 with Psa. 42:6; John 12:27 with 13:21; Matt. 20:28 with 27:50; Heb. 12:23 with Rev. 6:9), even applying these terms to God on the one hand (Isa. 42:1; Jer. 9:9; Heb. 10:38), and to the brute creation on the other hand (Eccles. 3:21; Rev. 16:3), do distinguish between the spirit and the soul of man (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12). Though the highest functions of the immaterial part of man are sometimes attributed to the spirit and sometimes to the soul (Mark 8:36, 37; 12:30; Luke 1:46; Heb. 6:18, 19; Jas. 1:21), the spirit is usually mentioned in the Scriptures as that part of man which is capable of contemplating God, and the soul as that part of man which is related to self and the various functions of the intellect, sensibilities and will.
There are three main theories as to the origin of the soul and spirit:
(1) The Pre-existence theory, which contends that the soul and spirit of man have existed eternally, and is only incarnated in the body at the beginning of the human existence. This doctrine is not held by evangelical bodies.
(2) The Creation theory, which contends that the soul and spirit of man are directly and individually created by God at the beginning of human existence. This theory, though held by some evangelical Christians, fails, since by it the body alone is supposed to be propagated, and therefore is solely responsible for the continuance of the effect of the Fall.
(3) The Traducian theory, which contends that the soul and spirit, like the body, were potentially created in Adam, and are alike propagated by the natural laws of generation. This theory is Biblical. God is said to have breathed only once into man the breath of life, and after this He ceased creation (Gen. 2:2). Thus, and only thus, the fall of man, which so evidently affects the soul and spirit, is transmitted from generation to generation.
2. When considering the Scripture teaching regarding the material part of man, we note certain facts:
(1) The terms "the body" and "the flesh" are not synonymous. The body is only the house of the soul, while the flesh (when that term is used in its ethical sense) includes spirit, soul, and body - or all that composes the unregenerate man.
(2) The body of the saved one is especially considered (2 Cor. 5:6, 8; 12:2, 3; Jas. 2:26). It is a "temple" (1 Cor. 6:19; John 2:21; Phil. 1:20), an "earthen vessel" (2 Cor. 4:7), a body of limitations (Phil. 2:21), to be mortified (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5), it was buffeted by Paul (1 Cor. 9:27), and it is to be changed at the return of Christ (1 Cor. 15:51-53). The body, as well as the soul or spirit, is to be sanctified, saved, redeemed, and finally glorified forever (Luke 24:39; Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; Phil. 3:20, 21), This mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption.
(3) Mention is also made of Christ's physical body, which was "broken" for us, and His spiritual body, which is the Church.
Review Questions for Chapter 23
1. Is unaided man able to discover anything concerning the origin of things?
2. a. Not knowing God nor being able to make Him real, what is the best solution of the origin of things that the unregenerate have proposed?
b. What is the teaching of the Scriptures with regard to the origin of all things?
c. If it is not a question of human learning, on what principle are men divided?
3. a. Where in the order of creation did man appear?
b. Into what image and likeness was he created?
4. a. What is the general two-fold distinction concerning man?
b. Indicate the contrasts between these factors as set forth in the Scriptures.
5. a. What Scriptures distinguish between the soul and spirit in man?
b. Does it follow that soul and spirit are identical because sometimes used interchangeably for the immaterial part of man?
c. What may be said of the soul and what of the spirit of man?
6. a. Name the three theories as to the origin of the soul and spirit.
b. Which of these theories is Biblical?
7. Distinguish between the body and the flesh as used in the Scriptures.
8. What is said in the Scriptures regarding the body of the Christian?
9. What great change is promised this body?
10. What is the meaning of mortal and immortal?
11. What is the meaning of corruptible and incorruptible?
12. Name two uses of the word body as belonging to Christ.
13. For whom was His physical body broken?
14. What do you understand to be the spiritual body of Christ (see Eph. 1:22, 23)?
MAN: HIS FALL
The student of the Scriptures should consider the estate of Adam (1) before the fall, and (2) after the fall, and (3) the effect upon the race of Adam's fall.
I. ADAM BEFORE THE FALL
In words of peculiar simplicity, the Bible introduces the first man and the woman whom God provided to be his helpmeet. These two were joined as one and in the divine consideration the unit is that which is formed by this union. Both the man and the woman sinned and fell, but this combined fall is referred to in the Bible as the fall of man. No calculations are possible as to the length of time in which the first man and first woman remained unfallen; but they remained unfallen long enough, it is evident, to become accustomed to the situation in which they were placed, to regard carefully and name the living creatures, and to have experienced fellowship with God. It is said that man as created, like all the works of God, was "very good"; that is, they were well pleasing to the Creator. This implies no more than that they were innocent, which is a negative term and suggests that they had not committed sin. Holiness, which is the primary attribute of God, is a positive term and indicates that He is incapable of sinning.
While man was made in the image of God in respect to personality and spiritual capacity, he was and is a creature. And though the Creator, being holy, cannot sin, the creature, whether it be angel or man, is by the divine plan in creation made with the ability to sin. Among the angels, Satan sinned (Ezk. 28:15; Isa. 14:12-14), and many other angels sinned, of whom it is written that they "kept not their first estate" (Jude 1:6). We should also observe that, in reality, man did not originate sin; it was recommended by Satan and adopted by man (Gen. 3:4-7). By this action, the moral nature of man - intellect, sensibilities, and will - is manifested, and, hearing the voice of God, his conscience prompted him to hide from the divine presence. It is therefore clear that at the beginning man was in possession of these faculties as he is today.
II. ADAM AFTER THE FALL.
By sinning, the first man lost his blessed estate as he was created and became subject to certain far-reaching changes: 1. He became subject to both spiritual and physical death. God had said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17); and this divine declaration was fulfilled. Adam and Eve passed immediately into spiritual death, which means separation from God. In due time they also suffered the penalty of physical death, which means the separation of the soul from the body.
2. The very creation itself was changed by the sin of man. Briars and thorns were introduced, labour and sorrow were added, and the enjoyment of Eden was withdrawn.
III. THE EFFECT UPON THE RACE OF ADAM'S FALL
In contemplating the effect upon the race of Adam's sin, we are confronted with the doctrine of "Imputation," which is one of the most profound doctrines in the Scriptures. It is an advantage to consider this doctrine in general before any particular form of the imputation of sin is studied.
Three imputations are set forth in the Scriptures:
(1) The sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity (Rom. 5:12-14);
(2) the sin of man is imputed to Christ (2 Cor. 5:21); and,
(3) the righteousness of God is imputed to those who believe (Gen. 15:6; Psa. 32:2; Rom. 3:22; 4:3, 8, 21-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phm. 1:17, 18).
It is obvious that there was a judicial transfer of the sin of man to Christ the Sin-Bearer. Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:5; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). So, in like manner, there is a judicial transfer of the righteousness of God to the believer (2 Cor. 5:21); for there could be no other grounds of justification or acceptance with God. This imputation belongs to the new relationship within the New Creation. Being joined to the Lord by the baptism with the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:27), and vitally related to Christ as a member in His body (Eph. 5:30), it follows that every virtue of Christ is extended to those who have become an organic part of Him. The believer is "in Christ" and thus partakes of all that Christ is.
In like manner, the facts of the old creation are actually transferred to those who by natural generation are "in Adam." They become possessed of the Adamic nature and themselves are said to have sinned in him. This is as real in constituting a sufficient ground for divine judgment as the imputation of the righteousness of God in Christ is a sufficient ground for justification, and the result is the divine judgment upon the race whether they have sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression or not. Though men contend, as they do, that they are not responsible for Adam's sin, the divine revelation stands that because of the far-reaching effect of representation through the federal headship, Adam's one initial sin is immediately and directly imputed to each member of the race with the unvarying sentence of death resting upon all (Rom. 5:12-14). Likewise by the fall of Adam the effect of the one initial sin is transmuted in the form of a sin nature mediately, or by inheritance, from father to son throughout all generations. The effect of the fall is universal; so, also, the offer of divine grace.
Men do not now fall by their first sin; they are born fallen sons of Adam. They do not become sinful by sinning, but they sin because by nature they are sinful. No child needs to be taught to sin, but every child must be encouraged to be good.
It should be observed that, though the fall of Adam rests upon the race, there is evident divine provision for innocent infants and all who are irresponsible.
The holy judgments of God must rest upon all men out of Christ, (1) because of imputed sin, (2) because of an inherited sin nature, (3) because they are under sin, and (4) because of their own personal sins. Though these holy judgments of God cannot be diminished, the sinner may be saved from them through Christ. This is the good news of the gospel.
The penalty resting on the old creation is
(1) physical death, which is separation of the soul from the body;
(2) spiritual death, which (like Adam's) is the present estate of the lost and is the separation of the soul from God (Eph. 2:1; 4:18, 19); and
(3) the second death, which is the eternal separation of the soul from God and banishment from His presence forever (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).
Review Questions for Chapter 24
1. Into what three-fold classification does the Bible teaching concerning Adam divide?
2. To what extent does God evidently consider the man and woman to be one?
3. a. What is implied by the words that man was created "very good"?
b. Contrast this estate with the holiness of God.
c. How is it that unfallen man can sin when God cannot?
4. What faculties did man as created evidently possess?
5. a. What effects immediately followed the fall?
b. What is spiritual death?
c. What is physical death?
d. What was the effect upon creation?
. Name the three acts of imputation as set forth in the Scriptures.
7. What passages state the imputation of man's sin to Christ?
8. To what extent and by what means is the merit of Christ imputed to the believer?
9. Is it equally reasonable to believe that the demerit of Adam is imputed to his posterity?
10. Since men are not responsible for their fallen natures, is it reasonable for them to seek God's provided remedy?
11. Do men become sinners by sinning?
12. Do you believe that God in grace has made provision for the salvation of innocent infants and the irresponsible?
13. Why must divine judgment fall on all men out of Christ?
14. Name the three kinds of death mentioned in the Scriptures.
SIN: ITS CHARACTER AND UNIVERSALITY
Being one of the greatest and most determinative facts in the world, sin, like the other important facts in its class, is not only a major theme of the Word of God, but it is the subject of almost endless human speculation. Sin is a fact to be accounted for. The failure of human speculation as compared to the finality of divine revelation on this theme should be familiar to all. Since the fact and effect of sin reach back into the unknown past and on into eternity as qualifying factors of all human experience, we should not be surprised to discover that, even with the aid of divine revelation, we confront some mysteries which are insoluble to the finite mind.
I. HUMAN SPECULATION
1. It was the belief of the Ancients and continues with many until now that sin is merely sensuousness. The body was thought to be the occasion of all temptation and the executor of all evil desire. This was a feature of Plato's philosophy, and the suggested cure of sin was to weaken its instrument; hence it was taught that the body should be despised and neglected. But the worst of human sins - avarice, envy, pride, malice, cruelty, self-righteousness, unbelief and hatred of God - are wholly sins of the soul and are not related to the body.
2. It is claimed by so-called modernists that sin is merely finiteness, or that which is incident to imperfect development. As men creep before they walk, so they sin before they learn righteousness. The fall, therefore, was upward. If this theory were true, the cultured and civilized would be more righteous than the ignorant; a world war could not be begun by the most educated nation on earth; and Satan, who is "full of wisdom" (Ezk. 28:12), must be as holy as he is wise. By this theory, the blame for sin is subtly transferred from man to God.
3. That sin is merely selfishness is the claim of others. It is true that selfishness is sin; but it is far from sufficient to say that sin is merely selfishness. Those who seek to establish this theory - and it is often presented by earnest advocates of God's truth - say that since the chief commandment is to love God, so the chief sin, and root sin, must be to love self. But, again, there may be no selfishness in unbelief, malice, or hatred of God.
II. THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF SIN
While various sins are defined in the Word of God, we conclude from the teaching of the Scriptures that sin is any want of conformity to the character of God, whether it be in act, disposition, or state.
Sin is sinful because it is different from what God is; and God is holy because holiness is infinitely desirable. Holiness is an eternal fact. Should God desire to be sinful He would not thereby make sin to become holiness nor holiness to become sin. However, though holiness is an unchanging virtue, we are not dealing with an abstract virtue, but rather with the living God who has caused these things to be. Sin is always against God (Psa. 51:4; Luke 15:18). To sin is to be unlike God, therefore it is to displease God.
Sin cannot rightfully be limited to those things merely which are contrary to the revealed law of God; at best we can know but little of all that God is. Sin, therefore, goes beyond all laws and includes all that is not in conformity with the character of God.
There are four distinct classifications of sin, which, in turn, form the basis of the divine condemnation of mankind.
1. Sin Which Is Imputed (Rom. 5:12-18).
Imputation means to reckon over to, or to attribute something to, a person. The original Greek word occurs eleven times in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. There are three major imputations set forth in the Scriptures:
(a) the imputation of Adam's sin to the race, on which fact the doctrine of original sin is based;
(b) the imputation of the sin of man to Christ, on which fact the doctrine of salvation is based; and
(c) the imputation of the righteousness of God to those who believe on Christ, on which fact the doctrine of justification is based.
Again, imputation may be either (a) actual, or (b) judicial. Actual imputation is the reckoning to one of that which is antecedently his own. Though He might righteously do so, yet because of the reconciling work of Christ, God is not now imputing to man the sin which is antecedently his own (2 Cor. 5:19). Judicial imputation is the reckoning to one of that which is not antecedently his own (Phm. 1:18). Though there has been disagreement as to whether the imputation of Adam's sin to each member of the race is actual or judicial, Romans 5:12 clearly states that the imputation is actual, since in the federal-head representation, Adam's posterity sinned when he sinned. The next two verses are written to prove that this is not a reference to personal sins. (See Heb. 7:9, 10.) However, verses 17 and 18 imply that this imputation is also judicial where it is stated that by one man's sin judgment came upon all men. Only the one, initial sin of Adam is in question. Its effect is death - both to Adam and directly from Adam to each member of the race. The divinely provided cure for imputed sin is the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
2. The Sin Nature (Rom. 5:19).
Adam's one initial sin caused him to fall and in the fall he became an entirely different being, depraved and degenerate, and only capable of begetting posterity like his fallen self. Therefore, every child of Adam is born with the Adamic nature, is ever and always prone to sin, and, though this nature was judged by Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:10), it remains a vitally active force in every Christian's life. It is never said to be removed or eradicated in this life, but for the Christian there is overcoming power provided through the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16, 17).
Though both imputed sin and the sin nature are the direct result of Adam's one, initial sin, it is important to distinguish between imputed sin which is the immediate cause of death in the case of each individual person, and an imparted sin nature which is received by inheritance and remains a vital force for evil throughout this life.
3. The Judicial State of Sin.
By a divine reckoning the whole world, including Jew and Gentile, are now "under sin" (Rom. 3:9; Gal. 3:22; Rom. 11:32). To be under sin is to be divinely reckoned to be without merit which might contribute toward salvation. Since salvation is by grace alone and grace excludes all human merit, God has decreed, as regards their salvation, all to be "under sin," or without merit. This judicial reckoning is evidently limited to this age of grace, since of no other age could it be said that there is no difference in the divine estimation of Jew and Gentile (cf. Eph. 2:12, 13, with Rom. 9:4, 5). This estate under sin is remedied only when the individual, through riches of grace, is reckoned to stand in the merit of Christ.
4. Personal Sin (Rom. 3:23).
This form of sin includes everything in the daily life which is against, or fails to conform to, the character of God. It is that form of sin concerning which men are conscious and, being also universal, there is but one cure - divine forgiveness and justification through Christ.
Review Questions for Chapter 25
1. What importance should be given the fact of sin?
2. Of what value is human speculation regarding sin?
3. Name and define three human theories respecting sin.
4. Why do these theories fail?
5. What is sin?
6. Why is sin more than a violation of God's law?
7. Name the four major aspects of sin.
8. Name the three great imputations.
9. What is actual imputation?
10. What is judicial imputation?
11. Is the imputation of Adam's sin actual or judicial?
12. What is the penalty of Adam's sin?
13. Define the beginning, character and cure of the sin nature.
14. Define the phrase "under sin" and explain its present application to Jew and Gentile alike.
SIN: GOD'S REMEDY FOR IT
While in the Biblical doctrine of sin there are certain distinctions, two universal facts should first be noted:
1. Sin is always equally sinful whether it be committed by the heathen or the civilized, the unregenerate or the regenerate. The question of many stripes or few is one of the judgments to be imposed upon the sinner; but any sin in itself is unvaryingly sinful because it outrages the holiness of God.
2. Sin can be cured only on the ground of the shed blood of the Son of God. This was as true of those who anticipated the death of Christ by animal sacrifices as it is now of those who look back to that death by faith. Divine forgiveness has never been a mere act of leniency in remitting the penalty of sin. If the penalty is remitted, it is because Another as a substitute has met the holy demands against the sinner. In the old order it was only after the priest had offered the atoning blood-sacrifice, which anticipated the death of Christ, that the sinner was forgiven (Lev. 6:7; 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13, 16, 18; 19:22; Num. 15:25, 26, 28). Likewise, after Christ has died the same truth obtains. We read: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14; Eph. 1:7).
The substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross is infinitely perfect in its sufficiency, therefore the sinner who trusts in Christ not only is forgiven, but he is even justified forever (Rom. 3:24). God has never treated sin lightly. Forgiveness may impose no burden on the sinner, but he is forgiven and justified only because the undiminished divine penalty has been borne by Christ (1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).
I. SIN BEFORE AND AFTER THE CROSS
1. The divine method of dealing with sin before the cross is said to have been by atonement, which word, in its Biblical use, means simply to cover. The blood of bulls and goats could not, and did not, take away sin (Heb. 10:4). The offering of sacrificial blood indicated on the part of the sinner the acknowledgment of the just penalty of death (Lev. 1:4), and, on the part of God, the sacrifice anticipated the efficacious blood of Christ. By symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, the atoning blood of the sacrifices served to cover sin, as it were, in covenant promise until that day when Christ would deal in finality with the sin of the world.
Two New Testament passages throw light upon the meaning of the Old Testament word atonement or covering:
(1) In Romans 3:25 the word "remission" has the meaning of "passing over" and in this connection it is stated that when Christ died He proved God to have been righteous in having passed over the sins which were committed before the cross and for which the atoning blood of the sacrifices had been shed. God had promised a sufficient Lamb, and had forgiven sin on the strength of that promise. Therefore, by the death of Christ, God was proven to have been righteous in all that He had promised.
(2) In Acts 17:30 it is stated that, before the cross, God "winked at" sin. This word should be translated "overlooked."
2. The divine method of dealing with sin since the cross is stated in Romans 3:26. Christ has died. No longer is the value of His sacrifice a matter of expectation to be taken in covenant and symbolized by the blood of animals; the blood of Christ has been shed, and now all that can be asked of any person, regardless of his degree of guilt, is that he believe in the thing which, in infinite grace, has been accomplished for him. This passage declares that Christ upon the cross so answered the divine judgment against every sinner that God can remain just, or uncompromised in His holiness, when at the same time and apart from all penalties, He justifies the sinner who does no more than believe in Jesus.
As before stated, the word atonement, which occurs only in the Old Testament, indicated the "passing over," "overlooking," and "covering" of sin; but Christ in dealing with sin on the cross did not pass it over or cover it. Of His sufficient sacrifice it is said: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29; Col. 2:14; Heb. 10:4; 1 John 3:5). "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24). There was no temporizing or partial dealing with sin at the cross. This great issue between God and man was there dealt with in a manner which is satisfying even to the infinite holiness of God, and the only question that remains is whether man is satisfied with the thing which satisfies God. To accept the work of Christ for us is to believe upon the Saviour to the saving of the soul.
II. SIN OF THE UNSAVED AND THE SAVED
1. The forgiveness of sin is accomplished for the sinner when he believes upon Christ and is a part of his salvation. Many things which constitute salvation are wrought of God at the moment one believes; but forgiveness is never received by the unsaved apart from the whole work of saving grace, and on the ground of believing on Christ as Saviour.
2. In the divine dealing with the sins of the Christian, it is the sin question alone that is in view, and the Christian's sin is forgiven, not on the ground of believing unto salvation, but on the ground of confessing the sin (1 John 1:9).
The effect of the Christian's sin, among other things, is the loss of fellowship with the Father and the Son, and the grieving of the indwelling Spirit. The child of God who has sinned will be restored to fellowship, joy, blessing, and power, when he confesses his sin. While the effect of sin upon the believer is the loss of blessing, which blessing may be renewed by confession, the effect of the believer's sin upon God is a far more serious matter. But for the value of the shed blood of Christ and the present advocacy of Christ in Heaven (1 John 3:1, 2; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24), sin would separate Christians from God forever. However, we are assured that the blood is efficacious (1 John 2:2) and the Advocate's cause is righteous (1 John 2:1). The sinning saint is not lost because of his sin, since, even while sinning, he has an Advocate with the Father. This truth which alone forms the basis on which any Christian has ever been kept saved for a moment, so far from encouraging Christians to sin, is presented in the Scriptures to the end that the Christian "sin not," or "be not sinning" (1 John 2:1). Beholding the Saviour advocating for us in Heaven must cause us to hesitate before every solicitation to sin.
Review Questions for Chapter 26
1. What is the first universal fact concerning sin?
2. What is the second universal fact concerning sin?
3. How was the second fact illustrated in the Old Testament order?
4. On what ground does God forgive sin?
5. What is the meaning of the word atonement?
6. What light is thrown on atonement in Romans 3:25 and Acts 17:30?
7. What is now required of the sinner in view of the fact that his sin has already been borne by Christ?
8. What did Christ do with sin on the cross if he did not atone for it, or cover it?
9. How much sin did He take away?
10. God having been satisfied with the solution of the sin question at the cross, what is left for the sinner to do?
11. With what else must the sinner's forgiveness be combined, and on what ground may it be received?
12. On what ground is the Christian forgiven and how may forgiveness be received?
13. a. What is the effect of a Christian's sin upon himself?
b. What is the effect upon God?
14. a. Describe the work of Christ as Advocate.
b. At what time in relation to the Christian's sin does Christ advocate in his behalf?
LAW AND GRACE
The words law and grace represent widely differing methods of divine dealing with men. It is therefore well first to consider them separately:
I. THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF THE WORD "LAW"
1. Law as a Rule of Life.
When used to indicate a rule of life, the word "law" has various meanings:
(1) The Ten Commandments, which were written by the finger of God on tables of stone (Exod. 31:18).
(2) The whole system of government for Israel when in the land which included the Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17), the Judgments (Exod. 21:1 to 24:11), and the Ordinances (Exod. 24:12 to 31:18).
(3) The governing principles of the yet future kingdom of the Messiah in the earth, which are in no way gracious in character, but rather are said to be the fulfilling of the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:1 to 7:29. Note 5:17, 18; 7:12).
(4) Any aspect of the revealed will of God for men (Rom. 7:22, 25; 8:4).
(5) Any rule of conduct prescribed by men for their own government (2 Tim. 2:5; Matt. 20:15; Luke 20:22). The word "law" is also used a few times of a force in operation (Rom. 7:21; 8:2).
2. The Law as a Covenant of Works.
Under this conception of the law, its scope is extended beyond the actual writings of the Mosaic system and the Kingdom law, and includes any human action which is attempted (whether in conformity to a precept of the Scriptures or not), with a view to securing favor with God. The law formula is "If you will do good, I will bless you." Thus the highest ideal of heavenly conduct, if undertaken with a view to securing favour with God instead of being undertaken because one has already secured favour through Christ, becomes purely legal in its character.
3. The Law as a Principle of Dependence on the Flesh.
The law provided no enablement for its observance. No more was expected or secured in return from its commands than the natural man in his environment could provide. Therefore, whatever is undertaken in the energy of the flesh is legal in its nature, whether it be the whole revealed will of God, the actual written commandments contained in the law, the exhortations of grace, or any spiritual activity whatsoever.
For the child of God under grace, every aspect of the law is now done away (John 1:16, 17; Rom. 6:14; 7:1-6; 2 Cor. 3:1-18; Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14; Gal. 3:19-25).
(1) The legal commands of the Mosaic system and the commands which are to govern in the kingdom are not now the guiding principles of the Christian. They have been superseded by a new and gracious rule of conduct which includes in itself all that is vital in the law, but restates it under the peculiar order and character of grace.
(2) The child of God under grace has been delivered from the burden of a covenant of works. He is not now striving to be accepted, but rather is free to live as one who is accepted in Christ (Eph. 1:6). (3) The child of God is not now called upon to live by the energy of his own flesh. He has been delivered from this feature of the law, and may live in the power of the indwelling Spirit. Since the written law was addressed to Israel, she alone could be delivered from the written commandments of Moses by the death of Christ. However, both Jew and Gentile were delivered by that death from the hopeless principle of human merit, and from the useless struggle of the flesh.
II. THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF THE WORD "GRACE"
This word, which in salvation truth has but the one meaning of unmerited favour, represents a divine method of dealing with men which has obtained from Adam until the present time, except for the intrusion of the law system which was in force in the time between Moses and Christ. Under grace, God does not treat men as they deserve, but He treats them in infinite grace, without reference to their deserts. This He is free to do on the ground of the fact that the righteous punishment for sin which His holiness would otherwise impose upon sinners as their just desert was to be borne, or has been borne, for the sinner by the Son of God.
In Exodus 19:3-25 a record is given of Israel's choice by which they passed from a grace relationship to God into a law relationship. In each instance they were sinners, but through sovereign grace and in spite of their sin God had been able to bear them on eagles' wings and bring them to Himself (19:4). God proposed the law to them, but did not impose the law on them (19:5-7), which law the people accepted (19:8). Thus they deliberately forsook their priceless position under grace, which was according to the covenant made with Abraham, and assumed the impossible responsibility of law by which they must stand or fall before God on the basis of their own merit. Immediately upon this choice God became unapproachable (19:9-24), though before, He had brought them to himself on eagles' wings. The nation thus fell from grace by choosing a covenant of works in place of the gracious mercy of God. The experience of that nation is the experience of every individual who trusts in his own good works or merit, and does not depend on the boundless grace of God, which in Christ Jesus is provided for and offered to all.
Divine grace is three-fold in its operation:
1. Salvation by Grace.
God saves sinners by grace, and there is no other way of salvation offered to men (Acts 4:12). Saving grace is the limitless, unrestrained love of God for the lost acting in compliance with the exact and unchangeable demands of His own righteousness through the sacrificial death of Christ. Grace is more than love; it is love set free and made to be a triumphant victor over the righteous judgments of God against the sinner. When saving a sinner by grace, it is necessary that God shall have dealt with every sin, which would otherwise demand judgment and thereby hinder His grace. This He has wrought in the death of His Son. It is also necessary that every obligation shall be cancelled, and to this end salvation has been made an absolute gift from God (Eph. 2:8; John 10:28; Rom. 6:23). Also it is necessary that every human merit shall be set aside, lest the thing which God accomplishes shall be in any measure based on the merit of men, and not on His sovereign grace alone (Rom. 3:9; 11:32; Gal. 3:22). Since every human element is excluded, the Gospel of grace is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God, which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who will believe.
2. Safe-keeping through Grace.
It is through grace alone that God keeps those who are saved. Having provided a way whereby He can act in freedom from His own righteous demands against sin, having disposed of every human obligation for payment, and having set aside eternally every human merit, God has only to continue the exercise of grace toward the saved one to secure his safe-keeping forever. This He does, and the child of God is said to stand in grace (Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 5:12).
3. Grace Provides a Rule of Life for the Saved.
God teaches those who are saved and kept how they should live in grace, and how they may live to His eternal glory. As the law provided a complete rule of conduct for Israel, so God has provided a complete rule of conduct for the Christian. Since each and all rules of life which are presented in the Bible are complete in themselves, it is not necessary that they shall be combined. Therefore the child of God is not under law as a rule of life, but he is under the counsels of grace. What he does under grace is not done to secure the favour of God, but it is done because he is already accepted in the Beloved. It is not undertaken in the energy of the flesh, but it is the outliving and manifestation of the power of the indwelling Spirit. It is a life which is lived on the principle of faith. "The just shall live by faith." These principles are stated in portions of the Gospels and the Epistles.
Review Questions for Chapter 27
1. What is represented by the words law and grace?
2. Name the three-fold principle of the law.
3. Name five aspects of the law as a rule of life.
4. Define what is involved in the law as a covenant of works.
5. Define what is involved in the law as a principle of dependence on the flesh.
6. What aspects of the law are done away for the child of God under grace?
7. What particular deliverance came to the nation Israel, and what two deliverances came to all mankind through the death of Christ?
8. a. What is the Biblical meaning of the word grace?
b. How long has grace obtained?
c. When and for how long did it cease?
9. a. Describe the experience of Israel as recorded in Exodus 19:3-25 in passing from grace into law.
b. At that time did God propose or impose the law?
10. How does Israel's experience illustrate the position of every self-trusting sinner?
11. Wherein is divine grace more than divine love?
12. a. What has been divinely accomplished by the death of Christ regarding the three major principles of the law?
b. What alone is imposed on the sinner as the condition of eternal salvation?
13. Describe the exercise of grace in the safe-keeping of those who are saved.
14. a. By what rule are those who are saved by grace expected to live?
b. Is this a rule complete in itself?
c. What is the motive which should actuate its observance?
d. Where in the Scriptures is the grace rule presented?
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