INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RANSOM.
Question.--Is an understanding of the philosophy of the ransom essential to justification?
Answer.--Justification is the name for that standing in the sight of God in which He can accept us and deal with us no longer as sinners but as perfect human sons. This relationship or standing has been accounted to the friends of God ever since the day of Abraham, surely, and evidently to some others previously. Neither Abraham nor David nor Samuel nor the prophets understood the philosophy of the ransom. They could not understand it, for it had not yet been revealed in any sense or degree: it had merely been hinted at in types and through indefinite promises.
But they could and did have faith in God, and the Apostle Paul (Rom. 4) shows that it was that faith that justified them. They had faith to the full of the revelation of God's will and plan made to them. The extent of the knowledge of God possible to be possessed has increased considerably since Abraham's day. In Rom. 4:24, the Apostle makes faith in God the basis of our justification as it was the basis of their acceptance, though now faith in God includes faith in the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer. It was impossible for any to believe on Him of whom they had not heard; but Abraham believed God in His statement that in his seed (afterward shown to be Christ) all the families of the earth should be blest. Abraham's faith was reckoned as justifying him in God's sight. It was [R2874 : page 286] such an active, obedient faith as would have accepted Christ personally, as it accepted the promises concerning him. In due time his faith shall be perfected --at our Lord's second advent.
Coming down to the first advent of our Lord: His teaching evidently brought a great light to them that had the eyes of their understanding opened, and he declared the ransom. We have no reason to suppose that even those who heard our Lord speak in dark sayings and parables grasped the philosophy of the ransom; and so through the Gospel age to the present time. We must therefore suppose that in God's wisdom it was quite sufficient that his people should believe the fact which his Word does clearly state, that Christ's death paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world somehow or other, not understood.
The ransom was necessary, so far as God was concerned, as the basis of our justification. But so far as we were concerned, the thing necessary was to "believe God" and to accept God's statement, that through the death of Christ the reconciliation for the sins of the whole world was effected, for all who would believe it and act accordingly.
The philosophy of the subject is needful in our day, and is "meat in due season;" now, because we have come down to a time when there is in progress a special sifting and testing in connection with Christ and his sacrifice, and when it is necessary to have the philosophy of the subject in order to be able to appreciate and hold on clearly to the fact that we were redeemed by the precious blood.
It will be noticed that the prophet declares that all the tables of Babylon are full of vomit--rejected things. They had some very good things upon their tables, among others the doctrine of the ransom; but failing to be in the right condition of heart now, the Lord is rejecting Babylon; and those of his people in her are called away from her tables to the meat in due season, while her tables, served by those who are rejected from being the Lord's mouth-pieces ("I will spue thee out of my mouth"), are in the light of the dawning day being despised; and even the good things from the Lord's Word (the ransom, etc.), which once yielded them refreshment, are now defiled in their eyes along with the rejected nonsense of the dark ages.
THE TEMPLE OF HIS BODY.
Question.--What did the Lord mean when he said (John 2:19), "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up?"
Answer.--A suggestion as to his meaning is found in verse 21--"But he spake of the temple of his body" --the Church, he being the head of the Church.
A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The first advent was in the beginning of the fifth day or thousand years (over four thousand years being past, and the fifth thousand begun). During the fifth and sixth days his Church has been selecting, and early in the seventh (the Millennium), the third day, his body, the Church, will be perfected with him--the spiritual temple. He himself was raised from the dead "on the third day," literally, but it was not by his own power--God highly exalted him. The words of the text can not, therefore, refer to our Lord's personal resurrection.
"WHOM NO MAN HATH SEEN NOR CAN SEE."
Question.--Do you believe that the restitution class will ever enter heaven, and "see the King in his beauty"?
Answer.--No, we have no reason whatever to expect that any of the restitution class will ever enter heaven, or ever see spiritual beings. It would be entirely contrary to their nature; man is adapted to the earth, as a fish is adapted to the water. If man were taken out of the earth into heaven he would be like the fish out of water--out of his element. Nor is there any suggestion in the Scriptures of any change [R2874 : page 287] of nature; human nature being perfection on its own plane, so designed by the Creator; and those perfect on the human plane will be just as satisfied with their perfection as will the perfect on the angelic plane, and those on other planes of being. They will see the King in his beauty in the same sense that we now see the Lord when we are "looking unto Jesus." More than this, when mankind is perfect they will see in each other the very image of God; and all through the Millennial Age they will see in the princes who will be in charge of their government, the likeness of God, for these princes or ancient worthies will be perfect human beings.
THE CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE.
Question.--How far are the Christian Alliance views correct?
Answer.--In our opinion not very far. They look for the second coming of the Lord, but mistakenly, as do many friends in the various denominations. They hold nearly all the false doctrines held by nearly all denominations. In our understanding many of the Christian Alliance people are earnest, and probably as a whole, a more holy people than most of the denominations; but this is about all that we can say for them. We must consider their system as a branch or ward of Babylon, and would warn all to come out of her, that they be not partakers of the woes that are shortly to come upon her, and that they be upon the Lord's side and accounted worthy to see further light of present truth.
Question.--What is your understanding of the call and work of a minister or preacher, as taught in God's Word?
Answer.--(1) That in a general sense all Christians are anointed of the spirit to be preachers, and are such in proportion as they exercise their talents in spreading the truth.
(2) That any Christian (man), having knowledge and ability as a herald, who feels drawn to devote all his time to the spread of the truth, an open door being seen, is justified in changing his field of labor from temporal to spiritual, in part or in whole, giving more and more of his time and energy to his direct vocation of an ambassador for God and less and less to his avocation earthly.
(3) That these heralds shall trust in God to supply their needs; and receiving only free will offerings from the brethren and others should "labor" for the things needful, accepting these conditions of the Lord's providence.
(4) That when one of these finds every door of opportunity closed, he shall accept it as an evidence of work done in that field and should seek to know whether for some reason his service is not acceptable longer or whether the Lord has another field for him, or whether all the work is done. In any case, he should recognize that his vocation is that of an ambassador for the truth, and that earthly affairs are only his avocations, and should seek to prosecute as best he can the ministry of the Word, through evil and good report, through trials and encouragements, through sorrows and joys.
WHAT WAS JEPHTHAH'S VOW?
Question.--What attitude are we to assume toward the account of Jephthah's reckless vow which brought death to his daughter? Is there any redeeming feature in the incident?
Answer.--We are to accept the scriptural statement that Jephthah was amongst the faithful--acceptable to God. As such he must also be acceptable to us. In respect to his offering his daughter in sacrifice our conclusion must be that the divine arrangement then and now differs materially. We may say, however, that as Abraham was about to offer his son Isaac, not willingly, but through obedience to what he understood to be the divine will, so did Jephthah with his daughter; and he was not hindered by an angel from the Lord. I do not know if the lamentation has any significance.
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Answer.--A totally different view of this matter is possible, and we merely suggest it; namely, that the vow was one of full devotion to the Lord--one of chastity and sanctity--seclusion from society, deadness to the world as a priestess. The daughter's request for time for lamentation, and the subsequent annual celebration by the virgins, would agree well with this view. The chief objection to this view is the statement respecting "a burnt offering," and this seems almost insurmountable.
"WHOM NO MAN HATH SEEN NOR CAN SEE."
Question.--In what sense can the statement in Job 19:26 be true, since we understand he will not have power to "see God" as a human being?
Answer.--The passage might be understood in two different ways: (a) As an expression of Job's trust in the Lord that notwithstanding the serious disease with which he was afflicted, and the apparent utter destruction of his skin, by a loathsome disease yet he hoped for recovery and that he should yet praise the Lord in the flesh and in health. Or (b) it may be understood to refer to a future life and Job's confidence that tho his sickness should result in death, complete dissolution, yet it did not mean in him an everlasting extinction. As previously stated, God would call and he would answer in his flesh. His seeing God in the flesh should not be understood as that which is impossible, of which our Lord says, "No man hath seen God at any time," and of which the Apostle says, "Whom no man hath seen nor can see." It should be understood in the way in which it is commonly used today, viz., that God's people see him in his works, as we sometimes say, "I see God's hand in [R2875 : page 287] this." And again, we are informed that "all flesh shall see the salvation of God." And again, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."