GOD'S PLAN WITH MEN
T. T. MARTIN, Evangelist
"For every sentence, clause and word, That's not inlaid with thee, my Lord, Forgive me, God! and blot each line Out of my book that is not thine. But if, 'mongst all, thou find'st here one Worthy thy benediction, That one of all the rest shall be The glory of my work and me."
New York Chicago Toronto Fleming H. Revell Company London and Edinburgh
Copyright, 1912, by Fleming H. Revell Company
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue Chicago: 17 N. Wabash Ave. Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W. London: 21 Paternoster Square Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street
Not new truths, but old truths properly emphasized, is one of the great needs of our times and of all times. The object of this book is not to start something new, but to specially emphasize some old truths and their relations to each other. The aim of the book is to help two classes: those who are seeking to be saved, and those who are already saved; the one, by showing simply and plainly God's way of salvation; the other, by showing simply God's way of dealing with men after they are saved. The author hopes, moreover, that the book may be of some special help to honest sceptics. For this purpose, the Introduction is addressed to them; and the hope is cherished that Chapter I will aid in disarming prejudice against God and the Bible; for while the Bible's teaching of degrees of punishment in Hell does not detract from the horrors of future punishment, but rather adds thereto, it effectually does away with the charge of the injustice of future punishment.
The enquirer and young convert may omit the parts marked "For Further Study" at the close of each chapter and not lose connection. These are added for Bible students who wish to go further into the subject treated.
And now, the author lays the book at the Master's feet and prays His blessings upon it, that it may be a blessing to those who read it.
T. T. Martin.
Blue Mountain, Miss.
I. Sin and Its Punishment—God's Justice—Degrees In Hell 17
II. Sins Not Excused, nor the Penalty Ever Remitted Without Redemption 32
III. Jesus the Christ as Sin-bearer—God's Justice and Love 38
IV. The New Relation—The New Motive 60
V. The Sins of God's Children—Forgiveness—Chastisements 86
VI. Rewards—Degrees in Heaven 101
VII. How to be Saved—Repentance and Faith 125
VIII. The Meaning of "Believe On" or "Believe In" Christ 135
IX. Eternal Life the Present Possession of the Believer 158
X. Development of Character in the Redeemed 175
"Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord."—Isaiah.
"If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from my self."—Jesus.
"And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart."—Jeremiah.
"Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord."—Hosea.
This work is not written for sceptics; yet while preparing to write for the benefit of others than sceptics, the author's heart has gone out toward that large class of his fellow-men who are sceptical; who, from different causes, have been led to doubt or deny the Bible's being a revelation from God; and he has yearned to say something that would at least arouse the attention of this class sufficiently to cause them to give an earnest investigation, or re-investigation, to the question. The bare possibilities that there is a Hell and a Heaven, that the soul can never cease to exist, and that Jesus is the real Saviour, are enough to cause every doubting one to give the most earnest consideration to any evidence bearing on these questions, and to undertake the most careful investigation of anything that promises to lead to certainty. It will be admitted by every honest disbeliever that no writer has ever made it certain that there is no future existence; that there is no Heaven; that there is no Hell; that Jesus was not the Saviour. The most that such writers have been able to produce is doubts. If, now, there is the possibility of reaching certainty on the other side, surely the reader should be willing and anxious to undertake a calm, searching examination, or re-examination, of the question. If there is no Heaven or Hell, no future existence, no one will ever find it out, before or after death; and there would be but little, if anything, gained if one could find it out. But if there is a Heaven and a Hell, and Jesus is the Saviour, then there is everything to be gained by finding it out and everything to be lost by neglecting to find it out. So important are the issues at stake that you, reader, should be willing to take years, if need be, to make a thorough investigation of the matter; you should be willing to read and study many books, and there are many that would help you; but I wish to urge you to read two books only, before reading this book. Surely your eternal destiny and the destinies of those over whom you have an influence (for "none of us liveth to himself") are enough to cause you to give earnest attention to the reading of three small books. The bare possibility that the reading of the three books may lead to your making sure of Heaven as your eternal home, is enough to prompt you to read them and to read them most carefully and prayerfully. The first is "The Wonders of Prophecy," by John Urquhart. The second is "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation," by J. B. Walker (American Edition). Having read these two books prayerfully and carefully, then give this book a careful reading.
But let the reader consider God's plan for investigating. It is often said by a certain class of sceptics that the Bible is against honest investigation, that it shuts off the use of one's reason. Let the word of God speak for itself, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord."—Is. 1:18. The trouble with many sceptics is that they are not willing to "reason together," to reason to get with God, but that they reason against God and to get away from God. Jesus said, "Take heed how ye hear." Watch your heart's attitude when you hear. The attitude of being against God will warp your reasoning when you hear. God's promise is plain to the earnest, honest seeker after God. "And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart."—Jer. 29:13. One who is half-hearted, indifferent, prejudiced against God or against truth, has no right to expect to find God or to find truth. But the promise is positive that the one who seeks with all the heart shall find. Let the reader put God to the test. How can an earnest, honest man refuse to make an earnest, honest investigation?
It was against those who would not make such an investigation that Jesus spoke, Matt. 12:42, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with this generation and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon is here." The heathen woman who went to so much trouble and expense, and took so much time to make a thorough, honest investigation for the truth, will condemn those who do not make an earnest persevering investigation; "And behold a greater than Solomon is here," with His promise, "If any man willeth to do his will he shall know."
Reader, will you carelessly refuse to take the time and to go to the trouble and expense of getting and reading earnestly two books that may lead you to the truth? Oh, reader, outstrip the heathen queen in search of light. Give your life-time, if need be, to an earnest investigation of this matter. Picture two men, one giving his life-time to earnest, honest, searching for the truth concerning sin and salvation through Christ; the other, from indifference, or pride, or prejudice, or love of the world, or secret sin, never making an earnest, honest investigation; the one dying and going to Heaven; the other dying and going to Hell. Which shall it be in your case, reader? There is absolutely no uncertainty as to the result if only you will be honest, and earnest and persevering in your search for the truth. Listen to Jesus: John 7:17, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself." Whether you, reader, are ignorant or learned cuts absolutely no figure in this case. Jesus throws the assurance open to any man. The one condition is if he "willeth to do his will." No man wills to do God's will who will not go to the extreme of earnest, honest, prayerful investigation. If you do, then the veracity, the very character, of Jesus is at stake. Consider, then, reader, the awful responsibility that rests upon you, if you do not give attention to a thorough, earnest, honest, prayerful investigation for the truth.
Another promise of equal certainty comes from the Old Testament: Hosea 6:3, "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." Many make a slight search and cease. The promise is not to them, but to those who persevere. If we use the light as we receive it, and follow it up, we shall know. Again certainty is promised. Does not God, because He is God, deserve such earnest consideration from you, reader? Have you any right to expect anything from Him if you approach Him in a half-hearted, indifferent way?
The following cases in point may encourage the reader: Two learned men decided to prove that the Bible was not from God, and that Jesus Christ was not the Saviour; but they were in earnest and they were honest. They had vast libraries at their service. They gave months to investigation. They were both convinced and accepted the Saviour and wrote their books in defence of the Bible, instead of against it.
Second, one of the greatest scholars of Europe, probably the greatest, stated in a public lecture in America, that, of the thirty leading sceptics of the nineteenth century, men who had written brilliant books in their young manhood against the Bible, he knew twenty-eight in their old age, and that every one of the twenty-eight, after mature investigation, had accepted the Lord Jesus as Saviour.
Again, in one of the prominent smaller cities of America, a club of sceptics, leading business and professional men, had held weekly meetings for many years. They challenged any one to meet one of their widely known lecturers in a public debate on Christianity and Infidelity. A preacher accepted the challenge. During the debate some of the sceptics became Christians. The president of the debate, a sceptic, is now an earnest follower of the Lord Jesus, having been convinced and having accepted Him as Saviour. The debate was held years ago. So convincing, so overwhelming, was the evidence produced by the defender of Christianity, that the club of sceptics has never held a meeting since the debate.
Similar facts could be produced indefinitely, but these three are sufficient to show the most discouraged, the most hopeless sceptical reader, that there is at least a possibility of his yet finding the truth. Is not a bare possibility, where there are so tremendously important eternal issues at stake, sufficient to cause him to at once begin a thorough, prayerful, honest investigation?
A reflection before closing the Introduction: one hundred years from now, and you, reader, will not be among the living. Where will you be? God has given you a will and the power of choice. Will you will, will you choose, to make an honest, persistent investigation? Tremendous consequences turn on your decision,—your own future destiny, the destinies of others over whom you have an influence. Do not dally with delay. Begin now an honest, earnest, painstaking, prayerful investigation. Get and read the two books suggested, and then finish reading this book. If this course does not settle your difficulties, read on, study on, pray on, and God's promise is sure, that you shall find, that you "shall know"!
FOR FURTHER STUDY: A brief list is here given of books that will be helpful to sceptical readers: "Why Is Christianity True?" by E. Y. Mullins. (One of the most learned Presbyterian theological professors in America, asked to give the names of six of the best books to convince sceptics, replied, "I shall not do it; I shall give one,—'Why Is Christianity True?' by President Mullins of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; that is sufficient"); "The Fact of Christ," by Simpson; "The Meaning and Message of the Cross," by H. C. Mabie; "The Resurrection of Our Lord," by W. Milligan; "Many Infallible Proofs," by A. T. Pierson; "The Cause and Cure of Infidelity," by Nelson; "The Word and Works of God," by Bailey; "The Character of Jesus," by Bushnell; "Hours with a Sceptic," by Faunce; "The Miracles of Unbelief," by Ballard; "Creation," by Arnold Guyot; "The Collapse of Evolution," by Townsend; "The Problem of the Old Testament," by James Orr; "Did Jesus Rise?" by J. H. Brookes; "Reasons for Faith in Christianity," by Leavitt; "The Gospel of John;" "The Young Professor," by E. B. Hatcher; "The Resurrection of Jesus," by James Orr.
SIN AND ITS PUNISHMENT—GOD'S JUSTICE—DEGREES IN HELL
"All have sinned."—Rom. 3:23.
"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward."—Heb. 2:2.
"A just God."—Is. 45:21.
"It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee."—Matt. 11:24.
Reader, what you and I need to know concerning God's plan with the sinner, the lost, is not what some people think, nor what some teach, nor what some desire; but what God teaches. God is just. Fasten that in your mind; never lose sight of it. Over and over again is this fact impressed in the Scriptures. Yet lurking in the minds of multitudes is a vague suspicion or dread that God will be unjust in sending some to Hell, and that He will be unjust in the way He will punish. Many who are thus disturbed lose sight of the fact that God is just; that whatever God does in regard to the lost, one thing is certain,—He will do no injustice. With my loved ones, with your loved ones, with the most obscure, worthless creature, with the most refined, delicate nature, with the most cruel, debased creature that ever lived, God will do no wrong. Many have turned away to infidelity, not on account of the Bible's complete teaching as to future punishment, but because they have taken some one passage of Scripture and warped it or gotten from it a distorted idea of the Bible's teachings as to Hell; or they have taken some preacher's views as to the Bible's teachings on the subject. For example, here is a boy fifteen years of age, whose mother died when he was an infant, whose father is a drunkard and gambler and infidel, who has given the boy but little moral training; and here is a man seventy years of age who had a noble father and mother, who gave their boy every advantage, the best of training, under the best of influences; yet he when a boy turned away from all these influences and spent his life in sin and debauchery, and in leading others into sin. These two, the unfortunate boy and the old hardened sinner, die. With many the idea is that God consigns them to a common punishment in Hell. But, reader, remember that God is just; and if that is justice, what would injustice be? They were different in light and in opportunity and in sins, and yet punished alike? The Bible does not teach it.
But let us go back and consider this question of sin. "All have sinned." That includes you, reader. "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."—James 4:17. All have done this, have failed to live up to the light they have had; hence, "All have sinned." Two questions arise: first, ought sin to be punished? Second, ought all sin to be punished, or only the coarser, grosser, more offensive sins? As to the first, ought sin to be punished? There is a strong drift toward the teaching that sin ought to be punished only for the purpose of reforming the sinner. Intelligent men endorse this teaching without realizing that it is spiritual anarchy and absolutely horrible and detestable. A woman and four little children are murdered in cold blood by three robbers for the purpose of robbing the home. When the three are arrested, the first is found to be thoroughly penitent, thoroughly reformed, broken-hearted, over his horrible crime. If sin should be punished only to reform the sinner, this man should not be punished at all, though he murdered five people in cold blood; for he is already reformed. The second is such a hardened criminal that he never can be reformed, and the more he is punished the more hardened he will become. Then if sin is punished only to reform the sinner, he should not be punished at all, though guilty of the murder of five people in cold blood. The third is tender-hearted and easily influenced, and by sending him to prison for thirty days, he will be thoroughly reformed, though guilty of five cold-blooded murders. On this principle of punishing sin only to reform the sinner, all a sinner would have to do to make sure of Heaven would be to become such a hardened sinner that he could never be reformed, and then he would go to Heaven without any punishment at all.
People need to call a halt and realize that sin ought to be punished because it is right to punish it, because it is just. But this means the punishment of all sins, the sins of the refined as surely as the sins of the debased, the smaller sins as surely as the greater sins. Hence the teaching of God's word, Rom. 1:18, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," But we need to keep in mind that it is discriminating wrath, and God's word makes this plain, Heb. 2:2, "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward." "A just God."—Is. 45:21.
 Many sneer at a "God of wrath" and say they believe in a "God of all love." God is love, but He is just as surely a God of wrath; and were He not a God of wrath, He would not be God, but a fiend. He who loves purity and chastity and has no wrath against impurity and unchastity, but loves them, too, is a moral leper. He who loves the defence of the poor and the helpless, but has no wrath against the cold-blooded murderer, the one crushing the defenceless, but loves him, too, is a fiend. Character, from God to Devil, can only be told by what one loves and what one hates.
Notice how clearly the Saviour teaches this same great truth, Matt. 11:20-24, "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgement than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee." Notice, "more tolerable," difference in punishment.
The same teaching Jesus gives in Mark 12:40. "These shall receive greater condemnation" Jesus revealed to Pilate God's judgment of a difference in sin, John 19:11, "He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
And Paul teaches the same, Gal. 6:7, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," the reaping according to the sowing.
Let the reader notice the clear teaching: the punishment of sin will be graded, first, according to light and opportunity. A writer, a great scientist, held that heredity and environment largely determine one's destiny. That is what Jesus taught. The people of Sodom were more wicked than those of Capernaum; but heredity and environment were against them. The people of Capernaum had not sinned so terribly as the people of Sodom, but they had more light and opportunity; they had better heredity, better environment; Jesus says that therefore the people of Capernaum shall be punished more severely than the people of Sodom. And that is right; that is just.
Those to whom Jesus spoke were born under better conditions than those of Sodom; they grew up under more favorable surroundings; hence, they were more responsible; hence, they are to receive greater punishment at the judgment. Apply to your own case, reader: for every added ray of light, for every added opportunity, there will be that much added punishment for your sins. And that is just; that is right. The opportunities that wealth brings, the light that education and culture bring, will but add to the punishment at the judgment. The most highly educated, the most refined, the most wealthy, those who have lived under the most favorable influences, will suffer most at the judgment.
But punishment will be further graded by the number of the sins,—"Every transgression received a just recompense." Hence, the more one sins, the greater the punishment. If one knew that he was going to Hell, corrupt human nature would say, "Sin and enjoy while you live," but reason and Scripture would say, "Stop! add no more to the degree of Hell."
Punishment for sin will be further graded by the character of the sin. "He that betrayed me to thee hath the greater sin." While a small sin is just as surely sin as a great sin, yet God recognizes degrees in sin, and as a consequence, there are degrees in the punishment of sin. Following from degrees in the punishment of sin comes inevitably the fact that no wrong will be done any one at the judgment; that no one will be treated wrong in Hell. He who fears only injustice and wrong, has nothing to fear from the judgment or in Hell.
Two reflections for the reader:—If you have heretofore rebelled against the idea of future punishment, what can you say when now you see that God will make all just allowance for surroundings and conditions, and will take into consideration the number and kinds of sins? God has a right to have laws; His laws are right; a law without a penalty amounts to no law; the penalty, God assures us, will be absolutely just. What can you say when you stand before such a judge and receive such a sentence?
The other reflection for the reader: Let not this teaching of the Bible lead you into thinking that Hell, then, will not be so terrible after all, and that you need not fear it. Instead of letting it allay all dread of the future, it is enough to make the blood run cold through your veins; for those who will have the most terrible suffering will be the most enlightened, the most cultured.
Another thought: not some far distant, cold, harsh, unsympathetic God will be the judge at the Judgment Day, but the Lord Jesus, "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," will be the one who will judge you and condemn you and give you your just degree of punishment in Hell. Hear Him: John 5:22, "Neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgement to the Son." Peter reveals the same fact, Acts 10:42, "He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who hath been ordained of God to be the judge of living and dead." Remember, that he whom the world praises as so good, so just, so discriminating, so loving, so tender, will be the judge at the Great Day, who will pronounce each sentence. Oh, reader, the very fact that the Lord Jesus will be the judge is absolute proof that no one will be treated wrong, that no one will be punished unjustly in Hell; and the bare possibility that He may pronounce your eternal doom is enough to cause you to turn to-day. "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?"
FOR FURTHER STUDY: The fear of Abraham is the fear of the human race, Gen. 18:25, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" As soon as God revealed to Abraham that he was going to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin, Abraham at once suspects that God may do wrong in punishing sin. It has been so down the ages, that we suspect that God will do wrong in punishing sin. Great denominations have been formed to keep God from doing wrong in punishing sin. Men have proven untrue to their denominations and turned traitors to God's word, because they have, Abraham-like, suspected God of wrongdoing in the punishment of sin. It is not that the proof is not ample that the Bible is God's word, but the hatred of the human heart for the Bible teaching about Hell, that has brought in so much of modern religious vagaries and New Theology and Higher Criticism. As Abraham presses his plea for God to do right, God by degrees reveals Himself as a God who will do right. It must have been a marvellous revelation to Abraham. And so God's plan for the punishment of sin will be to the honest seeker for truth when he perceives the real teaching of God's word. As God's doing right with Sodom and Gomorrah went far beyond where Abraham's sense of right halted; so God's doing right with sinners in Hell will go far beyond what we would ask.
But there are other objectors to Hell. They began by pressing the teaching of God's mercy without any reference to His justice; and in order to get rid of the teaching as to Hell, which they thought unjust, they rejected the Scriptures as God's word; and finally ended in rejecting the teaching that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3); that He "his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). As a result of their fighting against God's punishing sin, they have become so blinded as to right principle, and so morally corrupt, as to be supported in pulpits, college professorships and seminary professorships by the hard-earned money of earnest believers in God's word, while they are undermining the faith of the children of their supporters.
The Heaven that such men teach is the Hell of the Bible. Rejecting complete redemption through Christ dying for our sins as our substitute, they teach salvation by character, or that one's destiny beyond the grave will be according to the way he has lived here. That is their Heaven, but that is the Bible's Hell, exactly, absolutely. Infidelity, Judaism, Christian Science, Universalism, Unitarianism, Higher Criticism, New Theology and all who reject Christ dying for our sins, as our substitute, as our complete Redeemer, because of their hatred of God's punishing sinners in Hell, have made their Heaven to be the result of their life here on earth; and as a consequence, have made their Heaven the Bible's Hell; for Hell will be exactly the result of the life here on earth; and, as a result, they have in theory, and, alas! will have in fact, the Bible's Hell which they label Heaven, without any real Heaven at all. As an example, consider Mr. R. G. Ingersoll's words, "I believe in the gospel of justice, that we must reap what we sow (Bible's Hell without any Heaven). I do not believe in forgiveness (Bible's Hell without any Heaven). If I rob Smith and God forgives me, how does that help Smith? If I cover some poor girl with the leprosy of some imputed crime and she withers away like a blighted flower and afterward I get forgiveness, how does that help her? If there is another world, we have got to settle (admitting that we do not settle in this life), and for every crime you commit here (hence, the more the crimes, the more you must suffer, exactly the Bible's teaching), you must answer to yourself and to the one you injure. And if you have ever clothed another as with a garment of pain, you will never be quite as happy as though you had not done that thing." "No forgiveness; eternal, inexorable, everlasting justice, that is what I believe in." Any Christian would be willing to take Mr. Ingersoll's place, or the place of any one else, in Hell, if God varies one pang from what Mr. Ingersoll himself calls for. But it is the Bible's Hell, pure and simple, without any Heaven.
But the objector who rejects the teaching of Hell, and also Christ dying for our sins as our substitute, may say that he does not agree with Mr. Ingersoll, as to no forgiveness; that he believes in forgiveness. To reject Christ's dying for our sins as our substitute, as our Redeemer from all iniquity, and yet, in order to avoid believing in Hell, to profess to believe in the forgiveness of sins, makes one far worse than Mr. Ingersoll, a spiritual anarchist. Mr. Ingersoll at least believed in law, but to believe in forgiveness, without substitution, without redemption through Christ, means to down with law and to become an anarchist in principle. As to the justice of substitution, the reader is referred to Chapter III.
Concerning the objection to the Bible's teaching of eternal punishment in Hell, a mistranslation has misled many, and before the correct translation, as given by the Revised Version, all objections fall to the ground. The old version of Rev. 22:11 reads, "He that is unjust let him be unjust still"; but the Revised Version gives what the Greek says, "He that is unrighteous let him do unrighteousness still!" And that inevitably means eternal punishment. It is God's last sentence on the sinner. The objector may say that it is horrible to let men sin beyond the grave, in Hell. Not one particle more horrible is it than to let them sin in this life and continue in sin in this life. A reflection for the unsaved reader: what will your moral character be one thousand years after you die, with no holy Spirit, no Bible, no Christians, no churches, to restrain you?
Again, this passage, Rev. 22:11 (R. V.), can have no meaning if the wicked are to be blotted out, cease to exist.
Another objection that is pressed, is that the Bible teaches a Hell of literal fire, and is therefore wrong. The denominations that reject the Bible's teachings as to Hell, without exception, try to force on the Bible language the meaning of literal fire. Yet they do not try to force on the language of the Bible concerning Hell, that it means literal worm when it says "to be cast into Hell where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." They do not try to force the literal meaning on language when Jesus said, "I am the door"; "I am the vine"; or the Scriptures state, "That rock was Christ." One thing is true, that, the language being figurative, the reality must be terrible.
Men sneer at the thought of becoming Christians from fear of Hell. Such men are not honest with God, and are simply trying to browbeat God on the subject of Hell. Proof: the same men will flee to safety from fear of smallpox, from fear of yellow fever, etc. Shall men be looked upon as sensible when they flee to safety for their bodies, and be scorned for fleeing to safety for their souls?
People are ever asking, "Will the heathen be lost without the gospel?" Let God's word answer, Rom. 2:12, 14, "As many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law"; "For when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these not having the law are the law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing themselves." But the objector says, "Will God condemn a man when he has no light?" There never lived such a man. Listen to God: John 1:19, "That was the true light that lighteth every man coming into the world." Again, Rom. 1:20, "The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; so that they are without excuse." But the objection is raised that they have never heard of Christ, and that it is wrong for people to be lost, condemned, who never heard of Christ. They are not condemned for not believing in Christ when they have never heard of Him; they are condemned for their sins, for doing what, from their light, they knew was wrong. It is not the lack of the remedy that kills, but the disease. They have not as much light as others, and their punishment will be accordingly. The man who dies in his sins in a Christian land will be punished far, far more than the one who dies a heathen. Their punishments will be almost as far apart as the east is from the west.
The Scripture, "There is no difference," Rom. 3:22, has often been pressed to mean that all sinners are alike before God, or will suffer alike in Hell. By close attention to the passage the reader will see that the expression "there is no difference" has reference to what goes before, for it is connected by the word "for," pointing back to what had just been said, that there is a "righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all that have faith: for there is no difference," that all that have faith are equally certain of salvation, "for there is no difference." To join the expression, "there is no difference," with what follows makes it clearly contradict our Saviour, who said plainly that there is a difference,—"He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin,"—there is a difference in sin, says the Saviour.
The teaching of James 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point is guilty of all," must not be made to contradict the plain teaching of the Saviour that there is a difference in sinners, and different degrees in their punishment. The meaning is that the law is a unit, and that he that offends in one point has broken the law as a whole. A chain of ten links is as surely broken when one link is broken as when all ten links are broken.
In accord with this are the words of the great American scholar, theologian, teacher, preacher, Jno. A. Broadus: "Especially notice Luke 12:47 f. (R. V.), 'And that servant which knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.' This teaching has been in many cases grievously overlooked. Taking images literally, men have found that the 'Gehenna of fire' (Matt. 5:22) will be the same place and the same degree of punishment for all. But the above passage and many others show that there will be differences. The degrees of punishment must be as remote as the east is from the west. All inherited proclivities, 'taints of blood,' all differences of environment, every privilege and every disadvantage, will be taken into account. It is the Divine Judge that will apportion punishment, with perfect knowledge and perfect justice and perfect goodness. This great fact, that there will be degrees in future punishment—as well as future rewards—ought to be more prominent in religious instruction. It gives some relief in contemplating the awful fate of those who perish. It might save many from going away into Universalism; and others from dreaming of a 'second probation' in eternity (comp. on 12:32); and yet others from unjustly assailing and rejecting, to their own ruin, the gospel of salvation."
On the other hand, many a sermon on Hell (and there are too few on the subject), it could possibly be said the average sermon on the subject, is a slander on a just and holy God. The sermon is drawn largely from Dante's Inferno or the distorted imagination of the preacher, with no reference to the fact that God will punish sinners differently according to their light and their sins, but only justly.
The trouble is not with the Bible teaching as to Hell, but with modern inadequate conceptions of the evil and guilt of sin, and with many, the almost lost sense of justice, and of "stern moral indignation against wrong." (Broadus.)
SINS NOT EXCUSED, NOR THE PENALTY EVER REMITTED WITHOUT REDEMPTION
"Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law."—Jesus.
"Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement."—Lev. 17:11.
"It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."—Heb. 10:4.
"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward."—Heb. 2:2.
When one faces the question of his sins, and realizes that they deserve just punishment, one of the first impulses is to pray and beg of God to be let off, to be forgiven; and, alas! much of the religious instruction to the sinner is to the same effect. Jesus to Nicodemus gave no such instruction (John 3:14-16); Philip to the Eunuch gave no such instruction (Acts 8:29-39); Paul and Silas to the jailer gave no such instruction (Acts 16:30, 31); Peter to the household of Cornelius gave no such instruction (Acts 10:42, 43); the gospel of John, the one book specially given to lead a sinner to be saved (John 20:30, 31), gives no such instruction.
But the objection is at once brought up that in the Lord's Prayer we are taught to pray, "Forgive us our sins." That prayer begins "Our Father," and God is not the Father of sinners ("Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26); and the prayer was given by the Saviour to disciples (Luke 11:1, 2), and not to sinners.
But the objection is further raised that the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." That is from the first epistle of John, and was not written to sinners, but to believers. John says (1 John 5:13), "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." (R. V.) God can and does forgive the believer on confession, because the believer is a child of God. With the sinner it is a question of law, of justice, of right. Hence, the Lord Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law" (Matt. 5:18). "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward" (Heb. 2:2); but there is no "just recompense of reward" at all, if God lets the sinner off from the just penalty of his sins because he prays and begs and cries to be let off, or because priests or preachers pray and beg for him to be let off. "It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin" (Heb. 10:4), because there is no "just recompense of reward" in such cases. Much less can the sins be taken away when there is no recompense of reward at all in the case, but simply the praying and begging of the sinner to be forgiven, to be let off, and the praying and begging of some priest or preacher that the sinner be forgiven, let off. God has given a plain warning, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22. Among what are called evangelical denominations it would be looked upon as worse than folly for a Jew, a Unitarian or a Universalist, who had asked God to forgive his sins, or had confessed the sins, to claim that therefore he was forgiven and was sure to go to Heaven. But it is just as fatal a delusion among others as among Jews, Unitarians and Universalists. Every transgression must have "a just recompense of reward," however sorry the sinner may be, however much he may pray and beg to be forgiven, let off; however much the priest or preacher or friends may pray for him to be forgiven, to be let off. A man who has violated the state law falls on his knees before the judge, confesses his sin and begs the judge to forgive him, to let him off; and he calls men from the audience to come and help him beg. The judge replies, "If I should yield to these petitions I would be a perjurer; I would trample on law. Every transgression must receive a just recompense of reward." Would that all could realize that every prayer from sinner, priest, or preacher, for a sinner to be forgiven, let off, is a prayer to God to become a perjurer. If sinners could realize that, after all their kneeling every night and confessing their sins, and praying to be forgiven, to be let off, every sin ever committed is still there, and that "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission," they would then realize their real need of a Saviour, a Redeemer.
One question for the reader: If God forgives, lets a sinner off, simply because he is sorry and cries and prays and begs to be let off, or because the priest or preacher cries, prays and begs for him to be forgiven, to be let off, why did Jesus die?
FOR FURTHER STUDY: The word translated forgiveness in the Bible means simply to send away, without reference to how the sin is sent away; but God's word states plainly that sins are forgiven, sent away, by Christ bearing them. "Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."—John 1:29. "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."—1 Peter 2:24; "Christ died for our sins."—1 Cor. 15:3. Concerning the justice of Christ dying for our sins, see the next chapter.
The prayer of the publican in the old version, "God be merciful to me the sinner," Luke 18:13, has misled many. If that was really the prayer of the publican, how could the Saviour have said, "This man went down to his house justified"? The margin of the Revised Version gives what the Greek says, "Be thou propitiated." It is the same Greek word that in Heb. 2:17 is translated, "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." President Strong of Rochester Theological Seminary gives the exact meaning of it when he renders it, "Be thou propitiated to me the sinner by the sacrifice whose smoke was then ascending in the presence of the publican while he prayed." And Jesus shows what the publican said when He added, "This man went down to his house justified."
It is said that a young man ran away from his widowed mother and was gone for years. One stormy night sitting near the window sewing, while the rain was beating against the window pane, she thought she heard a noise. Looking up she saw the shaggy, bearded face of a ragged tramp pressed against the window pane, but it faded back into the storm as she looked up. Faint lines in the face aroused memory. As the needle was plied the mind was busy. Again a slight noise caused her to look up, and again the shaggy, bearded face of the tramp faded back into the storm. This time she knew that she was not mistaken. The shaggy beard could not hide the lines in the face of her long-lost boy. Throwing up the window she cried, "Come in, William, oh, come in." Stepping to where the light fell full in his face, while the tears coursed down his cheeks, he said, "Mother, I can't come in till my sin has been put out of the way." There was honor left in the tramp yet. There ought to be honor enough in every human being not to wish to go to Heaven, not to try to go to Heaven, at the expense of God's justice. Jesus said, John 10:1, 7, "He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." "Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door." Jesus says, then, that those who confess their sins, and pray for forgiveness and claim it, and yet reject Him as the door, are thieves and robbers. God does forgive the redeemed, for they are His children (Gal. 4:4-7), on confession (1 John 1:9); but for those who are under the law, His word is plain, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission."—Heb. 9:22.
God's word states plainly how our sins are put away; not by, or because of, the praying and weeping and confession of the sinner, nor the praying and weeping and interceding of others for the sinner, for God to forgive him; "but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."—Heb. 9:26. Concerning the justice of putting away sin in this way, see next chapter. On this point Walker well says, "If the holiness of the law was not maintained, that sense of guilt and danger could not be produced which is necessary in order that man may have a spiritual Saviour."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Again he says, "When He reveals His perfect law, that law cannot, from the nature of its author, allow the commission of a single sin."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Further, he says, "God ought not to allow one sin; if He did, the law would not be holy, nor adapted to make men holy."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
Equally to the point are the words of James Denny, "It is an immediate inference, then, from all that we have seen in the New Testament, that where there is no atonement there is no gospel. To preach the love of God out of relation to the death of Christ, or to preach the love of God in the death of Christ, but without being able to relate it to sin, or to preach that forgiveness of sins as the free gift of God's love while the death of Christ has no special significance assigned to it, is not, if the New Testament is the rule and standard of Christianity, to preach the gospel at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
JESUS THE CHRIST AS SIN-BEARER—GOD'S JUSTICE AND LOVE
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:16.
"That he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26.
"He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."—Is. 53:5, 6.
"Christ died for our sins."—1 Cor. 15:3.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins."—Gal. 1:3, 4.
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."—1 Peter 2:24.
"Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous."—1 Peter 3:18.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."—Matt. 20:28.
"There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all."—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us."—Gal. 3:13.
"Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity."—Titus 2:13, 14.
"By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."—Heb. 10:10.
"For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14.
"Nor yet by the blood of goats and bulls, but through his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption."—Heb. 9:12.
"This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins."—Matt. 26:28.
"And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."—Rev. 5:9.
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10.
"The Son of God who loved me, and gave himself up for me."—Gal. 2:20.
Reader, God's justice and love are both shown in the Saviour dying for our sins. Substitution is the only way of salvation when justice and love are both considered. It was God's justice that made it necessary for Christ to die for our sins. "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up,"—John 3:14;—"that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26. And it was God's love that let Him die for our sins, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son."—John 3:16. What you, reader, ought to desire to know, is simply God's way. The Scriptures at the beginning of the chapter, if language can make anything plain, show clearly that the sinner's only escape from the just punishment of his sins lies in Jesus dying in his place to set him free from the just penalty due his sins; and they make it plain that this settles the full penalty for all sins.
But the objection is raised and pressed with all the force of human ingenuity and scholarship, backed by the prestige of some occupying the highest positions in literary and theological institutions, that it is morally wrong for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty. With a zeal deserving a better cause, many who stand high as professed Christians and teachers join hands with the rankest, most blatant infidels, and press this, to them, unanswerable objection to Christ dying for our sins as our substitute. This friendship between infidelity and professed Christian teachers reminds one of another occasion when our Saviour was set at naught and two became friends with each other that very day (Luke 23:11, 12). Let us face this objection honestly and earnestly, for our eternal destiny turns on this one point. Is it morally wrong for the innocent to bear the sins of the guilty? In the first place it is not morally wrong, because God would not do morally wrong, and God did let the innocent suffer the penalty of the guilty. The language of Scripture teaching that Jesus suffered the penalty of our sins for us is plain and simple, and all efforts to take from the Scripture language its simple, plain, natural meaning are pitiable, and if contempt were ever justifiable, would deserve the contempt of all honest men. Let the reader turn back and read the Scriptures at the head of this chapter and decide for himself as to their obvious, intended meaning.
Now, because God's word tells us plainly that God gave His only begotten Son, that He might be just, and thus the justifier of him who believes in Jesus, that Christ died for our sins, that He gave Himself for our sins, the just for the unjust,—it is right for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty. To any honest, candid man, which is the correct way to reason? This thing is wrong; God did this thing; therefore, God did wrong? or, God does right; God did let Christ, the innocent, suffer and die for our sins, to redeem from all iniquity; therefore it is right for the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty?
Nor is Christ suffering as our substitute the Great Exception, as some timid ones have granted. It is in line with God's Plan with Men; it is in line with the best and noblest there is in man; and the opposite teaching, that it is wrong to let the innocent bear the penalty of the guilty, is not only wrong, but horrible and the extreme of heartlessness. Two men passing along the street at night hear groaning in the gutter; striking a match, they see two men lying in the gutter with their faces all gashed and bleeding. In a drunken street fight they have almost killed each other. Who did the sinning? Those two men lying in the gutter; they deserve to suffer the penalty of their sinning. But these other two men join hands, pay for a physician, a nurse and the hospital bill. In principle that is the innocent paying the penalty of the guilty. To say that this is wrong would mean to condemn the community to pass by day after day and see those ghastly, festering wounds, those parched lips and bloodshot eyes, and to listen to those dying groans. And yet in principle that is exactly what those demand for this sinful, sin-injured human race, when they say that it is morally wrong for Jesus the Saviour to suffer the penalty of our sins. A son becomes a drunkard; his drunkenness and debauchery utterly wreck his health. Some night the father finds his drunken son down in the street, a helpless invalid. The son did the sinning; he deserves to suffer the penalty of his sins; but the father takes him to his home and cares for him and supports him. In principle that is the innocent bearing the penalty of the guilty. To say that this is morally wrong would be to condemn that father to pass by day after day and see his son suffering the just consequences of his sin, to see him slowly starving to death, to see him gasping in death, and not be allowed to come to the rescue. Yet when men object to Christ bearing the penalty of the sinner's sins they are, in principle, taking that stand; for in principle Jesus, dying for our sins, did what the father did with the son. A prominent woman in America was dying from lack of blood; back of it somewhere was violation of some law of God, some law of health. Her noble husband had the surgeon join their arteries, and every beat of his noble heart drove his well blood into the body of his dying wife, and he saved her life. These objectors praise that act; they see nothing morally wrong in it. Yet when Jesus, in principle, did the same thing for sinners in order to save them, these same men, with a haughty, scornful tone, say that it is morally wrong for the innocent to suffer in place of the guilty. "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?"—Rom. 9:20. Had the objectors said that it was wrong to force the innocent to suffer the penalty of the guilty, that would have been true, but Jesus was not forced. Listen to Him, John 10:17, 18, "Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again."
Nor is Christ dying for our sins, as taught by the Scriptures, a makeshift, but, rather, a real, full redemption, ransom. Just as a captain can honorably, honestly be given as a ransom for a number of private soldiers in an exchange of prisoners; just as a diamond can redeem a debt of many dollars; just as one man is allowed to pay another's debt; just as one man is allowed to pay another's fine in a courtroom; so our Lord and Saviour "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." All illustrations of Deity fall short, but just as a man could ransom all the ants that crawl upon the earth, were they under moral law and had violated it; just as a man could, on account of the vast difference in the scale of being, suffer in his own body all that all the ants upon earth could suffer; so Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, redeemed us from "all iniquity." It was not merely the nails driven through His quivering flesh, nor the physical pangs, but "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Hence, that awful cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He was in the sinner's place, suffering the sinner's penalty for sin. "He hath made him to be sin for us."—2 Cor. 6:21.
Instead of proudly cavilling and warping and trying to avoid the simple, plain meaning of God's word, should you not rather, reader, bow in reverence before such love, realize that it was for you, yes, you, and that through His suffering and in no other way, you may escape the just punishment of your sins and spend eternity in Heaven? The world weeps over the story of the noble fireman who gave his life to rescue a little girl from a burning building, but it coldly scorns and proudly rejects salvation through the redemption of Jesus the Christ. Oh, the pride and wickedness of the human heart! Be not you, reader, of those who sit in the seat of the scornful, but the rather of those who at the last day will sing, Rev. 5:9, "Worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood, men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
Let us consider carefully what it really means when we are told that "Christ died for our sins,"—1 Cor. 15:3, that He "gave himself for our sins,"—Gal. 1:4; that "his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree,"—1 Peter 2:24; that "Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous."—1 Peter 3:18. God's word explains it clearly: "That he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26. "That he might be just." Notice it carefully, "That he might be just." Take it in its full meaning, "That he might be just." A question: How could God be just and justify any sinner apart from the fact that "Christ died for our sins," that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all"? Reader, no man, however learned, will ever answer that question. He may sneer; he may cavil; he may warp; he may try to confuse; but he will never come out in the open and answer that question. He may say that it is morally wrong for the innocent to bear the penalty of the guilty, but that objection is met and answered above in this chapter.
Let us face a trilemma; three, and only three plans, were possible for God with man:—
First, To have been just with man, without any love or mercy; hence, for every sinner to have suffered the just penalty for his sins, without any redemption. That would have meant Hell for every responsible human being, without any Heaven at all.
Second, To have been all mercy and all love and no justice. That would have meant no moral laws; for why have moral laws, if there would be no penalty, no justice? That would have meant a premium on crime. That would have meant the debased, the debauched, the immoral, the drunken, the fiend, on a level with the chaste, the pure, the upright, the true. That would have meant unbridled rein to passion and lust and every other evil inclination, and no penalty following. That would have meant Hell in trying to get rid of Hell.
Third, There was left but one other possible plan, to be just and at the same time extend love to the sinners. In the nature of the case, real redemption, without any makeshift, was the only way this could be done. "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up,"—John 3:14; "that he himself might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus,"—Rom. 3:26; "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,"—John 3:16; "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10.
This leads to another question: How can God be just and not justify "him that hath faith in Jesus"? Again men may quibble and warp, and ridicule, but no one will ever answer the question. And the reason why this question will never be answered leads to another question:
From how many of his sins is the one "that hath faith in Jesus" justified? We have now gotten to the very centre of the whole problem of salvation. Let us give it most careful consideration.
In not one of the Scriptures cited at the head of this chapter is there one word that limits the number of sins for which Christ died, or from which the believer is justified. That of itself is sufficient warrant for us to conclude that Christ died for all of the sins of the believer, that when He "gave himself for our sins" (Gal. 1:4), it included all of our sins, and that the believer is justified from all of his sins. One man promises another that he will pay his debts. That of itself means all of his debts, unless the one making the promise was simply juggling with words. While this of itself would be sufficient, God in His word has made it positive and absolute as to how many of the believer's sins were laid on Christ ("the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."—Is. 53:6); for how many of our sins Christ gave Himself ("Who gave himself for our sins."—Gal. 1:4); for how many of our sins Christ died (1 Cor. 15:3); from how many of his sins the believer is justified, ("that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."—Rom. 3:26). In Lev. 16:21, 22, God gives us a picture, foreshadowing the Saviour, of laying the sins on the substitute: "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquity of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities." "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh [or beareth] away the sins of the world."—John 1:29. But how many of our sins? Let God's word answer: Titus 2:13, 14, "Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." Look at it again, reader; grasp its full meaning; let it be impressed indelibly upon your soul: "Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." Then as certainly as the believer is redeemed by Him, he is redeemed from all iniquity; and as certainly as he is redeemed from all iniquity, that certainly the believer is going to Heaven, for there is nothing left that can cause him to be lost. Hence God, through Paul, has told us "By him every one that believeth is justified from all things."—Acts 13:39.
If our Saviour Jesus Christ gave Himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2:13, 14), how can God be just and not justify every one that believes from all things (Acts 13:39)? And if the believer is justified from all things (Acts 13:39), he is certain to go to Heaven. This is God's plan; this is God's will; "by the which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."—Heb. 10:10. "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14. "Nor yet by the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption."—Heb. 9:12. Hence Jesus said, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life."—John 5:24.
While thus is manifested God's justice, and the only way that God could be "just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26), for Jesus Himself said it ("Even so must the Son of man be lifted up."—John 3:14); let the reader not forget that it equally manifests God's love, and the Saviour's love. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."—1 John 4:10. "The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."—Gal. 2:20. If God's love is amazing in sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10), if the Saviour's love is amazing in loving us and giving Himself for us (Gal. 2:20), how infinitely more amazing is this love when we see that it has obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12); that it has redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and that every one that believes is justified from all things (Acts 13:39)?
Reader, the greatest crime that is ever committed on this earth is to reject this "so great salvation" (Heb. 2:3); this redemption from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and to trifle with the amazing love that provided a way by which He Himself might be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). We shudder at the horrible crimes reported in the daily papers, at those recorded in history; but far greater, far blacker, more terrible, is the crime of a human being rejecting this great provision of God's love. Only intellectual pride, religious prejudice, family or race ties, love of the world, or secret sin, can be the cause of the reader taking such a fatal step; and fearful will be the consequences of letting any one of these cause the rejection of the only salvation that God's love and justice could provide. The reader cannot plead that God has not given sufficient proof that He has given us a revelation in His word (let the reader go back and read again the Introduction and the reference for further study); nor can he plead that God's word does not make the message plain (let the reader go back and study the Scriptures at the beginning of this chapter). It is a solemn and awful step, reader, one never to be retraced, to decide to reject this salvation, and to go out into the dark, unending future beyond the grave, unredeemed from iniquity, with no certain hope, when God has warned you, "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission,"—Heb. 9:22. It is an awful, eternal crisis, when you see God's only provision for you, so complete, so perfect, so sure, and then face His warning, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life."
FOR FURTHER STUDY.—There are those who deny God's justice in Christ dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), in Christ giving Himself for our sins (Gal. 1:4), in Christ redeeming us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). Expressions from the two most prominent rejecters will show the principal reasons given by all other rejecters of redemption through Christ:—
"Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty, even if the innocent would offer itself."—The "Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine. "The outrage offered to the moral justice of God, by supposing Him to make the innocent suffer for the guilty."—The "Age of Reason," by Thomas Paine.
"An execution is an object for gratitude; the preachers daub themselves with the blood, like a troop of assassins, and pretend to admire the brilliancy it gives them."—The "Age of Reason," by Thomas Paine.
The other is Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy in her "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures": "One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner's part." Again, "Another's suffering cannot lessen our own liability." Again, "The time is not distant when the ordinary theological views of atonement will undergo a great change,—a change as radical as that which has come over popular opinions in regard to predestination and future punishment. Does erudite theology regard the crucifixion of Jesus chiefly as providing a ready pardon for all sinners who ask for it and are willing to be forgiven? Does spiritualism find Jesus's death necessary only for the presentation, after death, of the material Jesus, as a proof that spirits can return to earth? Then we must differ from them both." It is not to be wondered at that she takes her stand with Thomas Paine in rejecting the teaching that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), and that He redeemed us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), when she says, "Does divine love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin and then punishing him for it?" Again, "In common justice we must admit that God will not punish man for doing what He created man capable of doing, and knew from the outset that man would do." Again, "The destruction of sin is the divine method of pardon. Being destroyed, sin needs no other pardon." There is one vast difference between these two who reject Jesus as our sin-bearer, our Redeemer,—Thomas Paine does not masquerade under the name "Christian." Why should others who stand with him in rejecting complete redemption through Christ?
Catholics by the sacrifice of the mass, the unbloody sacrifice, the elevation of the host, teach that the wafer is changed into the real "body, blood, soul and divinity" of Jesus Christ, and that it is then offered as a sacrifice. They thereby reject the complete redemption through Christ dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), redeeming us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). They thereby deny that He "offered one sacrifice for sin forever,"—Heb. 10:12, and that "by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14. Having rejected Him as complete Redeemer, they have no real Saviour at all. But those who make salvation dependent on moral character, or baptism, or church membership, just as surely as the Catholics reject the completeness of the redemption.
There are some who sneer at this teaching as the "commercial view" of redemption, in the face of God's word that declares, "ye were bought with a price,"—1 Cor. 6:20; "worthy art thou to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation."—Rev. 5:9. (R. V.)
Consider the testimony of three over against the two quoted against this teaching of God's word:—
"I saw that if Jesus suffered in my stead, I could not suffer, too; and that if He bore all my sin, I had no more sin to bear. My iniquity must be blotted out if Jesus bore it in my stead and suffered all its penalty."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"If you believe on him, I tell you you cannot go to Hell; for that were to make the sacrifice of Christ of none effect. It cannot be that a sacrifice should be accepted and yet the soul should die for whom that sacrifice had been received. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a sacrifice? Every believer can claim that the sacrifice was actually made for him: by faith he has laid his hands on it, and made it his own, and therefore he may rest assured that he can never perish. The Lord would not receive this offering on our behalf and then condemn us to die."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"The law of God was more vindicated by the death of Christ than it would have been had all the transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God than for the whole race to suffer."—C. H. Spurgeon.
"It is the obvious implication of these words (the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones) that the death on which such stress is laid was something to which the unrighteous were liable because of their sins, and that in their interest the Righteous One took it on Himself."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"This is his gospel, that a Righteous One has once for all faced and taken up and in death exhausted the responsibilities of the unrighteous, so that they no more stand between them and God."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"If Christ died the death in which sin had involved us, if in His death He took the responsibility of our sins upon Himself, no word is equal to this which falls short of what is meant by calling Him our substitute."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"I do not know any word that conveys the truth of this if 'vicarious' or 'substitutionary' does not; nor do I know any interpretation of Christ's death which enables us to regard it as a demonstration of love to sinners, if this vicarious or substitutionary character is denied. There is much preaching about Christ's death which fails to be a preaching of Christ's death, and therefore to be in the full sense of the term Gospel Preaching, because it ignores this. The simplest hearer feels that there is something irrational in saying that the death of Christ is a great proof of love to the sinful unless there is shown at the same time a rational connection between that death and the responsibilities which sin involves, and from which that death delivers. Perhaps one should beg pardon for using so simple an illustration, but the point is a vital one, and it is necessary to be clear. If I were sitting on the end of a pier on a summer day, enjoying the sunshine and the air, and some one came along and jumped into the water and got drowned to prove his love to me, I should find it quite unintelligible. I might be much in need of love, but an act in no relation to any of my necessities could not prove it. But if I had fallen over the pier and were drowning and some one sprang into the water and at the cost of making my peril, or what but for him would be my fate, his own, saved me from death, then I should say, 'Greater love hath no man than this.' I should say it intelligently, because there would be an intelligible relation between the sacrifice which love made and the necessity from which it redeemed."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Christ died for sins once for all, and the man who believes in Christ and in His death has his relation to God once for all determined not by sin but by the atonement."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"One who knew no sin had, in obedience to the Father, to take on Him the responsibility, the doom, the curse, the death of the sinful. And if any one says that this was morally impossible, may we not ask again, What is the alternative? Is it not that the sinful should be left alone with their responsibility, doom, curse, and death?"—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Redemption, it may be said, springs from love, yet love is only a word of which we do not know the meaning till it is interpreted for us by redemption."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"Unless we can preach a finished work of Christ in relation to sin, a reconciliation or peace which has been achieved independently of us at infinite cost, and to which we are called in a word of ministry of reconciliation, we have no real gospel for sinful men at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"If the evangelist has not something to preach of which he can say, 'If any man makes it his business to subvert this, let him be anathema,' he has no gospel at all."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"As there is only one God, so there can be only one Gospel. If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away. The man who perverts it is the worst enemy of God and men."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
"We should remember, also, that it is not always intellectual sensitiveness, nor care for the moral interests involved, which sets the mind to criticise statements of the Atonement. There is such a thing as pride, the last form of which is unwillingness to become debtors even to Christ for forgiveness of sins."—Denny, in "The Death of Christ."
But the Saviour could not have been a Redeemer, if He had not been God manifest in the flesh, for two reasons:—
First, if He had not been Deity, God manifest in the flesh, His dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3) would not have been Redemption, but a mere makeshift. "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."—Heb. 10:4. Why not? Because in that case there would have been no real redemption, but only a makeshift. Second, had the Saviour been anything other than God manifest in the flesh, He would have won men from God and alienated them from God. On this point let the reader consider well the following from Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation":—"As God was the author of the law, and as He is the only Proper Object both of supreme love and obedience; and as man could not be happy in obeying the law without loving its Author, it follows that the thing now necessary, in order that man's affections might be fixed upon the proper object of love and obedience, was, that the Supreme God should, by self-denying kindness, manifest spiritual mercy to those who felt their spiritual wants, and thus draw to Himself the love and worship of mankind. If any other being should supply the need, that being would receive the love; it was therefore necessary that God Himself should do it, in order that the affections of believers might centre upon the proper object." "Now, suppose Jesus Christ was not God, nor a true manifestation of the Godhead in human nature, but a man, or angel, authorized by God to accomplish the redemption of the human race from sin and misery. In doing this, it appears, from the nature of the thing, and from the Scriptures, that He did what was adapted to, and what does, draw the heart of every true believer, as in the case of the apostles and the early Christians, to Himself as the supreme or governing object of affection. Their will is governed by the will of Christ; and love to Him moves their heart and hands. Now, if it be true that Jesus Christ is not God, then He has devised and executed a plan by which the supreme affections of the human heart are drawn to Himself, and alienated from God, the proper object of love and worship: and God, having authorized this plan, He has devised means to make man love Christ, the creature, more than the creator, who is God over all, blessed for evermore.
"But it is said that Christ having taught and suffered by the will and authority of God, we are under obligation to love God for what Christ has done for us. It is answered, that this is impossible. We cannot love one being for what another does or suffers on our behalf. We can love no being for labors and self-denials on our behalf, but that being who valiantly labors and denies himself. It is the kindness and mercy exhibited in the self-denial that move the affections; and the affections can move to no being but the one that makes the self-denial, because it is the self-denial that draws out the love of the heart.
"It is said, that Christ was sent by God to do His will and not His own; and therefore we ought to love God, as the being to whom gratitude and love are due for what Christ said and suffered.
"Then it is answered: If God willed that Christ, as a creature of His, should come, and by His suffering and death redeem sinners, we ought not to love Christ for it, because He did it as a creature in obedience to the commands of God, and was not self-moved nor meritorious in the work; and we cannot love God for it, for the labor and self-denial were not borne by Him. And further: If one being, by an act of his authority, should cause another innocent being to suffer, in order that he might be loved who had imposed the suffering, but not borne it, it would render him unworthy of love. If God had caused Jesus Christ, being His creature, to suffer, that He might be loved Himself for Christ's sufferings, while He had no connection with them, instead of such an exhibition, on the part of God, producing love to Him, it would procure pity for Christ and aversion towards God. So that, neither God, nor Christ, nor any other being, can be loved for mercy extended by self-denials to the needy, unless those self-denials were produced by a voluntary act of mercy upon the part of the being who suffers them; and no being, but the one who made the sacrifice, could be meritorious in the case. It follows, therefore, incontrovertibly, that if Christ was a creature—no matter of how exalted worth—and not God; and if God approved of His work in saving sinners, He approved of treason against His own government; because, in that case, the work of Christ was adapted to draw, and did necessarily draw, the affections of the human soul to Himself, as its Spiritual Saviour and thus alienated them from God, their rightful object. And Jesus Christ Himself had the design of drawing men's affections to Himself in view, by His crucifixion; says He, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' This He said signifying what death He should die: thus distinctly stating that it was the self-denials and mercy exhibited in the crucifixion that would draw out the affections of the human soul, and that those affections would be drawn to Himself as the suffering Saviour. But that God would sanction a scheme which would involve treason against Himself, and that Christ should participate in it, is absurd and impossible, and therefore cannot be true. But if the Divine Nature was united with the human in the teaching and work of Christ, if God was in Christ (drawing the affections of men, or) 'reconciling the world unto himself'—if, when Christ was lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, He drew, as He said He would, the affections of all believers unto Himself; and then, if He ascended, as the Second Person of the Trinity, into the bosom of the Eternal Godhead—He thereby, after He had engaged, by His work on earth, the affections of the human soul, bore them up to the bosom of the Father, from whence they had fallen. Thus the ruins of the Fall were rebuilt, and the affections of the human soul again restored to God, the Creator, and proper Object of Supreme love."
Finally, let the reader give most earnest thought to the inevitable conclusion drawn by the same author:
"How, then, could God manifest that mercy to sinners by which love to Himself and to His law would be produced, while His infinite holiness and justice would be maintained? We answer, in no way possible, but by some expedient by which His justice and mercy would both be exalted. If, in the wisdom of the Godhead, such a way could be devised by which God Himself could save the soul from the consequences of its guilt,—by which He Himself could, in some way, suffer and make self-denials for its good; and by His own interposition open a way for the soul to recover from its lost and condemned condition, then the result would follow inevitably, that every one of the human family who had been led to see and feel his guilty condition before God, and who believed in God thus manifesting Himself to rescue his soul from spiritual death, every one thus believing would, from the necessities of his nature, be led to love God his Saviour; and mark, the greater the self-denial and the suffering on the part of the Saviour in ransoming the soul, the stronger would be the affection felt for Him."—Walker, in "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation."
THE NEW RELATION—THE NEW MOTIVE
"What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."—Rom. 3:19.
"Ye are not under the law."—Rom. 6:14.
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith, but after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ."—Gal. 3:24-26.
"When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."—Gal. 4:4-7.
"Having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself."—Eph. 1:5.
"The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again."—2 Cor. 5:14, 15.
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore which of them will love him most?"—Luke 7:41, 42.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."—1 Cor. 13:1-3.
In God's plan with men, His purpose in giving the law has been sadly misunderstood. To the Jews the law was given on tablets of stone and copied in their sacred writings; to the Gentiles the law was written in their hearts. The one class had more light than the other, and therefore will be judged differently.
"As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law."—Rom. 2:12. "For when the Gentiles, who have no law, do by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law unto themselves; who show the works of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their reasonings mutually accusing or even excusing them."—Rom. 2:14. Whether Jew or Gentile, God had one purpose in giving the law, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and all the world be under judgement to God." God's plan with the law includes "every mouth," "all the world," whether the law was written in their hearts or in sacred writings; and His purpose is, not that they should be saved by keeping the law, for then no one would be saved, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,"—Rom. 3:23; but that they might be brought under judgment to God, every mouth stopped, guilty, and thus be brought to realize their need of a Redeemer. On this point God's word makes His purpose very plain: "The Scripture hath shut up all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith, we were confined under law, shut up unto the faith about to be revealed. Wherefore the law was our tutor [or schoolmaster] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come we are no longer under a tutor [or schoolmaster]."—Gal. 3:23-25.
God's word is plain, that God put men under the law, not that they should be saved by keeping it, but that they might be led to see their need of a Saviour, one to redeem them from the curse of the law: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,"—Gal 3:13; and then, having redeemed them from the curse of the law, and from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), to adopt them as His own children, "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ."—Rom. 8:17. So wonderful is the plan that it is hard for a human being to grasp it. God's plan with men is not simply to save them, but to put them above all other created beings. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?"—Heb. 1:5. Yet, "having in love predestinated us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself,"—Eph. 1:5 (1911 Bible), "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,"—Rom. 8:17, He puts us far above angels; "for ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26. But men can only come into this higher relation to God as sons by being redeemed from under the lower relation, under the law. Hear God's word: "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."—Gal. 4:4, 5. This higher relation as sons of God can be attained only by men coming out from under the law; and men can come out from under the law only by being redeemed from under the law.
God's word teaches clearly, then, that when one is redeemed, he is no longer under the law. "Ye are not under the law,"—Rom. 6:14; "What things soever the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law."—Rom. 3:19. Then some are under the law and some are not under the law; "Wherefore the law was our tutor unto Christ that we might be justified by faith. But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor."—Gal. 3:24, 25. Pause, reader, and try to grasp the meaning of this. If the believer is redeemed from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), and is not under the law, (Rom. 6:14), then he is sure of Heaven; for "sin is not reckoned when there is no law."—Rom. 5:13. It is not reckoned or imputed because it has all been reckoned or imputed to Christ (Is. 53:6, Titus 2:14). Why, then, serve God? Not from fear of the law; not from fear of Hell; but from love to Him who redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).
Just as clearly God's word teaches that those who are redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from all iniquity (Titus 2:14), become the sons of God; for that purpose "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father."—Gal. 4:4-6. "For ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26.
But there is, in God's plan with men, beyond this a still more blessed, wonderful teaching: "Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son."—Gal. 4:7. The one who is redeemed from under the law (Gal. 3:13) never gets back under the law again,—"Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son." That means, then, certainty of going to Heaven, certainty of being a son of God forever. And this new relation, and this certainty of Heaven are settled for men, not when they die, nor when they have united with some church, or have been baptised, but the moment men repent from their sins and accept the Saviour as their Redeemer from all iniquity; for God's word says, "He that believeth on the son hath everlasting life."—John 3:36; and "Ye are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."—Gal. 3:26.
This new relation with God gives men a new motive. Under the law, guilty, condemned by it, the motive was fear. But when men have been redeemed from under the law and adopted as sons of God, the motive of fear is no more the motive of life. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."