The character, as well as
the ability of the maker, is visible in the thing that he makes. If a
good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, then it is certain that the
great Creator of all, who is holy in all His ways and righteous in all
His works, who is good and only doeth good and whose tenderness is over
all His works, can design nothing the end of which is not pure happiness
and usefulness. Whatever catastrophes may have intervened, and however
mysterious are the processes by which His goal will be reached, it
follows, from the fact of His unimpeachable character, that the
consummation of His work will justify all His methods.
So wide is His care, and so
minute, that a falling sparrow is noted and remembered. Peter gives Him
the title of "the faithful Creator,"
meaning thereby that His responsibilities are fully met in a manner only
possible to infinite power and love. If His creatorship yearns over a
fallen broken bird, how much more will it reckon with all the forces
that have combined to mar the image of Himself in the man He has made.
If He employs the discipline of a father, the sacrificial love of a
mother, the stern justice of a judge and the passionate affection of a
husband ‚€” and all these are figures chosen by Himself to set forth His
attitude towards men and His work for and in them ‚€” it is to the end
that His great designs of love may ultimately triumph. If He turns
men to destruction, it is that He may say, "Return
ye children of men." (Ps. 90:3). If
the vessel is marred in the hand of the Potter, it is that He may make
it again another vessel. (Jer. 18:4). If His work is marred, then His
own face will be more marred than any man's, that He may buy back those
who have sold themselves for nought. Creation is full of mysteries, but
the revealed character of the Creator suffices to assure us of a
triumphant solution to them all. Only a traitor to His person and
character would deny such a God this certainty.
The greatest of all the
mysteries in His fair creation is the presence of sin. Thank God, how it
can be dealt with and expelled is clearer than how it entered, and why
it was allowed to enter the universe. It is not necessary to
understand the genesis of evil to realize its departure.
The presence of sin is so
immediate upon the initial act of bringing man into existence, that its
presence is evidently deliberate and with design. This makes the problem
more acute, but lt should help us all the more to trust the faithfulness
of the Divine architect of all things. It was anticipated; for, in His
Divine purpose, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.
Being anticipated, sin, was, therefore, a definite part of the
The presence of sin, and the
part it plays, cannot be understood, however, unless the Creator's own
declared consummation of His work be accepted as truth. Because men have
not believed His own goal to which He is professedly moving, therefore,
they have not understood the part that sin plays. While they believe
that sin has come to stay as eternally as God is alive, and that its
effects will be as endless as His own being, it is little wonder that
its genesis is a mystery. The end must justify the means as well as the
beginning. Who would venture to say that the end does this, if sin has
intruded to remain as long as God Himself will live? There must be in
the word of God a solution to this mystery which is glorifying to God
and beneficial finally to His creation.
Sin is here in the world
with all its dreadful fruit. If God could not help its coming into His
creation, then we are face to face with the hopelessness of its final
expulsion from the universe. If He could not help its appearance,
then there is a rival power that is spontaneously evil as He is
fundamentally good. In such case the effort to deal with sin
at Calvary is but the strategical movement of God ln the hope of
overcoming His adversary. The tragic failure of such effort, in the
prospect of myriads of His creatures being either hopelessly tormented
for ever or obliterated from existence as so much waste substance in the
universe, is unspeakably pathetic, presenting as it does in the
foreground, the picture of a God who has made the supreme sacrifice of
Himself as an expedient, and has fallen short of His cherished hope. It
is suggested, on the other hand, that God could help sin
coming into the world, and that He did deliberately allow it to come
into the world, in full view of the dire results accruing to its
appearance in the shape of the endless misery of men. This view
preserves that which is essential to God's existence as Creator and
Governor of the Universe‚€”His omnipotence.
To suggest that He may have
been taken by surprise, and has been ever since doing what He can to
remedy the harm which sin has brought about, is only to question His
omnipotence in another way, and to leave Him pitiable inadequate to
control the situation. These considerations have driven
theologians to claim that He did allow sin to enter the universe,
and to admit that it must have been in full cognizance of the awful
issues. In view, however, of the belief that the unhappy finish to
His work in creation in one direction, will be the hopeless committal of
myriads of beings into the flames of an endless hell of unmitigated
conscious suffering, it has to be admitted also, by such theologians,
that God must have created man with His express understanding and
consent to this, and therefore must have had that certainty in view in
His original plan.
One reason for this which is
advanced by the advocates of this theory, is, that this may be intended
to serve as a warning to the rest of His creation of the terrible
consequences of rebellion. In a revolt under human government such an
object would be achieved by the execution of a few of the ringleaders,
but God is represented as executing, or rather putting on an endless
rack, all the rank and file of rebels, numbering perhaps far more than
those who by His grace have been rescued from such a fate.
His omnipotence is certainly
salved by this admission, but His character as Creator suffers. If it is
argued that He blots them out of existence rather than put them to
endless misery, then the problem of a creation useless for all intents
and purposes and displaying nothing but suffering and misery as the
outcome of His handiwork, equally confronts us, giving rise to queries
as to His wisdom. If it be suggested that all this complexity of human
life, with its sin and sorrow, was necessary to produce the elect of God
and to educate them, it would seem that an overwhelming regret must
possess each member of the elect race at the thought of such ruin and
misery being the background necessary for their perfection.
What solution is offered, to
meet these terrific problems, that threaten to undermine faith in
both the wisdom and love of God? The onus of failure is placed by some
upon the stubborn will of man, and this is supposed to meet all the
difficulties. It really brings into prominence another omnipotence
which, because it baffles the omnipotence and love of God, is by far the
greater. Man will not and God cannot. This sums up the
situation created by this view. It appears on the surface to be fair
until a few questions are asked. Where did man get this terrific ability
to defy God? It was the bestowment originally of God himself, who
thereby has created and allowed a rival force which He knew when He
created it, would prove in its rebellion impervious to all the overtures
of His love, and the activities of His omnipotence.
Another query that rises to
the lips is whether this will of man in every case has been perfectly
free and unbiased in its choice. We reply that in the plan of God it was
allowed to be fixed in its bias away from God in the rebellion of the
first human pair, and that, in all those mighty potentialities which
influence thought and life, man is the victim of heredity and
circumstances over which he had no control whatever. When we ask if the
Creator, who planned all this, meets every man with the fullest possible
facility to turn from evil and choose the good, we discover that vast
multitudes in the past have been left in ignorance and darkness, and
even today, with Calvary a fact, by far the larger section of the
present existing human race on the earth is in circumstances the reverse
of helpful to its acquirement of the knowledge of God.
If these problems are
expressed as above, we are in danger of being branded as infidel-makers,
in that we suggest trains of thought that may cause doubt of God in
minds that think. But minds were made to think, and this is a thinking
age, and men are thinking and along these very lines. Indeed, it
is this very inadequate and illogical theology that has made many of the
best to think. If the Bible could offer no other solution then we might
be wrong in stating these problems, but we have discovered that there
are other explanations that do not demand the scrapping of any of the
Divine attributes, but rather make them shine in fullest radiancy in the
conception and accomplishment of the purposes connected with the
creation of man. We therefore cast all blame for making infidels upon a
false theology and set about the task of presenting truth that
will unmake such infidels and show them the true God.
The true solution is one
that lies clear upon the pages of the written word of God. It gives us
the Divine reason for creation and its goal. God expresses His
satisfaction at the sight of His first activities in this sphere. "And
God saw every thing that He had made and behold it was VERY GOOD."
Since He knew the end from the beginning, and in His view at the moment
all the issues of His act were unveiled before Him, then His verdict
included the issue, as well as the initiation of creation. To make Him
approve of the findings of accredited theology in this survey of
creation would be to make Him satisfied with endless sin and rebellion,
for, according to generally accepted ideas, these features, so abhorrent
to God (Habakkuk 1:13), are to be as endless as He Himself will be.
Of the final outcome of His
creation God Himself declares that He will be "All in All,"
that when the vast drama of human destiny reaches the culminating point
of divine government even His enemies will be subjected; death, the
fruit of sin, will be abolished as having done its work; Christ will be
the Head of a redeemed race, and God will be, as Bengel put it, "everything
to everybody." Such a climax is worthy
of such a God, and justifies the creation of man with all its complex
Foremost amongst the
difficulties of the subject, and preeminently essential to be
understood, is the question of
The mystery of mysteries
centers in the appearance of sin almost at the same moment as the
inception of human responsibility. Who is responsible for its presence?
In a striking phrase the Word of God tells us that God Himself is
responsible for the appearance of sin (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6). Not that
He originated it, or designed it, but is responsible for its presence,
as He is equally responsible with the opposite quality of good. "I
am the Lord. . . . I form the light and create darkness; I make peace
and create evil, I, the Lord, do all these things."The
Persian King Cyrus is addressed in this chapter as the chosen instrument
for the deliverance of God's people. The Persian creed, though
singularly pure and noble, had one grave defect. They believed in one
God, indeed, and thought of Him so nobly that their symbol for Him was a
circle with wings ‚€”the circle to denote the completeness, the
perfection, the eternity of God; and the wings to denote His
all-pervading presence. But while they believed in one only God, the
Maker of all that was good, they also, and out of reverence for One to
whom they dared not attribute any wrong, believed in an anti-god whom
they made responsible for all that was evil. Ahriman, as they called
this evil spirit, was not perhaps the equal of Ahuramazda, the good
creative spirit, but he was independent of Him, and His perpetual rival.
He was not made by God, nor was he subordinate to Him; and it was he,
not God, to whom all that was evil in nature and in human life was to be
attributed. In short, they sacrificed the omnipotence of the God of
heaven to His righteousness, and to save His goodness curtailed His
power. This mistaken conception of the situation called forth the
striking protest from God seven times in the 45th chapter Isaiah, that
there was no God beside Him, together with the admission that evil has
its accorded place in the designs of infinite goodness.
Sin, therefore, was a
possibility in the survey of the Creator, but only a possibility as He
permitted it. His character, so plentifully portrayed in Scripture and
proven in personal experience, should have been enough to assure us that
the permission of sin would never have been granted without adequate,
nay without overwhelming justification in His mind as to the glorious
outcome of allowing its ravages in His fair handiwork.
Still the problem remains
that, granting all this, it is difficult to see how sin could evolve
without God's express interference and action. What is sin? From God's
point of view it is the transgression of the law and the transgression
of the law is lawlessness. Lawlessness is simply the doing of that which
is right in our own eyes, irrespective of imposed standards of
righteousness on the part of properly constituted authority, Divine or
Who was the first to enter
upon this path, and how could such preoccupation be possible? These are
questions that have now to be met. There must have been at some time in
the creation of God a first being who followed the path in which
eventually all have trod and will tread. There is a solidarity in the
fall of all created beings, even as there is, praise God, a solidarity
in connection with their restoration. (Romans 5:12-19). To Bible readers
it is hardly necessary to say that Satan appears to have been the first
to tread this path of self and sin. Scripture makes it clear that it was
he who tempted that first human pair, and the form of the temptation was
the same as that which had originally ensnared him, 'Ye shall be as
gods, knowing good and evil.' The same reasoning, in his own case, led
to his effort to usurp the throne of God, and to his expulsion from the
high place of responsibility given him by God.
We can turn to Ezekiel 28
for light upon this point. Here, in the figure of the Prince of Tyre, it
seems evident that Satan is personified. According to Josephus, this was
Ethbach II, who was the reigning Prince of Tyre, and who claimed Divine
honors as occupying the seat of the temple of Melkarth, which Herodotus
mentions as the oldest sanctuary known in the annals of mankind. His
island residence sprang out of the waters, and he calls it "the
seat of God in the midst of the seas."
His arrogant assumption of Divine position and prerogative make him a
fitting type, or personification, of Satan, for it is clear that the
prophet passes on to describe one who was more than man. Terms are used
which could only apply to some great being previous, and superior to
even this mighty Prince of Tyre.
That which led on to this
presumptuous attitude was preoccupation with that perfection which was
the gift of God. "Thine heart was
lifted up because of thy beauty: thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by
reason of thy brightness."
(Ezekiel 28:17). Here was the genesis of sin. If began in preoccupation
with that which was legitimately his, as the gift of God; that
perfection of person with which God had graced him. This led to pride,
as the Scripture says, "goes before
destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Thus we see who it was that
first traversed the path away from God, and we note the process by which
the departure took place. The difficulty still remains how any creature
made in the purpose of God and held by His power, could thus
deliberately purpose a path of action so antagonistic to the God from
whose hand he had come.
It goes without saying that
God could have kept both Satan and Adam from falling, and that there was
no inherent tendency in them to stray from the path of rectitude, when
they came from His hand in creation. Nor can we conceive that, of
themselves and apart from God's purpose, such a thing as the turning of
their gaze from their Creator to themselves could have occurred. It must
have been an action on God's part that precipitated the fall. That is to
say, not some initial action of His which gave an impetus to their
movement away from Him and to themselves, but some passive consent of
His to their trial under certain conditions, which sprang from his
volition and could not be without His permission. What was there that He
could do, what is there that He is actually recorded as having done in
other cases, which would provide just that test necessary to ascertain
how they would act when left to themselves.
Job was a perfect man
untried, just the condition in which creation was, while maintained in
its pristine perfection by the power of God. The satisfaction that the
Creator would have gotten out of a creation which continued perfect in
every part would doubtless have been very real. It would, however, have
always been open to the taunt that Satan flung at God when he hinted at
the possibility accruing from God's withdrawn support. And it would have
lacked that absolutely voluntary choice of God's will, which would have
resulted from a deliberate rejection by the creature's own will, as well
as a definite choice of the Divine will in preference. God longed for
this kind of obedience from His creation.
The only way open to God, to
secure such a full voluntary submission to His will, was to permit evil.
In other words to permit the will of His creatures to act unrestrained
by the constraint of His own will, so that their own ways were chosen in
preference to His.
There was only one way to
secure such a deliberate intelligent choice of His will. It was by
allowing the creature full liberty to choose for himself an opposite
path and to follow it to the bitter end. The faithfulness of the Creator
to His work would have been impugned had He not provided that such a
choice would ultimately be over-ruled to produce a result that would not
only justify the process by which the end was reached, but would be
pre-eminently satisfying to the creature himself as well as to the
Creator. There is in Isa. 45:7 an illustration in the physical sphere
illustrative of the method used in the spiritual. Darkness is the
withdrawal of light. So evil results from the withdrawal of good.
By revelation we know that
the nature and the name of God is Love. This is enough to prove to
us that, unless He had foreseen an ultimate issue to His work which
would be worthy of such a terrific process as the destruction of His
handiwork by sin, He could never have planned such a road to the
consummation of His desire. What was that desire? It was to have a
race of beings whose experience of their own will being gratified would
once and for all rid them of all further longing to be independent of
Himself in their activities. It was to demonstrate through the
sufferings of sin to what that pathway of self will lead, and thus to
provide an experience which would create a loathing for lawlessness in
the redeemed race, and instead implant a love for holiness within them.
It was further to furnish
the race that He had brought into existence with such a marvelous
evidence of His oneness with them in the incarnation and sacrifice of
His Son, that His creatures would be overwhelmed at the vast expenditure
of the Divine nature and resources on behalf of His off spring. (Acts
In the redeemed race there
will be two things which will spring out of the history of the ages
which will satisfy God for all His costly work. One is the utter
repudiation of his own will, at which every man will arrive as the
result of his experience of the gratifying of his own wishes. The other
is the complete and voluntary choice of God's will to which every man
will come as the highest and supreme good. Man's will has been allowed
to be free in its choice of evil, that ultimately it may be free in its
choice of God.
After an exhibition of the
inability of man without law and then under law, to recover from his
fall, or even to desire to lift himself from the mire of his own folly
and sin, God sent forth His Son at the ripe moment of His purpose that
He might redeem them that were under the law. In the Person of His Son
there was wrought out, as the Head of the redeemed race, a voluntary
obedience in the face of every kind of incitement to rebellion and self
will, which became the spring and pattern of the obedience into which
the Son will conduct the race to the closing scene of 1 Cor. 15:22-28.
The next act in this great
drama of creation and redemption is the gathering of a company out of
this present age, in whom God's will shall have become their supreme
choice in the face of all the antagonism and fascination of this present
evil age. That "God may be all in all"
is the far-off goal to which He is moving. To the principle that He
shall be ALL In ALL and His will supreme, Calvary was the great "Amen"
of the Son. He is the "Amen"
echoing only the Father's purpose. With Him, out of this age, will come
the company who, through the severest test, in the power of
Calvary, will say "Amen"
also. To do God's will is here and now in this realm of sin and sorrow
their undying and burning ambition. In them God is tasting the first
fruit of His purpose in creation. The drama is not yet complete. Through
the ministry of the Christ ‚€” the Head and the body perfected ‚€” in
the ages yet to come, the fulfilment of the words of Christ will take
place, "I, if I be lifted up from the
earth will draw all men unto ME."
GOD IN REDEMPTION
The closing verses of Romans 5
have been the standing perplexity of theologians. Yet nowhere has the Holy
Spirit written for our learning plainer conclusions, and never has
tradition been blinder than in the treatment of this magnificent passage.
Believe the passage as it stands, and the divine logic is irresistible.
It contains a comparison
between the first and the last Adam. What the first Adam was, and
is, to the whole human race, the last Adam is, and will be also, to the
whole human race. This is the simple and grand logic of verses 18 and 19. "Therefore
as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, EVEN
SO by the righteousness of One, the free gift came upon all men unto
justification of life." Then there
follows a reiteration of the comparison with its Divine logic, so that the
fact might be stated again, not only as a climax in the purpose of
redemption, but as a future goal in the history of the working out of the
redemption of all men. "For as by one
man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one
shall the many be made righteous." The
insertion of the definite article, which the Authorized Version
unwarrantably leaves out before the word "many"
in each case, emphasizes the fact for which it was originally placed
there, viz.: that the company of the righteous is identical in person and
number with the company of the sinners to which the passage refers.
So that we have two phrases in
these two verses, by which we can establish beyond question the identity
of those under discussion. These two phrases are "ALL
MEN," and "THE
MANY."Of this company it is declared in
the first place, that "all men"
and "the many"
were made sinners and come into condemnation; and in the second place,
that "all men"
and "the many"
will be made righteous, not simply saved but made righteous. If this plain
simple language ‚€” and God could not have made it plainer ‚€” does not
mean what it says, but infers something quite the opposite, so that the
comparison used is not a true one, then we may well pause to ask how ever
it came about that on such a subject, and at such a climax in his
argument, Paul did not tell us exactly what he meant.
If he meant that all men would
be influenced by Adam's sin hopelessly and completely, but only some of
the race would be affected actually by Christ's cross, here was the place
to make this difference once and for all clear. Instead, however, he uses
universal terms, and logical comparisons, which, if the last suggestion is
true, are not only bewildering but positively untrue, without the faintest
hint to the contrary.
The apostle does more than
this. He introduces a vivid contrast. "But
NOT AS the offence, SO ALSO is the free gift. For if through the offence
of one the many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace.
which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto the many."
(Again the definite article should be placed where the Authorized Version
has omitted it, before the word "many"
in this verse). Let the reader note that the contrast here is in an
absolutely opposite direction to the conclusions of ordinary theology.
Most of us were taught that there was such a contrast between the effect
of Adam's sin and Christ's righteousness that by the fall all were lost,
and by the Cross some would be saved. The contrast here in verse 15
is the antipodes (direct opposite) of this conclusion. It is between the
effect of the acts of the two Adams, and is such a contrast that the grace
of God hath "MUCH MORE . . . ABOUNDED"
in the Cross over the act of the first Adam. "If
a human act was effectual for ruin, how much more shall a Divine act be
effectual for salvation." The Apostle
repeats this contrast later in the closing verse of the argument, when he
sums up with the words, "where sin
abounded grace did MUCH MORE ABOUND."
It is incomprehensible that
such reckless language would have been chosen, if the Apostle did not mean
just what the words declare; especially in the entire absence of any
modifying or cautionary phrases. "The
compound word here implies, 'not only abounding,' that is bursting forth
round about; round about all ages, round about all nations, round about
all sorts: but 'superabounding' ‚€” that surrounding all those rounds, and
with surplus and advantage over-flowing all: not only abounding grace,
abounding unto all, to the whole world, but grace superabounding: that is,
if there were other worlds, grace would bring salvation even unto
them." (Dr. Clarke).
The argument reveals the
principle upon which God is working out His purpose with the human race. It
declares that the principle upon which God is working to the redemption of
all is the same principle by which the universal fall of man came about.
Through one man's sin the whole race was involved surely and hopelessly. "Adam's
offence did not merely make it possible for men to sin and merit
condemnation, it made it impossible for them to do otherwise."
Through another Man's
righteousness therefore, even the Man of Calvary, the human race was
saved, as through Adam it was lost. And as all men, born or yet unborn,
will not escape the contamination and condemnation of that act of sin in
Eden, so to all men there will eventually come the blessed results of that
act upon Calvary.
When we catch the thought of
the two federal headships, the logical issue is so clear that the
statement of the fact of redemption being co-extensive with the fall in
its reach and results, is so evident in the passage that faith leaps to
appropriate the truth .
The subject of the federal
headship of Adam and Christ has been put so clearly by Pastor D. M. Panton
that we cannot do better than quote at length from his pen:‚€” "So
the Holy Ghost says: 'Through one man'‚€”the fountain of human blood; the
sample man, because no man can deny that he too would have acted exactly
as Adam did ‚€” 'sin entered into the world, and death through sin;'
entered, for both sin and death are for ever aliens in the universe of
God; 'and so death passed unto all men' ‚€” traveled (Alford) like a
submarine torpedo ‚€” 'for that all sinned' (Rom. 5:12) in Eden. When God
made Adam He made all men; for the race is no aggregate of isolated and
independent units, but an entity of organic and dependent generations:
and, since God made of 'one blood' all the nations of men, sin introduced anywhere
is sin introduced everywhere. The fall of Adam was the fall of
souls at this moment not yet born; and the fact of their sinning, when
born, will for ever prove the truth of the doctrine."
this organic fall of all in the one God builds the whole structure of
redemption; for He takes this very principle of solidarity, which was our
ruin, and makes that solidarity the organ of the world's salvation. 'For as
through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners' ‚€”
sinners by a representative act, sinners by a fouled nature inherited,
sinners ourselves by active choice ‚€” 'EVEN SO' ‚€” God taking the
solidarity which ruined as the solidarity which shall redeem ‚€” 'through
the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.' The
helpless fall of the race into death through the act of a lonely man is
countered by a helpless salvation for the entire race wrought by a Man as
lonely and unique. That is, God incarnate in human flesh, the Second Man,
is so organically one with the race as a race ‚€” so the Son
of man, not a son of man ‚€” that His righteousness is imputed to all as
actually and as really as is Adam's sin. The first Adam was the federal
head of the race; the last Adam is equally the federal head of the race;
the first Adam, the law-breaker, is replaced by the last Adam, the
law-fulfiller: the first man acted for all mankind, and plunged the world
into ruin; the Second Man acted for all mankind, and lifted the World into
salvation: Adam was the author of death to all: Christ is the author of
life for all."
Holy Ghost says: 'So then as through one trespass' - for however often
Adam sinned afterwards, we fell only by one act that introduced sin
itself - 'the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; EVEN
SO' - God turning solidarity, the organ of condemnation, into solidarity,
the organ of grace - 'through one righteousness the free gift came unto all
men to justification of life.' As Adam ruined us through sin
foreign to us, without our fault; so Christ has saved us with a
righteousness foreign to us, without our merit: and the Holy Spirit thus
rests our entire redemption on the historical, actual, personal fall of
the first man countered by the historical, actual, personal death and
resurrection of the Second Man."
Elsewhere the same author,
pursuing the same theme, writes "So, as
one man condemns all, the Other justifies all; and both these acts are
completely finished in Adam and Christ."
And again, "As we were lost in Adam six
thousand years before we were born, so we were saved by Christ two
thousand years before our birth. We are as helpless in our salvation as we
were in our fall."
It seems impossible, after
such scriptural and logical reasoning, that Mr. Panton can escape the
glorious issue to which Paul conducts his readers in this page. He
succeeds, however, in doing so to his own satisfaction, but only by giving
a turn to the passage which is unwarrantable. He writes, "It
is not (as in the Old Version) that the righteousness has come upon
all men, for then all men would have been saved; but it has come unto
‚€” within reach of, offered to, within the grasp of ‚€” all men so that
no man need be lost." Mr. Panton has
been obliged to do three things here to get out of his dilemma. He had not
been fair in his use of the prepositions; he has given a meaning of his
own to the preposition "unto";
he has stated that which is not a fact.
It is correct to say that the
should be "unto,"
but that is only half the truth. The fact is that all three
prepositions in the 18th verse are the same and should be "unto"
in each case. This shows that with the same force with which condemnation
comes unto all men, so the free gift will come unto all men. Secondly he
has given to the preposition "unto"
the meaning of "within reach of, offered
to, within the grasp of." It is clear
that this is not the meaning when the preposition is used with respect to
the condemnation coming to all men. Condemnation has not only come "within
reach of, or offered to, or within the grasp"
of all men, it has reached them and involved them every one
without exception. Also, in the majority of cases in the New Testament the
preposition used here has the force of arriving at some fixed
Thirdly, the free gift has not
been "offered to"
all men, neither in the past nor the present. It has not come "within
the grasp" of all men. Indeed, there are
millions even today who know nothing whatever of the Gospel of Christ. The
fact is, that in this magnificent passage the Holy Ghost has left no
loophole of escape from the Divine conclusion of the ultimate salvation of
all men. The terms of comparison and contrast both point to it
overwhelmingly. The words used indicate it unequivocally. The very
prepositions used make it unmistakable. Still further, to crown the Divine
logic, the word translated "life"
in verse 18 ("unto all men unto
justification of life"), is not the word
used constantly in the New Testament for physical, or natural life, but it
is the word repeatedly used in connection with Christ and His gift of life
to men. It is the word used in such passages as, "In
Him was life"; and "I
am come that they might have life and that they might have it more
Add to this, what has been
pointed out, the entire absence in this passage, or in the whole of
Romans, of the threat of endless damnation, and you have an affirmative
witness unweakened by a single negative throughout the whole passage.
The difficulties in the way of
the acceptance of the literal interpretation of this passage owe their
existence to the following reasons, amongst others:‚€”
1. The innate
tendency of the human mind to choose the lesser ideal of God. Instead
of modifying the negative passages by those that affirm a redemption
co-extensive with the fall, the human mind has persistently referred the
opposite method, and modified this great passage. The first thing to be
removed, before the altered perspective of the Divine ultimate is accepted
is this tendency to gauge God by His attributes of justice and
righteousness, rather than by His nature which is Love. The former are not
sacrificed to the latter, but are means by which love realizes its goal.
2. The confusion of
the process of salvation with the goal. All the dread warnings
and threatened judgments of the new Testament have to do with the process
by which the goal is reached. The administration of redemption is in the
hands of the Son of God. Into His hands the Father has delivered all
things. (John 3:35). The failure to see this, together with the incorrect
translation of several of the pivotal words which vitally affect the
subject, have resulted in those activities of Christ, as Judge of mankind,
being projected into eternity, instead of being kept within the bounds of
His kingdom, which is strictly in time and will be delivered up to the
Father at the end of time.
3. The confusion of
the special salvation of this age with the general salvation of all men,
to which God equally pledges Himself in His word together with the
salvation of the church. He is the "Savior
of the body." (Ephes. 5:23). He is also
the 'the Savior of the world.' (John 4:42, I John 4:14, I Tim. 4:10).
These two distinct functions were present to the Lord's own mind when He
affirmed the certainty that "All that
the Father giveth Me SHALL COME TO ME,"
and with equal certainty declared that "I,
if I be lifted up from the earth WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME."
That first company, who in
this age are being thus drawn by wondrous ways of grace from all classes
and out of all conditions of men under circumstances that reveal the
sovereignty of God that lies back of their salvation, the Saviour
deliberately limited to the Father's will and choice. "No
man can come unto Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him."
He emphasized the selective
character of their salvation in His prayer in Gethsemane in His opening
words "As Thou hast given Him power over
all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou has given
Him." Indeed, in the survey of His work
in that prayer, He just as deliberately limited His petition then to that
company, "I pray not for the world, but
for them which Thou hast given Me,"
while with them He links all who will believe on Him through their word.
(John 17:20). He does not leave out the world, however. His full
expectation of the world coming to Him is based upon the gathering of
these given ones to Himself in an indissoluble unity. (John 17:21).
It was given to Paul in
particular to unfold in his epistles this twin truth. He boldly declares
that in the dispensation of the fulness of times God will gather together
in one all things in Christ, and that we in this age who have "first
trusted in Christ," have by sovereign
grace been "predestinated according to
the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own
will." (Ephes. 1:9-12).
The twin purposes of God
revealed in Christ's own words in John's Gospel appear here in the
Apostle's writings. We have been accused of basing our teaching on the
Epistles. The charge is, in part, true, and, even so, this is in keeping
with the Lord's promise that when the Holy Spirit came He would bring to
the remembrance of the disciples all things whatsoever He had said unto
them. Here, then, in Paul's teaching is embodied the dual purpose that was
present in the perspective of the Lord Himself.
The same double issue of the
Cross is again presented in the Colossians epistle. The definite
undertaking to fully reconcile all things eventually by means of that
Cross, is given side by side with the earnest of it in the actual
reconciliation of the believers of this age. (Col. 1:20-21). As this was
the inspiration of the Saviour's ministry, so it was of Paul's, who
rejoiced that the living God was the Saviour of all men, specially of
those that believe (1 Tim. 4:I0); and who therefore bent his energies to
the accomplishment of the first out-working of salvation, and endured all
things for the elects' sake that they might also obtain the salvation
which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, ‚€” that special
salvation which carries with it the glories of the ages to come, in which
the administration of redemption, by means of judgment and grace, goes on
apace under the ministry of Christ and His church.
How sadly man has
misunderstood this dual purpose and dragged the glorious doctrine of
election into the dust, is manifest in the distorted view of
predestination presented by the popular theology of the day. Basing
everything upon one sentence ‚€” wrung from one passage, with utter
disregard for context, kindred passages, translation, or the words of
Christ to the contrary ‚€” we are told that predestination simply means
that God foreknew who would believe and predestinated such for salvation!
This is contrary to every other utterance of God on this great subject. "Ye
have not chosen Me but I have chosen you"
was Christ's explanation of the matter, and Paul emphatically declares
that election was prior to, and independent of, the actions of the sample
case he gives of Jacob and Esau, "For
the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil,
that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works,
but of him that calleth. It was said unto her, 'The elder shall serve the
younger.'" The summing up of the
Apostle's argument on this very point is "So
then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God
that sheweth mercy."
All is based upon God's "good,
acceptable and perfect will." Man would
invert the order and base all upon the fickle will of man, enslaved. by
sin. (John 8:34). Having mistaken the present purpose of God in this age
so hopelessly it is little wonder the larger issue is obscured altogether.
The distortion is due to the
effort to explain away the apparent favoritism of God for some, with
his apparent rejection of others, and to square the doctrine of election
with the fundamental principle in God's dealing with men that He is no
respecter of persons. Thus grace is turned into works, and faith, the gift
of God, becomes the minimum of man's effort that saves him. How far
removed is this conception of the Gospel, to that far-flung vision of
grace which sees a chosen company gathered and perfected in one age, that
such may be the co-workers with Christ in His consummating work in the
ages to come, on behalf of the rest.
A thousand insuperable
difficulties, involving God's character and impoverishing Calvary's power
and scope, attach to man's pitiable attempt to "steady
the ark of God." All such problems are
solved and crowned with inextinguishable glory, when it is seen that the
election of some is on the way to the inclusion of all. To the man first "called
alone" this principle was enunciated,
when God said to Abraham "I will bless
thee . . . and thou shalt be a blessing . . . and in thee shall all the
families of the earth be blessed."
GOD IN JUDGMENT
Two of the parables of Christ
are responsible more than anything else for the prevailing views of future
judgment. The catch phrases from these two parables, which have been
quoted more than any others, and upon which the terrific structure of the
doctrine of endless punishment has been erected, are possibly the two
phrases, one of which is found in the story of the rich man and
Lazarus, where Abraham is reported to have said, "Between
us and you there is a great gulf fixed";
and the equally much quoted verse in the parable of the sheep and the
goats, which contains the sentence of the King, "These
shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life
By means of these, and perhaps
several other striking and isolated fragments, the process of the
reasoning out of the truth concerning future judgment has been inverted.
Instead of ascertaining from Scripture, by a general survey of its
teaching on this great subject, upon what principle God will judge
mankind, and then fitting in these parables in their proper niches, the
method of framing the teaching upon these parables has been followed, and
then making all the teaching of Scripture fall into line. It is little
wonder that the utmost confusion has resulted.
It goes without saying that we
raise no objection to the use of these parables in the way in which Christ
intended them to be used. They present definite teaching upon the points
they were intended to elucidate, and they cannot be avoided, or explained
away. We hope in some future issue to deal exhaustively with these
parables, a task which is impossible in the present article, since we are
bent upon laying bare the principles upon which God will proceed to a
judgment of the world which will leave out no single individual. In doing
so, however, He will be careful to do that which expositors of His methods
have most frequently failed to do. He will carefully observe TIMES AND
CLASSES in this universal judgment which none will escape.
Men have made Him too often
like a judge, who, without discriminating between the offenders of an
assize ( a judicial inquest), has assigned to each an identical sentence,
and that the severest possible. In an amazing jumble, which serves to show
the prevailing lack of apprehension of the principles and processes of
divine judgment, sentences which are obviously directed to a certain
class, are pronounced upon all classes indiscriminately.
Take these two parables to
which allusion has been already made. No "Christ
rejector" ‚€” to use the phrase so
common in evangelical circles today‚€” will come under the treatment of
either of these parables. The story of the rich man and Lazarus presents
to us a condition of things prior to the present Gospel age, and the
parable of the sheep and goats sets forth a scene subsequent to the close
of this age, immediately prior to the establishment of Christ's
kingdom on the earth. Both sentences are founded on works, a fact that
must not be forgotten in their application. Neither the two Jews who
figure in the first story, nor the sheep and goats who appear in the
second parable, represent men who knew anything of Christ at all as a
Redeemer proclaimed to them for their salvation.
We take no exception to the principles
embodied in the parables being applied in similar conditions. Doubtless
the selfishness of those who are possessed of the God-given standards of
action towards their poor brethren (both were children of Abraham, the
context proves this fact) will be faced in the future with the sure
judgment upon such selfishness. Let the Sermon on the Mount serve to
remind us that the rewards of obedience, as well as the penalties of
lawlessness, will be meted out to every one who is given the privileges of
relationship in any way to God. Then we shall learn the lesson of the
parable in its all-round application, and we shall not be awarding eternal
life to poverty, and eternal torment to wealth, as so often has
practically been done in expounding this parable in the popular fashion.
It is much the same when we
approach the other parable to ascertain its meaning. Here are sheep which
as well as goats have not known Christ. These are not the sheep of John
10, for they know the Shepherd's voice (v. 4), and they know
the Shepherd (v. 14); whereas the sheep of the Matthew parable are
represented as ignorant of the Shepherd.
Again in the first parable the
scene has been projected into eternity, whereas both the rich man
and Lazarus were in hades, to which, it must be remembered, Christ Himself
descended in spirit, while His body was in Joseph's tomb. It is equally
clear that the sentence meted out to both sheep and goats is limited to
the Millennium and their case will be reviewed at the Great White Throne.
For, as we pointed out, these two companies are figures of men of flesh
and blood on the earth at the time of the return of Christ to set up His
Both these parables, then,
have to do with the PROCESSES OF THE AWARDS OF JUDGMENTS WITHIN THE BOUNDS
OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
Much more could be said to
support the view here presented of these parables, which are illuminative
of the just and impartial adjudication of the Son of Man, to whom is
entrusted this great work of Judgment. Upon these fragments the teaching
of the endlessness of punishment has been built up. Against this teaching
we have the fact that, all through Scripture, both by statement and
ensamples, the opposite principle is inculcated, that of judgment unto
victory, of judgment issuing in salvation.
These parables do not deny
this principle, but take their subsidiary part in the judgments of the
ages, by means of which Christ establishes His kingdom.
Eternal Saviour Judge," by Dr. James
Langton Clarke, taking as his keynote the Septuagint version of Isaiah
19:20, "Judging He shall save,"
the author gives much food for thought, by bringing the Old Testament
types of judges and judgments under tribute, to make it clear that the
great Antitype, in the person of Him who is to judge the quick and the
dead, will judge with a view to salvation, no less than did these types of
Himself in the Old Testament. Thus the revelation of Scripture is that THE
SAVIOURHOOD OF CHRIST IS CO-EXTENSIVE WITH HIS JUDGESHIP.
This is in entire accordance
with His own announcement, that He came, NOT TO CONDEMN the world, but to
SAVE THE WORLD. According to the popular conception of the functions of
His judgeship, He will spend, not only the day of Judgment ‚€” in its
protracted scenes of age long administration ‚€” in judging men, but He
will also be occupied throughout eternity in a ceaseless punishment of
their sins. The utmost such teaching will accord Him in the province of
the unseen world, is, that His possession of the keys of hell (hades) and
of death will make Him the Gaoler of the souls He once died to
save. On the contrary, He will eventually become the Emancipator of
the prisoners in that prison house, which, in the prophetical visions of
the Old Testament, He is repeatedly seen opening with ease and triumph.
God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the
world through Him might be saved." The
structure of this sentence is exactly the same as the passage, where Paul
tells the Corinthians that he was sent "not
to baptize, but to preach the Gospel."
Everybody understands that he makes the negative object the subordinate
one. He does not rule out baptism, but it is subservient to the greater
purpose, that of proclaiming the Gospel. Similarly, in the sentence we
have quoted out of the third of John, the negative purpose of judgment is
subsidiary to that of salvation. He has come to save. That is His
outstanding and ultimate purpose, but, as an adjunct, nay, as a means to
that end, "judging He will save."
The usual application of this passage reverses the order, and makes His
Saviourhood transient and in many cases ineffectual, but His judgeship
eternal and overwhelming.
With what vast
responsibilities and engagements God has delighted to entrust Him. "The
Father hath given ALL THINGS into His hands."
(John 3:35). Where the nail was driven in, the end of a world-wide scepter
of dominion rests, never to be resigned, until He has subdued all things
unto Himself and deposited His great trust intact, back into His Father's
What a vastly different issue
is this from the partial rule, the eternal chaos, the hemispheres of
heaven and hell, which tradition awards the Man of Calvary. How far
different is His Father's purpose for His Well-beloved ‚€” a universe
subjected, adoring, established at last in an indestructible allegiance,
based on holiness and love, to the Father of Spirits!
To those who know the Man of
Calvary, it ought to be sufficient that the Father has "COMMITTED
ALL JUDGMENT UNTO THE SON." We can do
little more here than enumerate those successive judgments which Scripture
sets forth for us.
What is He doing in this age
but bringing forth judgment unto victory, applying, through the Spirit,
that judgment which was passed at Calvary upon the sin and self life of
His people? Utterly mistaking the purpose by the addition of the words "to
come," the believer has missed the
significance of the third function of the Holy Spirit in the passage "When
He is come, He will reprove the World of sin, and of righteousness, and of
judgment." The perspective here is
backward, not forward. Calvary's triumph is to be practically registered
in the believer by an unqualified acceptance of the sentence of death upon
the old creation in him in all its parts here and now, so that he may say,
"I am crucified with Christ,
nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ Iiveth in me."
How many believers want a salvation without judgment! A ticket for
heaven without a sentence executed upon the old man! This made Paul say to
the Ephesians, "For this ye know, that no unclean person, nor
covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and of God." This is in a real fashion an age of judgment unto
salvation with age-during glory. (2 Tim., 2:10-13). ln the power of
His Cross, within the domains of spirit, soul and body, He is establishing
His kingdom within (the Kingdom of God is within) His people, that he may
presently proceed to establish it in the universe.
To all such as know Him as One
who walks in the midst of the Seven golden lampstands, with feet that
shine like brass as if they burned in a furnace, the scene of the JUDGMENT
SEAT OF CHRIST holds no terrors. When manifested before that judgment seat
(2 Cor., 5:10), the holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord
(Heb. 12:14), will create a boldness, and humility, that will rob the
scene of all terror.
Passing swiftly over the great
tribulation, when the cup of His earthly people, and of the nations of the
earth will overflow with His wrath, we come to the judgment of the living
nations. This has been erroneously called the "last
Judgment." We agree with Dr. Clarke, who
thinks that it ought to be called the first rather than the last.
It is, as he says, "THE INAUGURAL
JUDGMENT OF THE VISIBLE KINGDOM." It
ushers in His kingdom of millennial glory. The scene in Matt. 25 is not
the Day of Judgment, but ONE INCIDENT in that day or period. It will be
followed by a thousand years of His reign as Messiah and King. All through
this period He will be Judge, as well as King, with rod of iron seeking to
subdue all things unto Himself, through the power of His Cross.
Where we believe the thread of
revelation has been missed, is at the Great White Throne, which has been
mistaken for the close of His kingdom, instead of an episode therein. It
introduces a final and severer judgment into His kingdom, as well as a
wider triumph and larger rule. Beyond the thousand years, and the Great
White Throne, is that age of His final victory at the close of which He
will deliver His perfected Kingdom to His Father to receive His "well
We have written of this vista
of His rule through the ages, in other pamphlets. We will be content here,
therefore, to point out that all these judgments and administrations
founded on the triumph of the Cross of Calvary are WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF
HIS KINGDOM. Here is the missing link of eschatology. That which is
predicated of time has been projected into eternity. By the time that God
is all in all, described as "THE END,"
judgment will return unto righteousness, and the victory of the Cross be
extended to the utmost bounds of the heavens and the earth. (Eph. 1:10,
No word concerning the
functions of Christ is quoted more frequently than the announcement that
He is "THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TODAY,
AND FOREVER." Ordinary theology would
have us believe that He who died for the sinner, regards him with
compassion and desire up to the time of that sinner's death, even though
he be unrepentant and indifferent to Divine love, but one minute after
death that His love is changed to anger, and He pursues the sinner with
relentless and resistless fury for evermore.
How opposite this is to the
Shepherd who seeks "till He find it";
to the Father who waits till the last boy away from the homestead returns.
The truth in these glorious words is, that "for
the ages" ‚€” so is the phrase ‚€” He is
the same: Saviour of men, seeking the lost with undiminished compassion;
Judge of mankind, arraigning every transgressor before His bar, pulling
down that He may build, destroying that He may plant: King of the ages,
Holder of the keys of hades and of death, Vanquisher of death, Spoiler of
His enemies; Worker of all things new, Head of His ransomed race,
unsatisfied, unconquered, and unwearied till, with its subjects penitent,
subdued, adoring and satisfied in Him, He delivers up His kingdom to His
Father that God may be All in All.
Let the reader ponder again
that parable of husbandry which God gave to His people of old, when they
could not believe that He would bring to pass "His
strange act" of judgment upon them.
(Isaiah 28:23-29). He pictures the ploughshare doing its rough work, until
the cartwheel bruises the harvest, and He enunciates the principle of His
judgments in the words "He will NOT EVER
be threshing it." Nay, not one grain
shall fall to earth. He is the same yesterday, and today, and for the
ages. Judgment shall "return unto
righteousness." The storms of Divine
wrath will finish their work, and there will be a great calm. They began
at Calvary, and, through the administration of One who bought the right to
save through His sufferings for a world, love will conquer.
|"Lord, I believe
were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransoms paid
For all a full atonement made."
GOD IN CONSUMMATION
God has not left us in doubt
as to His ultimate purpose in creation. In the plainest terms He has made
known to men what is to be the end of the long drawn-out history of sin
and redemption. It seems as if the Author of Scripture has, by design‚€”laid
out, the vision of the consummation in the simplest words, and has
preserved them from the marring hand of translators so that it is easy to
learn what is the goal to which all creation turns.
True, those passages that
proclaim so definitely His ultimate purpose may fail to enlighten us
because we read them through eyes that are blinded by traditional
teaching. We may miss the goal by a fixed gaze upon the road thereto. We
may mistake the proximate purposes - as Finney calls them - for the
ultimate purposes. We may mistake the judgments of the Kingdom for the
goal of God's purposes, not recognizing that they are simply the means by
which His goal is reached. We may be perplexed about the outworking of
some statements which have to do with the process God is pursuing to reach
His ultimate purpose, and we may not be able to fit them thoroughly into
the mosaic of revelation. But if we have a definite, repeated, and clear
pronouncement in His Word to rest upon, we may know that what He has
promised He is able also to perform, and that He will reach the goal to
which He moves.
We have already quoted some of
these magnificent passages, sufficient to convince all who are after
truth, and who are not intent upon simply establishing their own foregone
conclusions. We propose calling our readers' attention in this
article to four more statements. They all point unmistakably to the same
goal. With Divine foresight the Author of Scripture has met every argument
that has ever been raised against the truth of God's ultimate, universal,
and complete triumph, so that the open heart and eye cannot fail to see
The first passage dealt with
the scope of this consummation. "All
things in the heavens and the earth will be gathered together in Christ."
(Eph. 1, 10).
The second reveals the position
of all things in the heavens and the earth. They will be "reconciled"
to God. (CoI. 1, 20). The third gives us a scene of worship, thus
making known the attitude of the vast throng that will be gathered
and reconciled. (Phil. 2:10-11). The fourth passage emphasizes the
intrinsic condition of the vast multitude, while it also endorses
that which the other passages have to say of their scope, their position,
and their attitude. (1 Cor. 15:22-28).
Lest we may limit the scope,
this last passage deliberately includes God's "enemies."
It strengthens the position by showing that there is not only
reconciliation but subjection. The attitude of worship is endorsed by .the
reminder that there will not only be a confession of Christ's Lordship,
but also a complete possession of creation by God, since He then becomes "all
in all;" while it adds a further
evidence in the condition that all who died in Adam will. reach.
They will be quickened with the life that made the last Adam ALIVE ‚€” not
simply resurrected ‚€” from the dead. With this vision in his mind it is
little wonder that Paul closes his masterly summary of the whole truth in
Romans, with the doxology "For of Him
and through Him and to Him are ALL THINGS to whom be the glory for the
If God has declared His
purpose once, it should be enough to settle the fact. He has seen fit to
repeat it and emphasize it from every point of view, until there is no
loophole of escape from the conclusion that God will yet arrive at His
These passages will bear the
closest inspection, for the finer the scrutiny the fuller is their
manifest mean- ing. Even in our Authorized Version the meaning lies upon
the surface if we believe what the passages say, and the more we probe
their depths the fuller their message stands revealed. In no case do the
context and the translation deny one iota of their meaning. In every case
they confirm their truth. Never did such a galaxy of stars shine with more
splendor in the firmament of revelation.
THE SCOPE OF THE CONSUMMATION
That God's children may not be
in doubt as to the issue of creation, God makes known the mystery of His
will, that has its spring in His good pleasure. He purposes, "that
in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together ALL
THINGS in Christ, both which are in the heavens and which are on the
earth; even in Him." (Eph. 1, 10). This
phrase "gather together"
only comes in one other place in the New Testament, where it is translated
‚€” (Rom. 13:9)‚€” the whole of the law being briefly comprehended
or "summed up"
in one sentence. Coneybeare and Howson's well-known translation and
commentary says that the phrase means "literally,
to unite all things under one head, in union with Christ."
No less an one than Chrysostom is quoted by these commentators in support.
Other versions of the New Testament agree with this. The Headship of
Christ over all creatures, "both
the things" which are in the heavens and
in the earth, is clearly expressed here in this final summary of the issue
of the work of creation.
INCLUSION, NOT EXCLUSION
is the principle upon which this consummation will be
effected. This is to take place in time in a dispen- sation of the
fulness of times." It must be subsequent
to the judgment of Rev. 20, for there is no sign of such inclusion in the
latter passage, but rather the opposite. It is effected in that "age
of the ages," that last age which is the
crown of all other time periods, referred to in the same Epistle as
follows: "Unto Him be glory in the
Church by Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages."
(Eph. 3:21). Thus we have the scope of ultimate redemption and the period
of its accomplishment.
CONSUMMATION, NOT CATASTROPHE
When we turn to the second
passage, in the first chapter of Colossians, we find first of all an
amplification of the term "the things in
earth and in the heavens." We discover
that the things in earth relate to all things that God has created and
over which He presides, obviously the world of men and their interests.
The things in the heavens are enumerated as "thrones,
dominions, principalities and powers"
(verses 16 and I7), those spirit beings of which glimpses are given
occasionally in Scripture.
These two spheres "visible
and invisible" are ultimately to be
reconciled by the blood of that Cross, which already had availed to
reconcile the Colossians believers, who were enemies in mind and works
(Verses 20 and 21). Exactly the same word is used in both cases to express
the position into which some had already been brought, and into which it
is God's ultimate purpose to bring the rest of His creation. In all these
verses the strongest words that could be selected have been chosen to
emphasize each point. This word "reconcile"
is the stronger of two words which could have been used, and Rotherham
rightly translates it "fully reconcile."
We know that he is right, for the reconciliation effected in those already
saved by the Cross of Christ is the fullest possible. The significance of
this passage is seen more fully still when its drift is observed. Paul was
combating the Gnostic claim that Christ was only one of the angelic
hierarchy. His reply to their claim was, that, in common with the earthly
beings, the heavenly hosts themselves stood in need of His atonement. So
that the position into which some of His creatures have been brought by
the work of His Cross, and into which it is His purpose to bring ALL
THINGS in the earth and in the heavens, is one of complete reconciliation.
The argument that "'all
things' does not mean people" is
confuted by the use of the word "reconcile."
The inanimate creation is to be "delivered
from the bondage of corruption" into
which its association with sin has brought it, but it needs no
reconciliation. Such a need presupposes sin and enmity to God; and demands
the action of intelligence and choice, of all of which only sentient
beings are capable.
CONSTRAINT, NOT COMPULSION
If, however, proof is still
needed that people and not mere inanimate creation is meant, we shall find
it as we put the third passage in Phil. 2:10-11, under the X-rays. Here,
the introduction of the bent knee and the confessing tongue "of
all things in heaven, and things in the earth and things under the earth,"
at once refutes the claim that people are not intended. Every word
of these two verses (Phil. 2:10-11) is teaming with the fullest
meaning. To begin with, we may notice that the idea of mere
forced acknowledgment of Christ's Lordship, which is the most that some of
the Lord's people will allow that this passage gives to Him, is met by
several clear indications to the contrary.
In the first place, the
must be exchanged for the word "in"
to meet the requirements of the original, as readers of the Revised
Version will note. "In the Name
of Jesus," is the term used everywhere
in the New Testament to express an attitude of intelligent, willing
consent and co-operation. "In the Name
of Jesus rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6).
The word "bow"
is selected to denote willing worship, as will be seen by comparison with
its use in other settings. It is the word used when Paul "bows"
the knee to the Father. (Eph. 3:14). The seven thousand men whom God
reserved for Himself at Carmel had not "bowed
the knee to Baal." (Rom. 11:4). They had
refused to give this false God willing worship. When, however, a mockery
of worship was accorded Jesus in His trial before Pilate, another word is
chosen by the Holy Ghost (Mark 15:19) than that used in the passages that
we have quoted, where willing adoration is offered. Any one who takes the
trouble to compare these words in his anxiety to arrive at the truth, will
find these points verified. What surprises us, more than anything else in
this discussion, is, that so many of God's people show no disposition to
get at the truth, and seem to be satisfied with assumption and tradition.
As our readers may know, Paul
is here quoting from Isaiah 45. After bidding "all
the ends of the earth" to look and be
saved, God swears by Himself ‚€” the strongest determination being
expressed by this form of speech ‚€” that unto Him "every
knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear."Again
the greatest care has been observed in the Hebrew in the selection of the
word translated "bow"
in this passage, that a word indicative of whole-hearted worship and a
word everywhere else used to denote the homage of the heart should be
chosen. Moreover, on the two occasions that the word "swear"
appears in this passage, it is the same word in the Hebrew. With that full
purpose of heart that God swears by Himself to effect His end,
every tongue shall swear to Him. The passage even gives the terms
of the confession. "Surely shall one say
‚€” that is, the one that will thus swear ‚€” in the Lord have I
righteousness and strength." (Is.
Turning back to the Philippian
passage, equal care is shown in the choice of the word "confess."
It is the word ‚€” to give one instance of many ‚€” which Christ uses,
when he says "I thank Thee,
Father, etc." (Matt. 11:25). Far removed
is the thought in this word of forced unwilling worship, as one other
point still further demonstrates.
The Lordship of Christ is the
burden of the confession, when, thus, every knee and every tongue shall be
engaged in worship. Scripture shows us that the confession of Christ's
Lordship is the outcome of an inner working of the Holy Ghost. To set
Scripture to explain Scripture, is the most satisfactory method of
exposition, as it is the only means by which the truth can be reached. The
reader will easily recall the passage where confession of the Lord Jesus
with the mouth, together with the belief of the heart in Him, is a sign of
salvation. (Rom. 10:9). Also that other passage where confession of the
Lordship of Christ is said to be the outcome of the work of the Holy
Ghost. "No man can say that Jesus is the
Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor.
12:3). Of this company in Phil. 2:10-11, Mr. D. M. Panton says: "Now
it is certain that this Scripture states that all creation, all persons
whatsoever in the illimitable universe, will one day, personally and
openly, confess Christ. 'God hath highly exalted Him and given unto Him
the Name which is above every other name'; that ‚€” in order that, as the
purpose and result of the exaltation ‚€” in the Name of Jesus every knee
should bow; the bent knee in dumb acknowledgment of a worshiping will; 'of
things in heaven' ‚€” all unseen principalities and powers whatsoever,
fallen and unfallen ‚€” 'and things on earth' ‚€” the totality of mankind
‚€” 'and things under the earth' ‚€” the abyss, the home of both the dead
(Rom. 10:7) and demons (Luke 8:31), 'and that every tongue' ‚€” therefore
every personality, human and angelic ‚€” 'shall confess' ‚€” confess, as
the Greek word means, openly and plainly, the tongue confessing that
before which the knee bows - 'that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of
God the Father.' (Phil. 2:11). A name above every name, every knee
bowed, every tongue confessing; not one knee unbent; not one tongue
silent; no universality could be more complete."
Nevertheless Panton escapes from the admission he thus makes by the most
extraordinary claim that, "It is clear
that this universal homage is offered at the second advent."
Does not Mr. Panton see, that if this homage is offered at the second
advent, it cannot be composed of "the
totality of mankind," for the second
advent is previous to the Millennium, when multitudes of beings will be
yet unborn, and at the close of which a number as great as the sand of the
sea will revolt against the dominion of Christ. (Rev. 20:8). How hard do
the lovers of Christ labor to prove that He will never be Lord of all
creation in the fullest deepest sense!
This worship, furthermore,
will be "to the glory of God the
Father." If compulsion, as to a
judge, was the spring of such worship, it could hardly satisfy the heart
of Him who pities as a father pities his children.
VIVIFICATION, NOT CORRUPTION
We come to the passage now,
which in the vision of "things to come"
brings us to the very end of time, when Christ will have reigned "for
the ages of the ages." (Rev. 11:15).
Many have confused the scene in 1 Cor. 15, 22-28 with the close of the
Millennium. It is easy to see that there are striking differences, which
prove that the scene in Revelation 20 is an end of a period or age,
and the scene in 1 Cor. 15, is THE END of all time, periods or ages.
The difference will be clearly
observed if the diverse conditions are considered. In the former (Rev. 20)
there is rebellion and the imposition of the second death.
In the latter there is subjection and the destruction of death.
Again, in the former we view Christ upon the throne judging the dead and
promulgating a sentence upon the rebels, which takes effect in the future.
("And I saw the dead, small and great,
stand before the throne." This is
the translation preferred by the Revised Version, and by six out of seven
of the foremost Greek texts. Schofield's Bible adopts it also in the
margin). In the latter (1 Cor. 1:15) we see Him delivering up a
subjected Kingdom to the Father: the first is a scene of judgment,
the second is one of victory. The enemies in the first are defiant:
the enemies in the second are submissive.
Still another proof can be
advanced, to show that these two scenes are at two totally different
occasions, widely separate by indefinite time. The first (Rev. 20) occurs
at the end of the Millennium, the Messianic age. The other is at the
expiration of "the ages of the ages."
Since Christ reigns for "the ages of the
ages" in His kingdom, He could not be
said to deliver up His kingdom till the close of that period. Hence it is
clear that the scene in Rev. 20 is not to be identified with the
deliverance of the kingdom to the Father, because it takes place at the
end of one age only, viz.: the Messianic reign.
This is not all. The same word
is used six times to designate the kind of submission to which all things,
including Christ's enemies, are brought. In our Authorized Version this
word is translated in three different English ways, "put
under" ‚€” "subdued"
In the sentence where it is translated "subject,"
it has reference to the nature of the submission of the Son, "then
shall the Son Himself be subject unto Him."
This gives a keynote to the
situation, which it is possible the translators of the Authorized Version
could not accept, since their theology did not admit of such a climax as
the complete voluntary subjection of all things, including enemies, to the
scepter of Christ. Yet here it is plainly written, that, with a subjection
identical to that of the Son all things will finally yield to His sway. So
complete will be this subjection that it becomes necessary in the
statement to exempt God Himself from the general rule. "It
is manifest that He is excepted which did subject all things unto Him."
Only entire voluntariness to God's will, such as Christ yielded to the
Father, could justify the expression that sums up the scene. God cannot be
"ALL in ALL"
where less than complete, universal obedience and homage is accorded Him.
The language is so explicit, that only the bias of tradition can refuse to
admit the unmistakable meaning of the terms in use.
We pause a moment to refer to
the objection raised on the ground of the solitary use of this word "subject,"
in the case of the devils who were "subject"
to the disciples. (Luke 10:17). This is the only place where the
word is used in a situation that seems to suggest less than voluntary
subjection. It is the word used to express the obedience of Jesus to His
parents (Luke 2: 51); of the subjection of the Church to Christ (Eph.
5:24); of the submission of believers to one another (1 Peter 5:5). In
every case but that of the devil's submission, it is in a context that
connects it with "a voluntary,
conscientious, moral, dutiful, and often affectionate subjection."
Is the rule to cover the exception, or the exception to override the rule?
If the latter, then a question stop is put to all the other examples of
subjection, even to that of Christ! Two things must be remembered in the
treatment of the story of the victory over the devils by the Apostles.
First, that it is their verdict of the incident which governs the
use of the word. As they beheld the instant response to the authority of
that wondrous name, no other word could suggest itself to them. In the
second place, if it was too strong a word to express the temporary
submission of these spirits to Christ, it is nevertheless used by Paul to
denote the subsequent subjection of all things to Christ in this
passage under consideration. It is amazing that it is not recognized
at once, what great glory would be gotten to Christ through the ultimate,
entire, voluntary, glad subjection of all His enemies to Himself through
the judgments of His Kingdom and grace of His Cross.
One other fact remains for
consideration. It is the condition of the three orders into which all men
finally group, every man in his own order. "For
as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL BE MADE ALIVE."
All humanity is here divided
into three orders, "every man in his own
order." Christ is the first fruits; then
follow those who are His at His coming; then, at the consummation, come
the rest of mankind. Notice that all are to pass into the same condition,
though at different times. There is no distinction made between Christ and
His people, or between His people and the residue of humanity, except that
of their order in time. All are to be "made
alive." (renewed life, i.e. vivified).
This is something more than physical resurrection. Others were raised from
the dead previous to Christ's resurrection, but only to natural life.
Christ could say, "I am alive for the
ages." Using the same word in 1 Cor.
15:45, Paul speaks of Him as a "quickening
spirit." Adam was but a living soul,
and could give only to his posterity that which he possessed. Christ has
more than physical life to bestow, He has life and immortality, therefore
He calls Himself "the Resurrection and
the Life." For the same reason it is
written the Father raises the dead and quickeneth them ‚€” makes them
alive. (John 5:21).
How different is that
appearance of "the dead small and great"
before the great white throne (Rev. 20:11) at the close of the Millennium.
Summoned to a resurrection of terrible judgment, those that are not found
written in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire which is the
second death. Behold them now at the consummation, with death the last
enemy abolished because its work is done, MADE ALIVE in their "own
order," to own the Lordship of that One
through the merits of whose cross they have been brought in a glad
subjection to His feet.
Thus the drama of creation
begins with a scene in which the first Adam takes a step that Ieads all
his posterity into ruin and death. It closes with a vision in which the
last Adam presents to the Father, as a fruit of His Cross and Throne, a
universe of beings delivered from sin and death, and worshiping in adoring
wonder at His feet. This is the "purpose
of the ages." (Eph. 3:11). This is the
goal of creation. Then will Christ see of the travail of His soul and be