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E G Waggoner studies on Romans part 2

They should be studied carefully, because upon them depends the proper understanding of a large portion of the prophecies of the Old Testament. If these verses had received the consideration that they ought to have by professed Bible students, there would never have been any “Anglo-Israel” theory, and the unprofitable and misleading suppositions about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem before the coming of the Lord would never have been made. WOR 46.2

What Is Circumcision? -This question is answered in plain language in Romans 4:11, where the apostle, speaking of Abraham, the first one who was circumcised, says: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.” To the question, “What is circumcision?” the answer must therefore be, The sign of circumcision is a seal of righteousness. WOR 46.3

Circumcision Made Uncircumcision.-This being the case, it is evident that where there was no righteousness, the sign of circumcision was worthless. So the apostle says, “If thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” As in the previous verses we learned that the form without the fact amounts to nothing, so here we are told that the sign without the substance is of no account. It is very easy for a poor man to put out a sign advertising boots and shoes; but to fill the shop with goods requires capital. If he has the sign, but has no boots and shoes, he is worse off than if he had no sign. WOR 46.4

The Mistake of the Jews.-The Jews made a mistake of supposing that the sign was sufficient. They finally came to hold the idea that the sign would bring the reality, just as many professed Christians in these days suppose that the performance of certain rites will make them members of the body of Christ. But circumcision of the flesh alone could represent no righteousness, but sin. See Galatians 5:19-21. As a matter of fact, many of those whom they despised as “uncircumcised” were thus in reality “circumcised,” while they themselves were not. WOR 46.5

Circumcision of the Heart.-Real circumcision is a matter of the heart, that is, of the inner life, and not at all of the flesh. The apostle plainly declares that what is outward in the flesh is not circumcision, that is, which consists only in outward form; but “circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” This is stated as a general truth. This was not a new departure in the days of Paul, but was the case from the beginning. In Deuteronomy 30:6 we read the words of Moses to the children of Israel: “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” All true Jews recognized that true circumcision was only of the heart, for Stephen addressed those who rejected the truth as “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Acts 7:51. WOR 47.1

Righteousness in the Heart.-The psalmist says, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.” Psalm 2:6. Mere outward righteousness is nothing. See Matthew 5:20; 23:27, 28. It is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness. Romans 10:10. When Moses, at the command of the Lord, rehearsed the law to Israel, he said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Deuteronomy 6:5, 6. There can be no righteousness that is not the real life. Therefore, since circumcision is but a sign of righteousness, it is evident that there can be no real circumcision except circumcision of the heart. WOR 47.2

Circumcised by the Spirit.-“For we know that the law is spiritual.” Romans 7:14. That is, it is the nature of the Holy Spirit, for the word of God is the sword of the Spirit of God that can put the law of God into the heart of man. Therefore true circumcision is the work of the Holy Spirit. Stephen called the wicked Jews uncircumcised, because, said he, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” Acts 7:51. It seems evident, therefore, that, although the word “spirit” in Romans 2:29 is not spelled with a capital, it refers to the Holy Spirit and not merely to the spirit of man.

Remember that circumcision was given as the seal of righteousness by faith, and that the inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed was through the righteousness of the law (Romans 4:11, 13), we shall see that circumcision was the pledge of the inheritance. The apostle also says that we obtain the inheritance in Christ “in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:10-13. The possession promised to Abraham and to his seed was assured only through the Spirit of righteousness; therefore, from the very beginning there was no real circumcision that was not of the Spirit. WOR 47.3

Circumcision through Christ.-“Ye are complete in [Christ], which is the head of all principality and power; in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Colossians 2:8-11. Circumcision must have meant as much when first given as it ever did. Therefore from the very beginning it meant righteousness through Christ alone. This is sufficiently shown in the fact that circumcision was given to Abraham as the seal of the righteousness which he had by faith, and that “he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6. WOR 47.4

Who Are the Circumcision? -This question is answered in Philippians 3:3: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” And this is but saying in other words what we have in our text, “Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Nobody therefore was ever really circumcised who did not believe and rejoice in Christ Jesus. That is the reason why Stephen called the unbelieving Jews “uncircumcised.” WOR 48.1

Meaning of Circumcision.-We have not space to go into this question in detail, but the above texts put us on the track. A careful study of the chapters in Genesis which speak of God’s covenant with Abraham will also help to clear up the matter. We learn in Genesis 15 that God made a covenant with Abraham on the basis of his faith. The sixteenth chapter tells how Abraham listened to the voice of his wife instead of the voice of the Lord, and sought to work out the promise of God through the flesh and made a failure. His son was to be born of the Spirit, and not after the flesh. See Galatians 4:22, 23, 28, 29. Then the seventeenth chapter shows the revival of Abraham’s faith, and the renewal of the covenant, with circumcision as the seal. A portion of flesh was cut off to indicate that he was to have no confidence in the flesh, but was to expect righteousness and the inheritance only through the Spirit of God. The descendants of Abraham would thus have a continual reminder of his mistake and would be admonished to trust the Lord and not themselves. But they perverted this sign. They regarded it as indicating that they were better than other people, instead of looking upon it as an evidence that “the flesh profiteth nothing.” But the fact that the Jews perverted and misunderstood the sign does not destroy its original meaning. WOR 48.2

Who Are Jews? -We have seen in a quotation from the second chapter of Galatians that the term “uncircumcised” refers to those who do not know the Lord, or who are “without God in the world.” See Ephesians 2:11, 12. The Jews are “the circumcision.” But only those who rejoice in Christ Jesus are the circumcision, who have no confidence in the flesh. Therefore the real Jews are none other than Christians. “He is a Jew, which is one inwardly.” There never was a real Jew in the sight of God who was not a believer in Christ. And every true believer in Christ is a Jew in the Bible sense of the term. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, rejoiced in Christ. See John 8:56. WOR 48.3

A Mark of Separation.-Many have entertained the notion that circumcision was given as a distinguishing mark between the Jews and the Gentiles. The fallacy of this idea is sufficiently shown by a study of the giving of circumcision, and by the statement of the apostle Paul of what it really signified. Others suppose that it was given to keep the Jews separate, so that the genealogy of Christ could be ascertained. This also is simply an unfounded guess. Christ was to come from the tribe of Judah, but as all the tribes were circumcised, it is evident that circumcision could not by any means preserve his genealogy. Moreover, circumcision in the flesh never did make any separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. It did not keep Israel from idolatry, and it did not keep them from joining the heathen in their idolatrous practices. Whenever the Jews forgot God, they mingled with the heathen, and there was no difference between them and the gentiles. Circumcision did not separate them. WOR 48.4

Still further, God did not wish the Jews to be separated from the Gentiles in the sense that they were to have no dealings with them. The object of his calling out the Jews from Egypt was that they should carry the Gospel to the heathen. He did wish them to be separate in character, but outward circumcision could never effect this. Moses said to the Lord, “Wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” Exodus 33:16. The presence of the Lord in the heart of men will separate them from all others, although they live in the same house and eat at the same table. But if Christ is not in the heart of a man, he is not separated from the world, though he may have been circumcised and may live a hermit. WOR 49.1

Literal and Spiritual Seed.-Much of the confusion that has existed in regard to Israel has arisen through a misunderstanding of these terms. People suppose that to say that only those who are spiritual are really Jews is to deny the literalness of the seed and of the promise. But “spiritual” is not opposed to “literal.” That which is spiritual is literal, and real. Christ is spiritual, but he is the real, literal Seed. God is spiritual, and is only Spirit, yet he is not a figurative Being, but a real, literal God. So the inheritance of which we are heirs in Christ, is a spiritual inheritance, yet it is real. To say that only those who are spiritual constitute the true Israel is not to modify or turn aside the Scriptures, or to weaken in any way the directness and force of the promise, because the promise of God is only to those who have faith in Christ. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Romans 4:13. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29.

Chapter 3

Examining Ourselves

January 9, 1896

We are to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith. It is not to find out what is in the heart, because no man on earth can find out what is in the heart. The man who starts out to do that is going to be terribly deceived; for “the heart is deceitful above all things,” and it will deceive him every time. But the Lord says, “I the Lord search the heart.” He makes known to every man the fruit of his ways, and we want to have confidence enough in him to let him do the searching of the heart. WOR 50.1

When we find out that we are in the faith, we shall not be afraid to truth the Lord to search the heart and make known the sin. If we be in the faith, we know that Christ died for sinners, in order that they might be separated from sin. Therefore he is more interested in having us know the sins, so as to give them up to him, than we are to know them. It is not an unheard of thing, by any means, to find professed Christians who do not know that the Lord loves them when in sin, and so they are always afraid of the Lord, from a sense of their sinfulness. Are you in the faith? If so, you will accept the knowledge of sin as the result of the revelation of the righteousness which will take away that sin, and rejoice in the Lord.

The Sum of the Matter

We have now finished the study of the first two chapters of the book of Romans, and it is time to take a brief review. It is not really correct to say that we have finished the study of these two chapters, because we can never finish the study of any portion of the Bible. After we have put the most profound study upon any portion of the Scripture, the most that we have done is only a beginning. If Newton, after a long life of study of natural science, could say that he seemed to be as a child playing on the seashore with the vast ocean before him unexplored, with much more aptness can the same be said by the greatest student of the Bible. WOR 50.3

Let no one therefore think that we have by any means exhausted this portion of the book. When the reader has the text well in mind, so that he can quite distinctly recall any passage at will, and can locate it with reference to the connection, he has just got where he can begin to study with real profit. Therefore let the reader who is anxious to acquire an understanding of the Scriptures for himself, dwell upon the words as though he were digging in a sure place for treasure. An inexhaustible treasure awaits his search. WOR 50.4

We found that the first portion of the first chapter, containing the salutation, some personal remarks, and the statement of the theme, really contains an epitome of the whole Gospel. WOR 50.5

Leaving out the introduction, we might say that the first chapter is devoted to a statement of the origin of heathenism, and the condition of the heathen world. WOR 51.1

The second chapter is really summed up in the first verse, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” The remaining verses are but an amplification of this statement. WOR 51.2

Thus, we find that there is no exception to the fact that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Hearing and knowing the truth is not a substitute for practicing it. God is no respecter of persons, but will punish sin wherever it is found. WOR 51.3

Accepted with God.-In the house of Cornelius the apostle Peter made a statement: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34, 35. There are men in heathen lands who may never have heard the name of God, or seen a line of his written word, who will be saved. God is revealed in the works of creation, and they who accept what they see of him there are accepted with him as surely as they who have learned much more of him. WOR 51.4

Objections Answered

The first part of the third chapter of Romans consists of questions and answers. The thoughtful reader of the epistles of Paul must have noticed the frequent occurrence of questions in the midst of an argument. Every possible objection is anticipated. The apostle asks the question that an objector might ask, and then answers it, making his argument more emphatic than before. So in the verses next following it is very evident that the truths set forth in the second chapter would not be very acceptable to a Pharisee, and he would combat them with all his might. That the questions raised by the apostle are not difficulties that lie in his own mind; this is clear from the parenthetical clause in verse 5, “I speak as a man.” With this in mind, we may read Romans 3:1-18:- WOR 51.5

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid; yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written,

That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man.) God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

What then? are we better than they? No, in nowise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes.” WOR 51.6

As this text consists almost wholly of questions and sharp, clear answers, we shall not, as heretofore, specially question the text. Read it carefully. WOR 52.1

“The Oracles of God.” -An oracle is something spoken. That which was emphatically spoken by the mouth of the Lord is the Ten Commandments. See Deuteronomy 5:22. Stephen, speaking of Moses receiving the law, said, “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Acts 7:38.

The Ten Commandments are primarily the oracles of God, because they were uttered by his own voice in the hearing of the people. But the Holy Scriptures as a whole are the oracles of God, since they are the word of God, spoken “in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1), and because they are but an expansion of the Ten Commandments. Christians are to shape their lives solely by the Bible. This is seen from the words of the apostle Peter: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” 1 Peter 4:11. WOR 52.2

The Law an Advantage.-There are many who think that the law of God is a burden, and they imagine that the advantage of Christians is that they have nothing to do with it. But on the contrary, John says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. And Paul says that the possession of the law was a great advantage to the Jew. So Moses said: “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Deuteronomy 4:8. All who truly love the Lord, count it a great blessing to have God’s holy law made plain to them. WOR 52.3

“Committed.” -The advantage of the Jew was not simply in the fact that to them were made known the oracles of God, but that “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” The Revised Version has it, “They were intrusted with the oracles of God.” That is, the law was given to them to hold in trust for others, and not simply for their own benefit. They were to be the missionaries to the whole world. The advantage and the honor conferred upon the Jewish nation in intrusting them with the law of God to make it known to the world, can not be estimated. WOR 52.4

Tell It to Others.-When Peter and John were arrested and threatened for preaching Christ, who is simply the living law in perfection, they said, “We can not but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20. They who appreciate the gift which God commits to them must tell it to others. Some think that it is useless to carry the gospel to the heathen when they hear that God justifies the heathen who walk according to the little light that shines to them just the same as he does the person who walks according to the light that shines from the written word. They think that the wicked heathen are in no worse case than the unfaithful professed Christians. None who appreciate the blessings of the Lord could think so. Light is a blessing. The more people know of the Lord, the more they can rejoice in him, and all who truly know the Lord must be desirous of helping to spread the “good tidings of great joy” to all the people for whom it is designed. WOR 52.5

God’s Faithfulness.-“What if some were without faith? Shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God?” A very pertinent question. It is an appeal to the faithful of God. Will he break his promise, because of man’s unbelief? Will he be unfaithful because man is unfaithful? Will our wavering cause God to waver? “That can not possibly be;” for this is the force of the expression which is incorrectly rendered, “God forbid.” God will be true even though every man be a liar. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he can not deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13. “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” Psalm 36:5. WOR 53.1

Power and Faithfulness.-Some one might hastily affirm that this overthrows the previous statements, that only those who have faith are heirs of the promise; for “how can it be that only the faithful are Abraham’s seed, and thus heirs, if God will fulfill his promise even though every man disbelieves?” Very easily, when we consider the Scriptures and the power of God. Listen to the words of John the Baptist to the wicked Jews who could be fitly characterized only as “vipers:” “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:9. God will bestow the inheritance only on the faithful; but if every man should prove unfaithful, he who made man of the dust of the ground can of the stones raise other people, who will believe. WOR 53.2

God Justified.-“That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” God is now accused by Satan of injustice and indifference, and even of cruelty. Thousands have echoed the charge. But the judgment will declare the righteousness of God. His character, as well as that of man, is on trial. In the judgment every act, both of God and man, that has been done since creation will be seen by all in all its bearings. And when everything is seen in that perfect light, God will be acquitted of all wrongdoing, even by his enemies. WOR 53.3

Commending God’s Righteousness.-Verses 5 and 7 are but different forms of the same thought. God’s righteousness stands out in bold relief in contrast with man’s unrighteousness. So the caviler thinks that God ought not to condemn the unrighteousness which by contrast commends his righteousness. But that would be to destroy the righteousness of God, so that he could not judge the world. If God were what unbelieving men say he ought to be, he would forfeit even their respect, and they would condemn him more loudly than they do now. WOR 53.

“I Speak as a Man.” -Was not Paul a man? Most certainly. Was he ever anything other than a man? Never. Then why the expression, “I speak as a man”? Because the writings of Paul, like those of the ancient prophets, were given by inspiration of God. The Holy Spirit spoke by him. We are not reading Paul’s view of the gospel, but the Spirit’s own statement of it. But in these questions the Spirit speaks as a man; that is, the Spirit quotes the unbelieving words of man in order to show the folly of that unbelief. WOR 53.

Unbelieving Questions.-There is a great difference in questions. Some are asked for the purpose of gaining instruction, and others are asked for the purpose of opposing the truth. So there must be a difference in answering them. Some questions deserve no more notice than would be given the same unbelief if uttered as a positive statement. When Mary asked, “How shall this be?” (Luke 1:34) with a desire for further information, she was told how. But when Zacharias asked, “Whereby shall I know this?” (Luke 1:18), thus plainly showing his disbelief of the angel’s words, he was punished. WOR 53.6

Wickedness Exposed.-When the objector says, “If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” the swift retort comes, in effect: “You might rather say, what you really mean is, Let us do evil that good may come.” The real intent of these unbelieving questions is that what which is called evil is really good; people are really righteous, no matter what they may do, so that good will at last come out of evil. This is the substance of modern Spiritualism and of Universalism, which teach that all men will be saved. WOR 54.1

Evil not Good.-There are many besides Spiritualists who virtually say, “Let us do evil that good may come.” Who are they? All who claim that man is able of himself to do any good thing. The Lord declares that only God is good, and that good can come only from good. See Luke 18:19 and 6:43-45. From man only wickedness can come. Mark 7:21-23. Therefore he who thinks that of himself he alone can do good deeds, really says that good can come from evil. The same thing is said by the one who refuses to confess that he is a sinner. Such an one is placing himself above God, for even he can not make evil into good. God can make an evil man good, but only by putting his own goodness in place of the evil. WOR 54.2

“All under Sin.” -The objector is silenced by the exposure of his infidel sentiments; the damnation of those who hold such positions is just; and now the conclusion is emphatically stated, namely, that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, are alike under sin. Thus the way is fully prepared for the further conclusion that there is but one way of salvation for all men. The one who has been brought up within the sound of church bells and who hears the Scriptures read every day, has the same sinful nature and the same need of a Saviour, that the savage has. No one can justly despise another. WOR 54.3

All Out of the Way.-When the apostle wrote concerning both Jews and Gentiles, “They are all gone out of the way,” he was but repeating what Isaiah had written hundreds of years before: “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.” Isaiah 53:6. WOR 54.4

“The Way of Peace.” -“The way of peace have they not known” because they refused to know the God of peace. It has already been shown that God’s law is his way; therefore, since he is the God of peace, his law is the way of peace. So he says, “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18. “Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them,” or, “they shall have no stumbling-block.” Psalm 119:162. So he who prepares the way of the Lord, by giving knowledge of remission of sins, guides our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:76-79), because he brings us into the righteousness of God’s law.

Blessed Are They that Mourn

January 16, 1896

“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. WOR 55.1

There are two questions that one naturally wishes to have answered when reading this text, namely, What mourners shall be comforted? and, When shall they be comforted? WOR 55.2

Note the fact that the promise is unlimited. Christ said that he was sent “to comfort all that mourn.” Isaiah 61:2. God is no respecter of persons. He does not single out special cases to be the recipients of his grace. This promise is for every mourner. WOR 55.3

The first and most natural thought suggested by the word “mourn” is of sorrow caused by affliction and bereavement. That the Lord comforts such mourners is shown by his whole earthly life, and is specially manifest in the case of the widow of Nain, and at the grave of Lazarus. He has comfort for every manner of grief. WOR 55.4

But death is the result of sin. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” 1 Corinthians 15:56. If it were not for sin, there would be no mourning. Therefore the Lord specially comforts those who mourn for their sins. WOR 55.5

One thing, however, is necessary, and that is that the mourners should know this promise. It is self-evident that in order to be comforted one must know where comfort is to be obtained. The mourner must believe this promise of the Lord, and become acquainted with him through it. There is absolutely no limit to the promise, and no other qualification than that the mourner should believe and know the Lord. Whoever accepts the word of the Lord in good faith, shall be comforted, no matter for what he mourns. WOR 55.6

When shall they be comforted? Let the Scriptures answer: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. WOR 55.7

Whoever is afflicted for any cause whatever, may know if he will that he is afflicted with Christ. “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” Isaiah 63:9. Even tho the affliction be directly because of sin, we may have the same assurance, for we are told, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,” and, “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” Isaiah 53:7, 8. The thought alone that Christ bears with us the burden of grief or temptation, is enough to make it light, because it draws our minds away from ourselves. WOR 55.8

But Christ can not be divided. The one who has Christ has him for all that there is in him. Therefore if our faith grasps him in his sufferings-that is, if we remember that “he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” so that we bear them only in him-then it is most certain that we shall have at the same time all the comfort there is in him. As “the joy that was set before him” enabled him to endure the cross, and despise the shame, so the joy that there is in him enables us to rejoice in tribulation. A Wonderful Manifestation

The portion of Romans thus far studied has shown us both Jews and Gentiles in the same sinful condition. No one has anything whereof to boast over another. Whoever, whether in the church or out, begins to judge and condemn another, no matter how bad that other one may be, thereby shows that he himself is guilty of the same things that he condemns in the other. Judgment belongs alone to God, and it shows a most daring spirit of usurpation for a man to presume to take the place of God. Those who have the law committed to them have a wonderful advantage over the heathen; nevertheless they must say: “Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Romans 3:9. And now we come to the beginning of WOR 56.1

The Grand Conclusion. Romans 3:19-22

“Now we know that 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. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” WOR 56.2

What do we know? WOR 56.3

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” WOR 56.4

To whom does it speak? WOR 56.5

“To them who are under [within the sphere of] the law.” WOR 56.6

What is the object of its speaking? WOR 56.7

“That every mouth may be stopped.” WOR 56.8

Under what circumstances only may every mouth be stopped? WOR 56.9

“All the world may become guilty before God.” WOR 56.10

What then is the conclusion? WOR 56.11

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” WOR 56.12

Why not? WOR 56.13

“For by the law is the knowledge of sin.” WOR 56.14

What is now manifested? WOR 56.15

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” WOR 56.16

How is righteousness manifested? WOR 56.17

“Without the law.” WOR 56.18

Whose righteousness is it that is thus manifested? WOR 56.19

“The righteousness of God.” WOR 56.20

What credentials has this righteousness? WOR 56.21

“Being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” WOR 56.22

Where is it manifested? WOR 56.23

“Unto all and upon all them that believe.” WOR 56.24

How is it manifested? WOR 56.25

“By faith of Jesus Christ.” WOR 56.26

Within the Law.-This is not the place to consider the force of the term “under the law,” since it does not really occur here. It should be “in the law,” as in Romans 2:12, for the Greek words are the same in both places. The words for “under the law” are entirely different. Why the translators have given us “under the law” in this place, and also in 1 Corinthians 9:21, where the term is also “in the law,” as noted in Young’s Concordance, it is impossible to determine. There certainly is no reason for it. The rendering is purely arbitrary. What the verse before us really says is, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are in the law,” or, “within the sphere or jurisdiction of the law.” This is an obvious fact, and in view of what immediately follows, it is a very important fact to keep in mind. WOR 57.1

“What the Law Saith.” -The voice of the law is the voice of God. The law is the truth, because it was spoken with God’s own voice. In the covenant which God made with the Jews concerning the Ten Commandments, he said of the law, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice.” etc. Exodus 19:5. The commandments were spoken “in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice.” Deuteronomy 5:22.

Therefore when the law of God speaks to a man, it is God himself speaking to that man. Satan has invented a proverb, which he has induced many people to believe, to the effect that “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” This is a part of his great lie by which he causes many to think themselves above the law of God. Let every one who loves the truth, substitute for that invention of Satan the truth that the voice of the law of God is the voice of God. WOR 57.2

Every Mouth Stopped.-The law speaks that “every mouth may be stopped.” And so every mouth would be, if men would only consider that it is God that is speaking. If men realized that God himself speaks in the law, they would not be so ready to answer back when it speaks to them, and they would not frame so many excuses for not obeying it. When some servant of the Lord reads the law to people, they often seem to think that it is only man’s word to which they are listening, and so they feel themselves privileged to parley,

and debate, and object, and to say that, although the words are all right, they do not feel under obligation to obey, or that it is not convenient. They would not think of doing this if they heard the voice of God speaking to them. But when the law is read, it is the voice of God now just as much as it was to the Israelites who stood at the base of Sinai. People often open their mouths against it now, but the time will come when every mouth will be stopped, because “our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.” Psalm 50:3. WOR 57.3

The Law’s Jurisdiction.-What things soever the law says, it sa to them who are within its sphere, or jurisdiction. Why? “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” How extensive, then, is the jurisdiction of the law? It includes every soul in the world. There is no one who is exempt from obedience to it. There is not a soul whom it does not declare to be guilty. The law is the standard of righteousness, and “there is none righteous, no, not one.” WOR 57.4

No Justification by the Law.-“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” One of two things must be the case whenever a man is justified by the law, namely, either the man is not guilty, or else the law is a bad law. But neither of these things is true in this case. God’s law is perfectly righteous, and all men are sinners. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” It is obvious that a man can not be declared righteous by the same law that declares him to be a sinner. Therefore it is a self-evident truth that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. WOR 57.5

A Double Reason.-There is a double reason why no one can be justified by the law. The first is that all have sinned. Therefore the law must continue to declare them guilty, no matter what their future life might be. No man can ever do more than his duty to God, and no possible amount of good deeds can undo one wrong act. But more than this, men have not only sinned, but they are sinful. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17. Therefore, no matter how much a man may try to do the righteousness of the law, he will fail to find justification by it. WOR 58.1

Self-justification.-If one were justified by the deeds of the law, it would be because he always did all that the law requires. Note well that it would be he that did it, and not the law. It would not be that the law itself does something to justify the man, but that the man himself does the good deeds required. Therefore if a man were justified by the law, it would be because he has in him by nature all the righteousness that the law requires.

He who imagines that he can do the righteousness of the law, imagines that he himself is as good as God is, because the law requires and is a statement of the righteousness of God. Therefore for a man to think that he can be justified by the law, is to think that he is so good that he needs no Saviour. Every self-righteous person, no matter what his profession, exalts himself above the law of God, and therefore identifies himself with the Papacy. WOR 58.2

Righteousness without the Law.-Since because of man’s weak and fallen condition no one can get righteousness out of the law, it is evident that if any man ever has righteousness he must get it from some other source than the law. If left to themselves and the law, men would truly be in a deplorable condition. But here is hope. The righteousness of God without the law or apart from the law, is manifested. This reveals to man a way of salvation. WOR 58.3

Righteousness “Manifested.” -Where?-Why, of course where it most needs to be manifested, in people, that is, in a certain class described in the next verse. But it does not originate in them. The Scriptures have already shown us that no righteousness can come from man. The righteousness of God is manifested in Jesus Christ. He himself said through the prophet David: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.” Psalm 40:8, 9. WOR 58.4

“Witnessed by the Law.” -Let no one imagine that in the Gospel he can ignore the law of God. The righteousness of God which is manifested apart from the law, is witnessed by the law. It is such righteousness as the law witnesses to, and commends. It must be so, because it is the righteousness which Christ revealed; and that came from the law, which was in his heart. So, although the law of God has no righteousness to impart to any man, it does not cease to be the standard of righteousness. There can be no righteousness that does not stand the test of the law. The law of God must put its seal of approval upon every one who enters heaven. WOR 58.5

Witnessed by the Prophets.-When Peter preached Christ to Cornelius and his family, he said, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43. The prophets preached the same Gospel that the apostles did. See 1 Peter 1:12. There is but one foundation, and that is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Ephesians 2:20.

This also suggests another thought about “witnessed by the law.” It is not simply that the righteousness which is manifested in Christ is approved by the law, but it is proclaimed in the law. In the portion of Scripture specifically known as “the law,” the portion written by Moses, Christ is preached. Moses was a prophet, and therefore he testified of Christ the same, “for he wrote of me.” John 5:46. More than this, the very giving of the law itself was a promise and an assurance of Christ. This will appear when we come to the fifth chapter of Romans. WOR 59.1

The Righteousness of God.-While there is no chance for the despiser of God’s law to evade its claims under cover of the expression, “the righteousness of God apart from the law,” there is also no need for the lover of that law to fear that the preaching of righteousness by faith will tend to bring in a spurious righteousness. Such is guarded against by the statement that the righteousness must be witnessed by the law, and further by the statement that this righteousness which is manifested apart from the law is the righteousness of God. No one need fear that he will be wrong if he has that righteousness! To seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness is the one thing required of us in this life. Matthew 6:33. WOR 59.2

“By Faith of Jesus Christ.” -In another place Paul expresses his desire when the Lord comes to be found “not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philippians 3:9. Here again we have “the faith of Christ.” Still further, it is said of the saints, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. God is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:9. Christ is faithful, for “he abideth faithful.” 2 Timothy 2:13. God deals to every one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8.

He imparts to us his own faithfulness. This he does by giving us himself. So that we do not have to get righteousness which we ourselves manufacture; but to make the matter doubly sure, the Lord imparts to us in himself the faith by which we appropriate his righteousness. Thus the faith of Christ must bring the righteousness of God, because the possession of that faith is the possession of the Lord himself. This faith is dealt to every man, even as Christ gave himself to every man. Do you ask what then can prevent every man from being saved? The answer is, Nothing, except the fact that all men will not keep the faith. If all would keep all that God gives them, all would be saved. WOR 59.3

Within and Without.-This righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, is unto, literally into, and upon all them that believe. Man’s own righteousness, which is of the law, is only on the outside. Matthew 23:27, 28. But God desires truth in the inward parts. Psalm 51:6. “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Deuteronomy 6:6. And so the promise of the new covenant is, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” Jeremiah 31:33. He does it, because it is impossible for man to do it.

The most that men can do is to make a fair show in the flesh, to gain the applause of their fellow men. God puts his glorious righteousness in the heart. But he does more than that, he covers men with it. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 51:10. “He will beautify the meek with salvation.” Psalm 149:4. Clothed with this glorious dress, which is not merely an outward covering, but the manifestation of that which is within, God’s people may go forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun; and terrible as an army with banners.” WOR 59.4

The Justice of Mercy

January 23, 1896

The last lesson showed us that since all men are declared guilty by the law, there can be no righteousness in the law for any man, and that, as a consequence, if men were left alone with the law, there would be no hope for any. The law is only the written statement of the righteousness of God, and therefore can impart no righteousness; but God is a living God, and his righteousness is a living righteousness; his Spirit has all-pervading power, and therefore he can put his own righteousness into and upon all that believe; for faith is the reception of God into the heart. In the reception of this righteousness WOR 60.1

“There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through th

e forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:22-26. WOR 60.2

Questioning the Text

How is the righteousness of God manifested apart from the law? WOR 60.3

“By faith of Jesus Christ.” WOR 60.4

In whom is it manifested? WOR 60.5

“Unto all and upon all them that believe.” WOR 60.6

What distinction is made between people? WOR 60.7

“There is no difference.” WOR 60.8

Why not? WOR 60.9

“For all have sinned.” WOR 60.10

In sinning, of what have men come short? WOR 60.11

“All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” WOR 60.12

While in this state, what do those who believe receive? WOR 60.13

“Being justified.” WOR 60.14

How justified? WOR 60.15

“Freely.” WOR 60.16

By what? WOR 60.17

“By his grace.” WOR 60.18

Through what? WOR 60.19

“Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” WOR 60.20

How did this come about? WOR 60.21

“Whom God hath set forth.” WOR 60.22

What for? WOR 60.23

“To be a propitiation.” WOR 60.24

By what means? WOR 61.1

“Through faith in his blood.” WOR 61.2

What does he declare? WOR 61.3

“To declare his righteousness.” WOR 61.4

Whose righteousness does he declare? WOR 61.5

God’s righteousness-the righteousness of him who set him forth. See Psalm 40:6-10. WOR 61.6

For what is God’s righteousness declared in Christ? WOR 61.7

“For the remission of sins that are past.” WOR 61.8

Of what is this a manifestation? WOR 61.9

“The forbearance of God.” WOR 61.10

Why is it that God’s own righteousness is declared for the remission of sins? WOR 61.11

“That he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” WOR 61.12

“No Difference.” -In what is there no difference? There is no difference in the way in which men receive righteousness. And why is no difference made in the manner of justifying men? Because “all have sinned.” Peter, in relating to the Jews his experience in first preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, said, “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9. “Out of the heart of men,” not of one class of men, but of all men, “proceed evil thoughts,” etc. Mark 7:21. God knows the hearts of all men, that all are alike sinful, and therefore he makes no difference in the Gospel to different men. WOR 61.13

“One Blood.”-This lesson is one of the most important to be learned by the missionary, whether laboring at home or abroad. Since the gospel is based on a principle that there is no difference in men, it is absolutely essential that the gospel worker should recognize the fact, and always keep it in mind. God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Acts 17:26. Not only are all men of one blood, but they are also of “one kind of flesh.” 1 Corinthians 15:39. The great burden of the Epistle to the Romans, as has appeared up to this point, is to show that so far as sin and salvation therefrom are concerned, there is absolutely no difference between men of all races and conditions in life. The same Gospel is to be preached to the Jew and to the Gentile, to the slave and to the freeman, to the prince and to the peasant. WOR 61.14

Coming Short. -People are fond of imagining that what are called “shortcomings” are not so bad as real sins. So it is much easier for them to confess that they have “come short” than that they have sinned and done wickedly. But since God requires perfection, it is evident that “shortcomings” are sins. It may sound pleasanter to say that a bookkeeper is “short” in his accounts, but people know that the reason for it is that he has been taking that which is not his, or stealing. When perfection is the standard, it makes no difference in the result, how much or how little one comes short, so long as he comes short. The primary meaning of sin is “to miss the mark.” And in an archery contest, the man who has not strength to send his arrow to the target, even though his aim is good, is a loser just as surely as he who shoots wide of the mark. WOR 61.15

“The Glory of God.” -From the text we learn that the glory of God is his righteousness. Notice, the reason why all have come short of the glory of God is that all have sinned. The fact is plain that if they had not sinned they would not have come short of it. The coming short of the glory itself consists in sin. Man in the beginning was “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:7) because he was upright. In the fall he lost the glory, and therefore now he must “seek for glory and honor and immortality.” Christ could say to the Father, “The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them,” because in him is the righteousness of God which he has given as a free gift to every man. It is the part of wisdom to receive righteousness; and “they that be wise shall shine.” WOR 61.16

“Being Justified.” -In other words, being made righteous. To justify means to make righteous. God supplies just what the sinner lacks. Let no reader forget the simple meaning of justification. Some people have the idea that there is a much higher condition for the Christian to occupy than to be justified. That is to say, that there is a higher condition for one to occupy than to be clothed within and without with the righteousness of God. That can not be. WOR 62.1

“Freely.” -“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” That is, let him take it as a gift. So in Isaiah 55:1: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” It was the Epistle to the Romans that accomplished the Reformation in Germany. Men had been taught to believe that the way to get righteousness was to purchase it either by hard work or by the payment of money. The idea that men may purchase it with money is not so common now as then; but there are very many who are not Catholics who think that some work must be done in order to obtain it. WOR 62.2

Making Prayer a Work.-The writer was once talking with a man in regard to righteousness as the free gift of God, the man maintaining that we could not get anything from the Lord without doing something for it. When asked what we must do to win forgiveness of sins, he replied that we must pray for it. It is with this idea of prayer that the Roman or Hindu devotee “says” so many prayers a day, putting in an extra number some days to make up for omissions. But the man who “says” a prayer, does not pray.

Heathen prayer, as for instance when the prophets of Baal leaped and cut themselves (1 Kings 18:26-28), is work; but true prayer is not. A man comes to me and says that he is starving. Afterwards he is asked if anything was given him, and he says that he received some dinner, but that I made him work for it. When asked what he had to do for it, he replies that he asked for it. He could hardly make any one believe that he worked for his dinner! True prayer is simply the thankful acceptance of God’s free gifts. WOR 62.3

Redemption in Christ Jesus.-We are made righteous “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” That is, through the purchasing power that is in Christ Jesus, or “through the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8.

This is the reason why it comes to us as a gift. Some one may say that everlasting life in the kingdom of God is too great a thing to be given to us for nothing. So it is, and therefore it had to be purchased, but since we had nothing that could buy it, Christ has purchased it for us and he gives it to us freely, in himself. But if we had to purchase it from him, we might as well have bought it in the first place, and saved him the task. “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21. “Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19, R.V. The blood is the life. Leviticus 17:11-17. Therefore the redemption that is in Christ Jesus is his own life. WOR 62.4

Christ Set Forth.-Christ is the one whom God has set forth to declare his righteousness. Now since the only righteousness that is real righteousness is the righteousness of God, and Christ is the only one who has been ordained of God to declare it upon men, it is evident that it can not be obtained except through him. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. WOR 62.5

A Propitiation.-A propitiation is a sacrifice. The statement then is simply that Christ is set forth to be a sacrifice for the remission of our sins. “Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26. Of course the idea of a propitiation or sacrifice is that there is wrath to be appeased. But take particular notice that it is we who require the sacrifice, and not God. He provides the sacrifice.

The idea that God’s wrath has to be propitiated in order that we may have forgiveness finds no warrant in the Bible. It is the height of absurdity to say that God is so angry with men that he will not forgive them unless something is provided to appease his wrath, and that therefore he himself offers the gift to himself, by which he is appeased. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death.” Colossians 1:21, 22. WOR 63.1

Heathen and Christian Propitiation.-The Christian idea of propitiation is that set forth above. The heathen idea, which is too often held by professed Christians, is that men must provide a sacrifice to appease the wrath of their god. All heathen worship is simply a bribe to their gods to be favorable to them. If they thought that their gods were very angry with them, they would provide a greater sacrifice, and so human sacrifices were offered in extreme cases.

They thought, as the worshipers of Siva in India do to-day, that their god was gratified by the sight of blood. The persecution that was carried on in so-called Christian countries in times past and is to some extent even now, is but the outcropping of this heathen idea of propitiation. Ecclesiastical leaders imagine that salvation is by works and that men by works can atone for sin, and so they offer the one whom they think rebellious as a sacrifice to their god not to the true God, because he is not pleased with such sacrifices. WOR 63.2

Righteousness Declared.-To declare righteousness is to speak righteousness. God speaks righteousness to man, and then he is righteous. The method is the same as in the creation in the beginning. “He spake, and it was.” “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. WOR 63.3

God’s Justice in Redemption.-Christ is set forth to declare God’s righteousness for the remission of sins, in order that he might be just and at the same time the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. God justifies sinners, for they are the only ones who need justification. The justice of declaring a sinner to be righteous lies in the fact that he is actually made righteous. Whatever God declares to be so, is so. And then he is made righteous by the life of God given him in Christ.

The sin is against God, and if he is willing to forgive it, he has the right to do so. No unbeliever would deny the right of a man to overlook a trespass against him. But God does not simply overlook the trespass; he gives his life as a forfeit. Thus he upholds the majesty of the law, and is just in declaring that man righteous who was before a sinner. Sin is remitted sent away from the sinner, because sin and righteousness can not exist together, and God puts his own righteous life into the believer. So God is merciful in his justice, and just in his mercy. WOR 63.4

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, Like the wideness of the sea; There’s a kindness in his justice, That is more than liberty.”

Establishing the Law

February 6, 1896

We now come to the close of the third chapter of Romans. We found that righteousness is the free gift of God unto every one who believes. It is not that God gives a man righteousness as a reward for believing certain dogmas; the Gospel is something entirely different from that. It is this, that true faith has Christ alone as its object, and it brings Christ’s life actually into the heart; and therefore it must bring righteousness.

This act of mercy on the part of God is eminently just, because in the first place the sin is against God, and he has a right to pass by offences against him; and, further, it is just, because he gives his own life as an atonement for the sin, so that the majesty of the law is not only maintained, but is magnified. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10. God is just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. All righteousness is from him alone. WOR 64.1

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also; seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:27-31. WOR 64.2

Questioning the Text

What have we previously learned as to the condition of all men? WOR 64.3

“Guilty before God.” “For all have sinned.” WOR 64.4

What is God to them that believe? WOR 64.5

“The justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” WOR 64.6

How does he justify those who have sinned? WOR 64.7

“Freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” WOR 64.8

What righteousness does the man so justified have? WOR 64.9

“The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” WOR 64.10

Where is boasting then? WOR 64.11

“It is excluded.” WOR 64.12

By what law? of works? WOR 64.13

“Nay; but by the law of faith.” WOR 64.14

What then is the conclusion? WOR 64.15

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” WOR 64.16

Is God the God of the Jews only? is he not of the gentiles also? WOR 64.17

“Yes, of the Gentiles also.” WOR 64.18

What is the proof? WOR 64.19

“Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” WOR 64.20

Do we then make void the law through faith? WOR 65.1

“God forbid [Not by any means]; yes, we establish the law.” WOR 65.2

No Boasting.-Since righteousness is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ, it is evident that no one can justly boast of any righteousness that he has. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9. “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. WOR 65.3

What Boasting Proves.-“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. Boasting therefore is an evidence of a sinful heart. But suppose a man boasts of his righteousness, as, for instance, when a man says that he has lived without sin for so many years? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8. But are not the grace and power of God manifested in Christ to cleanse and keep us from sin? Most certainly; but only when in humility we acknowledge that we are sinners. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. When we say that we have no sin, that very thing is evidence that we have; but when with faith in the word of the Lord we say that we are sinners, then the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. In the plan of salvation there is no place for human pride and boasting. WOR 65.4

No Boasting in Heaven.-The result of boasting in heaven is seen in the case of Satan. Once he was one of the covering cherubs above the throne of God. But he began to contemplate his own glory and goodness, and his fall was the consequence. “Thou hast sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” Ezekiel 28:16, 17. If the saints after their translation should begin to boast of their sinlessness, they would be as bad as they ever were. But that will never be. All who are admitted to heaven will have fully learned the lesson that God is all and in all. There will not be a voice or a heart silent in the song of praise, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” WOR 65.5

The Law of Works.-The law of works does not exclude boasting. If a man were justified by works, he would have whereof to boast over another who had the same privilege, but did not use it. In that case the righteous could boast over the wicked; and people would continually be comparing themselves with one another to see who had done the most. The law of works is simply the Ten Commandments in form only. Compliance with the law of works enables one to appear outwardly righteous, while within he is full of corruption. Yet the one who follows the law of works is not always necessarily a hypocrite. He may have an earnest desire to keep the commandments, but may be deceived into thinking that he can work them out of himself. WOR 65.6

The Law of Faith.-This has for its object the same thing as the law of works, namely, the commandments of God, but the result is different. The law of works deceives a man with a form; the law of faith gives him the substance. The law of faith is the law “as it is in Jesus.” The one may be a sincere attempt to keep the law; the other is the actual accomplishment of that desire, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The Ten Commandments as given by the Lord are only a law of faith, since God never designed that they should be taken in any other way; and he never expected that anybody could get righteousness from them in any other way than by faith. The law of works is man’s perversion of the law of God. WOR 66.1

Faith without Works.-“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Because there is no other means by which he could be justified! We have before seen that all men are sinners, and that no man has power in himself to perform the deeds of the law, no matter how strong his desires. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Romans 2:13. But “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20. Therefore whoever is justified, or made righteous at all, must be made righteous by faith alone, wholly apart from the deeds of the law. This is of universal application. It means that justification, first, last, and all the time, is by faith alone. The Christian can not be justified by works any more than the sinner can be. No man can ever get so good and strong that his own deeds can justify him. WOR 66.2

Faith and Works.-But that is not to say that works have nothing to do with faith. Justification means making just, or making righteous. Righteousness is right doing. Faith which justifies, therefore, is faith which makes a man a doer of the law, or, rather, which puts the doing of the law into him. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly. That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:8. A man is not justified by faith and works, but by faith alone, which works. WOR 66.3

One God for All.-There is but “one God and Father of all.” Ephesians 4:6. He “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” “for we are also his offspring.” Acts 16:26, 28. “There is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11. “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:35. The Scripture saith: “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Romans 10:11, 12. WOR 66.4

One Means of Justification.-The fact that justification is only by faith, and that God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), shows that God regards Jew and Gentile alike. Nor is there any evidence that he ever did put any difference between them. A believing gentile was always accounted righteous, and an unbelieving Jew was never considered by the Lord any better than any other unbeliever. Remember that Abraham, the father of the whole Jewish nation, was a Chaldean. The Jews were related to the Chaldeans who remained in their native land, just as surely as they were to one another in the land of Canaan. Unfortunately, they forgot this; but they are not the only ones in the world who have forgotten that all men are their brethren. WOR 66.5

In the statement, “It is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith,” there is no need of stumbling over the prepositions. Bear in mind how often we use the words “by” and “through” interchangeably, to indicate means, and there will be no difficulty. The emphatic word is “faith.” Both circumcision and uncircumcision are justified through, or by means of, faith. WOR 67.1

Making Void the Law.-Making void the law does not mean abolishing it. There is no question as to the perpetuity of the law. It is so plainly eternal that the apostle Paul never wastes space in arguing about it. The only question is as to how its claim may be satisfied. The Saviour said that the Jews made the commandment of God of none effect through their tradition. So far as they were concerned, they made it void. No man could by any action or lack of action abolish or in any way affect the law of God. But anybody may by his unbelief obliterate it from his own heart. The question then is, Do we by faith make the law of God of none effect? Or, more plainly still, Does faith lead to the transgression of the law? The answer is, “Not by any means.” WOR 67.2

Establishing the Law.-That which has been said in regard to making void the law of God will apply here also. That is, no action of man can make the law anything different from what it actually is. It is the foundation of the throne of God, and as such it will ever abide, in spite of demons and men. But it is left for us to say whether or not we will have it obliterated from our hearts, or have it established there. If we choose to have it established in our hearts, we have only to accept Christ by faith. Faith brings Christ to dwell in the heart. Ephesians 3:17. The law of God is in the heart of Christ (Psalm 40:8), so that the faith which brings Christ into the heart establishes the law there. And since the law of God is the establishment of his throne, the faith which brings the law into the heart, enthrones God there. And thus it is that God works in men “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Chapter 4

The Blessing of Abraham

February 13, 1896

The ultimate object of studying any Bible book in detail is to be able to take in the entire book at one glance. The second chapter and the first portion of the third of Romans have given us the information that all men are in the same deplorable condition. Then comes the brighter side in the last part of the third chapter, in which the free grace of God is set forth in Christ as the Saviour of sinners. And now in the fourth chapter we have the final argument concerning justification by faith. WOR 68.1

The Case of Abraham

“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?

for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” Romans 4:1-12. WOR 68.2

Questioning the Text

What is the theme for consideration in this chapter? WOR 68.3

What “Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found.” WOR 68.4

What would Abraham have if he were justified by works? WOR 68.5

If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory.” WOR 68.6

But can he glory? WOR 68.7

“Not before God.” WOR 68.8

How is this proved? WOR 68.9

By “the Scripture.” WOR 68.10

“What saith the Scripture?” WOR 68.11

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” WOR 68.12

What was counted unto him for righteousness? WOR 68.13

His faith. WOR 68.14

How would the reward be reckoned if it were the reward of works? WOR 68.15

Not “of grace, but of debt.” WOR 68.16

How is it to him that worketh not? WOR 68.17

“His faith is counted for righteousness.” WOR 68.18

Whom does God justify? WOR 69.1

“The ungodly.” WOR 69.2

Who describes this blessedness? WOR 69.3

“David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” WOR 69.4

In what words? WOR 69.5

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” WOR 69.6

What important question arises here? WOR 69.7

“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?” WOR 69.8

What gives rise to this question? WOR 69.9

“For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” WOR 69.10

How was it reckoned to Him? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? WOR 69.11

“Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” WOR 69.12

What did Abraham receive? WOR 69.13

“He received the sign of circumcision.” WOR 69.14

What was the value of this sign? WOR 69.15

“A seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” WOR 69.16

When did he have this righteousness of faith? WOR 69.17

“Yet being uncircumcised.” WOR 69.18

Why was his faith reckoned to him for righteousness when he was yet uncircumcised? WOR 69.19

“That he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised.” WOR 69.20

Of whom else is he the father? WOR 69.21

“The father of circumcision.” WOR 69.22

To what circumcised ones is he the father? WOR 69.23

“To them who are not of the circumcision only.” WOR 69.24

What must the circumcised children of Abraham necessarily have in addition to their circumcision? WOR 69.25

“That faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” WOR 69.26

“As Pertaining to the Flesh.” -Abraham was not the father, or ancestor, according to the flesh, of all those to whom Paul addressed the epistle. The question under consideration is justification by faith. If now it can be shown that even Abraham received no righteousness

through the flesh, but that it was only by faith, the case will be practically settled. WOR 69.27

Glorying.-If in the plan of salvation there were any such thing as righteousness by works, then there would be provision made for boasting. For if one may be saved by works, then all men may be; and then those who were saved might boast of their superiority to others in like circumstances. But we have already learned that boasting is excluded. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.” WOR 69.28

Glorying In, and Glorying Before.-If Abraham were justified by works, he might glory; but the fact is that he can not glory before God; and the proof of this is found in the words of Scripture: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” A man can be justified by works when it can be shown that he has done no wrong. In that case he needs no faith; his works speak for themselves. But Abraham was justified by faith, and therefore it is evident that he was not justified by any works. He who is justified only by the works of God, will glory only in those works. That is glorying in God, and is far different from glorying before God. WOR 69.29

Paul and James.-Here is where nearly everybody quotes the words of James, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” James 2:21. Unfortunately this text is usually quoted as a disparagement of the words of Paul. It seems to be taken for granted that there is a contradiction between Paul and James; and sympathy naturally leans to James, because people like to believe that there is some merit in their own works, and they imagine that this is what

James teaches. Indeed, there are some who hold that James wrote for the purpose of correcting Paul’s “extreme views” of justification by faith. We may well throw all such foolish and wicked ideas to the winds. No one need hope to come to an understanding of the Scriptures until he approaches them with the settled conviction that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Holy Spirit does not at one time inspire words which must later on be corrected. WOR 70.1

Faith Working.-The trouble with those who thus read the words of James is that they suppose that the apostle says that Abraham was justified by his own works of faith. “Seest thou how faith wrought?” That is ever the mark of living faith, as the apostle is showing. And that is just the statement of the apostle Paul. The last verse of the third chapter of Romans tells us that by faith we establish the law. Moreover, the very term “justification” shows that faith performs the requirement of the law.

Faith makes a man a doer of the law, for that is the meaning of the term “justification by faith.” So in James we read that the works of Abraham simply showed the perfection of his faith. “And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” The apostle James, therefore, teaches the same kind of justification that Paul does. If he did not, one or the other or both of them would be discredited as apostles. Justification by faith which works is the only kind of justification known in the Bible. WOR 70.2

Debt and Grace.-“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” It is necessary to keep in mind what the apostle is writing about. The subject is the means by which a man is justified. To him that works for justification, the reward of righteousness is not a gift of grace, but the payment of a debt. That is, it would be so if there were any righteousness by works. In that case, the man would come to the Lord and demand of him his due. But no man can put the Lord under obligation to him. “Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” Romans 11:35. If any one could do something for the Lord for which the Lord would be under obligation to him, then all things would not be from him. That is to say, the idea of justification by works is opposed to the fact that God is the Creator of all things. And, conversely, the recognition of God as Creator is the acknowledgement that righteousness comes from him alone. WOR 70.3

Justifying the Ungodly.-God justifies the ungodly. No others need justification. But mark that he does not justify ungodliness. That would be to call evil good, and to deny himself. But he justifies or makes righteous the ungodly, and that is just what they need. He justifies the believing sinner by making him a new man in Christ Jesus, and this he can do and still be just. To make a new man in righteousness is perfectly in harmony with his own character as Creator. WOR 70.4

Working Not.-“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Bear in mind that justification is the subject under consideration. When the apostle speaks of not working, it is evident that he means not working in order to be justified. A man is not made just by works, but the just man works yet always by faith. “The just shall live by faith.” It is faith that makes him continue to live justly. The reality of the works of faith is made more prominent in the latter part of this chapter. WOR 70.5

The Blessedness Described.-The blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works is the blessedness of sins forgiven, and of freedom from the power of sin. God will not impute sin to the man who lives by faith in Christ, so that Christ’s works are his works. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; ... for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him.” Colossians 2:6-10. WOR 71.1

Blessings to Jew and Gentile.-This blessedness comes alike to the circumcision and to the uncircumcision. We have here a repetition of the truth set forth in the third chapter, namely, that there is no difference in the matter of justification. Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation after the flesh, but the blessing which he received was while he was uncircumcised, the same as any other gentile. Therefore he can be the father of both the Jews and the gentiles. His blessing was received by faith, and therefore “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Galatians 3:9. WOR 71.2

How the Blessing Comes.-We have some time ago seen that the blessing came to Abraham through Christ. In another place the apostle Paul tells us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; that the blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13, 14. Whatever was promised to Abraham was all contained in the blessing which David described. God sent his Son to bless us in turning every one of us away from our iniquities. Acts 3:26. It is the cross of Christ that transmits the blessings of Abraham to us. Therefore the blessings are spiritual. None of the blessings promised to Abraham were merely temporal. And this further shows that the inheritance promised to Abraham and his seed is only to those who are the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. WOR 71.3

Circumcision is Nothing.-The advantage of those who are circumcised was that to them were intrusted the oracles of God; but that did not come to them through circumcision. Circumcision was only a sign; it was not the thing itself. It was given to Abraham as a token of the righteousness by faith which he already possessed. Therefore it could not signify anything more to anybody else. If any who were circumcised did not have righteousness, then their circumcision did not signify anything. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” 1 Corinthians 7:19. So Abraham was the father of the circumcised, provided they were not of the circumcision only, but had righteousness by faith, which is the one necessary thing. WOR 71.4

Everything in Christ.-Speaking of Christ, the apostle says, “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20. There is no promise of God to any man that ever lived on earth, or that will ever live, except through Jesus Christ. The promises to Israel, especially, which most concern us are those that were first made to Abraham. But “he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6. Therefore “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. So, then, the promise to Israel come through the cross of Christ; and none are Israel except those who have personal, saving faith in him. WOR 71.5

The Blessing of Abraham

February 20, 1896

In our lesson last week we began the study of Abraham as a special illustration of the doctrine of justification by faith. We found that Abraham could not glory before God, because he was justified by faith only, and not at all by works. But the verses which follow will involve a sufficient review of the first part of the chapter, and therefore we will at once proceed to the study of WOR 72.1

The Inheritance and the Heirs

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect; because the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:13-15. WOR 72.2

Questioning the Text

What promise was made to Abraham? WOR 72.3

“That he should be the heir of the world.” WOR 72.4

To whom was this promise made? WOR 72.5

“To Abraham” and “to his seed.” “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” Galatians 3:16. WOR 72.6

Who is the seed? WOR 72.7

“He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Galatians 3:16. WOR 72.8

Is Christ in his own person the only seed? WOR 72.9

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. WOR 72.10

Of what are Abraham and his seed heirs? WOR 72.11

“Of the world.” WOR 72.12

On what basis was this inheritance promised? WOR 72.13

“The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” WOR 72.14

If they which are of the law be heirs, what is the result? WOR 72.15

“Faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.” WOR 72.16

Why so? WOR 72.17

“Because the law worketh wrath.” WOR 72.18

If there were no law, what would there not be? WOR 73.1

“Where no law is, there is no transgression.” WOR 73.2

Why is it, then, that the law worketh wrath? WOR 73.3

Because “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:29. WOR 73.4

Where Is the Promise?

A very natural inquiry upon reading the thirteenth verse would be, Where is there any promise that Abraham and his seed should be heirs of the world? Many think that no such promise is contained in the Old Testament. But there can be no doubt about the matter, for the apostle says that there was such a promise. If we have not found it, it is because we have read the Old Testament too superficially, or with minds biased by preconceived opinions. If we consider the connection, we shall have no difficulty in locating the promise. WOR 73.5

Of what is the apostle speaking in this connection? Of an inheritance through the righteousness of faith, and also of the fact that circumcision was given to Abraham as a seal of this righteousness which he had by faith, and therefore as the seal of the inheritance which was to come thereby. Where in the Old Testament do we find the account of the giving of circumcision, and of a promise in connection therewith? In the seventeenth chapter of Genesis. Then that must be the place for us to look for the promise that Abraham should be the heir of the world. Let us turn and read: WOR 73.6

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.... And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.” Genesis 17:7-11. WOR 73.7

The reader will at once say: “Yes; it is plain enough that there is a promise here; but what we are looking for is the promise that Abraham and his seed should inherit the earth; and I do not see that here. All that I can see is a promise that they should inherit the land of Canaan.” But it is certain from the connection in Romans that we are on the right track, and we shall soon see that this is indeed the promise that Abraham and his seed should be heirs of the world. We must study the details of this promise. And first let us note the fact that the inheritance promised in this place is WOR 73.8

An Everlasting Inheritance

The Lord said to Abraham, “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.” Note well that both Abraham and his seed are included in all the promise. The inheritance is not to be merely in the possession of Abraham’s seed forever, but Abraham himself is to have it for an everlasting possession. But the only way in which both Abraham and his seed may have everlasting possession of an inheritance, is by having everlasting life. Therefore we see that in this promise to Abraham we have the assurance of everlasting life in which to enjoy the possession. WOR 73.9

This will appear still more clearly when we consider that the inheritance is WOR 74.1

An Inheritance of Righteousness

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Romans 4:13. That is just what we have in the promise recorded in the seventeenth of Genesis. For that covenant was sealed by circumcision (see verse 11), and circumcision was the seal of righteousness by faith. See Romans 4:11. WOR 74.2

Someone may say that this does not appear from the Old Testament itself, and that therefore the Jews could not be expected to have understood it; we have the New Testament to enlighten us. It is true that in studying the Old Testament we owe much to the New Testament, but it is also a fact that there is no new revelation in it. One may see from the Old Testament alone that the inheritance promised to Abraham and to his seed was only on the condition of righteousness by faith. WOR 74.3

This is the natural conclusion from the fact that the inheritance is to be an everlasting possession. Now the Jews well knew that everlasting life belongs to the righteous alone. “The righteous shall never be removed; but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.” Proverbs 10:30. “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Psalm 37:9. “For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.” Verse 22. WOR 74.4

The fifth commandment reads, “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” The keeping of the commandments has never made any difference in the length of men’s lives in this present world. But the inheritance which God promised to Abraham is one that will be everlasting because of the righteousness of its possessors. WOR 74.5

The Promise and the Resurrection

Another point from the promise is recorded in Genesis, if we read carefully. The promise was to Abraham and to his seed. Now Stephen stated as a well-known fact that Abraham did not have so much of the promised land as he could set his foot on. Acts 7:5. We may learn this from the Old Testament record, because we are told that he had to buy from the Canaanites, whom God had promised to drive out, a spot of land in which to bury his wife. As for his immediate descendants, we know that they dwelt in tents, wandering from place to place, and that Jacob died in the land of Egypt. WOR 74.6

Further than this, we read the words of David, whose reign was at the time of the highest prosperity of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears; for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” Psalm 39:12. See also his prayer at the consecration of the gifts to the temple, when Solomon was made king. 1 Chronicles 29:15. WOR 75.1

Still further, and this is most positive of all, we have the words of God to Abraham when he made the promise. After telling him that he would give the land of Canaan to him and to his seed, the Lord said that his seed should first be slaves in a strange land. “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again.” Genesis 15:7, 13-16. Thus we see that Abraham was plainly told that he should die before he had any inheritance in the land, and that it would be at least four hundred years before any of his seed could inherit it. WOR 75.2

But Abraham died in faith, and so did his seed. See Hebrews 11:13. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” They died in faith, because they knew that God could not lie. But since God’s promise must be fulfilled, and they did not receive the promised inheritance in this present life, we are shut up to the conclusion that it can be obtained only through the resurrection from the dead. WOR 75.3

This was the hope that sustained the faithful Israelites. Abraham had faith to offer Isaac upon the altar because his faith was in God’s power to raise the dead. When Paul was a prisoner on account of “the hope and resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6), he said, “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.” And then, to show the reasonableness of this hope, he asked, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Acts 26:6-8. WOR 75.4

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pledge and surety of the resurrection of those who believe on him. See 1 Corinthians 15:13-20. The apostles “preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2. And one of them says for our benefit, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5. And then he adds that this faith is tried that it may “be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” WOR 75.5

And this brings us to the conclusion of the matter, namely, that the promise to Abraham and to his seed that they should be heirs of the world, is WOR 75.6

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

The apostle Peter says that it is necessary to remind us of the words that were spoken by the holy prophets because “there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Therefore they do not believe in the promise at all. WOR 76.1

But they do not reason well, “for this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the world that then was being overflowed with water, perished; but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:5-7. WOR 76.2

Take notice that not only has the promise something to do with the fathers, but it concerns the whole earth. The complaint of the scoffers is that since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But the apostle shows that when they say so they shut their eyes to the fact that the same word that in the beginning made the heavens and the earth, also destroyed the earth by the flood. Also the earth is by the same word now preserved until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, when it will be destroyed by fire. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13. WOR 76.3

According to What Promise?-Why, according to the promise to the fathers, which was that Abraham and his seed should inherit the earth. It has been a long time, as men count, since that promise was made, but “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise.” It has not been so long since it was made that he has forgotten it; for “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The reason why he has waited this long is that he is not willing that any should perish in the fires that will renew the earth, but he desires that all should come to repentance. WOR 76.4

And so we find that we have as great an interest in the promise to Abraham as he himself had. That promise is still open for all to accept. It embraces nothing less than an eternal life of righteousness in the earth made new as it was in the beginning. The hope of the promise of God unto the fathers was the hope of the coming of the Lord to raise the dead, and thus to bestow the inheritance. Christ was once here on the earth, but then he did not have any more of the inheritance than Abraham had. He had not where to lay his head. God is now sending his Holy Spirit to seal the believers for the inheritance, even as he did to Abraham; and when all the faithful shall have been sealed by the Spirit, “he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:20, 21.

The Surety of the Promise

February 27, 1896

In our last lesson we learned what Abraham found, and how he found it. At the same time we have learned what God has promised us as well as Abraham, if we believe his word. God has promised to every man who believes him nothing less than the freedom of the world. This is not an arbitrary thing. God has not said that if we will believe certain statements and dogmas, he will in return give us an everlasting inheritance. The inheritance is one of righteousness; and since faith means the reception of the life of Christ into the heart, together with God’s righteousness, it is evident that there is no other way in which the inheritance can be received. This is further made clear by a statement in the last section, which was not noted, namely, that WOR 77.1

“The Law Worketh Wrath.” -Therefore whoever thinks to get righteousness by the law is putting his trust in that which will destroy him. God has promised a grant of land to every one who will accept it on his conditions, namely, that he shall also accept the righteousness which goes with it, because righteousness is the characteristic of the land. Righteousness is to “dwell” in it.

But this righteousness can be found only in the life of God, which is manifested in Christ. Now the man who thinks that he himself can get righteousness out of the law is in reality trying to substitute his own righteousness for God’s righteousness. In other words, he is trying to get the land by fraud. Therefore when he comes in the court to prove his claim to the land, it appears that there is a criminal charge against him; and he finds “wrath” instead of blessing. “Where no law is, there is no transgression;” but there is law everywhere, and therefore transgression. All have sinned, so that the inheritance can not be by the law. WOR 77.2

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations), before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken,

So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justificatio

n.” Romans 4:16-25. WOR 77.3

Questioning the Text

What have we already found the inheritance to be? WOR 78.1

“The world.” WOR 78.2

And how is it to be obtained? WOR 78.3

“Through the righteousness of faith.” WOR 78.4

If it were of works, what would be the result? WOR 78.5

“Faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.” WOR 78.6

Why? WOR 78.7

“Because the law worketh wrath.” WOR 78.8

Why is the inheritance of faith? WOR 78.9

“That it might be by grace.” WOR 78.10

To what end? WOR 78.11

“To the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” WOR 78.12

Of whom is Abraham the father? WOR 78.13

“The father of us all.” WOR 78.14

Before whom? WOR 78.15

“Before him whom he believed, even God.” WOR 78.16

According to what scripture? WOR 78.17

“As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations.” WOR 78.18

How could God say to Abraham before he had any child, “I have made thee a father of many nations”? WOR 78.19

He “quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things that be not as though they were.” WOR 78.20

How did Abraham receive the promise of God? WOR 78.21

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.” WOR 78.22

In what was he strong? WOR 78.23

He “was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” WOR 78.24

Of what was he persuaded? WOR 78.25

“Fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” WOR 78.26

What was the result? WOR 78.27

“Therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” WOR 78.28

For whose sake was this written? WOR 79.1

“For us also.” WOR 79.2

Why for our sakes? WOR 79.3

“To whom it shall be imputed.” WOR 79.4

What shall be imputed? WOR 79.5

That which was imputed to Abraham, namely, righteousness. WOR 79.6

On what condition will it be imputed to us also? WOR 79.7

“If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” WOR 79.8

Why was he delivered to death? WOR 79.9

He “was delivered for our offenses.” WOR 79.10

For what purpose was he raised again? WOR 79.11

He “was raised again for our justification. WOR 79.12

Sure to All.-Since the inheritance is through the righteousness of faith, it is equally sure to all the seed, and equally within the reach of all. Faith gives all an equal chance, because faith is just as easy for one person as for another. God has dealt to every man a measure of faith, and to all the same measure, for the measure of grace is the measure of faith, and “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7. Christ is given without reserve to every man. Hebrews 2:9. Therefore, as the same measure of faith and grace is given to all men, all have an equal opportunity to gain the inheritance. WOR 79.13

Jesus Is the Surety.-Faith makes the promise sure to all the seed, because it has Christ alone for its object, and he is the surety of the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20. We read also of the oath of God, by which Jesus was made high priest, that “by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament,” or covenant. Hebrews 7:22. Now Jesus was not given for a certain class, but for all without distinction.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9. He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Christ dwells in the heart by faith. Ephesians 3:17. Therefore, since Christ is the surety of the promise, it must be sure to every one who believes. WOR 79.14

The Oath of God.-It may seem to some a little far-fetched to say that the oath by which Jesus was made priest is the surety of the promise to Abraham. But a little consideration will enable any one to see that it can be no other way. In the sixth chapter of Hebrews we read: “When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee....

God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” WOR 80.1

For Our Sakes.-Why did God confirm his promise to Abraham by an oath? That we might have a strong consolation. It was not for Abraham’s sake, because Abraham believed fully without the oath. His faith was shown to be perfect before the oath was given. It was altogether for our sakes. When does that oath give us strong consolation? When we flee for refuge to Christ as priest in the most holy place. Within the vail he ministers as high priest; and it is the oath of God that gives us courage to believe that his priesthood will save us.

Then our consolation comes from Christ’s priesthood, and so from the oath which made him priest. Therefore the oath of God to Abraham was identical with the oath that made Christ high priest. This shows most plainly that the promise of God to Abraham is as wide as the gospel of Christ. And so our text, speaking of the righteousness that was imputed to Abraham, says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” WOR 80.2

The Power of God’s Word.-God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Sometimes men do the same thing, but we soon lose confidence in them. When men speak of things that are not as though they were, there is only one proper name for it. It is a lie. But God calls those things that be not as though they were, and it is the truth. What makes the difference? Simply this: Man’s word has no power to make a thing exist when it does not exist. He may say that it does, but that does not make it so. But when God names a thing, the very thing itself is in the word that names it. He speaks, and it is. It was by this power of God that Abraham was made the father of many nations, even of us, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again. WOR 80.3

Quickening the Dead.-It is by the power of God’s word which can speak of those things that be not as though they were and have it true, that the dead are raised. His word makes them live. It was Abraham’s faith in the resurrection of the dead that made him the father of many nations. God’s oath to Abraham was on the occasion of his offering Isaac. Genesis 22:15-18. And “by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” Hebrews 11:17-19. WOR 80.4

Righteousness and Resurrection.-The righteousness which was imputed to Abraham will be imputed to us also if we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Therefore it follows that righteousness was imputed to Abraham because of his faith in the resurrection of the dead, which comes only through Jesus. Acts 4:2. That was what the apostles preached the promises to the fathers. The power by which a man is made righteous is the power of the resurrection. See Philippians 3:9-11. This power of the resurrection, which works righteousness in a man, is the surety of the final resurrection to immortality at the last day by which he enters upon his inheritance. WOR 81.1

Not Weakened in Faith.-Some versions of Romans 4:19 give the idea, “Without being weakened in faith, he considered his own body now as good as dead.” That is to say, after God had made the promise to him, a full consciousness of his weakness and of all the difficulties and seeming impossibilities in the way did not have any effect in weakening his faith. Nothing is impossible with God, and there are no difficulties for him. Whenever a person is inclined to doubt the possibility of his salvation, let him stop and consider that God made the world by his word, and that he raises the dead, and that it is by that same power that God will save him if he is willing. To doubt God’s promise to deliver us from all evil is to doubt the fact that he created all things by his word, and that he is able to raise the dead.

They did indeed have more than others, but they had nothing that they had not received, yet they boasted as though they had not received it. They glorified themselves, rather than God, for the knowledge that they had; and therefore they put themselves in the condition of the heathen who “when they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations.” Whatever reader is inclined to censure the ancient Jews for their vain boasting, let him remember how he himself has often felt on comparing himself with the inhabitants of heathen countries, and with the “lowest class” in his own land. WOR 42.3

God’s Will His Law.-The apostle says that the Jew knows the will of God, because he is instructed out of the law. This is sufficient to show that the law of God is his will. Indeed, no argument should be needed on this point. The will of any government is expressed in its law. Where there is an absolute ruler, his will is always law. God is an absolute ruler, although not an arbitrary one, and as his will is the sole rule of right, it follows that his will is law. But his law is summed up in the Ten Commandments; therefore the Ten Commandments contain a summary statement of the will of God. WOR 42.4

The Form of Knowledge and Truth.-Although the Ten Commandments contain a statement of the will of God, which is the perfection of wisdom and truth, they are only a statement, and not the thing itself, just the same as a picture of a house is not a house, although it may be a perfect picture. Mere words written in a book or graven in stone have no life; but we know that the law of God is life everlasting. Only in Christ can the living law be found, since he is the only manifestation of the Godhead.

Whoever has the life of Christ dwelling in him, has the perfect law of God manifest in his life. But he who has only the letter of the law, and not Christ, has only the form of knowledge and of truth. Thus, the law is often rightly said to be a photograph of the character of God. But a photograph or other picture is only the shadow of the reality; it is not the very substance. He who has Christ has both the form and the substance, since one can not have a thing without also possessing its form. But he who has only the statement of the truth, without Christ who alone is the Truth has the form of godliness without the power thereof. WOR 42.5

Hard Questions.-In verses 21-23 the apostle asks some hard questions. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?”

Let each soul that has been wont to pride himself upon the correctness of his life answer these questions for himself. It is easy and natural for a man to pride himself upon his “morality.” Men who are not Christians comfort themselves with the thought that they live “moral” lives, and that therefore they are as well off as though they were Christians. Let all such know that there is no morality except conformity to the law of God. Everything that is in any respect below the standard of that law is immorality. Knowing this, let them see if they have perfectly kept that law. WOR 43.1

“Dost Thou Steal?” -Most people will say, “No; I am honest in all my dealing.” Very well, but let us not decide the case offhand. Let us examine the Scripture. It says, “The law is spiritual.” Romans 7:14. “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. No matter how correct we are in our outward acts, if in spirit or thought we have transgressed, we are guilty.

The Lord looks at the heart, instead of the outward appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7. Again, it is just as wrong to steal from God as to steal from man; have you given God his due? Have you dealt in a perfectly honest way with him? Hear what he says: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Malachi 3:8, 9. Does this mean you? Have you rendered to God that which is his due in tithes and offerings? If not, what will you answer when the word of inspiration asks, “Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” WOR 43.2

“The Law Is Spiritual.” -In the fifth chapter of Matthew the Saviour has set forth the spirituality of the law. He says that unless our righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we can not enter the kingdom of heaven. What was their righteousness? He said to them, “Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:28. Therefore, unless we are righteous inwardly, we are nothing. God desires “truth in the inward parts.” Psalm 51:6. Following on in the fifth chapter of Matthew, the Saviour shows that one may break the sixth commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not kill,” by the utterance of a single word. He also shows that we may break the seventh commandment which says,

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” by a look and a thought. The same principle of course obtains with all the commandments. This being the case, it becomes one to be very careful about saying that he has perfectly kept the law. WOR 43.3

Some have said that the Ten Commandments are a very low standard, and that a man might keep them all and still not be worthy of admission into respectable society. Such know nothing about the law. As a matter of fact, a man may break all the commandments, and still figure as a shining light in the “best society.” WOR 43.4

The Name of God Blasphemed.-“The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you, as it is written.” Who has done this? The one who teaches the law, and who says that one who teaches the law and who says that one should not take the name of the Lord in vain. When David sinned in the case of Uriah’s wife, God said to him, “By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” 2 Samuel 12:14. That is, he was a professed follower of the Lord, and by his violation of the law of the Lord he had given unbelievers a chance to say, “

There, that is a specimen of Christianity.” Who is there that can say that as a professed follower of the Lord he has always correctly represented the truth? Who is there that must not admit to himself and God that, either by his words or actions, he has very often misrepresented the truth which he professed? Who is there that has not by his failures, either in teaching or acting, given people a miserably inadequate idea of what true godliness is? In short, who is there that must not say yes to the apostle’s question, “Through breaking the law, dishonorest thou God?” And since thus the name of God is blasphemed through professed Christians, who is there that can declare himself guiltless before God’s law?

Jew and Gentile

January 2, 1896

In these verses we have had some sharp questions to those who are “called Jews,” that is, who profess to be followers of the Lord. Mere form and profession do not constitute one a proper teacher of the truth of God. He who does not exhibit in his life the power of that which he professes, is only a detriment to the cause. In the verses now before us we have a brief but explicit statement concerning WOR 45.1

Circumcision and Uncircumcision. Romans 2:25-29

“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore, if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” WOR 45.2

Questioning the Text

What does the apostle say of circumcision? WOR 45.3

“Circumcision verily profiteth.” WOR 45.4

When does circumcision profit? WOR 45.5

“If thou keep the law.” WOR 45.6

What does circumcision sometimes become? WOR 45.7

“Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” WOR 45.8

Under what circumstances does this take place? WOR 45.9

“If thou be a breaker of the law.” WOR 45.10

What if the circumcised one keeps the righteousness of the law? WOR 45.11

“Shall not is uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” WOR 45.12

What is the relative standing of the uncircumcised law keeper and the circumcised law breaker? WOR 45.13

“Shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil, the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” WOR 45.14

Who is not a real Jew? WOR 45.15

“He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly.” WOR 45.16

What is not circumcision? WOR 45.17

“Neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.” WOR 45.18

Who is the true Jew? WOR 45.19

“He is a Jew, which is one inwardly.” WOR 45.20

Where is real circumcision? WOR 45.21

“Circumcision is that of the heart.” WOR 45.22

Of what does it consist? WOR 45.23

“In the spirit, and not in the letter.” WOR 45.24

Where is the glory and praise of real circumcision? WOR 45.25

“Whose praise is not of men, but of God.” WOR 45.26

Definition of Terms.-The two terms “circumcision” and” “uncircumcision” are here used not only to indicate the rite and the absence of it, but also to designate two classes of people. “The uncircumcision” evidently refers to those who were called gentiles, those who worshiped other gods. This use of the terms is very plain in the following passage: “When they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter (for he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles); and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:7-9. Here we find that the terms “uncircumcision,” “gentiles,” and “heathen,” all refer to the same people. WOR 46.1

Just what was the profit of circumcision, we are not told in this chapter. The statement of the fact was enough for this place, for the only point in the mind of the writer was to show what circumcision is, and who are the really circumcised. A great deal depends upon these few verses.

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