Chapter 11 All Israel Saved July 30, 1896 We now come to the eleventh chapter of Romans, the closing up of the special discussion of Israel. In each of these three chapters we are plainly shown that the Gentiles, if they believe, have an equal share with the Jews, and that the latter forfeit all the privileges of the people of God through unbelief. Nothing could show more plainly than do these chapters that all men are on a level, and that the promises of God are to all who believe, irrespective of birth or nation. WOR 175. Since this chapter is long, and we wish to present it all at one view, we do not reproduce the text, but urgently request the reader to study the chapter through carefully, reading it several times, before going further. WOR 175.2
Not a Castaway.-The Apostle Paul knew that God had not cast off his people, the lineal descendants of Abraham, and his proof was the fact that he himself was accepted with God. If the Jewish nation had been cast off by the Lord, then there would have been no hope for Paul, because he was “an Hebrew of the Hebrews.” The words “God forbid” mislead some people. The idea obtains that Paul was praying that the Lord would not cast off his people, lest he also should be cast away. Instead of “God forbid,” read, “by no means.” Then all is clear. Thus: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? By no means.” How do you prove that? Why, “I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” WOR 175.3
The Remnant.-In the illustration from Elijah’s time, we learn something further about the matter of acceptance and rejection. It seemed then as though all Israel had departed from the Lord, but there were seven thousand men who had not acknowledged Baal. “Even so at this present moment there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” The grace of God appears to all men, and is extended to all. Those who accept the grace are the elect, no matter of what tribe or nation they are. Although the plan of salvation embraces all the world, it is a sad fact that but few of any people or generation will accept it. “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” WOR 176.1
The Olive Tree.-While there are single expressions in the eleventh chapter of Romans that are difficult to understand, the chapter as a whole is very simple. Under the figure of an olive tree, the people of God are represented, and by the figure of grafting, the relation of all men to God is shown. Before going into the particulars of this illustration, we must for a moment consider the WOR 176.2
“Commonwealth of Israel.” -In the second chapter of Ephesians we learn that as Gentiles, the Ephesians had been “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” “having no hope, and without God in the world.” That is, those who are not of the commonwealth of Israel are without God; or, those who are without God are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Now Christ is the only manifestation of God to man, and “he came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11.
Therefore the mass of the Jewish nation were without God, just as surely as the heathen were, and consequently were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. The same chapter of Ephesians tells us that Christ came to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles unto God, showing that both were separate from him. Still further in the same chapter we learn that the commonwealth of Israel is the “household of God,” and is composed of saints, those who are reconciled to God. Only such are not “strangers and foreigners” from Israel. WOR 176.3
The Origin of Israel.-The name originated that night when Jacob wrestled with the Lord, and finally by his faith obtained the blessing that he sought. He could not gain anything whatever by his physical strength; indeed, one touch by the Lord was sufficient to make him utterly helpless; but it was when, in his utter helplessness, he cast himself in simple faith on the Lord, that he gained the victory, and was named Israel prince of God. This title was applied to all his descendants, although it strictly belonged only to those who had living faith in God, just as we use the term “Christian” of those who are in “the church,” with no thought of asserting that they really know the Lord. WOR 176.4
A Righteous Nation.-Much is said of the unbelief of the children of Israel; but there were times when they as an entire nation had faith to a marked degree. One instance will suffice at present. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” Hebrews 11:30. Thirteen times the whole host marched round the city, seemingly to no purpose, without a murmur. Such faith showed that they were then a righteous nation, in close union with God; because, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1. Then their name truly indicated their character; they were Israelites indeed. They were walking “in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham.” WOR 176.5
Severed Branches.-But they did not keep the faith. “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” Hebrews 3:14. This they did not do, and so they became “without Christ,” “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” Ephesians 2:12. In Romans 11:17 the apostle asks, What “if some of the branches be broken off?” etc., not meaning, however, to imply that some were not broken off, as we learn from what follows. For he says, “Because of unbelief they were broken off” (verse 20), and again, “God hath concluded them all in unbelief” (verse 32), thus showing that all were broken off.
So we find the people who were “beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (verse 28) and who had at one time in their history been “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) reduced through their unbelief to the level of those who had never known God. WOR 177.1 Grafted Branches.-All the branches of the olive tree Israel were broken off through unbelief. To supply their places God took branches from the wild olive tree the Gentiles and grafted them on. This grafting was “contrary to nature” (verse 24), since it was wholly a work of grace. If it had been according to nature, then the branches would have borne natural fruit, and there would be no gain from the grafting, since the natural fruit was bad. See Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:1, 2. But a miracle was wrought by grace, and the branches that were grafted in partook of the nature of the root. The fruit of the grafted-in branches is no more natural, but that of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23. WOR 177.2
A Reunion.-We must remember that God did not cast off his people. They fell away through unbelief. “They also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is able to graff them in again.” Verse 23. The Jew has as good a chance as the Gentile. “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 10:12. Christ came “that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross,” and “through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:16, 18. WOR 177.3
No Change of Plan.-Let us not forget that in thus grafting in the Gentiles to take the place of rebellious Israel, there has been no change in God’s plan. It was all included in the original promise to Abraham. “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:7, 8. In the beginning God made Adam, the father of the human race. Adam was the son of God (Luke 3:38); therefore all his descendants are by right God’s people. He did not cast them off because they sinned. His love embraced the world (John 3:16), and it did not contract in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only advantage of Israel was that they had the privilege of carrying the glorious Gospel to the Gentiles, for whom it was always designed as much as for them. WOR 177.4
Visiting the Gentiles.-The Gentiles, as well as the descendants of Jacob, were from the beginning intended to become Israel. This was shown at the conference in Jerusalem. Peter told how he had been divinely sent to preach the Gospel to them, and that God put no difference between them and the Jews. Then James said: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:14-18. See also Amos 4:11-15. WOR 178.1 From the above we learn that the “tabernacle of David,” the house or kingdom of David, is to be restored through the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and that this is according to the mind of the Lord from the beginning of the world. What these scriptures need is not comment, but believing thought. WOR 178.2
“The Fullness of the Gentiles.” — “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Romans 11:25. Until the fullness of the Gentiles “be come” into what place? Into Israel, of course; for it is by the bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles that “all Israel shall be saved.” When will the fullness of the Gentiles “be come” in? The Lord himself furnishes the answer: “This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. God is visiting the Gentiles, “to take out of them a people for his name.” By them Israel is to be made full or complete. As soon as this work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles is finished, then the end will come. There will then be no more preaching to anybody, not to the Gentiles, because they will all have made the final decision; and not to the Jews, because then “all Israel shall be saved.” There will then be no more need of the Gospel; it will have accomplished its work. WOR 178.3
All through Christ.-Note carefully verses 25-27. When the fullness of the Gentiles shall have been brought in, “all Israel shall be saved.” Indeed, it is only by the bringing in of the Gentiles that all Israel will be saved. And this will be a fulfillment of that which is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Only through Christ can Israel be saved and gathered; and all who are Christ’s are Israel; for “if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. WOR 178.4 Taking Away Sin.-
There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, who shall turn away ungodliness from Israel. Christ is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. The high priest Caiaphas spoke by the Spirit “that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” John 11:51, 52. So Peter, speaking in the temple at Jerusalem, said: “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindred of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:25, 26.
The blessing of Abraham is the forgiveness of sins through Christ; and people of all nations become Israelites indeed by the taking away of iniquity. WOR 179.1 All of Faith.-It was through faith that Jacob became Israel. It was through unbelief that his descendants were broken off from the stock of Israel. It is through faith that the Gentiles are grafted in, and only by faith that they stand; and it is through faith that the Jews may become reunited to the parent stock. Faith in Christ is the only thing that makes one an Israelite, and only unbelief cuts one off from being an Israelite; this was fully shown by Christ when he marveled at the faith
of the centurion, saying; “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.” Matthew 8:10-12. WOR 179.2
All in Prison.-“God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” The word “conclude” means literally “to shut up,” as indicated in the margin. He hath “shut them all up together.” So in Galatians 3:22 we read that “the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” And the next verse speaks of all being “shut up” and guarded by the law. Both Jews and Gentiles “are all under sin.” Romans 3:9. All are shut up in prison together, with no hope of escape except by Christ, “the Deliverer,” who proclaims “liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isaiah 61:1. He comes as the deliverer “out of Zion,” bringing the freedom of “Jerusalem which is above.” Galatians 4:26. All therefore who accept the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, are the children of Jerusalem which is above, heirs of heavenly Canaan, members of the true commonwealth of Israel. WOR 179.3
Wonderful Knowledge.-“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” says the Lord. Isaiah 53:11. Thus by forgiving sins he will build the walls of Jerusalem (Psalm 51:18), and restore her captive children. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Let no one, therefore, presume to criticize God’s plan, or to reject it because he can not understand it. “For who hath been his counselor?” “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.” WOR 180.1
Chapter 12 Some Practical Exhortations August 6, 1896 We have now finished that which might be called the argumentative portion of the Epistle to the Romans. The five chapters which follow are devoted to exhortations to the church. Those in the chapter before us are very simple, but will be much better understood if read in connection with that which immediately precedes. Accordingly, we preface our reading of the twelfth chapter with the last four verses of the eleventh: WOR 181.1
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 11:33-36; 12:1-21. WOR 181.2
Questions on the Text What is the truth concerning the Lord? WOR 182.1 “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things.” WOR 182.2 What therefore is the reasonable thing for men to do? WOR 182.3 “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” WOR 182.4 What will be done for us if we thus yield ourselves? WOR 182.5 “Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” WOR 182.6
How should men think of themselves? WOR 182.7 “Think soberly.” WOR 182.8 What induces soberness of thought? WOR 182.9 “The measure of faith.” WOR 182.10 From whom does faith come? WOR 182.11 “God hath dealt... the measure of faith.” WOR 182.12 To whom has God dealt the measure of faith? WOR 182.13 “To every man.” WOR 182.14 What is the relation of men in Christ? WOR 182.15 “One body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” WOR 182.16 How should Christians feel towards persecutors? WOR 182.17 “Bless them which persecute you.” WOR 182.18 What should be our sympathies? WOR 182.19 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” WOR 182.20 How far is it possible for me to live at peace with all men? WOR 182.21 “As far as lieth in you.” WOR 182.22 With what is evil to be overcome? WOR 182.23 “With good.” WOR 182.24
A Logical Conclusion.-The closing verses of the eleventh chapter set forth the infinite, unsearchable power and wisdom of God. Nobody can add anything to him. No one can put God under obligations to Him. No one can give him something for which He should receive something in return. “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things.” “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:25, 28. WOR 182.25 This being so, it is but reasonable that all should yield their bodies to him, for him to control. He alone has the wisdom and the power to do it properly. The word “reasonable” is, literally, “logical.” The logical result of acknowledging God’s power and wisdom and love, is to submit to him. He who does not yield to God, virtually denies His existence. WOR 182.26
Exhorting and Comforting.-It is interesting to know that the Greek word rendered “beseech” is from the same root as “the Comforter,” applied to the Holy Spirit. It is the word used in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” It occurs also in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, “Comfort one another with these words.” The following passage contains the word several times, as indicated: “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. The fact that the Greek word for “exhort,” or “beseech,” is identical with that for “comfort,” may give a new force to the exhortations of the Spirit of God. WOR 183.1
There is comfort in the thought that God is all-powerful. Therefore there is comfort in all his exhortations and commandments, since he does not expect us to act in our own strength, but in his. When he utters a command, it is but the statement of what he will do in and for us, if we yield to his power. When he reproves, he is simply showing to us our need, which he can abundantly supply. The Spirit convicts of sin, but is always the Comforter. WOR 183.2
Power and Mercy.-“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy.” Psalm 62:11, 12. “God is love.” Therefore his power is love, so that when the apostle cites the power and wisdom of God as the reason why we should yield to him, he exhorts us by the mercies of God. Never forget that all the manifestation of God’s power is but the manifestation of his love, and that love is the power by which he works. Jesus Christ, in whom God’s love is revealed (1 John 4:10), is “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). WOR 183.3
True Nonconformity.-In England, religious people have often been divided into two classes: Churchmen and Nonconformists. Now every true Christian is a non-conformist, but not in the sense that the word is ordinarily used. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.” When those who call themselves Nonconformists adopt worldly methods, and engage in worldly schemes, then they dishonor the name. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” WOR 183.4
How to Think of Self.-The exhortation to every man is not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. How highly ought one to think of himself? “Put them in fear, O Lord; that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” Psalm 9:20. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Psalm 146:3. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isaiah 2:22.
“Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Psalm 39:5. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” 1 Corinthians 3:19, 20. “What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14. “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3. WOR 183.5
Faith and Humility.-Pride is the enemy of faith. The two can not live together. A man can think soberly and humbly only as the result of the faith that God gives. “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. The man who has confidence in his own strength and wisdom, will not depend upon another. Trust in the wisdom and power of God comes only when we recognize and acknowledge our own weakness and ignorance. WOR 184.1
Faith a Gift of God.-We read that God hath dealt the measure of faith to every man. Faith-trust in God-comes from a knowledge of his greatness and our littleness; of his strength and wisdom and our weakness and ignorance; of His righteousness and our sinfulness. God tells us these things, so that we may trust in him. WOR 184.2 What Faith Is Given.-That faith which God deals to man is indicated in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” God does not give faith to the saints only, any more than he gives the commandments to them alone; but the saints keep the faith, and others do not. The faith which they keep is the faith of Jesus; therefore it is the faith of Jesus that is given to men. WOR 184.3
Faith Given to Every Man.-Every man is exhorted to think soberly, because God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Many people have a notion that they are so constituted that it is impossible for them to believe. That is a grave error. Faith is just as easy, and just as natural, as breathing. It is the common inheritance of all men, and the one thing wherein all are equal. It is as natural for the child of the infidel to believe as it is for the child of the saint. It is only when men build up a barrier of pride about themselves (Psalm 73:6) that they find it difficult to believe. And even then they will believe; for when men disbelieve God, they believe Satan; when they disbelieve the truth, they greedily swallow the most egregious falsehoods. WOR 184.4
In What Measure?- We have seen that faith is given to every man. This may be known also by the fact that salvation is offered to every man, and placed within his grasp, and salvation is only by faith. If God had not given faith to every man, he could not have brought salvation within the reach of all. Now the question is, In what measure has God given every man faith? This is really answered in the fact already learned, that the faith which he gives is the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is given in the gift of Jesus himself, and Christ is given in his fullness to every man. He tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9. “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7. Christ is not divided; therefore to every man is given all of Christ and all of his faith. There is but one measure. WOR 184.5
The Body and Its Members.-“There is one body” (Ephesians 4:4), and that is the church, of which Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18). “We are members of his body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” Ephesians 5:30. There are many members in the body, “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” As in the human body, so in the body of Christ, “all members have not the same office;” yet they are so joined together, and so mutually dependent, that none can boast over the others. “The eye can not say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21. So it is in the true church of Christ; there are no divisions and no boastings, and no member seeks to occupy the place or perform the work of another. No member thinks himself independent of the others, and all have an equal care for one another. WOR 185.1
Various Gifts.-“All members have not the same office, and all have not the same gifts. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.... And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.... For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of Spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. WOR 185.2
“The Proportion of Faith.” -“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” As we have seen, there is but “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), and that is “the faith of Jesus.” Although there are various gifts, there is but one power behind them all. “All these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit.” Therefore, to prophesy or to exercise any other of the gifts “according to the proportion” or measure of faith, is to do it “as of the ability which God giveth.” 1 Peter 4:11. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” WOR 185.3
“In Honor Preferring One Another.” — This can be done only when one is able “in lowliness of mind” to esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3. And this can be done only when one knows his own worthlessness. The man who “knows the plague of his own heart” can not think that others are as bad as himself. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who ... made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” WOR 185.4
How to Treat Persecutors.-Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.” To curse does not necessarily always mean to use profane language, to swear. To curse means to speak ill. It is the opposite of bless, which means to speak well of. Sometimes men persecute according to law, and sometimes they persecute without any legal warrant; but whether it is “due process of law” or mob violence, no hard words are to be used against those who do it. On the contrary, they are to be spoken well of. One can not do this without the Spirit of Christ, who prayed for his betrayers and murderers, and who did not venture to bring railing accusation even against the devil. Jude 9. To hold persecutors up to contempt is not according to God’s instruction. WOR 186.1
Rejoicing and Weeping.-To rejoice with them that rejoice and to weep with them that weep, is not an easy thing for the natural man. Only the grace of God can work such sympathy in men. It is not so difficult to weep with those who are afflicted, but it is often very difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice. For instance, suppose another has received something which we very much desired, and is rejoicing over his gain; it requires much grace to rejoice with him. WOR 186.2 Keeping the Peace.-We are to live peaceably with all men if it be possible. But what is the limit of possibility?
Some will say that they tried to keep peace until “forbearance ceased to be a virtue,” and then they paid the troublesome one in his own coin. Many think that this verse exhorts them to hold out as long as they can, and not to take part in any disturbance until they have had great provocation.
But this verse says, “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” That is, there is to be no trouble so far as we are concerned. We can not always keep other people from warring, but we can be at peace ourselves. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. He who has this abiding peace of God, will never have any trouble with men. WOR 186.3
Christians and the State
August 13, 1896
We come now to the second of the purely hortatory chapters of Romans, the thirteenth. This chapter contains matter that is of the greatest importance, and which is perhaps the least regarded of any chapter in the book. Without any review we will proceed to read:- WOR 187.1
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this,
Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to wake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Romans 13. WOR 187.2
In studying this chapter it is necessary to remember that the Epistle is addressed to professed followers of the Lord. “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will,” etc. Romans 2:17, 18. And again, “Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law).” etc. Romans 7:1. The last part of the chapter also shows the same thing. It is a mistake, therefore, to suppose that this chapter was designed to set forth the duties of earthly rulers, or as a treatise on civil government, or on the relation that the state should occupy to the church. Since it is addressed to professed Christians, it is evident that its object is simply to tell them how they ought to behave towards the governments under which they live. WOR 187.3
All Power from God.-“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” Psalm 62:11. “There is no power but of God.” This is absolutely true, without any exception. The Roman power, even in the days of the infamous and brutal Nero, was as much derived from God as was the Jewish power in the days of David. When Pilate told Christ that he had power to crucify him or to let him go, Christ replied, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” John 19:11. This fact does not, however, prove that the acts of that power were right, or that God sanctioned them. WOR 188.1
This will be the more apparent if we take the cases of individuals. All human power comes from God. It is as true of the heathen as of Christians, that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being;” “for we are also His offspring.” Acts 17:28. It can as truly be said of every individual as of governments, that they are ordained, or appointed, of God. He has a plan for every one’s life. But that does not make God responsible for all their actions, because they are free to do as they choose, and they rebel against God’s plan, and pervert his gifts. The power with which the scoffer blasphemes God is as much from God as is the power with which the Christian serves him. Yet no one can suppose that God approves of blasphemy. Even so we are not to suppose that he necessarily approves the acts of governments, simply because the powers that be are ordained of him. WOR 188.2
“Ordained.” -Let no one entertain the idea that this word necessarily implies the imparting of some spiritual power. It means nothing more than appointed or ordered, which we find in the margin. The Greek word from which it is rendered is found in Acts 28:23, where we read that the Jews in Rome appointed a day for Paul to tell them about the Gospel. It could as well be said that they “ordained” a day for him. WOR 188.3
God over All.-“The higher powers” are not above the Most High. “Wisdom and might are His; and He changeth the times and the seasons; He removeth kings, and setteth up kings.” Daniel 2:20, 21. He set Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, over all the kingdoms of earth (see Jeremiah 17:5-8; Daniel 2:37, 38); but when Nebuchadnezzar arrogated to himself divine power, he was driven out among the beasts, that he might know that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Daniel 4:32). WOR 188.4
Resisting God.-Since there is no power but of God, ‘he that resisteth the power withstandeth the ordinance of God; and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment.” This is a warning against rebellion and insurrection. It is God who removes kings as well as sets them up. Therefore whoever presumes to remove a king is assuming God’s prerogative. It is as though he knew better than God when the government should be altered. Unless those who rise up against any earthly government can show a direct revelation to them from heaven appointing them to that work, they are setting themselves against God, by seeking to overthrow his order. They are putting themselves ahead of God. WOR 188.5
Resisting or Overthrowing.-To resist the civil authority is in the same line as seeking to overthrow it. He who opposes a power with force would overthrow it if the contest were continued and he had the power. This the followers of Christ are strictly forbidden to do. WOR 189.1
Christ’s Example.-Christ suffered, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, He threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” 1 Peter 2:21-23.
It is worth while to remember that Christ was condemned on a political charge, and for political reasons, yet he made no resistance, although He showed that He had power to do so. See John 18:5-11; Matthew 26:51-53. It may be said that Christ knew that his hour had come. True; but he did not resist at previous times. He continually committed himself into the hands of the Father. That is an example for his followers. If they are submissive in God’s hands, they can suffer no indignity nor oppression that God does not appoint or allow; no injury can be done them before their hour comes. It is easier to profess faith in Christ than to show real faith by following his example. WOR 189.2
Another Striking Example.-Saul had been anointed king of Israel by command of God; but had afterwards been rejected because of his reckless course. Then David was anointed king in his stead. Saul was jealous of David’s preferment, and sought his life. David did not resist, but fled. More than once Saul was within David’s power, but David would not lift up a hand against him. If there is any excuse for resisting a ruler, David had it. In the first place, if he had done so, it would have been only in self-defense; and, in the second place, he had already been anointed king in Saul’s stead.
Yet when urged even to consent to allow another to kill Saul, David said: “Destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless? ... As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 26:9-11. And yet Saul was a wicked man, who had cast off allegiance to God, and was not fit to rule. WOR 189.3
Subject to God.-God’s word admonishes us to be subject to the powers that be, but it never countenances disobedience to God. God has never ordained any power to be above himself. It is the height of folly for us to argue from this chapter that it is the duty of Christians to obey human laws when they conflict with the law of God. God does not grant indulgence to sin; much less does he command us to sin. We are not to be subject to the powers that be instead of to God, but because we are subject to God. “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17. WOR 189.4
Subjection and Obedience.-Ordinarily subjection implies obedience. When we read that Jesus was subject to his parents, we are sure that he was obedient to them. So when we are exhorted to be subject to the powers that be, the natural conclusion is that we are to be obedient to the laws. But it must never be forgotten that God is above all; that both individual and national power comes from him; and that he has a right to the undivided service of every soul. We are to obey God all the time, and to be subject to human power as well, but always so that it does not involve disobedience to God. WOR 189.5
Cannot Serve Two Masters.-“No man can serve two masters.... Ye can not serve God and mammon.” The reason is that God and mammon are opposite in their demands. Now everybody knows that there have often been human laws that conflicted with God’s commandments. There was once a law in America in the days of slavery requiring every man to do all in his power to return fugitive slaves to their masters. But God’s word said, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.” Deuteronomy 23:15.
In that case it was impossible to obey the law of the land without disobeying God; and obedience to God made disobedience to the human law absolutely necessary. Men had to make their choice as to whom they would obey. The Christian can not hesitate a moment in his choice. The law that contradicts God’s law is nothing. “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.” Proverbs 21:30. WOR 190.1
“Every Ordinance of Man.” -“Some reader may quote 1 Peter 2:13 as opposed to this. I
t says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” Others may say that we are to submit to every ordinance except when it is opposed to God’s law. No exception, however, is implied, nor is any necessary. Neither does the text teach obedience to human laws that contradict God’s law.
The error arises from a misapprehension of the word “ordinance.” It is supposed that this word means “law,” but a careful reading will show anybody that this supposition is a mistake. Let us read the thirteenth and fourteenth verses carefully: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance [Greek, creation] of man for the Lord’s sake.” Well, what are these ordinances or creations to which we are to be subject? It makes no difference; to all, “whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him.” It is very clear that the text says nothing whatever about laws, but only about rulers. The exhortation is precisely the same as that in the thirteenth of Romans. WOR 190.2
Submissive yet Disobedient.-Let the reader follow on in the chapter last quoted from, and he will see that the submission enjoined does not involve obedience to wicked laws. We are exhorted: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” We are to be subject to rightful authority, whether the exerciser of that authority be good and gentle, or froward. Then come the words, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” 1 Peter 2:17-19. Now a man could not for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, unless conscience toward God had compelled him to disobey some command laid upon him.
This statement, immediately following the exhortation to be submissive, plainly shows that disobedience is contemplated as a probability when those in authority are “froward.” This is emphasized by the reference to Christ, who suffered wrongfully, yet made no resistance. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7. He was condemned for his loyalty to the truth, which he would not compromise in the least, and yet he was submissive to the authority of the rulers. The apostle says that in this he left us an example, that we should follow in his steps. WOR 190.3
Christians and Civil Government.-“For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20. Those who through Christ have access by one Spirit unto the Father “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19. Let every man concern himself with the affairs of his own country, and not with those of another. For an American to come to England and presume to lecture Parliament for the way in which it conducts the business of Government, or for an Englishman to go to America and distinguish himself by his advice to the authorities, would be the height of impertinence.
But if they should begin actively to interfere in the conduct of public affairs, or should stand for office, they would speedily be shown that they had no business there. Let them become naturalized, and then they may speak and act as much as they please; but then they must hold their peace if they return to the country to which they once owned allegiance. No man can be active in the affairs of two governments at the same time.
This applies to the government of heaven as related to earthly governments, as well as to different countries on earth. The one who is a citizen of the heavenly country has no business to meddle with the affairs of earthly governments. He must leave that business to those who acknowledge this earth to be their home. If earthly rulers think to regulate the affairs pertaining to the kingdom of God, they are guilty of gross presumption, to say the least. But if they may not of right presume to regulate the affairs of the kingdom of heaven, much less may the citizens of heaven interfere in the affairs of earthly kingdoms. WOR 191.1
Making Earth Heaven.-Many Christians and ministers of the gospel seek to justify their dealing in politics by saying that it is their duty to make this earth the kingdom of heaven. In a recent campaign we have heard much about “the regeneration of London,” and “making London the city of God.” Such language shows a grave misapprehension of what the gospel is. “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16.
Regeneration is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit working upon individual hearts, and can not be controlled by men. The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of Christ, but only “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Revelation 11:15; Isaiah 9:7. There will be a new earth, in which only righteousness will dwell, but it will be only after the coming of the day of the Lord, in which the elements shall melt, and ungodly men shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10-13. It will not be brought about by political action, even though ministers of the Gospel be the politicians. The minister of the Gospel has but one commission, namely, “Preach the word.” In no other way in the world can men be made better. Therefore the minister who turns his attention to politics is denying his calling. WOR 191.2
Keeping the Peace.-We must needs be subject to earthly governments, for conscience’ sake; and for this cause also we must pay tribute and perform every duty of that nature that is laid upon us. Taxes may be heavy, and even unjust, but that does not warrant us in rebelling. The apostle James speaks to rich men who oppress the poor, and his language applies as well when they are in public office as when in private life. He says: “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” James 5:5, 6.
Mark this, the just do not resist. Why not? Because of the injunction: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:18, 19. As subjects of the King of peace, and citizens of His kingdom, they are bound to live peaceably with all men. Hence they can not fight even in self-defense. In this, Christ the Prince of peace is their example. WOR 192.1
To Whom a Terror.-Only the evil workers are afraid of rulers. Well-doers have no fear. This is not because all rulers are good; for we know that many are not. “The broad empire of Rome filled the world,” and the one who ruled it when Paul wrote to the Romans was the most vile and cruel of all the monsters who governed it. Nero put men to death for the mere pleasure of killing them. Well might he strike terror to the hearts of men; yet the Christians could be calm, because their trust was in God. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2. WOR 192.2
The Whole Duty of Man.-“Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1 John 4:7. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:3. To fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Therefore, since he who loves his neighbor from the heart must also love God, and love is the keeping of his commandments, it is evident that the apostle has set forth in this exhortation the whole duty of man. He who heeds this exhortation can never do anything for which earthly governments can justly condemn him, even though he be ignorant of their laws. He who fulfils the law of love will never come in conflict with the powers that be. If they oppress him, they are fighting not against him but against the King whom he serves. WOR 192.3
For Christians, Not for the Powers.-Some have supposed that verses 8-10 define the limit of civil authority, and show that men may legislate concerning “the second table of the law,” but concerning no other portion of the law of God. Two things kept in mind will show the fallacy of this. (1) The epistle is not addressed to rulers, but to individual Christians, as a guide for their private conduct. If the duty of rulers were here laid down, they, and not the brethren, would have been addressed. (2)
“The law is spiritual,” and consequently none of it is within the power of human legislation. Take the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet;” no human power could enforce that, or tell if it was violated. But that commandment is no more spiritual than the other nine. The language is addressed to the brethren, and the sum of it is this. Live in love, and you will wrong no man, and need have no fear of any rulers. WOR 192.4
The End Approaches.-The remainder of the chapter is devoted to exhortations that need no comment. Their special force is derived from the fact that “the end of all things is at hand.” Therefore we should “be sober, and watch unto prayer.” Although living in the night, when darkness covers the earth (Isaiah 60:2), Christians are children of the light and of the day, leaving off works of darkness. WOR 193.1
Clothed with Christ.-Those who put on the Lord Jesus Christ will not themselves be seen. Christ alone will appear. To make provision for the lusts of the flesh is most unnecessary, since the flesh ever seeks to have its lusts gratified. The Christian has need rather to take heed that it does not assert its own power, and assume control. Only in Christ can the flesh be subdued. He who is crucified with Christ, can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. And in that case he will conduct himself towards rulers and private persons just as Christ did, “because as he is, so are we in this world.”
Grace is Favor
March 24, 1891
The sixth chapter of Romans commences with a continuation of the argument that is contained in the fifth chapter. That argument is that the life of Christ is given to us for our justification. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace is favor, and the psalmist tells us that in his favor there is life; and so “being justified freely by his grace,” is simply the bestowal of the life of Christ upon us. That life is a sinless life. Christ in us obeys, and by his obedience we are made righteous. WOR 194.1
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” WOR 194.2
Now this chapter shows us how we make the connection with Christ, and what that connection does for us. In the preceding chapter we learned that judgment had passed upon all men unto condemnation, and that the sentence of death had gone forth upon every man in this world. The death sentence has been pronounced, and death works in men. Why does death work in men? What is the peculiar power of death? It is sin! “The sting of death is sin.”
Therefore sin working in men is simply death working in them. Men who are sinners are stung by death. Death is in then already, and it is carrying on its work in them, and it is only a matter of time till it shall hold them in its grasp forever. But while probation is continued, there is a possibility that men may escape that sting, and the execution of that penalty. Nevertheless God must be just, even while he is the justifier of them that believe on him. Sentence of death has been pronounced upon every man, and that sentence will be executed. Every man must die, because that all men have sinned. WOR 194.3
But there is given to every man a choice as to when he will die. Christ died for all men. We can acknowledge his death, and die in him, and thus get his life; or on the other hand we may, if we wish, refuse to acknowledge him, and die in ourselves. But die we must. Death has passed upon all men, and all men must die. The life of every man is forfeited, of ourselves we have no life at all. WOR 194.4
The Scripture plainly says, “He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:12. Now seeing that we are in that condition, when death claims her forfeit, what are we going to do? Don’t you see that we are left lifeless. If I owe a thousand dollars, and I have just exactly a thousand dollars in my possession, when I pay that debt, I am left penniless, am I not? So it is with this life of ours. We all have a life here in our possession, but it does not belong to us. It is forfeited to the law. It does not belong to us at all. When the law exacts that forfeit, and that life of ours is gone, than there is nothing left to us but eternal death. WOR 195.1
But Christ, the Son of God, has so much life in himself, that he can give life to every man and still have as much life left. He was not under any obligation to come to earth and go through the experience that he did. He had glory in heaven; he had the adoration of all the angels; he had riches and power: but he left them all, and even emptied himself of his glory and his honor; came to earth as a poor man, took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in all things like unto those whom he came to save. WOR 195.2
He worked out righteousness here in the flesh. What did he do it for? For himself? No, he did not have any need of it. He had riches to begin with. He had everything that he could have when he was in heaven. But here on earth, as a man, he worked out righteousness and eternal redemption that he might give them to us. That is the sole reason that brought him into the world. He has all that righteousness he wrought out here, and he will and does give it to men. So he paid the penalty of the law, - for himself? No! He had no sin, consequently the law had no claim upon him. WOR 195.3
In the second letter to the Corinthians, chapter five, and verse twenty-one, the apostle Paul says: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” So it was that he suffered the penalty, not for himself, but for us. When we by faith lay hold on Christ, and become united with him, so that we are identified with him, then we have that life which he has to bestow. WOR 195.4
But pay the penalty, suffer the forfeit, we must; for the law will exact the forfeit. But as I said before, we have the choice as to whether we will wait, and let the law take the forfeit from us, at a time when we will have nothing left after it is gone, or whether we will give over the forfeited life when we can take the life of Christ, and have it left after we have paid the forfeit. WOR 195.5
Now how do we get hold of Christ? How do we get the benefit of that righteous life of his? - It is in the act of death. At what point is it that we touch Christ, and make the connection? At what point in the ministry of Christ is it that he touches us, and effects the union? - It is at the lowest possible point where man can be touched, and that is death. In all points he is made like his brethren, so he takes the very lowest of these, - the point of death, - and there it is, when we are actually dead, that we step into Christ. WOR 195.6
The ceremony of baptism is simply the symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. Says Paul, in Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” In Romans he says: “As many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death.” But if we died with Christ, we are bound and certain to live again; for Christ is alive. Here we can forcibly apply the words of Peter in Acts 2:24:
“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” It was utterly impossible that death should hold Christ. Therefore if we die with him, and in our death are united with him, we shall also live with him. The great thought around which the whole Bible clusters, is death and resurrection with Christ. IF WE DIE WITH HIM, WE SHALL LIVE AGAIN. WOR 196.1
We die with him, - when? Now! When we acknowledge our life forfeited, and give up all claims to that life, and everything that is connected with it, that very moment we die with Christ. Now what is this giving up of our life? Life stands for everything that a man has. It stands for everything that pertains to life. What is it, then, that pertains to the life that we naturally have in ourselves? It is sin! It is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It is envy, malice, evil speaking, evil thinking, - all these things make up the natural life, because we see that every man that has the natural life, has these things. They are a part of his life. They enter into the life of every man on earth. WOR 196.2
When we come to that place where we see that we have those things, and are ready to give them up, and pay the forfeit, then it is that we can die with Christ, and take his sinless life in their stead. In yielding up that life of ours, we give up all these things, and when they are all given up, then we are dead with Christ. But just as surely as we give them up and die with Christ, just so surely must we be raised again, for Christ is risen, and we then walk in newness of life. That new life, - that newness of life which we have, is the life of Christ, and it is a SINLESS LIFE. Knowing this, “that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we might not serve sin.” WOR 196.3
Here is the secret of all missionary effort. When a man comes to the point, where in very deed he reckons that he has no life of his own, and he gives up the forfeited life which he did have in his possession, and the life he lives in the flesh he lives by faith in the Son of God; then Christ is his life, and his life is “hid with Christ in God.” He has been raised to newness of life by faith in the operation of God. What can that man fear of what man can do to him? What will he fear of what man will say of him? He will say to himself, It is not I, but Christ that liveth in me. WOR 196.4
What will it matter to him if he is called to go to an unhealthful locality? His life has already been yielded up, so that death has no terrors for him. He goes willingly, “not taking his life in his hand,” but leaving it in the keeping of Christ in God. If Christ, in whom his life is hid, wishes to allow him to sleep for awhile, it is all right. Moreover he is not discouraged by difficulties in the work to which Christ has assigned him; for he has practical knowledge of the power of Christ and he knows that he who cast down the high things that had exalted themselves in his own heart against Christ, is able to subdue all things unto himself. The life that he lives is the life of Christ, provided only, that every moment of his life he yields himself and is as thoroughly consecrated as he was at the time he died. WOR 196.5
It is necessary that we die continually, and that we continually know the power of God, and of the resurrection of Christ. For “we are saved by his life.” We must know and experience the same power that God wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. We take that power, - How? “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” WOR 197.1
It is simply a matter of making the resurrection of Christ a practical thing in our own lives. It is simply believing that what God could do for Christ, as he lay in the grave, he can do for us. That power which brought forth Christ from the dead can keep us alive from the dead. If we have the life of Christ, and it is working in us, it must do for us all that it did for him when he was in Galilee and Judea. WOR 197.2
What a precious thought it is that our lives are not our own. We have but the life of Christ. It is this thought that makes a man triumph even in death. Why? The sting of death is gone! Death does not sting the righteous man, because he is freed from sin. It was the knowledge of this that enabled the martyrs like Jerome and Huss to go to the stake, singing songs of triumph and victory. “Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” WOR 197.3
Our lives are hid with Christ in God, so that we fear not the power of wicked men, or of the devil himself. When we have given ourselves to Christ, and our life is hid with him, what matters it whether this life be cut off soon or not? We walk with Christ, and he controls our lives. Wicked men or devils can no more touch our life than they could hold Christ in the grave. WOR 197.4
Oh, that we might feel the power of that life, and know that we are his! When we do get it, the power of God will accompany the message, as we go forth bearing it. What difference if men bring reproaches on us, - we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God; and the life we live, we live in him, and through faith in him. This is the power of the gospel, and the hope that makes the Christian triumph even in death. It is the hope of the resurrection; for when the man is called to lie down and sleep, he sleeps in Jesus. His life is just as sure, and even surer, then, than if he were alive upon the earth. His probation is sealed; he has fought a good fight; he has finished his course, and kept the faith. Well might the apostle say that he did not sorrow for those who slept, as for those who had no hope. WOR 197.5
When the church of God, and the ministers of God, have died indeed, giving up everything that has pertained to their own life, then they will belong to Christ in deed and in truth. If Christ is willing to intrust us with some of these things; if we are to be spared on earth for awhile, it is all right. If on the other hand he thinks best to take us away, that is all right too. Whether sleeping in the grave or working for the Master on the earth, matters not, for it is Christ all the time. WOR 197.6
When we get hold of these ideas, and make them ours, and we may have them as soon as we please, they are precious to us. Having counted the cost of giving up all those things that have been dear to us, if we are prepared to count them all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord, then we can yield ourselves wholly to Christ. Just as soon as we are willing to count the cost, and to let ourselves be crucified with Christ, by giving up the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, and all those things which have pertained to our old life, making no provision for the flesh, then the power of Christ comes upon us. But we are living yet on earth! Yes, but we have given up our life, and all there is to us is Christ working in us. WOR 198.1
The very moment that a man denies everything pertaining to the flesh, that very moment he can say that Christ is his, and that he has the life of Christ. How does he know it? Through faith in the operation of him that raised Christ from the dead! WOR 198.2
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” WOR 198.3
Christ’s life is an eternal life. He voluntarily went under the dominion of death. By doing this he demonstrated his power over death. He went down into the grave to show that right there, while bound by the chains of the prison house of the grave itself, he had power to burst those fetters asunder, and come forth free and a conqueror. Therefore since he dies no more, and we take that sinless life of his, then we can reckon ourselves dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As death can have no dominion over him, so sin, which is the sting of death, can have no dominion over us. WOR 198.4
A questioner may say, “You make it out that we ought never to sin any more, - you leave no room for sin.” But is not that what the Bible says? “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. How? By death, we make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. There is such a thing as a complete surrender to Christ, - when we give up everything, and then trust to his power to keep us in that state. And I thank God that he is able to do it. WOR 198.5
Men start out on dangerous expeditions, — some to conquer a country, and when they reach that land, they burn the boats they came in, so they cannot go back if they desired to. It is right for us to count well the cost. There is no use to make a headlong plunge into the battle. Look over the whole ground. Here is this pleasure, and that indulgence; can I give them up? They have been very dear to me, they have become entwined around my very life itself.
They are identified with me, so that they show themselves in my very countenance, they are embedded in my very character and are a part of myself. I have clung to them as I have clung to life itself. But Christ was not in them, they do not savor of the life of Christ at all. For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross. Can I, for the sake of sharing that joy, ENDURE THAT CROSS? Can I give up the pleasures of sin for a season, in order to share the riches of Christ, and the joy of his salvation? These are the questions we must ask ourselves. WOR 198.6
Look up, and place your eyes on Christ and the joys of present salvation. They form the opposite side of the picture. There is the joy of having an infinite power working in us. For that joy which we can have now, are we willing to give up everything, and to become sharers of the sufferings of Christ, and to be made partakers of his death, and the power of his resurrection? This is a joy that will last forever, so let us burn the boats and the bridges behind us! Can we give up all these things that have been so dear to us, can we give them up forever? That is the hard part. WOR 199.1
Says one, “I have tried to give up these things before, and I have fallen again, now how do I know but what I shall fall again?” Ah no, you are not making a new resolution this time, you are not turning over a new leaf, and saying that you are going to do better. You are merely letting the old life and all the resolutions go. Simply say, I know that there is power in God. And that same power which spoke the world into existence, that same power which brought Christ forth from the tomb, - into the hands of that power I will yield myself, and let it sustain and keep me in the new life. And day by day as we do that, our hearts will go out in thankfulness to God for his wonderful power. WOR 199.2
It is not ours to make provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof; but we must step out and take hold of the life of Christ, and feel that the power of God is working in us. When we feel that power working, - that miracle which is wrought in us, - the temptations to which we have yielded so often, the sinful practices to which we have given way, will be overcome, and we will rise superior to them. Then we can go out into the world, in the power of Christ, and carry the message as we never have done before. WOR 199.3
How is it that we will have more power? Because we know that if God can work that miracle for us, he can do it for any one. Our work from a human standpoint is an impossible one; difficulties arise on every hand; but we have a knowledge of what the power of God can do, and therefore go forth in faith that he who can cast down imaginations in our hearts, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and can bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, can do that same work for others, since he has done it for us. It was that same power which caused the walls of Jericho to fall down before the people of God. I am so thankful that the God who has called us to be his servants is a God of infinite power. Take hold of that power and prove it for yourselves. WOR 199.4
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “Likewise” - Like what? Like as Christ was raised from the dead to be dead no more, so likewise reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin to sin no more. Is that true? Note it carefully, - that sin shall have no more dominion over you. That is what the Bible says. We are no longer under the law, but under grace. We are no longer under condemnation, but the grace of God resteth upon us. The spirit of glory and of grace is present with us. WOR 199.5
There is power in Christ. What is that power? Notice. Grace is favor! In the favor of God there is life. Then what is the power of the grace of Christ? It is the power of an endless life. If men really believe that Christ is risen from the dead, they can believe that they are dead unto sin, but alive unto God, and free from sin. Does the apostle mean free from sin? It is a solemn, but a glorious thought. How thankful ought men to be that they can have that confidence in the power of God through Chris that they can without any mental reservation take this chapter and believe it. Yes, believe these very words, “He that is dead is freed from sin ... reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.” WOR 200.1
But is it true that man can live without sin? In the last part of the chapter we read: “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” We all know what that means. Our past experience is not so pleasant to look back over. In it we see no good. Now why was it that we were free from righteousness? - Because we were the servants of Satan. “But now, being made free from sin, we are become the servants of righteousness.” Christ is the author of righteousness. The service we render is his. Which are we, the servants of Christ or the servants of Satan? When we were the servants of Satan, we did not do any righteousness.” But now we are the servants of God. “Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” WOR 200.2
There are just two services. The service of Satan, which is of sin unto death, and the service of Christ, which is of obedience unto righteousness. A man cannot serve two masters. All believe that. Then it is impossible to serve sin and righteousness at the same time. Now we call ourselves Christians. That means - what? Followers of Christ! But in all our Christian experience we have left little loopholes along here and there for sin. We have never dared to come to that place where we would believe that the Christian life should be a sinless life. We have not dared to believe it or preach it. But in that case we cannot preach the law of God fully. Why not? Because we do not understand the power of justification by faith. Then without justification by faith it is impossible to preach the law of God to the fullest extent. Then to preach justification by faith does not detract from or lower the law of God, but is the only thing that exalts it. WOR 200.3
Now can we be the servants of Christ while we are committing sins, and making provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof? Is Christ the minister of sin? Whose servants are we while we are committing sin? We are the servants of sin, and sin is of Satan. Now if a Christian (?) is committing sin part of the time, and doing righteousness the rest of the time, it must be that Satan and Christ are in partnership, so that he has only one master, for he cannot serve two masters. WOR 200.4
But there is no consort between light and darkness, - between Christ and Belial. They are in deadly antagonism, they are opposed to each other, and they have fought a fight even to the death. There is no quarter on either side. Then it is utterly impossible for man to serve these two masters. He must be on the one side or the other. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” We know enough about being servants of sin. We have yielded ourselves as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. WOR 201.1
Now the question comes: How am I going to become a servant of Christ, so that I will be able to die to my old life? “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey.” The word rendered “servant” really means a “bondservant.” Just the moment that I yield myself to Christ to become his servant, that very moment I am his bond-servant. That very moment I belong to him. How do I know that Christ will accept my service if I do give it him? Because he has bought that service and paid the price for it. And in all those years that I yielded myself a servant to sin, I have been defrauding him of his right. But all this time that I have been keeping back my service, he has been going about searching for me, and seeking to draw me to him. And when we say, “Here, Lord, here I am, I give myself to thee,” that very moment Christ has found us, for he has been seeking for us, and we are his servants. WOR 201.2
But how do we know that we are going to continue in his service? How do we know that we can live the life of Christ? Just in the same way that we know we have lived the life of sin. When we take this matter into account as to whose servants we will be, we want to take into account the power of the two masters. When we were the servants of sin, we were free from righteousness, because Satan swayed us, and used us in whatever way he would, and we were at the mercy of his power. WOR 201.3
Is sin stronger than righteousness? is Satan stronger than Christ? No! Then as Christ has proved himself to be the stronger of the two, and just as surely as when we were the bond-servants of sin, it had power to keep us free from righteousness; so when we yield ourselves as bond-servants unto Christ, he has power to keep us from sin. The battle is not ours, it is God’s. I said that Christ and Satan were not in partnership, but that there is the bitterest antagonism between them. WOR 201.4
All are familiar with the words, “The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.” It is a household phrase among us. What is the controversy over? It is over the souls of men, and the place of their abode. Who shall have your service and mine, is the question that they are fighting over. The controversy is between Christ and Satan. They are not only the principal ones in the controversy, but the whole controversy is between them, and them alone. WOR 201.5
We have this much to say, - neither one of them can take our service against our will. Of ourselves we have no power to stand against Satan; we have tried that. We have no power to meet him; we cannot face him and conquer him. We have no power at all; but at the same time we know that we do not want to be his servants. Yes; and we will not only say, I do not want to be his servant, but, I will not be his servant. So instead of putting our strength against Satan, we yield ourselves to Christ, and repeat over and over again, like David the psalmist, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:15. WOR 202.1
What? I was a bond-servant of Satan’s, but just the moment I said to Christ, “I will be your servant,” he loosed my bonds, and took upon himself the responsibility of defending me against Satan, who has no right to me. So when Satan comes to take me back and make me his bond-servant again, Christ meets him, even as he met him when he was here upon the earth. So simply tell your own heart, and Satan, that you are Christ’s, and that he has loosed your bonds. Then you are loosed indeed. You have counted the cost, and now you can take the words of David and repeat them over and over. WOR 202.2
Your life is no longer your own, it is the life of Christ. His life, his very existence, is pitted against Satan. The battle goes over our heads, for we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God. Says the psalmist, “Thou shalt keep them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” The battle between Christ and Satan is being waged over our heads, and we are hid in the secret pavilion. This is the victory that overcometh the world, for Christ has gained the victory over Satan, and by grasping the promises of Christ by faith, and laying hold upon the life of Christ, the victory over Satan is ours. WOR 202.3
Does not Christ say that all power is given him in heaven and in earth? Note the precious words in Ephesians 1:19-21: “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.” WOR 202.4
That same power which placed him in that exalted position which is far above all principality and power, - what has it done for us? “Quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Where is it that we are placed? “Far above all principality and power.” WOR 202.5
Then the victory is ours in Christ, and he has gained the victory already. He has conquered a peace for us. Just as surely as he gives his peace to us, just that surely has he gained the victory for us. So in the hour of trial we have a victory that is already gained. Well may we say that the battle goes over our heads, and great is our peace. There is peace all the time. WOR 202.6
The strength of the Christian lies in submitting, - the victory in yielding to Christ, so that he may keep us in his presence, and cover us up in his pavilion from the strife of tongues. Then it does not matter how great the trial may be, if we have Christ, there will be peace in our hearts. WOR 203.1
O that every one in this house may be filled with a desire to have Christ and his righteousness, that this very night we may take his word and be inspired by its inspiration, and then we shall have and shall be able to live the life of Christ. Then we can go about as missionaries for Christ and do good. When we take that power which we have by faith in him, it will not be long till the work will be cut short in righteousness, and we shall see him, who not having seen, we love.
God the Only Judge
August 20, 1896
Since the fourteenth chapter consists wholly of practical instruction in Christian living, and has no direct dependence upon the exhortations that have preceded it, we need not now take time to review the previous chapters, but will proceed at once with the text. Let it not be forgotten that this chapter, as well as those which precede, is addressed to the church, and not to those who do not profess to serve the Lord. In the sixth verse it is plainly shown that all who are spoken of in this chapter are those who acknowledge God as their Lord. The chapter therefore tells how we should regard one another as WOR 204.1
Servants of One Common Master
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things; another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Romans 14:1-12. WOR 204.2
Questions on the Text
Who are we not to shut away from out company? WOR 204.3
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye.” WOR 204.4
But how are we not to receive him? WOR 204.5
“Not to doubtful disputations.” Or, as indicated in the margin, and rendered in some versions, “Not to judge his thoughts.” WOR 204.6
What illustration of differences of opinions does the apostle give? WOR 205.1
“One believeth that he may eat all things, and other, who is weak, eateth herbs.” “One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike.” WOR 205.2
In what state should every man be? WOR 205.3
“Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.” R.V. WOR 205.4
How are those who differ in opinion not to regard each other? WOR 205.5
“Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth.” WOR 205.6
Why not? WOR 205.7
“For God hath received him.” WOR 205.8
What is that man doing who judges another man? WOR 205.9
He is judging “another man’s servant.” WOR 205.10
To whom is the servant responsible? WOR 205.11
“To his own master he standeth or falleth.” WOR 205.12
But will he really fall, if he is indeed a servant of God? WOR 205.13
“He shall be holden up.” WOR 205.14
Why? WOR 205.15
“For God is able to make him stand.” WOR 205.16
What is the lesson that we are to learn in all this? WOR 205.17
“None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” WOR 205.18
To whom do we live and die? WOR 205.19
“Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord.” WOR 205.20
Whose, then, are we under all circumstances? WOR 205.21
“Whose, then, are we under all circumstances? WOR 205.22
“Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” WOR 205.23
For what purpose did Christ die and rise again? WOR 206.1
“That he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” WOR 206.2
Why should we not judge or set at naught our brother? WOR 206.3
“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” WOR 206.4
What proof is cited for this? WOR 206.5
“It is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” WOR 206.6
What, then, must every one of us do? WOR 206.7
“Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” WOR 206.8
Since God is to judge us all, what reasonable exhortation is given? WOR 206.9
“Let us not therefore judge one another anymore.” WOR 206.10
What should we rather judge? WOR 206.11
“That no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” WOR 206.12
The School of Christ. -The church of Christ is not composed of perfect men, but of those who are seeking perfection. He is the perfect One, and he sends out the invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” Matthew 11:28, 29. Having called all to come to him, he says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. As one has said,
“God reaches for the hand of faith in man to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that man may attain to perfection of character.” The faith may be very weak, but God does not reject him on that account. Paul thanked God that the faith of the Thessalonian brethren grew exceedingly (2 Thessalonians 1:3), which shows that they did not have perfect faith at the first. It is true that God is so good that every person ought to trust him fully; but just because he is so good, he is very patient and forbearing with those who are not well acquainted with him, and he does not turn away from them because they are doubtful. It is this very goodness and forbearance of God that develops perfect faith. WOR 206.13
The Pupils Not Masters. -It is not for the pupils to say who shall attend school. It is true that in this world there are schools that are exclusive, in which only a certain set of pupils are allowed. If one inferior in wealth and standing in society should seek to enter, there would be at once an uproar. The students themselves would make so strong a protest against the entrance of the newcomer, that the masters would feel obliged not to receive him. But such schools are not the schools of Christ.
“There is no respect of persons with God.” He invites the poor and needy, and the weak. It is he, and not the pupils, that decides who shall be admitted. He says, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” and he asks all who hear to extend the invitation. The only qualification necessary for entering the school of Christ is willingness to learn of him. If any man is willing to do his will, God will receive him and teach him. John 7:17. Whoever sets up any other standard, sets himself above God. No man has any right to reject one whom God receives. WOR 206.14
Master and Servant. -Christ said to his disciples: “Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master; and all ye are brethren.” “Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.” Matthew 23:8, 10. It is the master who sets the task for each pupil or servant. It is to the master that the servant looks for his reward. Therefore it is the master alone who has the right to give orders, and to pronounce judgment if there is failure. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” If you have not the power to reward his success, you have not the right to judge his failures. WOR 207.1
“God Is the Judge.” -“He putteth down one, and setteth up another.” Psalm 75:7. “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?” James 4:12. The power to save and to destroy determines the right to judge. To condemn when one has not the power to carry the judgment into effect, is but a farce. Such an one makes himself ridiculous, to say the least. WOR 207.2
The Spirit of the Papacy. -The apostle Paul describes the apostasy as the revelation of “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” or, “setting himself forth as God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. In Daniel 7:25 the same power is described as speaking great words against the Most High, and thinking to change times and laws. To set one’s self up against or above the law of God, is the strongest possible opposition to God, and the most presumptuous usurpation of his power.
The end of the power that thus exalts itself is this: to be consumed by the Spirit of Christ, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Now read in James 4:11: “He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.’ That tells us that whoever speaks evil of his brother, or judges or sets at naught his brother, is speaking against the law of God, and sitting in judgment upon it. In other words, he is putting himself in the place and doing the work of “that man of sin.” What else can result, but that he receive the reward of the man of sin? Surely there is enough in this thought to give us all pause. WOR 207.3
All Subjects of Judgment. -“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” In this statement there is no exception, for it is written, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” This being the case, it is the strongest reason why we should not judge and condemn one another. Verse 10 gives the fact that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ as the reason why we should not judge nor despise a brother. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Notice this, that each one is to give account of himself, and not of somebody else, to God. In standing before the judgment seat of Christ, we are giving account to God, because Christ is the representative of Divinity in the judgment, as well as in all things. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” John 5:22, 23. WOR 207.4
The Time of Judgment. -One reason why we should not judge, is that God is the judge. Another is, that “he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained.” Acts 17:31. The Father himself judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son. But even the Son does not sit in judgment now; for he says, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47.
Therefore, he who presumes to sit in judgment now, not only usurps the place of God, but gets ahead of him. There will be a time when judgment will be committed to the saints of the Most High, but it will be only when the saints possess the kingdom. Daniel 7:22. And those to whom judgment is committed will all be saints. 1 Corinthians 6:2. None are to judge, except those who are without sin. The man who judges, therefore, declares himself to be without sin. But God is the only one whose testimony in this respect is of any worth; “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” 2 Corinthians 10:18. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. WOR 208.1
The Word of Judgment. -But altho even Christ does not yet judge, he speaks the word by which men are to be judged, and that is the word of God. He says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” John 12:48, 49.
Altho Christ did not condemn anybody while he was on earth, the word that he spoke often caused those who heard it to be convicted in their own hearts, and self-condemned. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:17-19. WOR 208.2
Truth and Condemnation. -From the words of Christ, which we have quoted in the paragraph, we clearly see that there is a difference between condemning men and speaking the truth. Christ was not sent into the world to condemn the world; but he was sent into the world to bear witness to the truth. John 18:37. He did not condemn anybody, yet he declared the truth. So his followers are not to condemn anybody; yet none are his followers except those who speak the truth. If any are not doing the truth, the word of truth will enlighten them as to their acts. If they then persist in error, the word of truth testifies against them. But the one who speaks that word utters no condemnation. WOR 208.3
Knowledge of Right and Wrong. -In this manner it by no means follows that a person in order not to condemn, must not explain the knowledge of right and wrong, which God has given him. If he did not, he could not be a witness for the truth. Neither could he do the truth. God’s word is truth (John 17:17); therefore the followers of Christ must both by words and actions speak the word of God.
That word points out the difference between truth and error. It tells what things ought to be done, and what should not be done. By that word one may, and ought to declare of certain things, “They are sinful.” But in so saying, he utters no decision concerning any person. In short, the word of God condemns some now and always, but it does not at all condemn sinners, until the last day. Certainly all can see this clear distinction, and not know what they should do and what they should not do, in order to be in harmony with God’s word. WOR 209.1
The Law and the Testimony. -“To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. That is the testimony which we are always to give, let be according to the law of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” 1 Peter 4:11. Therefore, while we are not at liberty to condemn, we are at the same time not at liberty to disregard the word of God. We are by no means to assume that it makes no difference what we do, nor are we to give other people the idea that it is of no importance whether they keep the law of God or not. That form of charity which consists in giving away the word of God, or rather, in throwing it away, so as not to say anything contrary to anybody’s ideas of prejudices, is a form of charity that finds no warrant in the Bible. WOR 209.2
Personal Questions. -Sometimes a person will ask concerning some duty pointed out by the law of God, “Ought I to do that?” The one questioned can only reply, “You ought to obey the Lord, now when you know what the Lord says, why do you ask me if you shall obey? I can not absolve you from obeying God, and if you do obey him, you ought to do it because he says so, and not because a man tells you to.”
Again, a man sometimes asks, “Do you think that I shall be condemned if I do not keep the Sabbath?” We can only say, “I am not the judge. I have nothing to do with condemnation. You know what the Lord commands, decide for yourself whether or not you can reject his word and be justified.” The word of God is the sole guide, the sole standard of authority. Men must be brought face to face with it, and then left there alone with it. WOR 209.3
The Law Not Disparaged. -There are many people who seem to be quite familiar with the words of the first part of the fourteenth of Romans, who evidently very seldom read any other part of the epistle. That is, they know that the apostle Paul wrote, “One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But they are so unfamiliar with the rest of the epistle that they suppose that this statement does away with the law of the Sabbath.
What evidence have we that these words do not in the least degree intimate that the law of God, which includes the fourth commandment, is a matter of indifference? Note the following points, and you will readily see. First, the apostle says in this same chapter that “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Second, he says also in the first part of the epistle, that “as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law,” “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” Romans 2:12, 16. When the apostle says that we are all to stand at the judgment seat of Christ, and that the law of God is to be the standard of that judgment, it is very evident that he never intends to be understood as saying that it is a matter of no importance whether or not we keep that law. WOR 209.4
The Law and the Sabbath. -The fourth commandment of the law by which all men are to be judged, reads thus: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work; ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11. Of this law Jesus said:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18. The Sabbath therefore stands in the law just the same as when it was spoken from Sinai; and the law in which it stands is the law by which men are to be judged at the last day. Therefore it can not be a matter of indifference whether the Sabbath is kept or not; and it must be that the Sabbath, with the rest of the law, is to be proclaimed to all men, in order that they may be prepared for the judgment. This being the case, we very well know that in the fourteenth chapter of Romans the apostle Paul does not convey the least shadow of an idea that the keeping of the Sabbath is a matter of indifference. WOR 210.1
“Every Day.” -Some one will of course interpose that the apostle says “every day,” and that therefore he must necessarily include the Sabbath among things indifferent. Not so fast. In the sixteenth of Exodus we read that the people were told that they were to go out and gather a certain portion of manna “every day;” and yet in the same chapter we are told that they should find none at all on the seventh day. We are not to try to catch the Lord in his own words.
When he says that a certain work is to be done every day, we are to know that he excepts, as a matter of course, those days on which he himself has said that work may not be done. When a man says that his children go to school every day, he means of course that they go very school day, and not that they go when there is no school. So when the apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of God, seems to imply that there are certain days which may be regarded or not, as one may choose, we must know that he does not by any means design to convey the idea that the holy Sabbath of the Lord, which was commanded to all men by his own voice, is among those indifferent days. WOR 210.2
“Fully Persuaded.” -“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” So far as this statement is concerned, it makes no difference if it is applied to the Sabbath of the Lord. God desires willing, intelligent service. The man who professes to keep the Sabbath of the Lord, and yet is not sure that it is the Sabbath, is not keeping it at all. The law of God is not to be regarded simply as a thing to dodge behind in order to escape the wrath of God. The man who is not sure about the law, but who thinks that he will keep it so as to be on the safe side in the judgment, if it should chance to be the standard in that judgment, is not serving the Lord, but himself. Let a man be fully persuaded in his own mind that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good,” and then let him keep it unto the Lord. If he does not keep it because he knows it to be right, his apparent service is but mockery and sin.
Living for Others
August 27, 1896
In our study last week we learned that the members of the church of Christ are not judges one of another, but fellow-servants of one common Lord. We are not taught that it is a matter of indifference whether or not we keep the commandments of God-quite the contrary, since we are all to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and be judged by them-but we are taught that in those things concerning which the law of God does not speak particularly, one man’s ways are as good as another’s. We learned even further that even one who may be faulty with respect to an express commandment, is not to be dealt with harshly, and condemned. Such a course can not help one, and, besides, we have no right to do so, since we are but servants. WOR 211.1
We now come to the study of the continuation of the same subject, in Romans 14:14-23:- WOR 211.2
“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” WOR 211.3
In order to save time and space we will omit the question on the text, leaving each reader to question it for himself. Study each statement carefully, and consider its connection, as well as the general subject, and what is stated elsewhere in the Bible concerning the same thing. As many errors arise from careless reading of the Bible, and from hasty conclusions from detached statements, as from willful perversion of the word. Possibly many more are the result of lack of proper thought than of deliberate willfulness. Let us therefore always take heed how we read. WOR 212.1
Clean and Unclean
The apostle says, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” If we consider well the subject under consideration, we shall not wrest this scripture from its connection. The thing presented from the beginning of the chapter is the case of a man with so little real knowledge of Christ that he thinks righteousness is to be obtained by the eating of certain kinds of food, or by not eating certain things. The idea clearly conveyed by the entire chapter is that it is by faith, and not by eating and drinking, that we are saved. WOR 212.2
A little consideration of the question of clean and unclean food will help us much. There is a strange idea prevalent, to the effect that things that were at one time unfit for food are perfectly wholesome now. Many people seem to think that even unclean beasts are made clean by the Gospel. They forget that Christ purifies men, not beasts and reptiles. WOR 212.3
There were plants that were poisonous in the days of Moses, and those same plants are poisonous now. The very people who seem to think that the Gospel makes everything fit to eat, would be as much disgusted at the thought of eating cats, dogs, caterpillars, spiders, flies, etc., as any Jew would have been in the days of Moses. Instead of finding that a knowledge of Christ reconciles one to such a diet, we find, on the contrary, that it is only the most degraded savages who make use of them for food, and such a diet is both a sign and cause of degradation. Enlightenment brings carefulness in the selection of food. WOR 212.4
Now there is no one who can imagine the apostle Paul or any other person of good sense and refinement eating everything that he could possibly find on earth. Although most people think themselves wiser than God in the matter of eating and drinking, there are, as there always have been, certain things universally held to be unfit for food. Therefore when the apostle says that nothing is unclean of itself, he evidently confines his remark to those things which God has provided for man’s eating. There are people whose conscience is so poorly instructed that they fear to eat even of things which God has given to be eaten; just as there are some who forbid the eating of “food which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:3. WOR 212.5
So when the apostle says, “One believeth that he may eat all things,” it is evident that the “all things” does not include filth. The idea evidently is that one believes that he may eat everything that is fit to be eaten. But another, having for instance the thought that some of those things may have been devoted to an idol, fears to eat of them lest he should thereby become an idolater. The eighth chapter of 1 Corinthians makes this whole subject plain, as it runs parallel with the fourteenth of Romans. WOR 213.1
This throws light also upon the subject of days. Since the apostle evidently confines his remarks concerning food to that which it is allowable to eat, it is more clear that those days which may be considered as all alike are those days only which God has not sanctified to himself. WOR 213.2
The Nature of the Kingdom
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Over that kingdom Christ has been set as King, for God has said, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Psalm 2:6. Now read further the words of the Father to the Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things: “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Hebrews 1:8, 9. WOR 213.3
A scepter is the symbol of power. Christ’s scepter is a scepter of righteousness; therefore the power of his kingdom is righteousness. He rules by righteousness. His life on earth was a perfect manifestation of righteousness, so that he rules his kingdom by the power of his life. All those who own his life are subjects of his kingdom. No other thing but the life of Christ is the badge of citizenship in the kingdom of Christ. WOR 213.4
But with what was Christ anointed King? The text last read says that it was with “the oil of gladness.” Then gladness, or joy, is a necessary part of the kingdom of Christ. It is a kingdom of joy, as well as of righteousness. Therefore it is that every subject of that kingdom must be filled with joy. “A gloomy Christian” is as much a contradiction of terms as “a cold sun.” The sun is for the purpose of shedding the warmth of which it is composed; so the Christian is for the purpose of diffusing the peace and joy which is a part of his nature. The Christian is not joyful simply because he thinks that he ought to be, but because he has been translated into the kingdom of joy. WOR 213.5
“He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” He who in what things serves Christ? Why, he who serves Christ in righteousness, and peace, and joy. Or, as some translations have it, “He that thus serves Christ.” God accepts such service, and men approve. Not only do Christians approve such service, but unbelievers are constrained to approve. The enemies of Daniel were forced to bear witness to the uprightness of his life, when they said that they could find nothing against him except in the law of his God. But that very statement was an approval of the law of his God, obedience to which made him the faithful man that he was. WOR 214.1
Peace is a characteristic of the kingdom. Therefore those who are in the kingdom must follow the things which make for peace. But selfishness never causes peace. On the contrary, selfishness is always the cause of war, and inevitably produces war if it is persisted in. Therefore the subject of the kingdom must always be ready to sacrifice his own desires and ideas in behalf of others. The unselfish person will give up his own ways whenever they interfere with the peace of another. WOR 214.2
But do not forget that the kingdom of God is righteousness as well as peace. Righteousness is obedience to the law of God; for “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17), and “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Therefore, although by the laws of the kingdom one must necessarily up his own wishes in order not to interfere with the feelings of others, by those same laws he is precluded from giving up any of the commandments of God. Obedience to the law of God is that which makes for peace, for we read: “Great peace have they which love thy law.” Psalm 119:165. “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. Therefore he who is so “charitable” as to give up any portion of the law of God because some people are displeased with it, is not following the things which make for peace. On the contrary, he is rebelling against the kingdom of Christ. WOR 214.3
This again shows us that the Sabbath of the Lord is not under consideration, as one of the things which are to be held as matters of mere personal opinion. The Christian has no option with regard to that. He must keep it. It is not one of the days which the subject of the kingdom may disregard if he wishes. It is one of the things that are obligatory. But there are things which one has the right to do if he wishes, but which he is not obliged to do. For instance, a man has the right to eat his food with the fingers, if he wishes to; but if that annoys his companion, the law of Christ requires him not to do so. And thus it appears that the law of Christ alone, will, if carefully heeded, make a man perfectly courteous. The true Christian is a gentleman in the best sense of that word. WOR 214.4
There are many things that are allowable, which some people with faith that is weak, because it is uninstructed, think to be wrong. Christian courtesy, as laid down in the fourteenth chapter of Romans, requires that the better-instructed person should regard the scruples of his weaker brother. To roughly ignore those scruples, although they may be destitute of reason, is not the way to help that brother into a wider liberty. On the contrary, it is the way to discourage him. “It is good neither to eat flesh, not to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” WOR 215.1
Thus it becomes evident that the fourteenth chapter of Romans is simply a lesson in Christian courtesy and helpfulness instead of teaching that the Sabbath, or anything else that pertains to the commandments of God, may be disregarded at pleasure. Consideration is to be shown for “him that is weak in the faith;” but the one who is offended by the keeping of the commandments of God, has no faith at all. WOR 215.2
The Limitations of Conscience
“Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God.” Faith and conscience pertain to single individuals. No man can have faith for another. No man can have faith enough to serve for two. The teaching of the Roman Church is that certain ones have had more faith than they needed, and have been more righteous than was necessary, so that they can divide with other people; but the Bible teaches that it is impossible for any man to have faith than will serve to save himself. Therefore, no matter how well one man’s faith may be instructed, no other man can be judged by it. WOR 215.3
We hear a great deal in these days about the public conscience. We are often told that the conscience of one man is outraged by the course of another. But it is with conscience as with faith, no man can have enough for two. The man who thinks that his conscience will serve for himself and for somebody else, has mistaken selfish obstinacy for conscience. It is this mistaken idea of conscience that has led to all the horrible persecutions that have ever been perpetrated in the name of religion.
Let Christians all understand that conscience is between themselves and God alone. They are not at liberty to impose even their freedom of conscience upon another; but by the laws of the kingdom of Christ, they are obliged even to refrain at times from exercising their own freedom, out of consideration for others. That is to say, the man who can walk fast, is to help along his weak brother, who is going the same way, but more slowly. But he is not to turn around to please somebody who is walking the other way.
The Law of Christ
September 3, 1896
The fourteenth chapter of Romans presented to us our duty towards those who are weak in the faith, and who have excessively conscientious scruples with regard to things that are in themselves of no consequence. We are not judges of one another, but must all appear before one judgment seat. If we have more knowledge than our brother, we are not arbitrarily to bring him to our standard, any more than he is to bring us down to his. Our greater knowledge rather throws upon us the responsibility of exercising the greater charity and patience. The sum of it all is contained in these verses: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God.” WOR 216.1
Duty of Helping One Another
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Romans 15:1-7. WOR 216.2
Questions on the Text
What ought the strong to do? WOR 217.1
“To bear the infirmities of the weak.” WOR 217.2
What ought such not to do? WOR 217.3
“Not to please ourselves.” WOR 217.4
What are we exhorted to do for our neighbor? WOR 217.5
“Let every one of us please his neighbor.” WOR 217.6
In what way are we to please our neighbor? WOR 217.7
“For his good to edification.” WOR 217.8
Who has set us an example in this respect? WOR 217.9
“For even Christ pleased not himself.” WOR 217.10
What scripture is cited to show this? WOR 217.11
“The reproaches of them that reproached thee fall on me.” See Psalm 69:9. WOR 217.12
For what purpose were the Scriptures of the Old Testament written? WOR 217.13
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” WOR 217.14
With what special object? WOR 217.15
“That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” WOR 217.16
In view of the example of Christ, what exhortation is given? WOR 217.17
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.” WOR 217.18
For what purpose? WOR 217.19
“That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God.” WOR 217.20
In concluding this portion of the subject, what exhortation is repeated? WOR 218.1
“Wherefore receive ye one another.” See chapter 14:1. WOR 218.2
How are we to receive on another? WOR 218.3
“As Christ also received us.” WOR 218.4
To what end? WOR 218.5
“To the glory of God.” WOR 218.6
The verses composing this chapter supplement the instruction given in chapter fourteen, and are a continuation of that. Thus, that chapter opens with the exhortation, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye.” The last verse of our present study is, “Wherefore receive ye one another,” etc. WOR 218.7
How Are We to Receive One Another? The answer is, “As Christ also received us.” This again emphasizes the statement that the apostle had not the slightest intention in any way of depreciating any one of the Ten Commandments when in the fourteenth chapter he said: “One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
Christ did not in the slightest degree make any concessions in the commandments in order to accommodate those whom he would receive. He said, “Think not that I came to destroy the law, or the prophets.” Matthew 5:17. Again, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” John 15:10. Christ’s commandments and those of the Father are the same, because he says, “I and my Father are one.” John 10:30. When a young man wished to follow him, he said to him, “Keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17. Therefore it is evident that in making concessions for the sake of peace and harmony, no concession is to be made in respect to keeping the WOR 218.8
This is still further shown by the exhortation, “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” We are never exhorted to aid a brother to sin, in order to please him. Neither are we exhorted to close our eyes to a brother’s sin, and allow him to go on in it without warning him, lest we displease him. There is no kindness in that. The exhortation is, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” Leviticus 19:17. The mother who would be so fearful of displeasing her child that she would not stop it from putting its hand into the blaze, would be exhibiting cruelty instead of kindness. We are to please our neighbors, but only for their good, not to lead astray. WOR 218.9
Going back to the first verse, we find this lesson still more strongly emphasized: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” “For even Christ pleased not himself.” Compare this with Galatians 6:1, 2: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such on one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In bearing the infirmities of the weak, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. But to bear another’s burdens does not mean to teach him that he can safely ignore any of the commandments. To keep the commandments of God is not a burden; for “his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. WOR 219.1
Christ bears our burdens, not by taking away the law of God, but by taking away our sins, and enabling us to keep the law. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.” Romans 8:3, 4. WOR 219.2
One blessed thing in the service of the Lord is that he does not say, “Go,” but, “Come.” He does not send us away to labor by ourselves, but calls us to follow him. He does not ask anything of us that he does not himself do. When he says that we ought to bear the infirmities of them that are weak, we should take it as an encouragement, instead of a task laid upon us, since it reminds us of what he does for us. He is the mighty One, for we read, “I have laid help upon One that is mighty; I have exalted One chosen out of the people.” Psalm 89:19. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” “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 53:4, 6. WOR 219.3
This is what makes it easy to bear one another’s burdens. If we know that Christ bears our burdens, it will become a pleasure for us to bear the burdens of others. The trouble is that too often we forget that Christ is the Burden-bearer, and, being over powered with the weight of our own infirmities, we have still less patience with those of others. But when we know that Christ is indeed the Burden-bearer, we cast our own care upon him; and then when we make the burden of another our own, he bears that too. WOR 219.4
God is “the God of patience and consolation.” He is “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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4. He takes upon himself all the reproaches that fall upon men.
“The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Of the children of Israel it is said, “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” Isaiah 63:9. The words of Christ are, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor.” “Reproach hath broken my heart.” Psalm 69:19, 20. Yet in all this there was no impatience, no murmuring. Therefore, as he has already borne the burdens of the world in the flesh, he is fully able to bear ours in our flesh, without complaining; so that we may be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” Colossians 1:11. WOR 219.5
It is this lesson that is taught us throughout all the Scriptures: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” In the book of Job this is made manifest. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. In the writings of Moses it is as clearly set forth. Christ says: “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not the writings, how shall ye believe my words?” John 5:46, 47. If the Gospel according to Moses is neglected, it will be of no use to read the Gospel according to John, because the gospel can not be divided. The Gospel of Christ, like himself, is one. WOR 220.1
Finally, “Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Whom does Christ receive? “This man receiveth sinners.” How many will he receive? “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” How will he receive them?-“All day long have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” And if they come, what assurance have they?-“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Let us learn of him; and remember that, wherever you may open the Scriptures, they are they which testify of him.
September 10, 1896
Our Rest. -“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9. WOR 221.1
The Lord’s Rest. -This rest, as we learn from the connection, is the Lord’s rest. The promise is left us of entering into his rest. Verse 1. WOR 221.2
Present Rest. -That rest is not something to which we are to look forward, but it is to be enjoyed in the present. It is a rest that “remaineth.” It has existed since the days of old, and has not been withdrawn. WOR 221.3
Resting Now. -Evidence of the truth of this is found in the fact that the rest that remains is the Lord’s rest. The Lord is not looking forward to a time when he can rest, but is resting now. He calls us to share his rest with him, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. WOR 221.4
From the Beginning. -Since what time has this rest been ready for man? The answer is: “The works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Hebrews 4:3. A finished work means rest; and so we read in the next verse that “God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” The Sabbath day-God’s rest-is the sign or seal of creation complete and perfect. “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31. And then he rested from his work. From that time-from the close of the sixth day-God’s rest has been ready for man. WOR 221.5
Edenic Rest. -And at that time man-the new man whom God had created-entered upon that rest. “The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:15. “Eden” means “pleasure” or “delight.” A very literal rendering of the Hebrew would be that the Lord took the man and “caused him to rest in the garden of delight.” Work was given him, but it was work without weariness. WOR 221.6
The Rest Lost. -But the man did not continue in that rest. He disobeyed the word of God, and thus lost the rest that was in it. God said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” WOR 221.7
The Seal of the Rest. -Nevertheless God’s rest remained. The Sabbath-the perfect rest of the new earth-still was left to man as an evidence that God had not cast him away and as a pledge of the rest in the earth again made new. This perfect Sabbath rest, the seal of a new creation, is found in Christ. In him were all things created.” Colossians 1:16. R. V. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Since man lost his rest only by sin, he recovers it only by the righteousness of God in Christ. WOR 222.1
Rest in Labor. -God’s rest, however, does not mean long idleness. Altho God entered into his rest at the creation, Jesus said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” John 5:17. He works by means of his word, on the strength of which he rested. If that word works in us, we also shall find rest from labor. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Ephesians 2:10. Just as when God made man and set him to work, yet gave him rest, so when he makes the man new, he makes him new in order that he may work, yet it is restful work. WOR 222.2
Rest in Christ. -And that is what the Saviour’s call teaches us. When he invites the weary to come to him for rest, he immediately adds, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” Working yoked up with him, we work with him, and he works in us. His works were all done by the word of God. If we, like him give heed to every word of God, we shall do the works, and find the rest. Who will accept his gracious invitation? WOR 222.3
Confirming the Promises
With this number we finish our study of the book of Romans. While the study has covered a long time, and there have been many articles, it has not nevertheless been exhaustive. Indeed, it is impossible to have an exhaustive study of the Bible; for no matter how thoroughly we study any portion of it, we shall still find ourselves but upon the threshold.
The more we study the Bible, the more will our best study seem to be only preliminary to further study that will be seen to be necessary. But altho we can not expect ever to exhaust the truth, so that we can say that we have it all, we may be sure that as far as we have gone we have only the truth. And this assurance arises not from any wisdom that we have, but solely from adhering closely to the word of God, and not allowing the alloy of human ideas to mingle with its pure gold. WOR 222.4
The portion of Scripture which we have before us in this study, namely, from the eighth verse of the fifteenth chapter of Romans to the close of the sixteenth chapter, is long, but it is difficult to find any place for dividing it, especially since much of it is devoted to personal matters. On account of the length of it, we have not reprinted the text. Many verses will however be found in the course of the lesson, and it is expected that the student will carefully read the entire portion from the Bible itself. WOR 222.5
“A Minister of the Circumcision.” -Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision.” Bear this in mind. Shall we learn from it that he saves only the Jews? By no means, but we must learn from it that “salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22. “Jesus Christ our Lord” was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Romans 1:3. He is the “root of Jesse,” which stands “for an ensign of the people,” to which the Gentiles seek. Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12. The Gentiles who find salvation must find it in Israel. None can find it anywhere else. WOR 223.1
“The Commonwealth of Israel.” -In writing to the brethren at Ephesus, Paul refers to the time before they were converted as the time when they were “gentiles in the flesh,” and says, “At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:11, 12.
That is, outside of Israel there is no hope for mankind. They who are “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” are “without Christ,” and “without God in the world.” In Christ Jesus we are brought to God. But being brought to God we are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Verses 18, 19.
Therefore we have two things most clearly and positively taught, namely, That none are saved unless they are of the house of Israel; and, That none are of the house of Israel except those who are in Christ. WOR 223.2
Confirming the Promises. -“Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” That shows that all the promises of God to the fathers were made in Christ. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.” 2 Corinthians 1:20. “To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Galatians 3:16. There was therefore never any promise made to the fathers which was not to be obtained only through Christ, and therefore through the righteousness which is by him. WOR 223.3
Christ Not Divided. -Jesus Christ is declared to be a minister of the circumcision. Suppose now we hold that the promises to the fathers mean the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; we should then be shut up to the conclusion that only those natural descendants those who are circumcised can be saved. Or, at least, we should be driven to the conclusion that Christ does something for them that he does not do for the rest of mankind.
But Christ is not divided. All that he does for one man he does for every man. All that he does for any he does through his cross; and he is crucified but once. “
God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Therefore since Christ is the minister of the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, it is evident that those promises included all mankind.
“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 10:12. “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.” Romans 3:29, 30. WOR 223.4
The “Tabernacle of David.” -At the time when the apostles and elders were assembled in Jerusalem, Peter told how he had been used by the Lord to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. Said he, “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.
Then James added, “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:14-18. That is, the house of David is to be built up only by the preaching of the Gospel to the gentiles, and the taking from them of a people for God. And this was the purpose of God from the beginning, as the prophets testify. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43. WOR 224.1
“The Blessing of Abraham.” -Again we read that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; ... 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. The curse that Christ was made for us, was the cross, as is stated in the words omitted from the text just quoted. Therefore we learn that the promises to the fathers were assured only by the cross of Christ. But Christ tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9. He was “lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:14, 15. Therefore the promises made to the fathers were simply the promises of the gospel, which is “to every creature.” By the cross, Christ confirms the promises made to the fathers, in order “that the gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” WOR 224.2
“One Fold, and One Shepherd.” -In the tenth chapter of John we find some of the most beautiful, tender, and encouraging words of the Lord Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the gate by which the sheep enter into the fold. He gives his life to save them. Then he says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd.” Verse 16. Therefore when his work is completed, there will be but one fold, and he will be the Shepherd. Let us see who will compose that flock. WOR 224.3
The Lost Sheep. -In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, that wonderful bouquet of blessed illustrations of the love and mercy of the Saviour, Jesus represents his work as that of the shepherd going to seek the lost and wandering sheep. Now who are the sheep that he is seeking? He himself gives the answer: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24. This is emphatic.
Therefore it is evident that all the sheep whom he finds, and whom he brings back to fold, will be Israel. And so it is just as evident that the “one fold” will be the fold of Israel. There will be no other fold, since it is to be “one fold.” And he will be the Shepherd. To-day, as well as in the days of old, we may pray, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth.” Psalm 80:1. WOR 224.4
The Characteristic of the Sheep. -Those who are following Christ are his sheep. But he has “other sheep.” There are many who are not now following him, who are his sheep. They are lost and wandering, and he is seeking them. What determines who are his sheep? Hear him tell: “The sheep hear his voice.” “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.”
“Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice.” John 10:3, 16, 26, 27. When he speaks, those who are his sheep will hear his voice, and come to him. The word of the Lord is the test as to who are his sheep. Every one therefore who hears and obeys the word of the Lord is of the family of Israel; and those who reject or neglect the word, are eternally lost. “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. WOR 225.1
“One Faith.” -We may now stop to see how this that the apostle has said connects with what he has said in the fourteenth chapter, about Christ’s being the minister of the circumcision, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, in order that the gentiles might glorify God. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Mark this: They who are to be received “as Christ also received us to the glory of God,” are those who have the faith. Now there is but “one faith,” as there is but “one Lord.” Ephesians 4:5.
And faith comes by hearing the word of God. Romans 10:17. Since there is to be but one fold, and Christ, the one Shepherd, is not divided, there must be no division in the fold. Disputings, which come from human wisdom and human ideas, are to be left out, and the word of God alone followed. That allows of no disputing, since it tells ever one and the same thing. This is the rule: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby; if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 1:1-3. WOR 225.2
Faith, Hope, Joy, and Peace. -“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Here we have faith and hope, joy and peace. The God of hope is to fill us with all joy and peace in believing, and this is to be by the power of the Holy Ghost. This connects the present instruction with that of the fourteenth chapter, where we are told that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” WOR 225.3
The Gospel Commission. -When Jesus was about to leave this world, he told his disciples that they should first receive power by the Holy Spirit, and then, said he, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.
“To the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” but to all alike, and the same gospel to all. So Paul declared that his work as a minister of the Gospel consisted in “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21. So in our text he tells us that as “the minister of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God,” he had “through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” “fully preached the gospel of Christ” “from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum.” Romans 15:16-19. WOR 225.4
Partaking the Same Spiritual Things. -The apostle, speaking of his desire to visit the Romans, said that he hoped to see them when he took his journey into Spain. ‘But now,” said he, “I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” A very simple statement, but it shows that the gentiles received nothing spiritual except that which came from the Jews.
The spiritual things of which the Gentiles had been made partakers came from the Jews, and were ministered to them by Jews. Both partook of the same spiritual meat, and therefore the gentiles showed their gratitude by ministering to the temporal necessities of the Jews. So here again we see but one fold and one Shepherd. WOR 226.1
The God of Israel. -Many times in the Bible God is declared to be the God of Israel. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, immediately after the healing of the lame man, said to the people, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus.” Acts 3:13. Even in this age, therefore, God is identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel. God desires to be known and remembered, and so we read his words,
“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:13, 16, 17. God is the God of Israel. True, he is the God of the gentiles also, but only as they accept him, and become Israel through the righteousness by faith. But Israel must keep the Sabbath. It is the sign of their connection with God. WOR 226.2
Greetings.-Two-thirds of the last chapter of Romans consists of greetings. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus.” “Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us.” “
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen.” “Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.” “Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.” “Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord.” “Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.” And so the list runs, including both men and women impartially. Let one but read that blessed list, realizing that it shows not only the largeness and heartiness of Paul’s sympathy, but also the special care which the Holy Spirit has for each individual member of the household of faith, singling them out by name, and there will be no questioning as to why such things were written. WOR 226.3
But one thing is very significant, and that is the fact that there is no mention of Peter, who is claimed to have been “the first Bishop of Rome.” We may sometimes learn as much by what the Bible does not say as by what it does say. From what is not said in this place we may learn that so far from being Bishop of Rome, Peter was not in Rome at all when Paul wrote, and that if he was ever in Rome it was after the Epistle to the Romans was written, and long after the church was established and flourishing there. For it is most certain that in saluting the members of the church by name Paul would not have omitted the name of the chief person in it, whose hospitality he had once shared in Jerusalem for fifteen days.
Of course there is abundance of the most positive evidence that neither the church of Christ nor the church of Rome was founded upon Peter; but if there were no other, this testimony of the sixteenth chapter of Romans would be sufficient to settle the matter. WOR 227.1
In Conclusion.-“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith; to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” R.V. WOR 227.2
What a magnificent conclusion! It reaches from eternity to eternity. The Gospel of God is the thing of the ages. It was kept secret in the mind of God from times eternal. Christ “was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1:19, 20. But now the mystery is “made manifest.” Not simply is it made manifest by the preaching of the apostles, but “according to the commandment of the everlasting God,” “by the scriptures of the prophets” it is “made known to all nations, for the obedience of faith.”
The Gospel plan originated in the mind of God in the eternity of the past. Patriarchs, prophets and apostles have worked in unison in making it manifest; and “in the ages to come” it will be both the science and the song of the redeemed “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” who shall gather with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and will say, “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 for ever and ever. Amen.”