BY HENRY GREW
Minister of the Gospel
That the salvation of “The glorious Gospel of the blessed God”is accomplished “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” is the common faith of the favored heirs of this salvation. That much error has obtained among them in respect to various particulars pertaining to this salvation, which mars the character of the church of the living God as “the ground and pillar of the truth,” is manifest in their diverse views of the personal nature and of the atoning sacrifice of the great Redeemer.
Beloved christian brethren, have we not been corrupted from the simplicity of Jesus Christ by the doctrines and commandments of men? Shall we not bring our various opinions to that standard which abideth forever, and solemnly examine whether our faith is standing “in the power of God”or “in the wisdom of men?”
Is it not time to leave Calvin and Arminius, Arius and Socinus, Fox and Hicks for Jesus Christ? Is it not time to stop shackling and corrupting the minds of the disciples of the Lord by requiring assent to the creeds of fallible men, and by casting them into the sectarian molds of theological seminaries?
Holy Father! Hear and answer the prayer of thy Son. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth-that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Joh 17:17-21.
ATONEMENT. AT-ONE-MENT. RECONCILIATION.
“God hath made man upright; but they have sought our many inventions”of sin and folly. “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God”By his own voluntary transgression of righteous law, perfectly adapted to his own well being, man has become unreconciled to God and exposed himself to the awful penalty of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.”
How then can man be justified with God? “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world,”that can answer this question of thrilling interest? “The heavens declare the glory of God,”but no sun or star, in the glowing firmament of “his handy work,”proclaims pardon to the sinner. The wise adaptations of the works of creatures, show forth his beneficence; yet none of these assure us that he has “found a ransom”for the perishing. Natural conscience is “accusing, or else excusing”us, but it speaks to forgiveness for the guilty. None of the sons of men, with all their wealth or power, “can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”
Hear O ye heavens and give ear O earth. “SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.”Hark! Jehovah himself declares “the joyful sound.”“Deliver him from going down to the pit: I HAVE FOUND A RANSOM.”“Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” Isa 28:16 1Pe 2:6.
Our Father in Heaven is, in the highest sense the ATONER or RECONCILER.
“All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself,”&c. 2Co 5:18; “reconciling the world unto himself,”&c. 19th verse. “I, even I, am the Jehovah and beside me there is no Saviour.” Isa 43:11 Ho 13:4. “The high God their Redeemer.” Ps 78:35. “- His Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts.” Isa 44:6.
Any theory which implies that God is implacable and unwilling to forgive, when forgiveness can be manifested consistently with righteousness-any system which represents that there is, in the universe, any person more merciful than the FATHER OF MERCIES himself, is a profane impeachment of the character of the Holy One. “GOD IS LOVE.”“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God.” Eze 18:28. “As I live, saith the Lord god, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Eze 33:11.
Yet he is “the JUST God”as well as the Saviour. “God is light, in him is no darkness at all.”The harmony of his perfections constitutes the glory of his character. Inviting our return to him in accents of love; assuring us that he is “the Lord God gracious and merciful;”he also solemnly warns us that he “will by no means clear”the impenitent. “Our God (to such) is a consuming fire.”
In respect to this great truth, the divine testimony is plain, positive and glorious. “God-hath reconciled us to himself BY Jesus Christ”“God was IN CHRIST reconciling the world unto himself.” 2Co 5:18,19. “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make RECONCILIATION for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17. This glorious enterprise of atoning love, which is destined to fill the universe with the high praises of Jehovah, is accomplished, mediately, by the “one Lord BY whom are all things.”Intimately and inseparably connected with the true glory of atonement, is,
His divine nature and pre-eminent dignity.
He is “THE SON OF GOD:”the ONLY begotten of the Father full of grace and truth:”“the image of the invisible God,”“the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person:”“by whom also he made the worlds:”“by him all things consist.”
Alas! How has this glorious truth been subverted or enveloped in absurdity and confusion by the false theories of fallible men! How is it that an intelligent mind can believe that He, whom the Spirit of Truth declares to be “the first born of every creature,” Col 1:15; the very “beginning of the creation of God,” Re 3:14; had no existence until the days of Caesar Augustus? How did God create “all things by Jesus Christ;” Eph 3:9 Heb 1:2; if he existed not until thousands of years after they were created?
No less subversive of the divine testimony, is the contradictory dogma, that the Son of God is that very God whose Son he is declared to be! As well may we affirm that the Son of the President is the President himself! “God sent his Son into the world,” which clearly implies that he was his Son before he was sent, and proves the fallacy of the theory which denies the applicability of this term to him previous to his incarnation. The import of Ro 1:3,4, is believed to be, that in respect to his flesh or body, he was of the seed of David; but in respect to his Spirit, which animated the body, he was the Son of God. It is not true that he was the first born of every creature, or “the beginning of the creation of God,”as born of Mary. The argument of the apostle- Col 1:15, is, that he was “the first born of every creature,”because, by him were all things created,” consequently he was so when he created all things, or when God created all things by him. Eph 3:9. The terms, “the first born,”“the first begotten,”“the only begotten,”must refer to the origin of existence, and clearly teach us that the proposition that he is the self-existent and supreme God is false. It denies the great truth that “there is but one God.” 1Co 8:6. It contradicts his own testimony that his Father is the ONLY true God”- Joh 17:3; “greater than”himself- Joh 14:28; that he lives “BY the Father”- Joh 6:57; that all the power by which he accomplishes his blessed mission, and give eternal life to his redeemed, is “GIVEN him”by the Father- Joh 17:2; that he “can do nothing of himself”- Joh 5:19; that the Father only knows of the day of judgment, which proves that the Son does not know it in any nature. Mt 24:36; Hear his truthful words: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Lu 22:29. This is a two-edged sword of the Spirit of Truth, demolishing at once the two opposite extremes of error. If Jesus Christ came down from heaven, his conception in the womb of the virgin was not the origin of his existence. If he came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of superior authority, he was not the supreme God. They who say that the Spirit, which “came down from heaven,”which God sent into the world, was supreme God, have the confounding alternative, either to deny that the Father is supreme God or to admit that one supreme God sent another supreme God!
Far be it, however, that we should detract form the true glory of Him who is “the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.”“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”“In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.”“That in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” He who first made him, “so much better than the angels”- Heb 1:4; has made him God, or ruler, over all, blessed forever.” Ro 9:5. “For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him (or that he is over all) it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto him that put all things under him, that GOD, may be ALL IN ALL.” “ 1Co 15:27, 28. Now, “angels and authorities and powers (are) made subject unto him.” 1Pe 3:22. They are commanded to worship him, not as the self-existent Jehovah, but as “his first begotten.” Heb 1 6. In this worship, “every knee”and “tongue”shall unite and confess him Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.” Php 2:11. The appellation of God, (given to him in a vastly superior sense than it was given to the rulers of Israel, Ps 82:6) denotes the glory of his majesty on the throne of Zion. Yet, as God, he has a God, who has “anointed”him “with the oil of gladness above (his) fellows.” Heb 1:9. The glory of “the Word,” Joh 1st. chap., is “the glory of the only begotten of the Father;”not the glory of the unbegotten Jehovah.
This super-eminent dignity and glory of the divine nature of Jehovah’s appointed ATONER is essential to the fulfillment of his high mission.
“To make reconciliation”-to be the propitiatory, or mercy seat, “for the sins of the whole world,” 1Jo 2:2, is a work of no ordinary magnitude. Among all the powers of heaven, thrones, dominions, cherubim and seraphim, none but “the first” and “only begotten” SON was found worthy! If any other celestial spirit had been competent would not our Father have spared his best beloved? No obedience, no offering, no sacrifice, but that of his own Son, was competent to the indispensable object of magnifying the law of God and making it honorable while transgressors are saved. “We have a GREAT HIGH PRIEST-Jesus the SON OF GOD.”The efficacy of his priesthood is predicated on his sonship. It is the obedience unto death, of his own Son, which is the “offering of a sweet smelling savor”unto the God of salvation. The contradictory theory, that the Son of God is God Himself, disqualifies him for the office of “mediator between God and men.”The same objection pertains to the theory that he is mere man. A mediator between the parties at variance must be distinct from both. It is true that, because he “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” he is called “the man Christ Jesus.”Yet the fact is that he was the Son of God before he was made flesh. If he was the immutable, unchangeable, Jehovah, could he humble or empty himself and become obedient? Php 2:8. Could the ever-living God die? To whom shall the Sovereign of the universe become obedient? To whom shall he offer himself? If he is a mere man, how can his most perfect obedience be “a propitiation-for the sins of the whole world?”
The revealed object and end of God’s setting forth his Son in the view of the intelligent universe, and making “his soul an offering for sin,” Isa 53:10 is, that he might be “the just God and the Saviour.”
Such is the testimony of the Spirit of Truth. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God: to declare, at this time, his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Ro 3:23-26. Now if God has thus set forth his Son and made his soul, or life, an offering for sin, in order “that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,”does it not follow that he would not have been just if he justified believers in Jesus, without this offering, or some equivalent measure in honor of his holy law?
It is admitted that we are saved by the Son of God, by those who deny that there is any necessary connection between our justification and his death. They affirm that he saves us by the moral influence, on our hearts, of his sacred precepts and the example of his holy and benevolent life and death. They affirm truth; but do they affirm the whole truth? Let the Spirit of truth answer. “WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION”-Heb 9:22; “JUSTIFIED by his blood”- Ro 5:9; “having made peace through the blood of his cross”- Col 1:20. “And you-hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death”- Col 1:22; “thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.”“ he shall bear their iniquities.” Isa 53. “The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many.” Mr 10:45. “Christ died FOR our sins”- 1Co 15:3; “delivered for our offenses;”“ redeemed us to God by thy blood.” Re 5:9. The mount of Sinai speaks wrath; the mount of Calvary peace.
If we deny the necessity of the great sacrifice, “that God might be just and the justifier of him that believeth,”what is the import or significance of those sacrifices which were continually offered, and of that blood which constantly flowed for the altar under the first covenant? “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.”These “were a figure for the time then present;”“it was necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Heb 9:9-23. Christ our Passover is sacrifices for us.”“Behold the LAMB OF GOD which taketh away the sin of the world!”“By one offering he hath perfected forever them which are sanctified.” Heb 10:14.
It may indeed be said of other philanthropists that they have laid down their lives for their brethren. But of what other can it be said that his death was a propitiatory offering “for the sins of the whole world,”“that God might be just and the justifier of him which believeth?”
Righteous law, when violated must be honored. Repentance is only doing present duty. It does not cancel past transgression. It is true that “he who confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall find mercy.”But it is not true that confessing and forsaking of sin is the entire ground on which he find mercy; for “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Heb 9:22. The wisdom of God has appointed the channel in which mercy flows consistently with righteousness. “God for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven.” Eph 3:32. He indeed justifies “freely by his grace” or favor, but it is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Ro 3:24. Therefore, all reasoning on the mercy of God and on the competency of repentance, to justify transgressors of this holy law, without the sacrifice of his Son, however plausible, is opposed to that method of salvation which infinite wisdom has determined to be the best.
The real humiliation and death of the divine Son of God is essential to Atonement.
The Trinitarian theory implies that God never have his Son either to suffer or die for us; nor even a human soul to die for us. It implies that he gave only a human body to die for us. the divine nature of Jesus Christ is supposed to be as immutable and impassible as that of the Father. It is supposed that there was no real humility or suffering of the divine nature. According to this theory, all the real “obedience unto death”of the great Atoner, which constitutes the basis of atonement for the sins of the world, pertains solely to humanity! How inadequate the means to the end! According to the scriptures of truth, it is the surpassing dignity and perfection of the REAL sufferer that gives value and efficacy to his offering. “We have a GREAT High Priest-Jesus THE SON OF GOD.”What apostle or prophet ever based the greatness of our High Priest on the absurd dogma that he is a perfect man, united, “in one person forever,”with the infinite Jehovah, who did not suffer or die at all? Where, according to this theory, is that great love of God in giving his own Son to suffer and die for us, which his word teaches us to behold and admire? The theory robs the Cross of its glory. It is the affecting fact, that he who really suffered and died there, was God’s own Son, his “first” and “only begotten,”who was with him “before the world was,”which constitutes that glory of Calvary which demands the adoring gratitude of earth, and the Hallelujahs of Heaven.
“The word was made FLESH.”“A BODY hast thou prepared me”- Heb 10:5: Not a body and another soulor spirit. There is no divine testimony that Jesus Christ had a human soul. The Son of god who “came down from heaven,”was the soul or spirit of the body “prepared.”His humiliation, as the Son of God, was not illusory. It was real. He was “in the form of God,”yet he thought not that this likeness to God was a thing to be eagerly seized or retained, but “made himself of no reputation,”“humbled”or “emptied himself,”&c. Such, it is believed, is the true import of this passage in the Greek. The whole connection plainly teaches a real change and humiliation totally incompatible with the idea of immutable deity. Php 2 chap.
As his humiliation was real, so also was his death. That very same Spirit and Son, who was in the form of God, “became obedient unto DEATH”“He died for our sins.”Reputed orthodoxy denies this testimony of the Eternal Spirit. It teaches that the souls of the Son of god, both human and divine, never died, but, in a state of living consciousness, left the inanimate body on the Cross, and passed to the heavenly glory, and was never made “an offering for sin.” Isa 53:10. Death is the opposite of life; the cessation of it. Agony is not death. Jesus Christ says, “I am he that liveth and was DEAD.”He not only agonized but “ he DIED for our sins, according to the scriptures”of truth. “He sent his SON to be the propitiation for our sins,”by dying for us. “He hath poured out his soul unto death.” Isa 53:12 From Ps 16:10, we learn that the soul of life of our blessed Saviour was in sheol from his death to his resurrection. From Ec 9:10, we learn that “there is no work, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in sheol.” Infinite wisdom and love was pleased to “make his soul (life) an offering for sin.”He “laid down his life for us,”and then had no conscious existence until “God raised him from the dead.” The prophetic word-the promise of the Eternal to give his own Son to DIE for us-was literally fulfilled. There was no illusion or deception in the case. Thus did he who has loved us and given himself for us, “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This was the “better sacrifice” of the new and better covenant. “The bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God.” Heb 7:19. “Herein is LOVE,”&c.
The Atonement of the Son of god is the foundation of man’s hope of Immortality.
Man forfeited life or existence by transgression. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” Eze 18:4. “The wages of sin is death;”not eternal life in misery. Immortality is not an attribute of human nature. It is an object to be sought and attained “by patient continuance in well doing.” Ro 2:7. No passage of divine truth declares man, in general, to be IMMORTAL. He is MORTAL. “Shall MORTAL man be just with God?” Job 4:17. Immortality or eternal life is the gift of God “THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” Ro 6:23. “Sin hath reigned unto death.”Blessed be the God of salvation, grace shall “reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Ro 5:21. “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life,”&c. Joh 3:36. The final destinies of men are not eternal happy and miserable life; but life and death-life and destruction-salvation and perishing. The final punishment of the wicked will be “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.” 2Th 1:9. Destruction, not of happiness merely, but the “SOUL and BODY in hell.” Mt 10:28. All the wicked will (God) destroy.” Ps 145:20. A perfectly holy and happy universe shall succeed, to his eternal glory.
The Atonement is Essential to a Resurrection from the Tomb on which ALL FUTURE LIFE DEPENDS.
“It is expedient for us, that one man should DIE for the people, and that the whole nation perish not-but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Joh 11:52. This “gathering together”is to be at “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2Th 2:1, who is “the resurrection and the life.”Death is the extinction of life of the entire man. “The dead know not anything”“In the very day (their) thoughts perish,”“also their love and their hatred”“ is now perished.” Ec 9:5,6. Are departed souls living in heaven and hell, or in Elysium and Tartarus in Hades, without knowledge, thought and affections? If the dead rise not, Jesus Christ teaches us, God would be the God of the dead, but this is not true, if the souls of the patriarchs are now living. In this case he is the God of the living though there is no resurrection. The heathenish tradition of immortal souls, divests the doctrine of the resurrection of its chief importance and glory, and has induced some to deny it altogether. Yet shall the counsel of God stand.
Paul rested all his hopes of future life on this basis. 1Co 15:32. “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage it me if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”Would he have uttered such language if he believed that he possessed an immortal spiritual essence susceptible of life independently of the body, and capable of enjoying the glory of God forever, although the body should never rise? He assures us that “if Christ be not raised, then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Our resurrection depends on his. He is “the first fruits.”He does not say their bodies have perished, but that “THEY”have perished; i.e., they themselves will exist no more. To say that an immortal soul can perish is a contradiction. Joh 6:39 teaches that if Jesus Christ does not raise his saints from the grave he will lose them. This is not true if the souls never die.
“Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercies sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead rise and praise thee?” Ps 6:4,5 88:10,11. If David expected to praise God with “nobler powers”at death he would not have offered such a plea as this for his recovery, from disease. So Hezekiah, Isa 38:16,19. “So wilt thou recover me, and make me to live-for the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee-the living, the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day.”
That the saints at death “do immediately pass into glory”is a human tradition manifestly opposed to the word of truth. When, according to the scriptures, are we to “enter into life”-“into the joy of (our) Lord”-to be with him-to “see him as he is”and be “like him,”and “shine forth in the kingdom of (our) Father?”Not until our blessed Lord comes in his glory. “I will come again and receive you to myself,”&c. Joh 14:3. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and THEN shall he reward every man “according to his works.” Mt 16:27. “Thou shalt be recompensed (not at death) at the resurrection of the just.”It is not until “Christ who is our life shall appear,” that we shall “appear with him in glory.” Col 3:4. Then, when he “shall come in his glory,” he will welcome his risen and changed saints to the kingdom prepared for them. Mt 25:31-34. For this glory David, who is not ascended into the heavens” looked, not to the hour of death, but to the resurrection morning. “I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” Ps 17:15. Paul had no expectation of receiving his crown until the day of his Lord’s appearing. 2Ti 4:8. Indeed all the ransomed family are represented as waiting for their salvation until that day. Isa 25:9. “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of god-to wit, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY.” Ro 8:18-23. “To be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (i.e., the incorruptible body) that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 2Co 5:1-4.
Why were the Thessalonian christians directed to wait for their Savior from heaven, if they were going to heaven to his eighteen hundred years before he was to come from heaven? 1Th 1:10 _ 2Th 3:5.
Finally, let us solemnly examine whether our hope for ETERNITY is resting on the “foundation”which Jehovah has laid in Zion, or on that wisdom which “is foolishness with God.” 1Co 3:19. The importance of reconciliation is that way of salvation which the divine wisdom had determined to be essential to the manifestation of infinite righteousness, is beyond all estimation. “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God, abideth on him.”Let us also seriously consider, that faith in the CROSS of CHRIST will be of no avail (except to enhance our condemnation,) unless by it we are crucified unto the world and the world unto us. Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
O eternal love! Save us from unbelief, that we may finally be found among the ransomed ones who “have washed their robes and made them while IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.”
“Blessed and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him”that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the LAMB forever and ever.”