Sunday, February 21, 1999

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

written by: C.I. Scofield, January 1896

Introduction


In 2 Timothy 2 the believer is presented in seven characters. He is called a son (verse 1), a soldier (vs. 3), an athlete (vs. 5), a husbandman (vs. 6), a workman (vs. 15), a vessel (vs. 21), and a servant (vs. 24).


With each of these characters there is a well-suited exhortation. As a son, Timothy is exhorted to be strong in grace. Grace goes with sonship, just as law goes with servitude - as we learn from Galatians. Then, as a soldier, Timothy is exhorted to endure hardness and to avoid worldly entanglements; these are right elements of good soldiership. As a vessel, he is to be cleansed, separated; as a servant, gentle, patient, meek; and so of each of these seven aspects of his life as a Christian.


In 2 Timothy 2:15, he is told what is required of him as a workman: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."


The Word of truth, then, has right divisions, and it must be evident that, as one cannot be "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed" without observing them, so any study of that Word which ignores those divisions must be in large measure profitless and confusing. Many Christians freely confess that they find the study of the Bible weary work. More find it so, who are ashamed to make the confession.


The purpose of this pamphlet is to indicate the more important divisions of the Word of truth. That this could not be fully done short of a complete analysis of the Bible is, of course, evident. But it is believed that enough is given to enable the diligent student to perceive the greater outlines of the truth and something of the ordered beauty and symmetry of that Word of God which, to the natural mind, seems a mere confusion of inharmonious and conflicting ideas.


The student is earnestly exhorted not to receive a single doctrine upon the authority of this book, but, like the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), to search the Scriptures daily whether these things are so. No appeal is made to human authority. "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you" (1Joh 2:27).

The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God



"Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God." (1Cor 10:32)


Whoever reads the Bible with any attention cannot fail to perceive that more that half of its contents relate to one nation: the Israelites. He perceives, too, that they have a distinct place in the dealings and counsels of God. Separated from the mass of mankind, they are taken into covenant with Jehovah, who gives them specific promises not given to any other nation. Their history alone is told in Old Testament narrative and prophecy; other nations are mentioned only as they touch the Jew. It appears, also, that all the communications of Jehovah to Israel as a nation relate to the Earth. If faithful and obedient, the nation is promised earthly greatness, riches, and power; if unfaithful and disobient, it is to be scattered "among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other" (Deu 28:64). Even the promise of the Messiah is of blessing to "all the families of the Earth." [Gen 12:3]


Continuing his research, the student finds mention in Scripture of another distinct body, which is called the church. This body also has a peculiar relation to God and, like Israel, has received from Him specific promises. But similarity ends there, and the most striking contrast begins. Instead of being formed of the natural descendants of Abraham alone, it is a body in which the distinction of Jew and Gentile is lost. Instead of the relation being one of mere covenant, it is one of birth. Instead of obedience bringing the reward of earthly greatness and wealth, the church is taught to be content with food and raiment, and to expect persecution and hatred; it is perceived that just as distinctly as Israel stands connected with temporal and earthly things, so distinctly does the church stand connected with spiritual and heavenly things.


Further, Scripture shows the student that neither Israel nor the church always existed; each had a recorded beginning. The beginning of Israel he finds in the call of Abram. Looking then for the birth of the church he finds (contrary, perhaps, to his expectations, for he has probably been taught that Adam and the patriarchs are in the church) that it certainly did not exist before, nor during, the earth life of Christ, for he finds Him speaking of His church as yet future when He says (Mat 16:18), "Upon this rock I will build my church." Not, have built, nor am building, but will build.


He finds, too, from Ephesians 3:5-10, that the church is not once mentioned in Old Testament prophecy, but was, in those ages, a mystery "hid in God". Scripturally, he finds the birth of the church in Acts 2, and the termination of its career on the earth in 1 Thessalonians 4.


The student also finds, in the scriptural division of the race, another class, rarely mentioned, and distinguished in every aspect from either Israel or the church: the Gentiles. The comparative position of the Jew, the Gentile, and the church may be briefly seen in the following Scriptures:
Comparing, then, what is said in Scripture concerning Israel and the Church, he finds that in origin, calling, promise, worship, principles of conduct, and future destiny that all is contrast. Compare first the calling of Israel with that of the church.


Israel- an earthly calling:

  • Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will show thee. (Gen 12:1)
  • For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness. (Deu 8:7-9)
  • And he said, I am Abraham's servant. And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great; and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and camels, and [donkeys]. (Gen 24:34-35)
  • The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.(Deu 28:7) And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.(Deu 28:13)


The Church- a heavenly calling:

  • Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling... (Heb 3:1)
  • For our citizenship is in heaven... (Php 3:20, RV)
  • And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head... (Mat 8:20)
  • To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. (1Pet 1:4)
  • Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place. 1Cor 4:11)
  • And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! (Mark 10:23)
  • Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him? (Jam 2:5)
  • They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (Joh 16:2)
  • Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:4)


Of course, it is not meant that a godly Jew did not, at death, go to heaven. The distinction in that the incentive to godliness in his case was earthly blessings, not heavenly. It should be needless to say that, in this dispensation, neither Jew nor Gentile can be saved otherwise than by the exercise of that faith on the Lord Jesus Christ whereby both are born again (Joh 3:3,16) and are baptized into that "one body" (1Cor 12:13) which is "the church" (Eph 1:22-23). In the church, the distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears. (1Cor 12:13, Gal 3:28, Eph 2:14. So in writing to the Ephesians, the apostle speaks of them as "in time past Gentiles", Eph 2:11, 1Cor 12:2, RV, also says, "When ye were Gentiles".)


The contrast between Israel and the church further appears in the rules given for the conduct of each.


Israel- was to destroy its enemies:

  • When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee... thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them: thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. (Deu 7:1-2)
  • Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Ex 21:24-25)


The Church- is to love its enemies:

  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. (Mat 5:44)
  • Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat. (1Cor 4:12-13)
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Mat 5:39)
  • See also: Deu 21:18-21 and Luk 15:20-23


In the appointments for worship we still find contrast. Israel could worship in but one place and at a distance from God - only approaching Him through a priest. The church worships wherever two or three are gathered, has boldness to enter into the Holiest, and is composed of priests.

Compare:
Lev 17:8-9 with Mat 18:20;
Luk 1:10 with Heb 10:19-20;
Num 3:10 with 1Pet 2:5.


In the predictions concerning the future of Israel and the church, the distinction is still more startling. The church will be taken away from the earth entirely, but restored Israel is yet to have her greatest earthly splendor and power. See what Scripture has to say:



Israel- the future glory of Messiah's earthly kingdom:

  • And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. (Luk 1:31-33) (Of these seven promises to Mary five have already been literally fulfilled. By what rule of interpretation are we authorized to say the remaining two will not also be fulfilled?)
  • 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. (Acts 15:14-16)
  • I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (Rom 11:1,11, 24-26)
  • And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people... And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa 11:11-12)
  • For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. (Isa 14:1)
  • Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Isreal from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into the land that I gave unto their fathers" (Jer 16:14-15). Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness. (Jer 23:5-6)
  • Behold, I will gather them out of all countries whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again into this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Jer 32:37-38)
  • Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. (Zeph 3:14-15)


The Church- the future glory in Christ's heavenly presence:

  • In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (Joh 14:2,3)
  • For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1Thes 4:15-17)
  • For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory. (Php 3:20-21, RV)
  • Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doeth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. (1Joh 3:2)
  • Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Rev 19:7-9)
  • Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6)


It may safely be said that the Judaizing of the church has done more to hinder her progress, pervert her mission, and destroy her spiritually than all other causes combined. Instead of pursuing her appointed path of separation from the world and following the Lord in her heavenly calling, she has [mis-applied Scripture passages meant for Israel] to justify herself in lowering her purpose to the civilization of the world, the acquisition of wealth, the use of imposing ritual, the erection of magnificent churches, the invocation of God's blessing upon conflicts of armies, and the division of an equal brotherhood into "clergy" and "laity".




The Seven Dispensations


See also a chart on this topic.

The Scriptures divide time (by which is meant the entire period from the creation of Adam to the "new heaven and a new earth" of Rev 21:1) into seven unequal periods, usually called dispensations (Eph 3:2), although these periods are also called ages (Eph 2:7) and days, as in "day of the Lord".


These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God's method of dealing with mankind, or a portion of mankind, in respect of the two questions: [1] of sin, and [2] of man's responsibility. Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment, marking his utter failure in every dispensation. Five of these dispensations, or periods of time, have been fulfilled; we are living in the sixth, probably toward its close, and have before us the seventh, and last: the millenium.

1. Man Innocent-
This dispensation extends from the creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7 to the expulsion from Eden. Adam, created innocent and ignorant of good and evil, was placed in the garden of Eden with his wife, Eve, and put under responsibility to abstain from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The dispensation of innocence resulted in the first failure of man, and in its far-reaching effects, the most disastrous. It closed in judgment: "So He drove out the man."
See Gen 1:26, Gen 2:16,17, Gen 3:6, Gen 3:22-24.

2. Man under conscience-
By the fall, Adam and Eve acquired and transmitted to the race the knowledge of good and evil. This gave conscience a basis for right moral judgment, and hence the race came under this measure of responsibility - to do good and eschew evil. The result of the dispensation of conscience, from Eden to the flood (while there was no institution of government and of law), was that "all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth", that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually", and God closed the second testing of the natural man with judgment: the flood. See Gen 3:7,22, Gen 6:5,11-12, Gen 7:11-12,23.

3. Man in authority over the earth-
Out of the fearful judgment of the flood, God saved eight persons, to whom, after the waters were assuaged, He gave the purified earth with ample power to govern it. This, Noah and his descendants were responsible to do. The dispensation of human government resulted, upon the plain of Shinar, in the impious attempt to become independent of God, and closed in judgment: the confusion of tongues. See Gen 9:1,2, Gen 11:1-4, Gen 11:5-8.

4. Man under promise-
Out of the dispersed decendants of the builders of Babel, God called one man, Abram, with whom He enters into covenant. Some of the promises to Abram and his descendants were purely gracious and unconditional. These either have been or will yet be literally fulfilled. Other promises were conditional upon the faithfulness and obedience of the Israelites. Every one of these conditions was violated, and the dispensation of promise resulted in the failure of Israel and closed in the judgment of bondage in Egypt.


The book of Genesis, which opens with the sublime words, "In the beginning God created", closes with "in a coffin in Egypt". See Gen 12:1-3, Gen 13:14-17, Gen 15:5, Gen 26:3, Gen 28:12-13, Ex 1:13-14

5. Man under the law-
Again the grace of God came to the help of helpless man and redeemed the chosen people out of the hand of the oppressor. In the wilderness of Sinai, He proposed to them the covenant of the law. Instead of humbly pleading for a continued relation of grace, they presumptuously answered: "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." The history of Israel in the wilderness and in the land is one long record of flagrant, persistent violation of the law, and at last, after multiplied warnings, God closed the testing of man by law in judgment: first Israel, then Judah, were driven out of the land into a dispersion which still continues. A feeble remnant returned under Ezra and Nehemiah, of which, in due time, Christ came: "Born of a woman - made under the law." Both Jews and Gentiles conspired to crucify Him. See Ex 19:1-8, 2King 17:1-18, 2King 25:1-11, Act 2:22-23, Act 7:51-52, Rom 3:19-20, Rom 10:5, Gal 3:10.

6. Man under grace-
The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ introduced the dispensation of pure grace, which means undeserved favor, or God giving righteousness, instead of God requiring righteousness, as under the law. Salvation, perfect and eternal, is now freely offered to Jew and Gentile upon the acknowledgment of sin (ie., repentance), with faith in Christ.


"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (Joh 6:29) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life..." (Joh 6:47) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth Him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." (Joh 5:24, RV) "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish." (Joh 10:27-28) "For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, that no man should glory." (Eph 2:8-9, RV)


The predicted result of this testing of man under grace is judgment upon an unbelieving world and an apostate church. See Luke 17:26-30, Luke 18:8, 2The 2:7-12, Rev 3:15-16.


The first event in the closing of this dispensation will be the descent of the Lord from heaven, when sleeping saints will be raised and, together with believers then living, caught up "to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1The 4:16-17)


Then follows the brief period called "the great tribulation". See Jer 30:5-7, Dan 12:1, Zeph 1:15-18, Mat 24:21-22.

[Note (from the editor): Some teachers number the Tribulation as one of the dispensations, while combining the dispensations of Promise & Law. However, we see the Tribulation as a special period during which human civilization crumbles under the weight of the combined features of its ages long rejection of God. The Lord has limited this period to a short 7 years, to prevent man's self-destruction.]


After this, the personal return of the Lord to earth in power and great glory occurs, and the judgments which introduce the seventh, and last dispensation. See Mat 25:31-46 and Mat 24:29-30.

7. Man under the personal reign of Christ-
After the purifying judgments which attend the personal return of Christ to the earth, He will reign over restored Israel and over the earth for one thousand years. This is the period commonly called "the millenium". The seat of His power will be Jerusalem. The saints, including the saved of the dispensation of grace, namely the church, will be associated with Him in His glory. See Isa 2:1-4, Isa 11, Acts 15:14-17, Rev 19:11-21, Rev 20:1-6.


But when Satan is "loosed for a little season", he finds the natural heart as prone to evil as ever, and easily gathers the nations to battle against the Lord and His saints. This last dispensation closes, like all the others, in judgment. The great white throne is set, the wicked dead are raised and finally judged. And then come the "new heaven and a new earth". Eternity is begun. See Rev 20:3,7-15, Rev 21 and 22.



The Two Advents



...when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11)


Whoever carefully considers Old Testament prophecies must be struck by two contrasting and seemingly contradictory lines of prediction concerning the coming Messiah. One body of prediction speaks of Him as coming in weakness and humiliation, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as a root out of dry ground, having no form nor comeliness, nor beauty that He should be desired. His visage is to be marred, His hands and feet pierced, He is to be forsaken of man and of God, and to make His grave with the wicked. (See Psa 22:1-18; Isa 7:14; Isa 53; Dan 9:26; Zech 13:6-7; Mark 14:27.)


The other line of prophecy foretells a splendid and resistless Sovereign, purging the earth with awful judgments, regathering dispersed Israel, restoring the throne of David in more than Solomon's splendor, and introducing a reign of profound peace and perfect righteousness. (See Deut 30:1-7; Isa 11:1-2,10-12; Isa 9:6-7; Isa 24:21-23; Isa 40:9-11; Jer 23:5-8; Dan 7:13-14; Mic 5:2; Mat 1:1; Mat 2:2; Luke 1:31-32.)


In due time the fulfillment of messianic prophecy began with the birth of the virgin's Son according to Isaiah, in Bethlehem according to Micah, and proceeded with perfect literalness unto the full accomplishment of every prediction of Messiah's humiliation; for sin must first be put away, before the kingdom could be established. But the Jews would not receive their King in the form in which He was presented, "meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt the foal of an ass", and they crucified Him. (See Zech 9:9 with Mat 21:1-5; John 19:15-16.)


But we must not conclude that the wickedness of man has baffled the deliberate purpose of God, for His counsels include a second advent of His Son, when the predictions concerning Messiah's earthly glory will receive the same precise and literal fulfillment as did those which concerned His earthly sufferings. (See Hos 3:4-5; Mat 24:27-30; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:6-7; Acts 15:14-17.)


The Jews were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken concerning the sufferings of their Messiah; we are slow of heart to believe all that they have spoken concerning His glory. Surely the greater reproach is ours, for it ought to be easier to believe that the Son of God would come "in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory" than that He would come as the babe of Bethlehem and the carpenter of Nazareth. Indeed, we believe the latter because it has happened, not because the prophets foretold it, and it is time we ceased to reproach the Jews for their unbelief. If it be asked how they could possibly be blinded to the evident meaning of so many and such unequivocal predictions, the answer is that they were blinded in exactly the same way that many Christians are blinded to the equally evident meaning of a far greater number of predictions of His earthly glory, namely, by the process of "spiritualizing" Scripture. In other words, the ancient scribes told the people that the prophecies of Messiah's sufferings were not to be interpreted literally, just as some modern scribes are telling the people that the prophecies of Messiah's earthly glory are not to be literally interpreted.


The second advent is a promise to the church as well as to the Jew. Among the last words of comfort and exhortation addressed by our Lord to His perplexed and sorrowing disciples, before He accomplished the sacrifice of the cross were these: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)


Here the Lord speaks of His coming again in precisely the same terms as of His departure. The latter was, we know, personal and bodily. If we say that the former is impersonal and "spiritual", surely to such a forced interpretation of simple language we ought to be constrained only by the most imperative and unqualified Scripture elsewhere. But no such passages exist. But we are not left to doubt upon this vital point, nor to draw conclusions of reason, however irresistible.


In the very moment of our Lord's disappearance from the sight of His disciples, "Two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven". (Acts 1:10-11)


To the same purport is 1 Thes 4:16-17: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13)


"For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself." (Php 3:20-21, RV)


"Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2). "And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev 22:12)


For this "blessed hope" we are taught to "watch" (Mark 13:33,35,37; Mat 24:42; Mat 25:13), to "wait" (1Thes 1:10), and to be "ready" (Mat 24:44). The last prayer in the Bible is one for Christ's speedy return (Rev 22:20).


By these Scriptures, it abundantly appears that the second advent will be personal and bodily. Therefore, it does not mean the death of the believer, nor the destruction of Jerusalem, nor the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, nor the gradual diffusion of Christianity, but that it is the "blessed hope" of the church, the time when sleeping saints will be raised, and, together with saints then living, who will be "changed" (1 Cor 15:51-52), caught up to meet the Lord -- the time when we who are now the sons of God will be like Him and when faithful saints will be rewarded for works of faith, for His name's sake, after they have been saved.


The following Scriptures will further bring into view the contrast between the two advents of our Lord. Compare the first advent with the second.


First Advent

  • And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
  • But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)
  • For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
  • For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17)
  • And 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)

Second Advent

  • And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Mat 24:30)
  • So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation. (Heb 9:28)
  • And to you who are troubled, rest with us: when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thes 1:7-8)
  • Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

The student may multiply these contrasts almost indefinitely. Enough, however, has been put forth that both the promises to Israel and to the church imperatively require a return of our Lord to the earth.


It may be helpful to beginning Bible students to consider, briefly, the various theories which are put forward to oppose the scriptural doctrine of the personal and corporeal [bodily] return, or second advent, of Christ.


It will, of course, be clearly understood that the Scriptures which speak of His visible and bodily appearing at the close of this dispensation must be distinguished from those which refer to His divine attributes of ommniscience and omnipresence, by virtue of which He knows all things and is always present everywhere, and of which such passages as Mat 18:20 and Mat 28:20 are examples. It is blessedly true that, in this sense, He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.


But the man Christ Jesus is now personally and corporeally at the right hand of God, as Acts 1:9-11 plainly declares: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."


Stephen saw Him there: "But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56) "When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb 1:3) "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." (Col 3:1)


During the Franco-Prussian war, Von Moltke, by his genius and skill and by a network of telegraph wires, was really present on every battlefield, though visibly and personally present in his office in Berlin. Later in the war he joined the army before Paris, after which his actual and visible presence was there. So our Lord, by virtue of His divine attributes, is really present with His church now, but He will be visibly and personally upon the earth at His second coming.


A discussion of false theories of the meaning of Christ's return:

  1. The prophecies concerning the return of the Lord were not fulfilled by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, nor by His manifestation in powerful revivals and happy prayer meetings.
    1. This interpretation practically nullifies the doctrine of the Trinity, making the Holy Spirit only a manifestation of Christ.
    2. In Christ's promise of the descent of the Spirit, He distinctly speaks of Him as "another Comforter" (John 14:16), and in John 16:7 Christ says: "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you."
    3. The inspired writers of Acts, the Epistles, and of Revelation, mention the return of the Lord more than one hundred and fifty times after Pentecost, and always as yet future.
    4. None of the events predicted to accompany the second advent of Christ occurred at Pentecost. These are: the resurrection of sleeping saints (1 Cor 15:22-23; 1 Thes 4:13-16), the "change" of living believers, by which they "put on incorruption", their "vile bodies" being "fashioned like unto His glorious body", and their being caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Cor 15:51-53; 1Thes 4:17; Php 3:20-21), and the mourning of all the tribes of the earth because of the visible coming of the Son of man in power and great glory (Mat 24:29-30; Rev 1:7).

      - - These are the phenomena associated with the event of our Lord's return. When He comes, these phenomena will be present. Not one of these things occurred at Pentecost, nor in any other manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

  2. The conversion of a sinner is not the coming of the Lord.

    1. According to Scripture this is exactly reversed. Conversion is the coming of a sinner to Christ, not the coming of Christ to a sinner. (Mat 11:28; John 5:40; John 7:37; John 6:37)
    2. None of the events enumerated above, predicted to occur when the Lord returns, accompany the conversion of a sinner.

  3. The death of a Christian is not the coming of Christ.

    1. When the disciples understood the Lord to say that one of their number should tarry till He came, the saying went abroad among them that "that disciple should not die". (John 21:22-24)
    2. The inspired writers always refer to a believer's death as his departure. In not one instance is the coming of the Lord connected with a Christian's death. (See Php 1:23; 2 Tim 4:6; 2 Cor 5:8.) Dying Stephen saw the heavens opened, and the Son of man, not coming but "standing on the right hand of God". (Acts 7:55-56)
    3. None of the events, predicted to occur when the Lord returns, accompany the death of a Christian.

  4. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans was not the second coming of Christ.

    1. In Matthew 24 and Luke 21, three events are foretold: the destruction of the temple, the coming of the Lord, and the end of the world (ie., age). (See Mat 24:3.) It was the needless confusion of these perfectly distinct things which gave rise to the notion that the fulfillment of one was the fulfillment of all.
    2. The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation after the destruction of Jerusalem, but still speaks of the coming of the Lord as a future event (Rev 1:4,7; 2:25; 3:11; 22:7,12,20). The last promise of the Bible is, "Surely, I come quickly"; the last prayer, "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
    3. None of the events, predicted to occur when the Lord returns, occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed. (See 1 Thes 4:14-17; Mat 24:29-31; Mat 25:31-32)

  5. The diffusion of Christianity is not the second coming of Christ.

    1. The diffusion of Christianity is gradual, whereas the Scriptures refer to the return of the Lord as sudden and unexpected. (Mat 24:27,36-42,44,50; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3)
    2. The diffusion of Christianity is a process; Scripture invariably speaks of the return of the Lord as an event.
    3. The diffusion of Christianity brings salvation to the wicked, whereas the coming of Christ is said to bring not salvation to them but "sudden destruction". (1 Thes 5:2,3; 2 Thes 1:7-10; Mat 25:31-46)

  6. These alleged explanations and theories, though widespread, [do not] appear in the books of reputable theologians of any school or denomination, nor are they maintained by a single exegete of universally recognized eminence. These all maintain the bodily and visible second coming of Christ. [ Editor's note: The author wrote at a time when apostasy was not widespread, when most "schools and denominations" took the Bible seriously. The foundation for Christian faith and teaching is not the reputation of theologians, but rather the authority of the Scriptures. ]

    It is, however, sometimes said that this coming cannot occur until after the world has been converted by the preaching of the gospel and has submitted to the spiritual reign of Christ for one thousand years. It is submitted that this view is wholly erroneous for the following reasons:

    1. Scripture clearly describes the condition of the earth at the second coming of Christ to be one of awful wickedness, nor of millennial blessedness. (Luke 17:26-32 with Gen 6:5-7 and Gen 13:13; Luke 18:8; Luke 21:25-27)
    2. Scripture describes the whole course of this dispensation from the beginning to the end in such terms as to exclude the possibility of a converted world in any part of it. (Mat 13:36-43,47-50; Mat 25:1-10; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Tim 4:3-4; 2 Pet 3:3-4; Jude 17-19)
    3. The purpose of God in this dispensation is declared to be to "gather out of the Gentiles a people for his name", not the conversion of the world. After this, He "will return", and then, and not before, will the world be converted. (See Acts 15:14-17; Mat 24:14 ["for a witness" which may or may not be believed]; Rom 1:5 ["among" not "of" all nations]; Rom 11:14 ["some" not "all"]; 1 Cor 9:22; Rev 5:9 ["out of" not "all" of].)
    4. It would be impossible to "watch" and "wait" for an event which we knew could not occur for more than one thousand years.



The Two Resurrections



The Word of truth teaches in the clearest and most positive terms that all of the dead will be raised. No doctrine of the faith rests upon a more literal and emphatic body of Scriture authority than this, nor is any more vital to Christianity. "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." (1 Cor 15:13-14)


But it is important to observe that the Scriptures do not teach that all the dead are raised at one time. A partial resurrection of saints has already occurred. "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." (Mat 27:52-53)


Two resurrections, differing in respect of time and of those who are the subjects of the resurrection, are yet future. These are variously distinguished as "the resurrection of life", and "the resurrection of damnation", "the resurrection of the just and the unjust", etc. The following Scriptures refer to this important subject.


"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29) If it be objected that the word "hour" would indicate a simultaneous resurrection of these two classes, it is answered that the "hour" of verse 25 has already lasted eighteen hundred years. [Editor's note: This article was originally published in 1896.] (See also "day" in 2 Pet 3:8; 2 Cor 6:2; John 8:56.)


"But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:13-14) In this passage our Lord speaks of the first resurrection only. In 1 Corinthians 15, the distinction still further appears: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (1 Cor 15:22-23)


"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." (1 Thes 4:13-16)


This "resurrection of life", of "the just", of "the dead in Christ" is that of which Paul speaks in Philippians 3:11 (RV): "If by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead." Not "of the dead", as in the Authorized Version (KJV). The resurrection of the dead would imply that all the dead were raised simultaneously but "from the dead" necessarily implies a selection -- that some of "the dead" remain. Literally, it is "the resurrection out of the dead ones". The Emphatic Diaglott has "from among the dead", Rotherham [translates it as] "the out-resurrection, that from among the dead."


If the apostle had in mind a resurrection of all the dead, how could he speak of attaining it "by any means", since he could not possibly escape it?


In Revelation 20:4-6 the two resurrections are again mentioned together, with the important addition of the time which intervenes between the resurrection of the saved and of the unsaved. "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the Beast neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Verses 12 and 13 describe the second resurrection - that "unto damnation".


The testimony of Scripture, then, is clear that believers' bodies are raised from among the bodies of unbelievers and caught up to meet the Lord in the air a thousand years before the resurrection of the latter. It should be firmly held that the doctrine of the resurrection concerns only the bodies of the dead. Their disembodied spirits are instantly in conscious bliss or woe. (Php 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8; Luke 16:22-23)



The Five Judgments



The expression "general judgment", of such frequent occurrence in religious literature, is not found in the Scriptures, and, what is of more importance, the idea intended to be conveyed by that expression is not found in the Scriptures.


Dr. Pentecost well says: "It is a mischievous habit that has led the Christian world to speak of the judgment as being one great event taking place at the end of the world, when all human beings, saints, sinners, Jews and Gentiles, the living and the dead, shall stand up before the great white throne and there be judged. Nothing can be more wide of the teaching of the Scriptures."


The Scriptures speak of five judgments, and they differ in four general respects: as to who are the subjects of judgment; as to the place of judgment; as to the time of judgment; as to the result of the judgment.


The Judgment as to Believers

  • Their sins have been judged.
  • Time: A.D. 30
  • Place: the cross
  • Result: death for Christ: justification for the believer.

[Supporting Scripture:]
-"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha: Where they crucified him." (John 19:17-18)
-"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Pet 2:24)
-"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Pet 3:18)
-"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one tha hangeth on a tree." (Gal 3:13)
-"For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor 5:21)
-"But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb 9:26)
-"When he had by himself purged our sins..." (Heb 1:3)
-"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1, RV)
-"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." (John 5:24, RV)
The word translated "judgment" in this passage ("condemnation" in the authorized [KJV] version) is the same word rendered "judgment" in Matthew 10:15, Hebrews 9:27, and 2 Peter 2:4. An entirely different word is used in 2 Corinthians 5:10, where the judgment of our works as believers is referred to.


The Judgment of Sin in the Believer

  • Time: any time
  • Place: anywhere
  • Result: chastisement by the Lord, if we judge not ourselves.

[Supporting Scripture:]
-"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor 11:31-32)
-"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Heb 12:7)
See also 1 Pet 4:17; 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Sam 7:14-15; 2 Sam 12:13-14; 1 Tim 1:20.


The Conduct, or Works, of Believers are to be Judged

  • Time: when Christ comes [for the church]
  • Place: "in the air"
  • Result to the believer: "reward" or "loss". "But he himself shall be saved."
    It is a solemn thought that though Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree and God has entered into covenant with us to "remember them no more" (Heb 10:17), every work must come into judgment. The life, the works of the believer must be reviewed by the Lord.

[Supporting Scripture:]
-"Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him. For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor 5:9-10, RV)
-"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." (Rom 14:10)


It will be observed that both of these [above] passages are limited by the context to believers. In the first, the apostle speaks of us as in one of two states: either we are at home in the body and absent from the Lord, or [we are] absent from the body and present with the Lord -- language which could not be used of unbelievers. "Wherefore we make it our aim" to be well-pleasing unto the Lord, "for we must all be made manifest..." (2 Cor 5:8-9)


In the other passage, the words "we" and "brother" again limit it to believers. The Holy Spirit never co-mingles the saved and the unsaved. Then, lest it should seem incredible that a blood-cleansed saint could come into any judgment whatever, he quotes from Isaiah to prove that "every knee shall bow", and adds, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

The following passage gives the basis of the judgment of works:
-"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1 Cor 3:11-15)

The following passages fix the time of this judgment:
-"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Mat 16:27)
-"And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:14) (See 1 Cor 15:22-23.)
-"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." (1 Cor 4:5)

But how comforting it is, in view of that inevitable scrutiny of our poor works, to learn that in His patient love He is so leading us and working in us now that He can then find something in it all for which to praise us.
-"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev 22:12)
-"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." (2Tim 4:8)
For the place of this judgment, see 1 Thes 4:17 and Mat 25:24-30.



The Judgment of the Nations

  • Time: the glorious appearing of Christ [on earth] (Mat 25:31-32; Mat 13:40-41)
  • Place: the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:1-2,12-14)
  • Result: some saved, some lost (Mat 25:46)
  • Basis: The treatment of those whom Christ there calls, "my brethren" (Mat 25:40-45; Joel 3:3,6-7). These "brethren" we believe are the Jewish remnant who shall turn to Jesus as their Messiah during "the great tribulation" which follows the taking away of the church and is terminated by the glorious appearing of our Lord (Mat 24:21-22; Rev 7:14; 2 Thes 2:3-9). The proof is too extensive to be put forth here. It is evident, however, that these "brethren" cannot be believers of this dispensation, for it would be impossible to find any considerable number of Christians who are so ignorant that they do not know that offices of kindness to believers are really ministries to Jesus Himself.

As this judgment of the living nations is sometimes confounded with that of the great white throne in Revelation 20:11, it may be well to note the following contrasts between the two scenes.

The living nations will be characterized by the following:
-no resurrection;
-living nations judged;
-on the earth;
-no books;
-three classes - sheep, goats, "brethren";
-time, when Christ appears.
The great white throne will be characterized by the following:
-a resurrection;
-"the dead" judged;
-heavens and earth fled away;
-"books were opened";
-one class: "the dead";
-time, after He has reigned one thousand years.

The saints will be associated with Christ in this judgment and hence cannot be the subjects of it.
(See 1 Cor 6:2; Dan 7:22; Jude 14-15.)
In truth, the judgment of the great white throne and the judgment of the living nations have but one thing in common: the Judge.



The Judgment of the Wicked Dead
Some may be troubled by the word "day" in such passages as Acts 17:31 and Romans 2:16. See the following passages, where "day" means a lengthened period: 2 Pet 3:8; 2 Cor 6:2; John 8:56. The "hour" of John 5:25 has now lasted more than eighteen hundred years.


The Scriptures speak, also, of a judgment of angels (1 Cor 6:3; Jude verse 6; 2 Pet 2:4). Luke 22:30 probably refers to judges as under the theocracy - an administrative office, rather than judicial. (See Isaiah 1:26.)


Law and Grace



The obvious and striking division of the Word of truth is that between law and grace. Indeed, these contrasting principles characterize the two most important dispensations: the Jewish and Christian. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)


It is not, of course, meant that there was no law before Moses, any more than that there was no grace and truth before Jesus Christ. The forbidding to Adam of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17) was law, and surely grace was most sweetly manifested in the Lord God seeking His sinning creatures and in His clothing them with coats of skins (Gen 3:21) -- a beautiful type of Christ who "is made unto us... righteousness". (1 Cor 1:30) Law, in the sense of some revelation of God's will, and grace, in the sense of some revelation of God's goodness, have always existed, and to this Scripture abundantly testifies. But "the law" most frequently mentioned in Scripture was given by Moses, and from Sinai to Calvary, [it] dominates [and] characterizes the time; just as grace dominates or gives peculiar character to the dispensation which begins at Calvary and has its predicted termination in the rapture of the church.


It is, however, of the most vital moment [ie., importance] to observe that Scripture never, in any dispensation, mingles these two principles. Law always has a place and work distinct and wholly diverse from that of grace.
  • Law is God prohibiting and requiring; Grace is God beseeching and bestowing.
  • Law is a ministry of condemnation; Grace , of forgiveness.
  • Law curses; Grace redeems from that curse.
  • Law kills; Grace makes alive.
  • Law shuts every mouth before God; Grace opens every mouth to praise Him.
  • Law puts a great and guilty distance between man and God; Grace makes guilty man nigh to God.
  • Law says, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth"; Grace says, "Love your enemies, bless them that despitefully use you".
  • Law says, do and live; Grace says, believe and live.
  • Law never had a missionary; Grace is to be preached to every creature.
  • Law utterly condemns the best man; Grace freely justifies the worst (Luke 23:43; Rom 5:8; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 Cor 6:9-11).
  • Law is a system of probation; Grace, of favor.
  • Law stones an adulteress; Grace says, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more".
  • Under law the sheep dies for the shepherd: under grace the Shepherd dies for the sheep.

Everywhere the Scriptures present law and grace in sharply contrasted spheres. The mingling of them in much of the current teaching of the day spoils both, for law is robbed of its terror, and grace of its freeness.


The student should observe that "law" in the New Testament Scriptures, means the law given by Moses (Rom 7:23 is an exception). Sometimes the entire law (the moral, or the Ten Commandments, and the ceremonial) is meant; sometimes the commandments only; sometimes the ceremonial only. Among passages of the first type, Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16, and 3:2 are examples. Of the second type, Romans 3:19 and 7:7-12 are examples. Of the third type, Colossians 2:14-17 is an example.



It should be remembered also that in the ceremonial law are enshrined those marvelous types - the beautiful foreshadowings of the person and work of the Lord Jesus as priest and sacrifice, as in the tabernacle (Exodus 25-30) and levitical offerings (Leviticus 1-7), which must ever be the wonder and delight of the spiritually-minded. [See the separate study in the book of Hebrews.]


Expressions in the Psalms too, which would be inexplicable if understood only of the "ministration of death, written and engraven in stones" (2 Cor 3:7), are made clear when seen to refer to Christ or to the redeemed. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psa 1:2) "O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day." (Psa 119:97)


Three errors have troubled the church concerning the right relation of law to grace:

  1. Antinomianism - the denial of all rule over the lives of believers; the affirmation that men are not required to live holy lives because they are saved by God's free grace. "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." (Titus 1:16)
    "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude verse 4)
  2. Ceremonialism - the demand that believers should observe the levitical ordinances. The modern form of this error is the teaching that Christian ordinances are essential to salvation.
    "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1)
  3. Galatianism - the mingling of law and grace; the teaching that justification is partly by grace, partly by law, or, that grace is given to enable an otherwise helpless sinner to keep the law. Against this error, the most wide-spread of all, the solemn warnings, the unanswerable logic, the emphatic declarations of the Epistle to the Galatians are God's conclusive answer.
    "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal 3:2-3)
    "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another [there could not be another gospel]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal 1:6-8)


The following may be helpful as an outline of Scripture teaching on this important subject. The moral law only is referred to in the passages cited.

What the Law Is-
-"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good." (Rom 7:12)
-"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." (Rom 7:14)
-"For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." (Rom 7:22)
-"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully." (1 Tim 1:8)
-"And the law is not of faith." (Gal 3:12)

The Lawful Use of the Law-
-"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Rom 7:7; see also verse 13)
-"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)
-"Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions." (Gal 3:19)
-"Now we know, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." (Rom 3:19)
Law has but one language: "what things soever." It speaks only to condemn.
-"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal 3:10)
-"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)
-"The ministration of death, written and engraven in stones..."(2 Cor 3:7)
-"The ministration of condemnation..." (2 Cor 3:9)
-"For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." (Rom 7:9)
-"The strength of sin is the law." (1 Cor 15:56)
It is evident, then, that God's purpose in giving the law, after the race had existed twenty-five hundred years without it (John 1:17; Gal 3:17), was to bring to guilty man the knowledge of his sin first, and then of his utter helplessness in view of God's just requirements. It is purely and only a ministration of condemnation and death.

What the Law Cannot Do-
-"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)
-"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Gal 2:16)
-"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Gal 2:21)
-"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith." (Gal 3:11)
-"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." (Rom 8:3)
-"And by him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39)
-"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." (Heb 7:19)


The Believer Is Not Under the Law-

Romans 6, after declaring the doctrine of the believer's identification with Christ in His death, of which baptism is the symbol (verses 1-10), begins, with verse 11, the declarations of the principles which should govern the walk of the believer -- his rule of life. This is the subject of the remaining twelve verses. Verse 14 gives the great principle of his deliverance, not from the guilt of sin that is met by Christ's blood, but from the dominion of sin -- his bondage under it. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."


Lest this should lead to the monstrous Antinomianism of saying that therefore a godly life was not important, the Spirit immediately adds: "What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid." (Rom 6:15) Surely every renewed heart answers "Amen" to this.


Then Romans 7 introduces another principle of deliverance from law. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." (Rom 7:4-6) (This does not refer to the ceremonial law; see verse 7.)
-"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." (Gal 2:19)
-"But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (Gal 3:23-25)
-"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man." (1Tim 1:8-9)


What is the Believer's Rule of Life?-
-"He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." (1 John 2:6)
-"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16)
-"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." (1Pet 2:11; see also verses 12-23)
-"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love." (Eph 4:1-2)
-"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved, us, and hath given himself for us." (Eph 5:1-2)
-"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." (Eph 5:8)
-"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph 5:15-16)
-"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Gal 5:16)
-"For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." (John 13:15)
-"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)
-"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you..." (John 15:12)
-"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." (John 14:21)
-"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." (1 John 3:22-23)
-"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." (Heb 10:16)

A beautiful illustration of this principle is seen in a mother's love for her child. The law requires parents to care for their offspring and pronounces penalties for the willful neglect of them; but the land is full of happy mothers who tenderly care for their children in perfect ignorance of the existence of such a statute. The law is in their hearts.


It is instructive, in this connection, to remember that God's appointed place for the tablets of the law was within the ark of the testimony. With them were "the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded" (types: the one of Christ our wilderness bread, the other of resurrection, and both speaking of grace), while they were covered from sight by the golden mercy seat upon which was sprinkled the blood of atonement. The eye of God could see His broken law only through the blood that completely vindicated His justice and propitiated His wrath. (Heb 9:4-5)


It was reserved to modernists to wrench these holy and just but deathful tables from underneath the mercy seat and the atoning blood and erect them in Christian churches as the rule of Christian life.


What is Grace?-
-"But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared. . . according to his mercy he saved us." (Titus 3:4-5)
-"That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us though Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:7)
-"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8)


What is God's Purpose in Grace?-
-"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9)
-"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world: looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:11-13)
-"That, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:7)
-"Being justified freely by his grace; through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom 3:24)
-"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." (Rom 5:2)
-"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." (Acts 20:32)
-"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph 1:6-7)
-"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:16)

How complete, how all-inclusive! Grace saves, justifies, builds up, makes accepted, redeems, forgives, bestows an inheritance, gives standing before God, provides a throne of grace to which we may come boldly for mercy and help; it teaches us how to live and gives us a blessed hope! It remains to note that these diverse principles cannot be intermingled.
-"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Rom 11:6)
-"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Rom 4:4-5; see also Gal 3:16-18; 4:21-31.)
-"So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free." (Gal 4:31)
-"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words: which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more (for they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake). But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Heb 12:18-24)

It is not then a question of dividing what God spoke from Sinai into moral law and ceremonial law -- the believer does not come to that mount at all.


As sound old Bunyan said: "The believer is now, by faith in the Lord Jesus, shrouded under so perfect and blessed a righteousness, that this thundering law of Mount Sinai cannot find the least fault or diminution therein. This is called the righteousness of God without the law." [Rom 3:21]


Should this meet the eye of an unbeliever, he is affectionately exhorted to accept the true sentence of that holy and just law which he has violated: "For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:22-23) In Christ, such will find a perfect and eternal salvation, as it is written: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom 10:9); for Christ is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom 10:4)






The Believer's Two Natures



The Scriptures teach that every regenerate person is the posessor of two natures: one, received by natural birth, which is wholly and hopelessly bad; and a new nature, received through the new birth, which is the nature of God Himself, and therefore wholly good.

The following Scriptures will sufficiently manifest what God thinks of the old, or Adam nature:
-"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psa 51:5)
-"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9)
(Dr. Young's literal rendering of this passage is: "Crooked is the heart above all things, and it is incurable - who doth know it?")
-"There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Rom 3:10-12)

God does not say that none of the unregenerate are refined, or cultured, or able, or sweet-tempered, or generous, or charitable, or even religious. But He does say that none are righteous, none understand God, or seek after Him.

It is one of the sorest of faith's trials to accept the divine estimate of human nature, to realize that our genial and moral friends, who, not infrequently, are scrupulous in the discharge of every duty, filled with sympathy for the woes and the aspirations of humanity, and strenuous in the assertion of human rights, are yet utter despisers of God's rights and untouched by the sacrifice of His Son, whose divinity they with unspeakable insolence deny and whose word they contemptuously reject. A refined and gentle lady who would shrink with horror from the coarseness of giving a fellow creature the lie, will yet make God a liar every day! (See 1 John 1:10; 5:10.) And this difficulty is vastly increased for thousands by the current praise of humanity from the pulpit.

How startling the contrast between appearances and realities in the time before the flood. "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Gen 6:4)

And so it appeared that the world was growing better, in men's eyes; a continual improvement they probably would trace, and the apparent result of the unholy intermarriage of the godly with the worldy was the lifting up of human nature to still grander heights.

But "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen 6:5)
-"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile man." (Mark 7:21-23)
-"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Cor 2:14)
-"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:7-8)
-"Among whom also we all had our conversation [i.e., manner of life] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath." (Eph 2:3)
By these it appears that the unconverted man has a three-fold incapacity. He may be gifted, or cultured, or amiable, or generous, or religious. He may pay his honest debts, be truthful, industrious, a good husband and father - or all these together - but he can neither obey God, please God, nor understand God.


The believer, on the contrary, while still having his old nature, unchanged and unchangeable, has received a new nature which "after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." The following Scriptures will show the origin and character of the new man.


It will be seen that regeneration is a creation, not a mere transformation - the bringing in [of] a new thing, not the change of an old. As we received human nature by natural generation, so do we receive the divine nature by regeneration.
-"Verily, verily, I say unto thee [Nicodemus, a moral, religious man], Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
-"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)
-"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:26)

It will be observed what bearing these Scriptures have upon that specious and plausible, but utterly unscriptural phrase so popular in our day: "the universal fatherhood of God, and the universal brotherhood of man" - an expression all the more dangerous for the half-truth of the last clause. Not all who are born, but all who are born again are the children of God. The Scripture tells us indeed that Adam was the son of God, but it is also careful to state that Seth was the son of Adam (Luke 3:38).
-"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph 4:24)
-"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [literally, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2Cor 5:17)

And this "new man" is linked with Christ:
-"I am crucified with Christ nevetheless 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." (Gal 2:20)


-"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col 1:27)
-"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col 3:3-4)
-"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." (2Pet 1:4)
-"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Rom 8:10)
-"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 5:11-12)

But this new, divine nature, which is Christ's own, subsists in the believer together with the old nature. It is the same Paul who could say, "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," who also says, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing" (Rom 7:18); and, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me" (Rom 7:21). It was Job, the perfect and upright man, who said, "I abhor myself." It was Daniel, eminently a man of God, who said, "My comeliness was turned in me into corruption", when he saw the glorified Ancient of Days.


Between these two natures there is conflict. Study carefully the battle between the two "I's": the old Saul and the new Paul in Romans 7:14-25. It is an experience like this which so discourages and perplexes young converts. The first joy of conversion has subsided, his glowing expectations become chilled, and the convert is dismayed to find the flesh with its old habits and desires within himself as before his conversion, and he is led to doubt his acceptance with God. This is a time of discouragement and danger. Paul, in this crisis, cries out for deliverance, calling his old nature a "body of death". The law only intensifies his agony (though a converted man), and he finds deliverance from "the flesh", not through effort, nor through striving to keep the law, but "through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 7:24-25)


The presence of the flesh is not, however, an excuse for walking in it. We are taught that "our old man is crucified with Christ"; that, in that sense, we "are dead", and we are called upon to make this a constant experience by mortifying ("making dead") our members which are upon the earth.


The power for this is that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer (1 Cor 6:19) and whose blessed office is to subdue the flesh. "But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would." (Gal 5:16-17, RV)


"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (Rom 8:13) Therefore, instead of meeting the solicitations of the old nature by force of will, or by good resolutions, turn the conflict over to the indwelling Spirit of God.


Romans 7 is a record of the conflict of regenerate man with his old self, and is, therefore, intensely personal. "I would... I do not", "I would not... I do", is the sad confession of defeat which finds an echo in so many Christian hearts. In chapter 8 the conflict still goes on, but how blessedly impersonal! There is no agony, for Paul is out of it; the conflict is now between "flesh" - Saul of Tarsus - and the Holy Spirit. Paul is at peace and victorious. (It will be understood that this refers to victory over the flesh, such inward solicitations to evil as lust, pride, anger, etc.. Temptations from without are met by recourse to Christ our high priest.)


Consider attentively the following passages:
-"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed [annulled, rendered powerless] that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom 6:6)
-"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Php 3:3)
-"For ye are dead [have died - in Christ], and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col 3:3)
-"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 6:11)
-"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Rom 13:14)
-"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh." (Rom 8:12)



The Believer's Standing and State



A distinction of vast importance to the right understanding of the Scriptures, especially of the Epistles, is that which concerns the standing or position of the believer, and his state or walk. The first is the result of the work of Christ and is perfect and entire from the very moment that Christ is received by faith. Nothing in the afterlife of the believer adds in the smallest degree to his title of favor with God, nor to his perfect security. Through faith alone this standing before God is conferred, and before Him the weakest person, if he be but a true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, has precisely the same title as the most illustrious saint.


What that title or standing is, may be briefly seen from the following Scriptures:
-"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)
-"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (1John 5:1)
-"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." (Rom 8:17)
-"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1Pet 1:4-5)
-"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance." (Eph 1:11)
-"Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him." (1John 3:2)
-"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation." (1Pet 2:9)
-"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." (Rev 1:5-6)
-"And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." (Col 2:10)
-"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Rom 5:1-2)
-"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
-"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (1John 5:13)
-"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus..." (Heb 10:19)
-"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings." (Eph 1:3)
-"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Eph 1:6)
-"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [ie., made us alive] together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:4-6)
-"But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Eph 2:13)
-"In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." (Eph 1:13)
-"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body. (1Cor 12:13)
-"For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Eph 5:30)
-"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" (1Cor 6:19)

Every one of these marvelous things is true of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. Not one item in this glorious inventory is said to be gained by prayer, or diligence in service, or church-going, or alms-giving, or self-denial, or holiness of life, or by any other description of good works. All are gifts of God through Christ and therefore belong equally to all believers. When the jailor of Philippi believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, he became at once a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, a king and priest, and had the title to the incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. In the instant that he believed with his heart and confessed with his mouth that Jesus was his Lord, he was justified from all things, had peace with God, a standing in His grace, and a sure hope of glory. He received the gift of eternal life, was made accepted in the full measure of Christ's own acceptance, was indwelt by, and sealed with the Holy Spirit, by whom also he was baptized into the mystical body of Christ - the church of God. Instantly he was clothed with the righteousness of God (Rom 3:22), quickened with Christ, raised with Him, and in Him seated in the heavenlies.


What his actual state may have been is quite another matter - certainly it was far, far below his exalted standing in the sight of God. It was not all at once that he became as royal, priestly, and heavenly in walk as he was at once in standing. The following passages will indicate the way one's standing and one's state are constantly discriminated [ie., differentiated] in the Scriptures.









Standing:State:
-"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,
to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus. . .
I thank my God always on your behalf,
for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
that in every thing ye are enriched by him,
in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
so that ye come behind in no gift;
waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ." (1Cor 1:2-9)
-"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." (1Cor 1:11)

-"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. . . For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1Cor 3:1-3)

-"Now some are puffed up..." (1Cor 4:18)

-"And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you." (1Cor 5:2)
-"But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1Cor 6:11)-"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another." (1Cor 6:7)
-"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" (1Cor 6:15)-"Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?" (1Cor 6:15)
-"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Mat 16:17)-"But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou art an offence unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Mat 16:23)
-"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." (Col 1:12-13)-"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." (Col 3:8-9)

The student cannot fail to notice that the divine order, under grace, is first to give the highest possible standing and then to exhort the believer to maintain a state in accordance therewith. The beggar is lifted up from the dung-hill and set among princes (1Sam 2:8), and then exhorted to be princely. As examples, see the following verses.

















Standing-State-
-"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." (Rom 6:6)-"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?" (Col 2:20)
-"Ye are the light of the world..." (Mat 5:14)-"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Mat 5:16)
-"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2Tim 1:9)-"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Php 2:12) (Let it be observed, in reading this much-abused text, that the salvation spoken of here is not that of the soul, but salvation out of the snares which would hinder the Christian from doing the will of God.)
-"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:6)-"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." (Col 3:1)
-"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col 3:4)-"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth." (Col 3:5)
-"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord..." (Eph 5:8)-"Walk as children of light..." (Eph 5:8)
-"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." (1Thes 5:5)-"Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (1Thes 5:6)
-"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1Thes 5:9-10)-"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1Thes 5:11)
-"By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb 10:10)-"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)
-"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us... sanctification." (1Cor 1:30)-"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." (1Thes 5:23)
-"For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Heb 10:14)-"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." (Php 3:12)
-"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded..." (Php 3:15)-"Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." (Heb 6:1)
-"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1John 4:17)-"He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." (1John 2:6)


The student will be able to add largely to this list of comparative passages showing that the Scriptures make a clear distinction between the standing and state of the believer. It will be seen that he is not under probation to see if he is worthy of an inconceivably exalted position, but, beginning with the confession of his utter unworthiness, receives the position wholly as the result of Christ's work. Positionally he is "perfected forever" (Heb 10:14), but looking within, at his state, he must say, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." (Php 3:12)


It may be said that all the afterwork of God in his behalf, the application of the Word to his walk and conscience (John 17:17; Eph 5:26), the chastisements of the Father's hand (Heb 12:10; 1Cor 11:32), the ministry of the Spirit (Eph 4:11-12), all the difficulties and trials of the wilderness way (1Pet 4:12-14), and the final transformation when He shall appear (1John 3:2), all are intended simply to bring the believer's character into perfect conformity to the position which is his in the instant of his conversion. He grows in grace, indeed, but not into grace.


A prince, while he is a little child, is presumably as willful and as ignorant as other little children. Sometimes he may be very obedient and teachable and affectionate, and then he is happy and approved; at other times he may be unruly, self-willed, and disobedient, and then he is unhappy and perhaps is chastised. But he is just as much a prince on the one day as on the other. It may be hoped that, as time goes on, he will learn to bring himself into willing and affectionate subjection to every right way, and then he will be more princely, but not more really a prince. He was born a prince.


In the case of every true son of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, this growth into kingliness is assured. In the end, standing and state, character and position, will be equal. But the position is not the reward of the perfected character - the character is developed from the position.



Salvation and Rewards



The New Testament Scriptures contain a doctrine of salvation for sinners who are lost and a doctrine of rewards for the faithful services of those who are saved. And it is of great importance to the right understanding of the Word that the student should clearly make the distinction between these. What the distinction is may be seen by carefully noting the following contrasts.

Salvation Is a Free Gift
-"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (John 4:10)
-"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Isa 55:1)
-"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." (Rev 22:17)
-"For the wages of sin is death; buth the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 6:23)
-"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

Works Pleasing to God Shall Be Rewarded
-"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." (Mat 10:42)
-"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." (2 Tim 4:7-8)
-"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev 22:12)
-"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." (1 Cor 9:24-25)
-"And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities." (Luke 19:17)
-"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay , stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1 Cor 3:11-15)
-"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev 2:10) Not 'receive life' -- the suffering saints in Smyrna had life, eternal life, and were suffering for righteousness' sake -- but a crown of life they should receive.

Crowns are symbols of rewards, of distinctions earned. It may be remarked that four crowns are mentioned:

  1. The crown of joy, or rejoicing - the reward of ministry. (Php 4:1; 1Thes 2:19)
  2. The crown of righteousness - the reward of faithfulness in testimony. (2 Tim 4:8)
  3. The crown of life - the reward of faithfulness under trial. (James 1:12; Rev 2:10)
  4. The crown of glory - the reward of faithfulness under suffering. (1Pet 5:4; Heb 2:9)

Salvation Is a Present Possession
-"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." (John 3:36)
-"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life." (John 5:24, RV)
-"Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace." (2 Tim 1:9)
-"And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." (Luke 7:50)
-"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5)
-"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his son." (1John 5:11)

But these rewards are to be given at a future time.

Rewards Are Bestowed in the Future
-"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Mat 16:27)
-"For thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:14)
-"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev 22:12)
-"And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." (1 Pet 5:4)
-"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day." (2 Tim 4:8)
-"After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them..." (Mat 25:19)

God's purpose in promising to reward, with heavenly and eternal honors, the faithful service of His saints is to win them from the pursuit of earthly riches and pleasures, to sustain them in the fires of persecution, and to encourage them in the exercise of Christian virtues. "Finally, let us heed the warning." (Rev 3:11) (See Dan 12:3; Mat 5:11-12; Mat 10:41-42; Luke 12:35-37; Luke 14:12,14; John 4:35-36; Col 3:22-24; 2Tim 4:8; Heb 6:10; Heb 11:8-10,24-27; Heb 12:2-3.)



Believers and Professors


Ever since God has had a people separated unto Himself, they have been sorely troubled by the presence among them of those who professed to be, but were not, of them. And this will continue until "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. . . . Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Mat 13:14-43)

Scripture plainly tells us of this mingling of tares and wheat -- of mere professors among true believers. Yet misguided students have frequently applied to the children of God the warnings and exhortations meant only for the self-deceived or hypocritical.


The fact of such admixture is abundantly recognized in the Scriptures. (See Gen 4:3-5; Ex 12:38; Num 11:4-6; Neh 7:63-65; Neh 13:1-3; Mat 13:24-30,37-43; 2Cor 11:13-15; Gal 2:4; 2Pet 2:1-2.)


It is impossible, in a brief Bible reading, to refer to all the passages which discriminate true believers from the mass of mere formalists, hypocrites, or deceived legalists, who are working for their own salvation instead of working out a salvation already received as a free gift. (See Php 2:12-13 with Eph 2:8-9.) The following comparison of verses will sufficiently indicate the lines of demarcation.


Believers Are Saved; Mere Professors Are Lost


True Believers-

-"And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." (Luke 7:50)
-"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)
-"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:27-29)
-"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6:37,39)
-"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut." (Mat 25:10)
-"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference." (Rom 3:22)
-"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints." (Rev 19:7-8, RV)
-"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (John 10:14)
-"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." (2Tim 2:19)
-"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)
-"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
-"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Php 1:6)
-"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (Heb 10:39)

Pretenders-
-"Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip. But Peter said unto him... Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God." (Acts 8:13,21)
-"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (1John 2:19)
-"But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:64-66)
-"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." (Mat 25:11-12)
-"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Mat 23:28,33)
-"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness." (Mat 22:11-13)
-"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Mat 7:22-23)
-"What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14, RV)
-"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." (Heb 6:4-6)
-"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." (Heb 10:38)

Believers are Rewarded; Pretenders are Condemned-
Compare:
Matthew 25:19-23 with Matthew 25:24-30
Luke 12:42-44 with Luke 12:45-47
Colossians 3:24 with Matthew 7:22-23

Some texts are not free from difficulty, but with prayer and careful study, light will surely come when keeping in mind the important rule: Never use a doubtful or obscure passage to contradict a clear and positive one. Do not use an "if" to contradict a "verily": [for example] Hebrews 6:6 to contradict John 5:24


The cases of Judas Iscariot and of Peter should present no difficulty. Judas was never a believer (see John 6:68-71). Peter never ceased to be one (Luke 22:31-32, RV).


It should be ever remembered that these principles are to guide us only in rightly dividing the Word of God, but are never to be applied to living persons. The judgment of professors is not committed to us, but is reserved to the Son of Man (Mat 13:28-29; 1Cor 4:5).

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