"A RANSOM FOR ALL"
THE ONLY BASIS FOR AT-ONE-MENT
At-one-ment Impossible Without a Ransom--Secured but not Compelled-- To be the Ransomer Became a Favor--The Significance of Ransom and Redeem--What Ransom was Paid for Man?--Justification by Faith thus Secured--"Ye are Bought with a Price"--By Whom?--Of Whom?--For what Purpose?--How Love Cooperated with Justice--The "Ransom for All" was not Taken Back--Fatherhood Rights of the First Adam Purchased by the Second Adam--Ransom not Pardon--Man's Death not a Ransom--False Reasoning of Universalist Theories--Justice not Obligated by the Ransom--The Only Name--The Mediator's Method Typed in Moses--Ransom, Substitution--Was a Different Plan Possible?
"There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:5,6
AT-ONE-MENT between God and man was wholly dependent upon the presentation of an acceptable sacrifice for man's sins. Unless the divine sentence or "curse" could be lifted from mankind, it would stand as a perpetual embargo, to hinder man's recovery or restitution back to divine favor, fellowship and everlasting life. Under the divine law, the only word of God to man would be, You are a sinner; through your own wilful transgression in Eden you have brought your trouble upon yourself: I have pronounced the sentence of death against you justly, and I cannot remove that sentence without violating my own justice, [E422] the very foundation of my throne, my Kingdom. (Psa. 89:14) Hence your sentence must stand forever. It must be met by you unless an acceptable substitute takes your place under it.
We have seen clearly that the penalty or sentence against mankind was not eternal torture, but, as plainly and distinctly stated by the Creator to Adam, it was death. To suppose that it was any other penalty than death would be to suppose that God had dealt dishonestly with Adam and Eve in Eden--that he misinformed and deceived them. We have seen that a death sentence is a just sentence against sin--that life being a conditional grant, the Creator had full right to revoke it: but it requires no particular ability of mind to discern that an eternity of torture for Father Adam would not have been a just penalty for his partaking of the forbidden fruit--even attaching to that act of disobedience all the culpability of wilfulness and intelligence that can be imagined; much more, it would not have been just to have permitted such a sentence of eternal torture to be entailed upon the countless millions of Adam's posterity. But the death sentence, with all its terrible concomitants of sickness and pain and trouble, which came upon Father Adam, and which descended naturally through him to his offspring (inasmuch as an impure fountain cannot send forth a pure stream), all can see to be both reasonable and just--a sentence before which all mouths must be stopped; all must admit its justice--the goodness and the severity of God.
Knowing definitely the penalty pronounced against sin, we may easily see what Justice must require as a payment of that penalty, ere the "curse" could be lifted and the culprit be released from the great prison-house of death. (Isa. 61:1) As it was not because the entire race sinned that the sentence came, but because one man sinned, so that sentence of death fell directly upon Adam only, and only indirectly through him upon his race, by heredity--and in full accord with these facts Justice may demand only a corresponding price--Justice must, therefore, demand the life of another as [E423] instead of the life of Adam, before releasing Adam and his race. And if this penalty were paid, the whole penalty would be paid--one sacrifice for all, even as one sin involved all. We have already seen that the perfect Adam, the transgressor, who was sentenced, was not an angel, nor an archangel, nor a god, but a man--in nature a little lower than that of angels. Strictest Justice, therefore, could demand as his substitute neither more nor less than one of Adam's own kind, under similar conditions to his, namely, perfect, and free from divine condemnation. We have seen that none such could be found amongst men, all of whom were of the race of Adam, and therefore sharers, through heredity, of his penalty and degradation. Hence it was, that the necessity arose that one from the heavenly courts, and of a spiritual nature, should take upon him the human nature, and then give as substitute, himself, a ransom for Adam and for all who lost life through him.
Amongst the angels who had retained their first estate and loyalty to God, no doubt there might have been many found who would gladly have undertaken the accomplishment of the Father's will, and to become man's ransom price: but to do so would mean the greatest trial, the severest test to which loyalty to God could be exposed, and hence the one who would thus manifest his devotion and his loyalty and his faith would be worthy of having the very highest position amongst all the angelic sons of God, far above the angels and principalities and powers, and every name that is named. Moreover, it was a part of the divine purpose to make use of this opportunity to illustrate the fact that whoever seeks to exercise his own selfish ambitions (as Satan did), shall be degraded, abased, while, on the contrary, whoever shall most thoroughly humble himself, in obedience to the Heavenly Father's will and plan, shall be correspondingly exalted. God so arranged his plan as to make this feature a necessity; to the intent that in this manifestation of divine sympathy and love for the world, an opportunity might also be afforded for the manifestation of the [E424] love, humility and obedience of the Only Begotten of the Father--his well-beloved Son, whom he delighted to honor.
As we have seen, our Lord Jesus (who, in his prehuman condition, we recognize as the archangel, the highest or chief messenger, the Logos, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth) had up to this time been the agent of Jehovah in all the work of creation, and, as the first begotten, had been with the Father from before the creation of all others, and had known him intimately, had beheld his glory, and been the channel of his power. And inasmuch as he was already the first, the chief in the heavenly Kingdom, next to the Father, the Apostle informs us that this work of redemption, this privilege of executing the divine will in respect to man, was given to him as a mark of special confidence, and as a favor because of the honors which according to divine law must attach to so great obedience, humility and self-sacrifice. (Matt. 23:12; James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6) With confidence in the Son and desiring his attainment of the high exaltation which would accrue as a result of that faithfulness, the Father gave the first opportunity to him, who had, in all the past, enjoyed pre-eminence in the divine plan, that thus he might continue to be the pre-eminent one--"that in all things he might have the pre-eminence: for it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven [fallen men and fallen angels, recovering and reconciling so many of each as, under fullest opportunity, will return to divine favor]." Col. 1:18-20
The selection of a spirit being to become man's Redeemer does not imply that the sacrifice of a spirit being's existence was necessary as the redemption price of an earthly being's existence: quite the contrary. Divine Justice could no more accept the sacrifice of a spirit being for man than accept the sacrifice of bulls and goats as the ransom price. As the blood of bulls and goats could never take away [E425] sin, because they were of an inferior nature, so the death of angels or archangels could never have taken away Adam's sin, nor become a suitable atonement sacrifice for him, because these were not of his nature. It was man's life that had been forfeited through sin, and only a man's life could be accepted as the redemption price, the ransom-price. It was for this cause that it was necessary that our Lord should leave the glory of his prehuman condition, and humble himself, and become a man, because only by becoming a man could he give the ransom-price.
While the Scriptures point out that our Lord humbled himself in leaving the higher spiritual nature and in taking the lower human nature, they nowhere point this out as being our sin-offering. On the contrary, he humbled himself thus, in order that he might become the sin-offering and pay our ransom price. The Apostle distinctly points this out, saying, "Verily, he took not hold upon the nature of angels [as though referring to the angels which sinned] but he took hold on the seed of Abraham." Inasmuch as the children whom God had foreseen and purposed to redeem, and to deliver out of the bondage of sin and corruption, were partakers of flesh and blood, "he also himself took part of the same [flesh and blood, human nature]; that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil," and deliver them. (Heb. 2:14,16) He states the matter most explicitly, saying, "As by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21) The Apostle John bears similar testimony, saying, "The Word was made flesh." (John 1:14) To this agree also the words of our Lord Jesus, after he had come into the world and after he had reached manhood's estate; he said, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17) He does not intimate that the world had yet been saved, or that anything had yet been done for the world's salvation, except the sending of the one who would redeem the world by the sacrifice of himself. The first step [E426] in the performance of his mission was, as our Lord declared-- "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [to serve others], and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) Here we have proof positive that in the laying aside of the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and exchanging the higher nature for the human nature, our Lord had not given his life as a ransom, but had merely made the preparation for that work which was immediately before him. This is further confirmed by the fact that it was as soon as he had reached manhood's estate, under the law, as soon as he was thirty years of age, he at once presented himself a living sacrifice, consecrating his life, laying it down, as represented in his symbolical immersion by John at Jordan.
There was fulfilled, as the Apostle points out, the prophecy of old, "Lo I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." He had come to do the will of God, to offer the sacrifice for sins, and hence he had not previously offered it. In that act of his consecration he presented himself a living sacrifice to God's service, even unto death. Mark that at this particular point the Apostle says he set aside the typical Law Covenant sacrifices that he might establish the second, the antitypical, the real sacrifice for sins, his own death (and his members) for the sealing of the New Covenant between God and men, by himself, the Mediator of the New Covenant. And our text tells us the same thing, that it was the "man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all"--not the prehuman Logos.
The First Step in the Program
The Apostle (Heb. 2:5-9) reviews the entire plan of God, and noting the divine promises of human restitution, quotes from the Prophet David (Psa. 8:4-8), that the divine plan ultimately is to have mankind perfect, as the lord of earth, controlling earth and its creatures, in harmony with the laws of the divine Creator, saying, "We see not yet all [E427] things put under him [man--as indicated in the prophecy]." We see not yet man in the image of God and lord of earth; but we do see the divine purposes to this end already begun. We see the first step in this program, viz., "We see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor [the perfection of human nature] that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man [and thus make possible human restitution]." We see the work of man's salvation thus begun by Jehovah, in providing a suitable ransom price for our redemption, one equal in glory and honor and absolute human perfection with the first man, Adam; one who, to this end and for this purpose, had left the glories of a higher nature, and been made lower than the angels, although previously possessed of a higher nature than they. We see this one provided for the very purpose of "tasting death for every man." We see that he took the human nature "for the suffering of death"--the very penalty that was against our race. Seeing this, we can rejoice that the good purposes of our Heavenly Father for our ransom and restitution, and full reconciliation to himself, have been amply arranged for, and upon a plane of absolute justice, by which God can be just and yet be the justifier of them that believe in Jesus. Thus the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus gave for man's sin was not a spiritual one, which would not have been a proper, acceptable sacrifice because it would not have been "a corresponding price"-- in every particular the exact ransom price for Adam.
The Significance of "Ransom" and "Redeem"
This brings us to the consideration of the word ransom, which in the New Testament has a very limited and very definite signification. It occurs only twice. Once in our Lord's own description of the work he was doing, and once in the Apostle's description of that completed work--our text. The Greek word used by our Lord is lutron-anti, which [E428] signifies, "a price in offset, or a price to correspond." Thus our Lord said, "The Son of Man came...to give his life a ransom [lutron-anti--a price to correspond] for many." (Mark 10:45) The Apostle Paul uses the same words, but compounds them differently, anti-lutron, signifying, "a corresponding price," saying, "The man, Christ Jesus, gave himself a ransom [anti-lutron--corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:6
There is no room for quibbling or disputing the meaning of these texts. Only by handling the Word of God deceitfully can any be blinded to the force and real meaning of this, the Lord's testimony to the work which has been accomplished by our great Mediator. And the more this thought of a ransom--a "corresponding price"--is considered, the more force does it seem to contain, and the more light does it shed upon the entire work of the Atonement. The thought, and the only thought, contained in it is that as Adam, through disobedience, forfeited his being, his soul, all his rights to life and to earth, so Christ Jesus our Lord, by his death, as a corresponding price, paid a full and exact offset for Father Adam's soul or being, and in consequence for all his posterity--every human soul--sharers in his fall and in his loss. Rom. 5:12
This same thought is abundantly expressed in many other scriptures, which speak of our Lord's work as that of redeeming, purchasing, etc. We have directed special attention to the word "ransom," anti-lutron, because it presents the thought in the purest and most unmistakable form. The words, "redeem," "redeemed," "redeemer" and "redemption," while they contain the thought of a price being paid, contain the additional thought of setting free, or liberating those for whom the price was paid. Hence these words, both in the English and in the original, are sometimes used in connection with the sacrifice, or giving of the price of redemption, and at other times used with reference to the setting at liberty of the redeemed ones, their deliverance. And the many foes of the doctrine of the ransom, of whom the [E429] chief is Satan, sometimes with great cunning attempt to divert the attention away from the price given for man's release from the curse of death, by pointing out those texts of Scripture in which the words "redeem" and "redemption" are applied merely as relating to the full deliverance of mankind from death. By calling attention to the deliverance, and "handling the Word of God deceitfully," they attempt to obscure the fact that the future deliverance, and all the blessings that now or in the future will come to mankind by divine grace, are of the Son, and through or by means of the ransom-sacrifice of himself, which he gave on our behalf, and which was "finished" at Calvary. John 19:30
The translators of our Common Version English Bible unwittingly aided these opponents of the ransom, by using the word "redeem" to translate Greek words which have considerably different meanings. That the English reader may have this matter clearly before his mind, we will here cite all the various Greek words rendered "redeem," "redeemed" and "redemption," and following each will give the definition furnished by the learned lexicographer, Prof. Young, in his Analytical Concordance, as follows:
The word "redeem" is sometimes used as the translation of the Greek word agorazo. This word is defined by Prof. Young to signify "to acquire at the forum." Still more literally, it would signify, to purchase in the open market; for the root of the word, agora, signifies market-place and is so used repeatedly throughout the Scriptures: Matt. 20:3; Mark 12:38; Luke 7:32; Acts 16:19. The following are all the instances in which the word agorazo is translated "redeemed" in the New Testament:
"Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Rev. 5:9
"And no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth." Rev. 14:3 [E430]
"These were redeemed from amongst men, being the first fruit unto God and unto the Lamb." Rev. 14:4
The thought in each of these cases is that of public purchase; and all the other uses of this word agorazo, throughout the New Testament, emphatically support a most commercial signification. The word occurs in the New Testament in all thirty-one times. In the above three instances it is rendered redeemed, in thirteen instances bought, in fifteen instances buy. We call especial attention to the signification of this word, because the tendency to deny that there was a purchase of our race effected by a price given for man's release from the "curse" is prevalent and a growing one--very subversive of the true "faith, once delivered to the saints."
Another word rendered "redeem," "redeemed" and "redemption," is related to the above, and formed out of it by the addition of a prefix, ex, which signifies out of--exagorazo. Prof. Young gives to this word the definition, "to acquire out of the forum." Still more literally, to publicly purchase and take possession of. The only uses of this word in the New Testament are as follows:
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." (Gal. 3:13) The Apostle is here pointing out that Christians who had been Jews and had therefore been under the Jewish or Law Covenant, had not only been purchased from under its sentence, but were also released from its dominion. The word agorazo signifies the purchase, and the prefix ex signifies the release by that purchase, so that they were no longer under the dominion of the Law.
"God sent forth his son, made of a woman, under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law [Covenant], that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal. 4:4,5) This is a similar statement to the foregoing, and signifies the purchase of the Jewish people from under the dominion of the Law, and the liberation of believers from it, that they might become sons of God. Compare John 1:12. [E431]
"See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15,16; Col. 4:5) This is a similar use of the word exagorazo: the Lord's people realize that they are in the midst of evil, the tendency of which is to absorb their energy, influence and time in things sinful or foolish, or at least unprofitable, as compared with the more weighty interests which lie closest to their hearts, as children of God. We are, therefore, to purchase and to secure out of the evil time, and apart from these unfavorable influences, as large a proportion of time as may be possible for devotion to higher interests--our own spiritual sustenance and strengthening, and for the assistance of others in spiritual things. Such purchase will cost us something of self-denial, of gratification of our own natural appetites and tendencies, and something also of the good opinion and fellowship of others, who will "think it strange" that we run not with them to the same excesses as formerly. 1 Pet. 4:4
Another Greek word is also rendered "redeemed"-- namely lutroo. Prof. Young defines lutroo to signify "to loose by a price"--that is, to set free by the payment of a price. The basis or root of this word is lutron, which, as noted above with anti, used either as a prefix or a suffix, signifies a corresponding price.
This word, lutroo, occurs three times in the New Testament, as follows:
"We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." (Luke 24:21) The apostles were disappointed at our Lord's death, and declared this disappointment by saying that they had expected that the Lord would have set Israel at liberty from the Roman yoke, by the payment of a price. They had not yet been endued with the holy Spirit, and did not understand the length and breadth, the height and depth of the divine plan, by which not only Israel but the whole world was redeemed, not only from the Roman yoke, but from Satan's yoke, and from the great prison-house [E432] of death, by the ransom price which our Lord gave, and which was finished in death.
"Our Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself, that he might redeem us from all iniquity." (Titus 2:14) The price which our Lord gave on behalf of mankind is not only intended to secure to them an awakening from the tomb, in God's due time, during the Millennium, and an opportunity then to come into harmony with God on the terms of the New Covenant; but more than this, it means to those who hear the good tidings now, a message of present relief from the thraldom of iniquity--that we should no longer be servants of sin, but should become the servants of him who died for us, who bought us with his own precious blood.
"Ye know that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:18,19) The thought in this text is the same as in the preceding one. It relates not so much to our ultimate deliverance from death, in the resurrection, as to our present loosing from an evil course, vain conversation, foolish talking, and iniquity in general. This liberty was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, as well as the grander liberty of the resurrection, which is yet future. Without the payment of the ransom price, without the satisfaction of Justice, God could not accept us as sons, could not therefore deal with us as with sons, could not seal us as his sons with the spirit of adoption into his family, and hence these various agencies of his grace, which now are open to believers, and which are to us the power of God unto salvation, breaking in our hearts the power of sin, and establishing instead the mind or spirit of the Lord, as the ruling power, could not have come to us.
Another Greek word, rendered "redemption" is lutrosis. Prof. Young gives as its definition, "a loosing"--literally, setting free, deliverance. This word does not contain the thought of a price being paid, and hence it should not have [E433] been rendered by our English word, redemption, but rather by the word "deliverance." It occurs twice:
"She, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him [the babe Jesus] to all them that looked for redemption [deliverance] in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:38) Anna spoke to those who were looking for deliverance in Jerusalem--expecting freedom from the Roman yoke, but not necessarily understanding that the greater deliverance was to come by a payment of a ransom price.
"Christ being come an high priest...neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place; having obtained eternal redemption [deliverance] for us." (Heb. 9:11,12) The Apostle is not referring to how our Lord obtained the eternal redemption of deliverance, and hence makes no reference here to the price paid: he refers merely to the present and future deliverance of God's people, and not to the method by which that deliverance was secured, prior to our Lord's entrance into the holy place--the sacrifice of himself as man's ransom price.
Another Greek word, translated "redeemed" in the New Testament, is poieolutrosin. Prof. Young defines its meaning to be, "to make a loosing," i.e., to set at liberty, to deliver. It occurs but once.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people [literally, wrought redemption for his people]." (Luke 1:68) The preceding verse shows that this expression was a prophecy: things not completed are here mentioned as though they had been accomplished: the first step toward Israel's deliverance had been taken, and it was spoken of joyously as though the entire matter were already accomplished. This word does not contain the thought as to how the deliverance will be secured: other scriptures show us that it is secured by the payment of a corresponding price, a ransom, and is to come through the setting up of the Kingdom of God. This word should not have [E434] been translated "redeemed" but rather delivered, as a guard against confusion of thought by the English reader.
Another Greek word, improperly rendered "redemption" is apolutrosis. It contains no thought respecting a purchase price, but simply signifies deliverance, setting free. Prof. Young defines its meaning to be "a loosing away." The word occurs ten times, and is only once properly translated "deliverance." Note the following:
(1) "Then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption [deliverance] draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28) There is no reference here to the ransom or the conditions precedent to the Church's deliverance, but merely to the deliverance itself.
(2) "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption [deliverance] that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 3:24) The Apostle does not in these words refer to the ransom, but merely to the deliverance which the Lord's people have by faith now and by and by actually in the First Resurrection. He is treating the matter from God's standpoint: the consecrated are unconditionally justified, aside from any works of merit on their part. This is accomplished through the deliverance which God has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the following verse the Apostle proceeds to show how this deliverance was effected, saying, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [literally, a mercy seat or channel of mercy] through faith in his blood [the sacrifice, the ransom price given for the sins of the whole world]."
(3) "Even we ourselves [the faithful Church] groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption [deliverance] of our body [the Church, the body of Christ, which is to be glorified with the head in due time]." (Rom. 8:23) Nothing in this statement has the slightest reference to the redemption accomplished at Calvary, the purchase-price: it refers purely and solely to the deliverance of the Church, which is to be a part of the result of the redemption finished at Calvary--the ransom. [E435]
(4) "Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption [deliverance]." (1 Cor. 1:30) Nothing here has any reference to the redemption-price paid at Calvary. The Apostle is speaking, not of what our Lord did for us, but of what he is yet to do for us. He is our wisdom in that we are to lay aside our own wills, and accept his will, and thus have the spirit of a sound mind, and "walk in wisdom." He is our righteousness, in that, as our representative, he gave himself a ransom for all, and now in his righteousness represents all those who come unto the Father by him. He is our sanctification, in that, through his merit, we are accepted of the Father as (reckonedly perfect) living sacrifices, while really it is the power of Christ in us that enables us to present ourselves living sacrifices, and to walk in his footsteps, and to fulfil our covenant. He is our deliverance (mistranslated "redemption"), in that the fact that he lives, who, by the grace of God, bought us with his precious blood, is the guarantee that we shall live also; that he will, in due time, deliver from the bondage of corruption, death, his Church, which he purchased with his own blood. The deliverance, and not the purchase, is here referred to. But it is because he purchased that he has the right to be to any, wisdom, justification, sanctification, deliverance.
(5) "He hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption [deliverance] through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph. 1:7) The Apostle does not here refer to the redemption purchase at Calvary. On the contrary, he is speaking of our acceptance with the Father, and declares that this acceptance with Jehovah is based upon something which he did for us in the Beloved One, our Lord Jesus, and through whose blood (the sacrifice, the ransom) we have deliverance. The construction of the sentence shows that the Apostle means that our deliverance is from the sentence of sin, death, for he explains this deliverance as being "the forgiveness of sins." The sense of the passage, then, is this: The Heavenly Father, [E436] who had already in his mind predestinated the adoption of a "little flock" to be sons on the plane of the divine nature, and joint-heirs with his first begotten and well-beloved Son, our Lord, took the steps of grace necessary to the accomplishment of this his purpose toward us. He made us accepted in the Beloved; for in the Beloved, through his blood, through his sacrifice, we have deliverance from the divine curse and wrath--the forgiveness of our sins, from which we are made free or justified.
(6) "The earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption [deliverance] of the purchased possession." (Eph. 1:14) The possession which Christ purchased by the sacrifice for sins as man's substitute includes mankind in general or so many as will accept the favor on the gospel conditions, as well as the Church, the Bride. The time for the deliverance is in the Millennial Kingdom and the Church is to be delivered first--"early in the morning." But the earth was part of man's original estate and was purchased by the same sacrifice once for all: hence it too is to be delivered from its share of the curse and shall become as the garden of the Lord-- Paradise. The purchase is accomplished but the deliverance waits for God's "due time."
(7) "In whom we have redemption [deliverance] through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:14) This statement is similar to the foregoing. We, the Church, already have deliverance, that is, the forgiveness of our sins, and hence harmony with the Father. The word "redemption" here has no reference to the sacrifice for sins, but merely to its effect upon us, setting us free from our sins. The Apostle, however, does not ignore the sacrifice, but declares that our deliverance from the bondage and control of sin is through the efficacy of our Lord's blood--his death, his sacrifice for sins, the ransom paid.
(8) "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption [deliverance]." (Eph. 4:30) There is no reference here to the redemption sacrifice finished [E437] at Calvary. Yet not until that sacrifice was finished, and its merits presented in the holy of holies, and accepted by the Father, did the holy Spirit come upon any to seal them as sons of God. But now these who have been sealed are to maintain this seal of sonship, this begetting of the divine nature, not to lose it. The sealing of the Spirit is the first-fruit of the Spirit, and is all that is communicated during this present life: for the full measure of the blessing of the divine nature we must wait until the time appointed of the Father, "the day of deliverance," the Millennial Day, in which day the Scriptures declare, concerning the Church, the Bride of Christ, "God shall help her early in the morning." (Psa. 46:5) Whoever loses the holy Spirit and its seal will have neither part nor lot in the first resurrection, in the morning of "the day of [complete] deliverance" from the power of sin and death.
(9) "For this cause he is the mediator of the New Covenant, that by means of death for the redemption [deliverance] of the transgressions that were made under the first [previous] covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Heb. 9:15) Once more a faulty rendering partially obscures the meaning; but when the thought is seen to be deliverance, all is clear. To Israel our Lord's death meant more than to the Gentiles. It meant not only redemption from Adamic transgression, and its penalty, death, but it meant additionally to the Jew deliverance from the "curse" or penalty of the Law Covenant, which rested upon that nation, because of failure to comply with its terms. The Israelites were under the "curse" which came upon Adam, just the same as the remainder of mankind; but additionally they were under the "curse" of their Law Covenant, instituted through Moses, its mediator, at Sinai. It is to this double "curse" upon that people that reference is made in the hymn which says:
"Cursed by the Law, and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us, once for all."
(10) "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance." (Heb. 11:35) This is the one instance in which the translators have properly rendered this word: they probably tried to render it "redemption," and found that it would make rather strange reading to say, "not accepting redemption," and then translated it properly--"deliverance."
In the Old Testament, the words "redeem," "redeemed," "redeemer" and "redemption" are generally good translations of the original Hebrew words, for instance: Gaal signifies, to free--by avenging or repaying. Young
"I know that my Redeemer liveth." Job 19:25
"They remembered...the high God, their Redeemer." Psa. 78:35
"Who redeemeth thy life from destruction." Psa. 103:4
"One of his brethren may redeem him: either his uncle or his uncle's son may redeem him...or if he be able he may redeem himself." Lev. 25:48,49
"The Redeemer shall come to Zion." Isa. 59:20
Our object in citing the instances in which redemption appears in our English New Testament, without the original Greek word containing a thought of a ransom-price, is to guard the reader against the deceptive methods of certain sophistical writers and teachers. Denying the ransom, denying that the world was purchased by our Lord's death, these are prone to cite passages where the word redeem is improperly used for deliver, and then give the inference that deliver is the only meaning of redeem, in every instance. In view of the carelessness of our translators the only safe and proper method to pursue in a case such as this where much depends on the exact meaning of a word, is to get at the original word and its meaning. [E439]
We have demonstrated that in many instances the holy Spirit has expressed through the New Testament writers the thought of purchase of our race and of corresponding price paid, in the very strongest terms, interpretable only on the lines of commercial transaction, or the substitution of the purchase price for the thing bought. We have shown also that in other cases where the word used merely means deliverance nothing conflicts with the thought that such deliverance will be secured as a result of a ransom [anti-lutron, corresponding price], but that generally the context explicitly refers to the deliverance as being thus secured.
But while the Scriptures are thus explicit in their assurance that our Redeemer bought the world with his own life, "his own precious blood," it is merely in order to give God's people "full assurance of faith," letting them know that the remission of the death penalty is not a violation of God's justice but its satisfaction by his love. It also assures us of the unchangeableness of divine law, which could not be broken, but instead provided redemption at so great a cost. This assurance that God's love and justice operate in fullest harmony, gives us confidence that the same principles will continue to rule the universe forever--satisfies us that the "wrath," the "curse," will be lifted from all who come into harmony with God through Jesus the Mediator, and that all who do not avail themselves of this grace will be swallowed up of the Second Death--for "the wrath of God abideth on them." Acts 3:23; John 3:36; Rev. 22:3
But so far as the redeemed are concerned it matters not how God's love and justice arranged the matter of our forgiveness, because to them it is a free gift, to be had only by accepting it as such. We cannot purchase it, nor can we compensate God for this "gift." The question then arises, If it is a "gift" to us, why should we trouble to investigate, or why should the Lord be particular to reveal the fact that this gift was secured to us at a cost, at a price, by the death of Christ? and why should the Scriptures so particularly point out to us that his death was the exact price, the corresponding [E440] price, that was due for our sins? We answer, that God thus explains to us the details of his operations on our behalf, to the intent that we may the better understand him and his laws, and their co-ordination and operation. He so explains, in order that we may understand that he is not abrogating or setting aside his own sentence against sin--that he is not declaring sin allowable, permissible, excusable. He wishes us to realize that his justice is absolute, and that there can be no conflict by which his love could dominate or overpower and overthrow the sentence of justice; that the only way that his just sentence against sin and sinners could be set aside was by meeting the requirements of justice with a corresponding price--"a ransom." Man had sinned, man had been sentenced to death, man had gone into death. There could be, therefore, no hope for man except as love and mercy might provide a substitute for Father Adam. And a substitute, as we have seen, must be of the same nature as Adam, human nature; the substitute must be equally free from sin, free from the curse, free from wrath; similarly holy, similarly harmless, similarly separate from sin and sinners, similarly approved of God, as was Adam before his transgression.
We have seen that our Lord Jesus was made flesh--(not sinful flesh) but holy, harmless, separate from sinners.* We have seen that the man Christ Jesus was thus a perfect man, the counterpart of the first man, Adam, and thus we see that he was all ready to be our Redeemer, our ransom, to give his life and all human rights for the purchase, the redemption, of Adam and the race of Adam, which lost life and all human rights in him. We have seen that our Lord, "the man Christ Jesus," did consecrate, did sacrifice, did give up on man's behalf all that he had. This he clearly set forth in his teaching on this subject. He represented himself as the man who found a treasure hidden in a field, and who went and sold all that he had, and bought that field. (Matt. 13:44)
[E441] The field represents the world of mankind, as well as the earth itself. (Eph. 1:14) In this world of mankind our Lord saw a treasure--prophetically he saw the result of the redemptive work, the deliverance of many from the bondage of corruption into the full liberty of sons of God (the Church in this age, and the worthy of the world in the age to come). It was in view of this treasure that the field was bought. Speaking of the result of the ransom, and of the work of redemption, as it shall finally be accomplished by the close of the Millennial age, the Prophet speaking of our Lord says, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." (Isa. 53:11) Our Lord was fully satisfied to give his life, and all he then had, to purchase the world.
What Ransom Was Paid for Man?
What our Lord did for us, what price he gave on our behalf, what he surrendered, or laid down in death, since it was a corresponding price, "a ransom for all," should correspond exactly to whatever was man's penalty. Our Lord did not go to everlasting torment, hence we have this indisputable testimony that everlasting torment is not the wages of sin prescribed by the great Judge, but merely a delusion, foisted upon mankind by the great Adversary, and those whom he has deluded. So surely as that which our Lord suffered in man's room and stead, as man's substitute, was the full penalty which men would otherwise have been obliged to suffer, so surely this is proof positive that no such punishment as eternal torment was ever threatened or inflicted or intended. Those who know the testimony of God's Word recognize its statements to be that "Christ died for our sins"; that he "died the just for the unjust, to bring us to God"; that "he is the propitiation* [hilasmos--satisfaction] [E442] for our sins [the Church's sins], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"; that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all, and by his stripes [the things which he suffered in our stead--self-denial even unto death] we are healed." What harmony and consistency is seen in this Scriptural view of matters; and how utterly inconsistent are the unscriptural delusions of Satan, handed us by tradition and popularly received! 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2; Isa. 53:5,6
*Two Greek words are rendered "propitiation." Hilasmos is correctly rendered "propitiation" in two texts (1 John 2:2; 4:10), but hilasterion is incorrectly rendered "propitiation" in Rom. 3:25: it signifies propitiatory, i.e., place of satisfaction or propitiation. The "Mercy Seat" or covering of the Ark of the Covenant was the place of making satisfaction-- the propitiatory or hilasterion; but the Priest in sprinkling the blood of atonement, the blood of the sin-offering, on the hilasterion accomplished hilasmos, i.e., he made satisfaction or propitiation for the sins of the people.
"The wages of sin is death," "The soul that sinneth it shall die," say the Scriptures. (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4) And then they show us how completely this wage has been met for us, in the declaration, "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures," and rose again for our justification. (1 Cor. 15:3; Rom. 4:25) His death was the ransom price, but his providing the ransom price did not give justification. First, our Lord must present that ransom price before the Father in our behalf; and this he did when "He ascended up on high," there to appear in the presence of God for us. He then and there imputed to the Church the merit of his ransom sacrifice. Then comes justification as a result, (1) of the ransom-sacrifice, and (2) its application for all men who will believe and obey him. Thus the resurrection and ascension of our dear Redeemer were necessary adjuncts to make his death-sacrifice available.
"Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." (Heb. 9:22) Throughout the Law dispensation God emphasized this feature of his arrangement by requiring [E443] the blood of bulls and of goats; not that these could ever take away sins, but that in due time they might be recognized as types or illustrations of better sacrifices, through which sins are blotted out and canceled. The expression, "shedding of blood," signifies simple death, life poured out, yet points to a sacrificial death, and not what is sometimes termed a natural death--though strictly speaking no death is natural. According to nature man was to live: death is the violation of the law of man's being, resulting from transgression, and its accompanying "curse" or sentence.
So far as Justice was concerned, the Jews might have put our Lord to death in any other form, and the requirements of Justice have been equally well met. The necessary thing was surrender of his innocent soul (being) as an off-set or in exchange for a guilty soul (being) whose existence was forfeited through transgression. Neither was it necessary, so far as the ransom feature was concerned, that our Lord's person should be wounded, and his blood literally shed or spilled on the ground. The penalty for sin was death, the cessation of being, and when that was accomplished the penalty was met. The requirement of the crucifixion and the pierced side were for other considerations.
The blood falling upon the earth, at the foot of the altar of sacrifice, represented that not only mankind had been purchased, but that the earth itself was included, and the blood was sprinkled upon it. The shame and ignominy of the public crucifixion, as a malefactor, was necessary, because our Heavenly Father had decided that the testing of the obedience of our Lord Jesus should be to the utmost; not only was he tested to see whether he would be willing to become a man, but additionally, whether he would be willing to die as man's ransom-price or substitute, and additionally, whether or not he would be willing to suffer the very extreme of ignominy, and thus prove to the last degree his worthiness of the greatest exaltation at his Father's hands. [E444]
The Apostle presents the matter in this light; for after telling us of how he left the heavenly glory for our sakes, and became a man, he adds, "And being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death--even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name [title, honor, dignity] which is above every name"--the Father's name or title excepted. (Phil. 2:8,9) Compare 1 Cor. 15:27.
Every reference of Scripture to justification by faith--that we are justified by the blood of Christ, etc., is a testimony corroborative of the foregoing--that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," but imputing them unto "him who died for us and rose again." (2 Cor. 5:19,21; 1 Thess. 4:14; 5:10) The guilt of the sinner was borne by the Redeemer, who gave the full corresponding price for our sins, that all seeking righteousness might be accepted as righteous, through the merits of his sacrifice. (Rom. 5:17-19) The fact that we needed to be justified or made right, proves that we were wrong, unrighteous, unjust in God's sight. The fact that men could not justify themselves by works was demonstrated by Israel under their Law Covenant, and proves that this wrong or sin was in the very natures of men; and this rendered it necessary that we should be redeemed and justified through the merit and sacrifice of another--a spotless Redeemer.
Justified signifies to be made right; but we are not made right or perfect actually: we are merely reckoned right or perfect because of our faith in and acceptance of the righteousness of Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf. Everywhere throughout the Scriptures this power of justification on the part of our Redeemer is attributed to his sacrifice on our behalf. That our own works could not justify us, or make us acceptable before God, see Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:27,28. That the Law could not justify those under it, see Gal. 5:4; Rom. 3:20. That faith in Christ's finished work, demonstrated by full consecration to God, justifies, see Gal. 3:14; Rom. 4:24,25. [E445]
Various scriptures more or less distinctly speak of our being washed or cleansed or purified from sin. All such scriptures are in support of the doctrine of the ransom because it is distinctly stated in the same connection that the cleansing power is "the blood of Christ"--the merit of our Lord's sacrifice. See 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Pet. 2:22; Titus 3:5; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19.
Justification is symbolically represented as a robe of righteousness, of pure linen, clean and white, by which the Lord covers the blemishes and imperfections of all whom he accepts through faith in his precious blood. All endeavors toward righteousness on our own part, aside from the merit of Christ, are likewise symbolically represented as "filthy rags" of our own righteousness. (Isa. 64:6) True, certain scriptures refer to our efforts towards righteousness, by obedience to the divine commands, as a cleansing work, progressing throughout our entire Christian course, as the Apostle expresses it, "Having our bodies washed with pure water," and cleansing of the Church by the "washing of water by the Word": and these are very proper presentations of the cleansing of our hearts, the "putting away the filth of the flesh": and these scriptures are very properly understood to refer to a daily and a life work. But all these cleansings of thoughts, words and acts--all these endeavors to bring our mortal bodies into closer conformity to the will of God in Christ, are based upon our previous acceptance of Christ and our justification through faith in his blood. The Scriptural thought is that from the time we consecrate ourselves to God, all our imperfections are covered from the Lord's sight through the merit of the ransom-sacrifice, provided by Jehovah's grace, and laid hold of and appropriated by faith. Since only that which is perfect could be acceptable of God, and since we, with all our efforts and washings, would still be imperfect, it is manifest that our acceptance with the Father is under the covering of the robe of Christ's righteousness, his perfection reckoned or applied or imputed to us. Thus we are first "accepted in the [E446] beloved" (Eph. 1:6); and then daily manifest our devotion to righteousness and our desire to please the Lord by efforts toward holiness.
How frequently the Scriptures refer to our Lord as our sin-offering, "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) All the sacrifices of the Law, all the blood shed upon Jewish altars, pointed forward to this great sacrifice for sin slain on our behalf; for, as the Apostle assures us, the blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin--only the antitypical sacrifice could do this, "the precious blood." On this subject of the sacrifice for sins, as presented in the New Testament, see Heb. 9:12; 10:10; Eph. 5:2; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 2:22-24; 2 Cor. 5:21--Diaglott.
That this sacrifice was for us, the Church, and for all mankind, is likewise very clearly set forth in the Scriptures: "He, by the grace of God tasted death for every man," the just for the unjust, to bring us to God--to open up for us and for all mankind a way of return or reconciliation to harmony with the Heavenly Father, and thus indirectly to open up for us the way back to eternal life, the Father's favor or blessing or gift for all those who are truly his children. On this point see the following: 1 Thess. 5:10; Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:14,15; John 10:15; 11:50-52; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18.
That it was the death of the man Christ Jesus, his "blood," that secured our release from sin and death, is most unequivocally stated in many scriptures, and can only be repudiated by denying the inspiration of the Scriptures, or by "wresting the Scriptures," or by "handling the Word of God deceitfully." See 1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 4:12; 20:28; Rev. 5:9; 1:5; Rom. 5:9; Heb. 13:12.
"Ye Are Bought with a Price."
By Whom? of Whom? Why? and for What Purpose?
"Ye are bought with a price; be not servants of men." 1 Cor. 7:23 [E447]
"Thou hast redeemed [bought] us to God by thy blood." Rev. 5:9
"There shall be false teachers among you, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them." 2 Pet. 2:1
The testimonies of Scripture, to the effect that man was "bought," are very unequivocal; and, as we have already shown, the Greek word from which they are translated is agorazo, which signifies a public purchase. The questions naturally arise, (1) By whom was man purchased? (2) Of whom was man purchased? (3) Why was man purchased? We consider these questions in their order.
(1) The scriptures already cited clearly and unequivocally assert not only that mankind was purchased, but that the Lord Jesus Christ himself was the purchaser; and furthermore, these and other scriptures assure us most distinctly that the purchase price was the precious blood of Christ--the sacrifice of his own life, the death of the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom [anti-lutron--a corresponding price] for all. Considering this question already indisputably proven, we proceed to the next.
(2) Of whom was man purchased? Opponents of the truth sneeringly inquire whether or not the Lord purchased us from the devil; and assert that there was no one else to whom the price could be paid: for according to the false reasoning of those who deny the ransom, God would not be a party to such a transaction. Their claim is that God was ever anxious for man's fellowship, and all along has done all in his power to effect man's reconciliation and recovery from sin and death. They reason therefore that God would not demand a ransom price, before permitting man's release. We reply, that such views are wholly contrary to the Scriptural teaching, which, while representing that God is love, and that he has sympathy for the sinner, declares also that God is just, and that man having been justly sentenced, [E448] cannot be justly released from that sentence in any other manner than by the payment of a ransom price for him.
While the Scriptures declare that Satan is identified with the infliction of the penalty, death, saying, "As the children are partakers of flesh and blood [human nature], he likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil," and elsewhere speak of Satan as being the "prince of this world," nevertheless they nowhere indicate that he has a title to rule authoritatively in the world. (Heb. 2:14; John 14:30) On the contrary, the Scriptures declare Satan to be the usurper, who, taking advantage of man's fallen condition, has blinded his mind toward God, and by deceiving man has enslaved him, through ignorance, superstition and his own weaknesses. Satan's identity with sin constitutes his power of death. Had it not been for sin, Satan could have had no dominion over mankind. It was because of wilful sin that man was cast off from divine favor; but it was subsequently, when he did not wish to retain God in his thoughts, that God gave him over to a reprobate mind, etc. (Rom. 1:28) The highest authority, therefore, that Satan could claim in connection with the race would be the power of a usurper and the weakness of his slaves.
Moreover, since the divine sentence went forth, "Thou shalt surely die," Satan and any other agency of evil is permitted to cooperate in the carrying out of this divine decree. Thus does God sometimes cause the wrath of man, and sometimes the wrath of evil spirit beings, to work out his wonderful plans, and unintentionally to praise him. (Psa. 76:10) But God has never recognized Satan as the owner of the race. The race was God's creation, and owed its all to him, but because of a failure to recognize him, and to render obedience, it came under the sentence, the curse, of divine law, as unworthy of life, and there it rests.
It was divine Justice which smote our first parents with the curse of death, and it is under the sentence of divine Justice that the race still remains dead. Nor can there be a hope [E449] of life for any, except through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Since divine Justice was the Judge whose sentence forfeited man's life, therefore to divine Justice the ransom price must of necessity be paid, in order to secure the release of the culprit Adam, and his race sentenced in him.
Satan's power, though willingly exercised by him, could not be exercised were it not permitted by the great supreme Judge Jehovah, and Jehovah would not have permitted the great calamity of death to be inflicted upon mankind through Satan's agency or otherwise, except as a just penalty for sin--the penalty of Jehovah's violated law. Satan's power, like that of a hangman, is a delegated "power of death." The hangman is merely the servant of the law, to execute its penalties; and Satan, as the servant of the law laid down by the supreme Judge of all creation, is permitted and used for a time, as the executioner of the sentence pronounced: "The wages of sin is death," "dying thou shalt die."
If a prisoner's ransom or fine were to be paid, it would not be offered to the jailer or executioner, but to the Court whose sentence demanded it. So likewise the ransom for sin could not be paid to Satan (though to some extent he serves as an executioner of the penalty) but must be paid to the power which condemned sin, which decreed the penalty, and ordered the execution of the guilty.
Thus would reason answer us, that the ransom-price for man's sin should be paid to "God, the Judge of all." Now let us inquire, What say the Scriptures respecting the sacrifice of Christ, the offering which he made? Do they say that it was made to Satan or to Jehovah God? We answer that in all the types of the Jewish dispensation, which foreshadowed this better sacrifice, which does take away the sin of the world, the offerings were presented to God, at the hands of the priest, who typified our Lord Jesus. See Lev. 4:3,4,24,29,31,34,35; 5:11,12; 9:2,6,7; Exod. 30:10; 2 Chron. 29:7-11,20-24.
This answers our question emphatically, and we need no [E450] further testimony on the subject. But if further and direct testimony is desired, it is found in the words of the Apostle, viz., "If the blood of bulls and of goats...sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to God...and for this cause he is the mediator of the New Covenant." Heb. 9:13-15,26; 7:27; 10:4-10,12,20; Eph. 5:2; Titus 2:14; Gal. 1:4; 2:20; 1 John 3:16; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rom. 12:1
Thus we establish before our minds the scripturalness of this proposition, that God did require and did accept the death of Christ as man's ransom sacrifice.
(3) Why was man purchased?
Because in us, as fallen and imperfect creatures, the divine qualities of justice, wisdom, love and power are very imperfect: some find it more difficult than do others to grasp the reasonableness of the divine method of requiring a ransom, and accepting it. Those who cannot reason the matter out satisfactorily may very properly, and should, acknowledge and accept the testimony of the divine Word, irrespective of their ability to fully comprehend the why and the wherefore of it. This is the safe and the proper course. Nevertheless, let us offer some suggestions which may help some to grasp the subject. As imperfect fallen creatures, in us these various qualities, wisdom, love, justice and power are continually in more or less antagonism with each other; but not so with our Heavenly Father: in him each of these qualities is perfect, and in perfect accord with the others. There is no clash. Wisdom first surveyed the field, and laid out the best plan for man's salvation, with the full consent of divine justice, love and power. Under wisdom's direction, man was placed at once under a law, the penalty of which was the forfeiture of his existence, and all the train of woes accompanying death. Wisdom foreknew man's fall, through inexperience, but felt justified in view of the beneficial lessons, etc., in laying out the course of divine providence and dealings as revealed in the Scriptures. [E451]
As soon as man violated the divine law, Justice stepped forward, pronouncing him a rebel, who had come under the sentence of death, and drove him from Eden, from the source of subsistence previously arranged for him, and delivered him over to Satan, to be buffeted by evil circumstances, and to the intent that the full penalty of the violated law might be inflicted--"Dying thou shalt die." While this element of the divine character (Justice) was dealing with man, the Love element was not indifferent, but it was powerless, for two reasons: First, it could not oppose Justice, could not hinder the execution of the sentence, could not deliver man from the power of Justice, because it is the very foundation of the divine government; secondly, Love could not at that time interfere to relieve man, by paying the ransom-sacrifice for sin, because that would have been in opposition to the plan already marked out by infinite Wisdom. Thus divine Love and divine Power were held for the time, unable to relieve mankind, and compelled to assent to the Justice of his execution and to the Wisdom which permitted it to proceed through six thousand years of groanings, tribulation--death. In harmony with this, Love did not move to man's release, except to encourage and instruct him through promises and typical sacrifices, foreshadowing the method by which Love eventually, in Wisdom's due time, would accomplish man's rescue. Thus Love waited patiently for the auspicious moment when, under Wisdom's direction, it might act, and later might call to its aid divine Power.
That moment for Love to act finally came, in what the Scriptures term "the fulness of time" (Gal. 4:4), "in due time" (Rom. 5:6), when God sent forth his son as "the man Christ Jesus," that "he by the grace [favor, bounty, mercy] of God should taste death for every man." (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:9) Not until then was the divine Love manifested to mankind, although it had existed all along; as we read, "Herein was MANIFESTED the Love of God," "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 1 John 4:9; Rom. 5:8 [E452]
By exercising itself in harmony with the law of God, and by meeting the requirements of that law, divine Love did not conflict with divine Justice. Love's method was not an attempt to overrule and oppose the sentence, nor to interfere with its full execution, but to provide a substitute, a ransom, for man. By meeting for man the death-penalty inflicted by Justice, Love brought release to mankind from the Adamic curse (death) which divine Justice had inflicted. This was divine Love's triumph, no less than the triumph of divine Justice. Love triumphed in offering the ransom-sacrifice, Jesus, to Justice--the element of God's character which enforces his righteous decrees and their penalties.
Nor is Love's triumph yet complete. It has accomplished the ransom, but its design is to accomplish more, viz., to effect a restitution for all of mankind, willing after experience to return to loyalty to God and his righteous law. But as Love waited more than four thousand years, under the direction of divine Wisdom, before bringing the ransom-sacrifice, so must it wait for nearly two thousand years more, after the ransom-price has been paid, before the great work of restitution shall even begin. (Acts 3:19-21) But Wisdom permits Love in the meantime to operate upon a special class, the "little flock," the elect of this Gospel age--to take out from amongst the redeemed "a people for his name"--Christ's Bride and joint-heir, the Church.
The necessity for the purchase of the race by Christ lay then in the fact that Father Adam had sold himself and his race into sin (and its wages or penalty, death), for the price of disobedience. (Rom. 7:14; 5:12) He needed to be bought back from the slavery of sin; and the payment of the ransom-price was necessary before any could be released from the sentence or start anew to prove themselves worthy of life everlasting.
But now let us take a still larger view of this purchase, and note that our Lord Jesus became not only theoretically but actually the owner, controller and father of the race, by [E453] reason of paying its ransom-price: in this purchase he took the place of Father Adam, who had sold the race. As the race was sold by Adam through sin, in self-gratification, in disobedience to God, so the race was bought by the man Christ Jesus, by the sacrifice of himself in obedience to the Father's will--a corresponding price or ransom for Adam. The Scriptures present this thought, saying, "Christ both died and rose and revived--that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living." (Rom. 14:9) It was by virtue of our Lord's death that he became the master, ruler, father of the race, and obtained power to deal with the race as with his own children, freed from the curse of the divine sentence by his own sacrifice.
It is in this sense of the word that our Lord has become the second Adam--because he took the first Adam's position, as head of the race, by purchasing, redeeming it, with his own life. But as it was the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as the ransom-price, it could not be the man Christ Jesus who would be the father of the race. The man Christ Jesus laid down all that he had for the redemption of the man Adam and his race, a full corresponding price, a man for a man. The race of Adam not having been born at the time of his transgression, was not directly, but indirectly, sentenced, and consequently needed not to be directly, but indirectly purchased. An unborn seed in the loins of the man Christ Jesus became the offset or corresponding price for the seed of Adam unborn at the time of his transgression.
The Price Not Taken Back
As we have already seen, the Scriptures clearly teach that our Lord was put to death in flesh, but was made alive in spirit; he was put to death a man, but was raised from the dead a spirit being of the highest order of the divine nature: having finished the work for which he had become a man, and having performed the service acceptably to the Father, [E454] he was raised from the dead to exceeding honor and dignity, far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named.
Nor could our Lord have been raised from the dead a man, and yet have left with Justice our ransom-price: in order to the release of Adam (and his condemned race) from the sentence and prison-house of death, it was necessary, not only that the man Christ Jesus should die, but just as necessary that the man Christ Jesus should never live again, should remain dead, should remain our ransom-price to all eternity.
For our Lord Jesus to have been raised a man would have implied two evils: (1) It would have implied the taking back of our ransom, which would have left us as much under sentence of death as before. (2) It would have implied to him an everlasting loss of the higher nature which he had left in order to become a man, and to be our Redeemer; and thus it would have implied that faithfulness to God on his part had resulted in his everlasting degradation to a lower nature. But no such absurdities and inconsistencies are involved in the divine arrangement. Our Lord humbled himself, and became a man, and as a man he gave up his life, the ransom-price for the fallen man; and as a reward for this faithfulness, the Heavenly Father not only restored him to conscious being, but gave him a nature not only higher than the human, but higher also than his own previous nature, making him partaker of the divine nature, with its superlative qualities and honors. In his present exalted condition death would be impossible--he is now immortal.
Since the man Jesus was the ransom-price, given for the purchase of Adam and his race, it could not be that the man Jesus is the Second Adam, the new father of the race instead of Adam; for the man Jesus is dead, forever dead, and could not be a father or life-giver to the world.
He who now owns, by purchase, the title of father to the human family, is the risen and glorified Jesus, partaker of [E455] the divine nature--this is the Second Adam. As we have already seen,* our Lord Jesus in the flesh was not the Second Adam; he was not a father of a race, but merely came to purchase Adam and his race, and thus to become the father; and it took all that he had to effect the purchase, and nothing was left. This is the Scriptural thought, as presented by the Apostle: "The first man is of the earth, earthy, the second man [the Second Adam] is the Lord from heaven [at his second presence, during the Millennium]... As we have borne the image of the earthly [Adam] we [the Church, joint-heirs with Christ, and sharers of the exceeding great and precious promises in the divine nature--Rom. 8:17; 2 Pet. 1:4] shall also bear the image of the heavenly [--the Second Adam]." "And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last [second] Adam was made a quickening spirit; howbeit, that was not first which was spiritual, but that which was animal, and afterward that which is spiritual." 1 Cor. 15:45-48
Carrying further our question respecting why the race was bought, we have the Apostle's testimony that by that purchase our Lord Jesus became (that is, acquired the right to become) the mediator of the New Covenant. (Heb. 8:6; 9:14-16) The New Covenant is an arrangement which God provides, by and through which he can have mercy upon the fallen race. The New Covenant could not go into effect without a mediator. The mediator must guarantee to God certain things on behalf of mankind. First of all he must redeem man, by paying the full ransom-price, and this sacrifice, which our Lord Jesus made, is therefore termed "the blood of the covenant," by which the covenant becomes effective, operative. Having purchased the world of mankind from under the condemnation which rested upon them, through sin, that he might seal the New Covenant and make it operative, the Mediator is fully prepared and fully authorized to do for the purchased race all that he can do [E456] by way of bringing them back to full human perfection, and into absolute harmony with God--that then he may present them blameless and irreprovable before the Father, in love, no longer needing the intervention of a special covenant of reconciliation, nor a mediatorship. But that work, so far from being yet accomplished, is only begun; hence the world has not yet been accepted by the Father, and it will involve all the restitution work of the Millennial age to fit and prepare the willing and obedient for the full harmony of complete reconciliation with the Father.
Meantime, during this Gospel age, a little handful of the redeemed race is called, and those who hear the divine call and approach the Father through faith in the Mediator and his work are reckonedly accepted as perfect, in order to permit them to present themselves, with their Redeemer, as living sacrifices in the service of the Father and his plan, and thus to develop in them the likeness of God's dear Son--to the intent that if willingly and gladly they suffer with him they may also be glorified with him by and by, and made associates and joint-heirs with him in the Millennial work of blessing the world under the terms of the New Covenant. These, be it remembered, are exceptions to the remainder of mankind: these, the "elect" of the Gospel age, are reckoned as the "brethren" of Christ, the "Bride" of Christ, the "Church which is his Body," but never called "children" of Christ. These are accepted of the Heavenly Father as sons, and begotten by the Word of truth and the spirit of that Word to the heavenly nature. These, as we have seen, may properly recognize Jehovah as their Father, because directly begotten of him, and thus these are "brethren" of Christ Jesus. 1 Pet. 1:3
For the world in general, however, the divine plan is somewhat different: instead of justifying them by faith, and then having them begotten to the divine nature, etc., they wait over until the Millennial age, and then, instead of being begotten of Jehovah to a new nature, they get back their old nature, the human nature, freed of its blemishes and corruption through sin. The hope of the world is restitution [E457] to "that which was lost" in Eden. (Matt. 18:11; Acts 3:19-21) God's provision for the world is just what we have seen in the ransom: the man Christ Jesus laid down his human perfection, and all the rights and privileges which that implied, to redeem for mankind "that which was lost"--the human perfection lost in Eden, the human dominion and all the rights and privileges of man, including his privilege of fellowship with God and everlasting life. These things which were purchased for mankind are the things which in due time are to be offered to all mankind under the New Covenant.
The fact that this Gospel age has been used of the Lord in selecting the "body of Christ," means to the world that instead of our Lord Jesus, the great Head of the Church, reserving to himself alone the office of father or life-giver to the world, he has associated with himself a "little flock," who have his own likeness, and who have participated in the sufferings of this present time, and who are to be sharers in the glory to come, and with him to constitute the great Prophet, the great Priest, the great King, the great Life-giver or Father to the world of mankind--to give life to whomsoever will receive it, under the terms of the New Covenant. It is in harmony with this thought that the Scriptures declare one of our Lord's titles to be "the Everlasting Father." He has not yet fulfilled this office in any sense or degree. But he who bought the world at the cost of his own life has in his own power, by divine arrangement, the full right, title and authority to communicate to so many as will receive it, on his terms, all that was lost and all that was bought again of life and human rights and perfections, with an increase of knowledge.
Moreover, as being the legitimate father of the race and as giving them a life which had cost him his own, we find that the Scriptures imply that the race of mankind is fully in the hands of the Lord Jesus, to deal with them absolutely; and to judge of their worthiness or unworthiness of eternal life. This, which he will do for the world as its Father, during the next age, our Lord Jesus already does for [E458] his Church, his spouse, his Bride, during this age; and herein the apostolic proposition is illustrated, that as the Heavenly Father is the head of Christ, so Christ is the head of the Church; as the husband he is the head of the wife and of the family. Accordingly we read, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22) The betrothed Bride of Christ has no standing with the Father except in and through her beloved Bridegroom. Her requests are made in his name, through his merit, and must continue so to be made, until that which is perfect is come, when she shall be received into glory--the full liberty of the sons of God, through the first resurrection.
Similarly, the world of mankind, the children of Christ, must all report to him, as their Head, their Father, nor will they have any intercourse with the heavenly Father, nor be recognized by him at all, until after the Millennial age shall have restored and brought back to perfection those who will avail themselves of those privileges. But at the close of the Millennial age, when our Lord Jesus shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, then also shall they be introduced to and come under the direct control of the great, grand Father of all, Jehovah Almighty. 1 Cor. 15:24
From this standpoint may be seen why our Lord Jesus is called the Father of the redeemed and restored race, but was not recognized as the Father of Adam or his children previously, although he was the direct creator of Adam--as it is written, "Without him was not anything made that was made." The difference lies in the fact that in the original creation the Logos was the agent of Jehovah, and performed a work wholly without expense to himself; while as the Second Adam he will be giving to men life-rights at his own cost, bought with his own precious blood.
Ransom Not Pardon
The failure to discern the distinction between ransom and pardon has led to considerable confusion of thought on [E459] the subject. Christian people of general intelligence will quote texts relative to our being ransomed from the tomb, redeemed from death, bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, etc., and in the same breath they speak of the Father's gracious pardon of all offenses. Seemingly few think, though many must know, that pardon and ransom express exactly opposite thoughts.
The following primary definitions are from the Standard Dictionary:
Redeem--To gain possession of by paying the price.
Ransom--The amount or consideration paid for the release of a person held in captivity, as a prisoner or slave.
Now contrast with these the signification of:
Pardon--To remit the penalty of; to let pass.
Webster--"To refrain from exacting the penalty. In Law-- To release from a punishment that has been imposed by sentence."
Notice here also the definition of another word which though closely related to pardon is not exactly the same, viz.--
Forgive--To release from punishment--to cease to cherish resentment towards.
"The law knows no forgiveness."
The most ordinary mind must discern that the thought expressed by "redeem" and "ransom" is opposed by and irreconcilable with the thought expressed by the word pardon. But since all of these words are used in the Scriptures in reference to God's dealings with fallen man, many Bible students think of them as used carelessly and synonymously in Holy Writ: and they then conclude that they may take their choice and either attach the definition of "pardon" to the words "ransom" and "redeem" or vice versa the definitions of "ransom" and "redeem" to the words "pardon" and "forgive." This procedure is far from "rightly dividing the word [E460] of truth"; it is confounding two separate and distinct matters, and the result is confusion. With many the difficulty seems to be that they do not want and therefore do not seek for the truth on the subject--fearing that their no-ransom theories would thereby be condemned.
Nothing can be clearer than that God did not pardon Adam's transgression and remit its penalty: the facts all about us, in the groaning and dying creation, no less than the testimony of God's Word concerning "wrath of God revealed"-- the "curse" of death as the wages of original sin, all testify loudly that God did not pardon the world--did not remit its sin-penalty under which it has suffered for over six thousand years. He who confounds the justification of sinners through the merit of the sin-sacrifice of Christ, the sinner's substitute or ransomer, with pardon without payment, has not had his senses exercised properly. Had God pardoned Adam he would have restored him to the privileges of Eden and its life-sustaining orchard, and he would be living yet, and his numerous family would not have died for "one man's disobedience."
If at any time God were to come to man's rescue and pardon him, it would imply his full release from all the blight, disease, pain and death: it would mean full restitution to all that was lost. Evidently then God has not pardoned the original sin, but still holds the resentment of his holy law and sentence against the sinner. There is even no outward evidence to the world that they have been redeemed, ransomed. Only believers yet know of this and they receive it, not by sight, but by faith in the Lord's Word; its many declarations to this effect we have already cited. The sight-evidences proving the ransom will be discernible during the Millennium, when the work of restitution is under way-- when the Redeemer begins the exercise of his purchased rights as the Restorer.
The words forgive and pardon are used not in respect to the world and its original sin, but in respect to those who [E461] through faith in the Redeemer and his work are reckoned as having passed from death unto life--from sentence to justification. The great Mediator who bought them, and who bought the charges which were against them, freely forgives them and starts them afresh on trial for life--under the spirit of the divine Law and not under its letter. And more than this forgiveness of the past, he continues to forgive them and to pardon all their offenses (which will not be wilful so long as they have his new spirit or mind--1 John 3:9; 5:18)-- counting all such unwilful blemishes of thoughts, words and deeds as a part of the original sin and its depravity, still working in their flesh through heredity. Similarly the Heavenly Father is said to have mercy upon us, to forgive our trespasses, and to extend his grace (favor) to us; but the explanation is that all his grace is extended to us through our Lord Jesus' sacrifice: we are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation [satisfaction] through faith in his blood--to declare his righteousness for the remission [forgiveness] of sins." (Rom. 3:24,25) Again, it is declared, "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14
"We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," i.e., God ceased to resent our sins, because our ransom price had been paid, as provided by himself, who so loved us that he gave his Son to redeem us. Thus, too, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (but unto his beloved Son, who freely gave himself as our substitute). The sins were imputed to mankind until Jesus died; then God forgave, i.e., ceased to impute to us what had been paid by our Redeemer or Substitute. God did not PARDON, i.e., "refrain from exacting the penalty," but "laid upon him [our Redeemer] the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:6) "He bore [the penalty of] our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Pet. 2:24) And thus we see how God forgave us freely "for Christ's sake"--because he paid the penalty which [E462] was the full satisfaction of justice. 1 John 1:7; 2:12; Eph. 4:32; Acts 4:12; 10:43; 13:38; Luke 24:47
Let it not be misunderstood that God compelled the just one to die for the unjust. Justice could not inflict the punishment of the guilty upon the innocent unless the innocent one freely gave himself as a substitute for the guilty. This our Lord Jesus did. The Scriptures declare that he laid down his life of himself; not for fear of divine wrath; not because compelled; but "for the joy that was set before him [the joy of obedience to the Father, the joy of redeeming and restoring mankind, and of bringing many sons to glory] he endured the cross." Heb. 12:2
The Greek words (apoluo, aphiemi and aphesis) translated "forgiveness," "forgiven" and "forgive," in the New Testament, have the same significance as the corresponding English words: "To release from punishment, to cease to cherish resentment towards." But let us mark well that the meaning is not as some seem to infer--to send away without an equivalent, as the English word pardon would imply. It is not that God will let the sinner go unconditionally, but, as Scripturally declared, God will let go the prisoners out of the pit (out of death), because he has found a ransom. (Job 33:24) The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom (a corresponding price) for all. (1 Tim. 2:6) Therefore all that are in their graves (prisoners in the pit) shall hear his voice and come forth, in due time--when the Redeemer shall "take to himself his great power and reign."
Though the word pardon does not occur in the New Testament, a Greek word of nearly the same meaning does occur-- karazomai. It signifies, to forgive freely. We will give some illustrations of the use of this word, from which it will be seen that it does not oppose but confirms the statement that our Father does not pardon, or unconditionally set sinners free from sin's penalty. The word karazomai occurs in all only twelve times, as follows: "Forgiving one another...even as Christ forgave you" (Col. 3:13); "When they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both"; "He to whom he forgave most." Luke 7:42,43 [E463]
Here are four instances in which free forgiveness or pardon is meant. But notice, it is not Jehovah, but Christ Jesus and the disciples who do the free forgiving. Our Lord Jesus was in the very act of paying the ransom price of Simon, Mary and others, and realizing that Justice would be satisfied by his act, he, as the purchaser, could freely forgive them. The very object of his purchasing sinners was, that he might freely release them from sin's condemnation. Had our Lord Jesus been unwilling to pardon those whom he had purchased with his own blood, had he still held against them the wages of Adam's sin, his sacrifice would have been valueless to them; it would have left all as they were--"cursed"-- condemned. On the other hand, had the Father pardoned us, Christ's death would have been useless, valueless, as it would have accomplished nothing.
All will admit that God is just; and if so, he did not inflict too severe a penalty on man when he deprived him of life. Now if that penalty was just six thousand years ago, it is still a just penalty, and will be just for all coming time. If the penalty was too severe and God pardons the sinner (releases him from further continuance of the penalty) it proves either that God was at first unjust, or is so now. If it was right six thousand years ago to deprive mankind of life because of sin, it would always be wrong to restore the life unless the pronounced penalty were justly canceled by the payment of an equivalent price. And this could only be accomplished by the willing sacrifice of another being of the same kind, whose right to life was unforfeited, giving himself as a substitute or ransom.
"Forever firm God's Justice stands
As mountains their foundations keep."
This very principle of justice which underlies all of our Father's doings, is the ground of our strong confidence in all his promises. The Scriptures declare that he is the same yesterday, today and forever, that with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17) If he were so [E464] changeable as to condemn the race to death in Adam's day, and six thousand years after were to revoke his own decision, what assurance could we have that in six thousand years, more or less, he might not change again, and remand us to the prison-house of death by revoking the pardon of some or of all? As a race of sinners we have no foundation whatever for hope of a future everlasting life except in the fact that by God's grace Christ died for us and thus satisfied the claims of Justice against us.
So then, so far as Jehovah is concerned, we are forgiven through his own provision--through Christ. And so far as our relationship to the Lord Jesus, who bought us, is concerned, he freely pardons all who would come unto the Father by him. And so far as we are concerned, the results attained by God's plan are most favorable--to us it amounts to the same as though the Father had pardoned us unconditionally and without a ransom, except that a knowledge of the fact enables us to reason with God, and to see how, though our sins were as scarlet, we are made whiter than snow, and how God is just while justifying and releasing us. Thus God has furnished us a sure foundation for faith and trust.
Does Not Death Cancel Man's Debt?
When once it is recognized that "the wages of sin is death"--not eternal torment--there is with many a tendency toward false reasoning on this subject, which evidently is abetted by the great Adversary. This false reasoning proceeds to say, If the wages of sin is death, every man who dies pays the penalty of his sin: consequently, the argument is, there would be no necessity for a Redeemer and a ransom price--each one ransoming himself, redeeming himself by paying his own penalty. The argument is that Justice has no further claim upon man after death--having expended its force--having satisfied its own claims in his destruction; hence it is claimed that a resurrection of the dead would be [E465] next in order, and the proper thing. This view would make the divine requirement of a ransom-sacrifice for man's sin an injustice, a double payment of the penalty.
Whether this reasoning be true or false, it evidently is in violent conflict with the Scriptures, which declare, to the contrary, our need of a Savior, and that it was essential that he should give a ransom-price for us, before we could be released from the penalty of Adam's sin, and have any right to a future life. We have already referred to these scriptures, and they are too numerous to be now repeated, hence we will confine ourselves to exposing the fallacy of the above claim; endeavoring to show that correct reasoning on the facts is in absolute accord with the Scriptural testimony, that the death of our Lord Jesus, as our ransom-price, was essential, that God might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, accepting him as his Redeemer.
Had the penalty against sin been merely dying--had the Lord said to Adam, Because of your sin you must experience the trying ordeal of dying! then, indeed, the penalty would be met by Adam and others dying. But such is not the penalty: the penalty is death, not dying; and death is the absence of life, destruction. Hence for man to pay his penalty would mean that he must stay dead, devoid of life forever. "The soul [being] that sinneth it shall die." As already pointed out, this destruction of the soul (being) according to the sentence would have been everlasting, except for the redemption accomplished by our Lord. It is in view of that redemption that death is turned into what is figuratively termed a "sleep"--in view of that redemption there will be an awakening from this sleep of death in due time, accomplished by the Redeemer, with the full consent of divine Justice, whose demands he met. Thus, as we have seen, had it not been for the redemption, Adamic death would have been what the Second Death is to be, viz., "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." When once the proper view of the subject is obtained, [E466] there can be no further doubt in the mind of any reasonable person that paying the penalty of sin takes all that a man has, and leaves nothing either to suffer or enjoy. On the other hand, the more we investigate from this standpoint, the more clearly we may see the seriousness of the difficulty in which our race was involved under the divine sentence; and the more will we appreciate the necessity for the ransom. And seeing this feature of the subject clearly will show us clearly also that when our Lord Jesus did become our Redeemer, when he did give himself as our ransom-price, it meant to him what the original penalty would have meant to us, viz., that "the man Christ Jesus" suffered for us death, in the most absolute sense of the word, "everlasting destruction." Hence we know Christ no more after the flesh. The flesh, the human nature, was given as our ransom-price, and the fact that it was not taken back is our guarantee that all the blessed provisions of that ransom are available to the entire human family under the terms of the New Covenant--that all the perfections and rights which belonged to our dear Redeemer as a man were given in exchange for Adam's similar rights, which had been forfeited through disobedience; and that these, therefore, are to be given to all who will accept them upon the divine terms, during the "times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21
"Who Will Have All Men to Be Saved"
"Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4
Another danger of false reasoning on the subject of the ransom besets the pathway of some. Many who at one time readily believed the testimony of men, without Scriptural evidence, to the effect that the wages of sin is eternal torment, and that all were sure to get that eternal torment except "the pure in heart," the "little flock," the "elect" [E467] Church, having once gotten free from that terrible delusion, are inclined to go to the opposite extreme, and to accept in some shape or form the doctrine of universal everlasting salvation.
The vast majority of those who take hold of this "Universalist" error deny the ransom in toto; but a few take hold of it because of faith in the ransom--whose operation, however, they fail to distinctly understand. This class is very apt to seize upon the scripture above cited, and to satisfy themselves with the following process of reasoning: If God wills to have all men to be saved, that settles it; for the time is coming that his will shall be done on earth as in heaven. Therefore, say they, we perceive that the ransom given for all by the man Christ Jesus is to secure the will of God by securing the salvation of all. They proceed to entrench themselves in their error by saying, When we look at it, since God accepted the ransom-sacrifice of Jesus, he is bound in justice to save all the sinners, and to give back to them again the eternal life lost in Eden. We state their position as strongly as possible, to the intent that it may be answered to their satisfaction, and beyond all cavil.
The difficulty with this reasoning is that it is not sufficiently comprehensive. It takes hold of a few points of Scripture, and neglects many which should be granted a hearing, and whose testimony should have weight in reaching a conclusion. Besides, it only partially quotes, and misinterprets, the Scriptures supposed particularly to support it.
Our Heavenly Father declares, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." (Ezek. 18:32) This great favor of an offer of life through a Ransomer to the condemned world is not a new thing on our Heavenly Father's part. He changes not; he has always had this good will towards his creatures. He could have made them mere machines, intellectually and morally, without liberty to will or to do contrary to his good pleasure; but he chose not to make human [E468] machines, but to make beings in his own image, in his own likeness--with liberty of choice, freedom of will, to choose good or evil. He seeketh not such to worship him as could not do otherwise, nor such to worship him as would do so under constraint, but, as he declares, "He seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth"--voluntarily, from love and appreciation of his principles of righteousness, and of himself, which these represent. John 4:23
Nevertheless, it was while God had this same good will toward men that he permitted Adam to take his own choice of obedience or disobedience, and when he chose the disobedience, this same God, who has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, pronounced the penalty, and for six thousand years has enforced its execution. And now that he has provided a redemption in Christ Jesus, and an opportunity for every member of the human family to return to harmony with himself, and to obtain through Christ eternal life, he at the same time most unquestionably sets up conditions necessary to the obtaining of this eternal life. The terms of the New Covenant are a renewed heart and a right spirit toward God, and a full obedience to him. And the fulfilment of the requirements of this New Covenant is only possible through the help of the Mediator of that Covenant, and hence the declaration is that, He that hath the Son may have the life, and he who does not obtain an interest in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36
This is in perfect accord with the statement that God hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, and also in accord with the statement in the New Testament, that "God wills all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth." Nevertheless, the Scriptures point out that those who reject the offers of divine mercy in Christ are thereby doing despite unto divine favor, and will surely die the Second Death, the wages or penalty of their choosing sin instead of righteousness.
Notice further: this text under consideration indicates [E469] merely that it is the will of God that all mankind should be saved from the ignorance and blindness and degradation which has come upon the race as a result of Adam's sin. There is no reference here to an everlasting salvation, but merely to a recovery from the loss sustained through Adam: and it should not be forgotten that Father Adam did not lose eternal life, for although he had a perfect life, and was free from all elements of death, he was, nevertheless, placed in Eden on probation, to see whether, by obedience to God, he would develop a character in harmony with God, and so be accounted worthy of everlasting life. Consequently, when Adam and his race are redeemed from the curse of death, this redemption or salvation from the sentence of death does not entitle them to everlasting life, but merely entitles them to the favorable conditions of Father Adam, and to a fresh trial as to worthiness for everlasting life.
This fresh trial secured for Adam and all his race will indeed be more favorable in some respects than was Adam's original trial, because of the large increase of knowledge. Man has had an opportunity to learn the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and will have an opportunity to learn the blessedness of righteousness, and of God's grace in Christ. This knowledge will be of service to all who will use it, during the fresh trial for eternal life in the Millennial age--when for a thousand years the whole world of mankind shall be in judgment or trial for eternal life, before the great white throne. Rev. 20:4
It is this salvation from the "curse," this recovery back to favorable opportunities of knowledge, that God wills; and on account of this he has appointed the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
This statement, that it is God's will that "all men should be saved" from the Adamic sentence, finds a parallel in the statement by the same Apostle, in Rom. 11:26, "And so all Israel shall be saved." The thought in this last passage is not that all Israel shall be saved eternally, but merely that all Israel shall be saved from their blindness--in the sense of being [E470] recovered from the blindness which came upon them as a people as a result of their national rejection of the Messiah. So the thought of the text is also limited and applies only to the Adamic catastrophe: God wills that all men should be saved, not only from the just sentence which he pronounced and which cut short Adam's trial (this he has already accomplished in the death of his Son) but he also wills that all men shall be recovered from the ignorance and blindness with which Satan since the fall has darkened their minds: "The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor. 4:4) God wills that all should be so saved from all the train of evils following Adam's sin and curse, that they may come to a knowledge of the truth. Why does he will this? To the intent that having a clear knowledge of the truth they may make the very best possible use of the new trial for life secured for them by their Redeemer's ransom-sacrifice. It is for the carrying out of this, God's will, that the Redeemer will inaugurate his Millennial Kingdom, which will first bind Satan (restrain all outside evil influences) and then release man from his blindness--as it is written, "the eyes of the blind shall be opened." (Isa. 35:5) For the same reason, viz., that the new trial shall be most favorable for man, it is the divine arrangement that its work shall be done gradually and require a thousand years.
Justice Not Obligated by the Ransom
The claim that God is now bound, by his own justice, to restore every man, is another mistake. On the contrary, we find that God has assumed no obligation: he has merely sold the race to the Lord Jesus Christ, who, as we have seen foregoing, "bought us with his own precious blood." The Heavenly Father has assumed no responsibilities for the race; he is not dealing with the race; he does not even propose that [E471] he will do the judging of them, to see whether or not they shall attain to worthiness of eternal life: on the contrary, we are assured that he has committed the whole matter to the Son, who bought the race, and hence is Lord of the race, its master, controller, owner, Judge, Prophet, Priest, King, and who, in harmony with the Father's plan, is arranging to identify with himself the elect Church of this Gospel age, for the great work of the world's enlightenment and the restitution of the obedient.
The fact that the Heavenly Father disposed of the entire race to our Lord Jesus does not imply any lack of interest on his part, but is so arranged in order to meet the requirements of his law. The divine laws are inflexible, and make no allowance for any degree of imperfection or sin; because those laws are arranged for perfect beings: for our Heavenly Father never created anything imperfect. Whatever there is of imperfection and sin has been of depravity subsequent to his creative operation. If he should admit of sin in mankind, and deal with imperfect man directly, it would mean (1) that all would quickly be sentenced as imperfect and unworthy, or (2) that God would pass over and fail to condemn our faults and condone our imperfections, which would be in violation of the laws of his empire. Hence it is for man's benefit as well as for the preservation of his own laws inviolate that the Father has turned the entire race over to the hands of Jesus, its Redeemer. Jesus can deal with the race so as to be merciful (not just) toward the imperfect ones seeking perfection, until he shall have brought them step by step, up, up, up to perfection at the close of the Millennium-- when those who shall have obeyed the great Prophet will be ready to be transferred out of his Mediatorial hands into the Father's hands; having attained through Christ the perfection approved of the divine standard; while all others will be cut off in the Second Death. (Acts 3:23) It is in view of the fact that even with past sins blotted out our present imperfections would bring a fresh sentence of death if on trial before the Father's court of absolute [E472] justice, that the Apostle, cautioning us against trifling with the opportunities afforded us in Christ, declares, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31) The divine arrangement for sinners knows no mercy except in and through Christ and his work of atonement and restitution, as the Mediator: outside this provision God's law is stern justice, with no allowances, ready to consume as a fire everything blemished.
Who cannot see that if God could deal with the sinners, and, condoning their sins, accept their best endeavors, though imperfect, there would have been no necessity for a Redeemer nor for a New Covenant in his blood? Moreover, every one of the holy angels might consistently, if they chose, say--God condoned one sin in the human family; he would be no less merciful toward us; hence if we desire to do so, we will be at liberty to commit one sin, and may rely upon divine mercy's forgiveness of it, and that God would not cast us off from his fellowship. And thus, to all eternity, there might be danger of sin on the part of those who had not already dabbled in it. Each one who would thus venture on divine mercy, overriding divine justice, and divine law, to the excusement of one sin, and be forgiven, would constitute another argument why every one of the holy angels should take a trial at sin, and experience divine forgiveness. Seeing this, it does not surprise us that God, in the interest of all his holy creatures, as well as for his own pleasure, decides that he will recognize nothing short of perfection in any creature, and makes Justice the foundation of his throne. Psa. 89:14
"No Other Name--Whereby We Must Be Saved"
From this standpoint, we see more clearly than ever before that all divine mercies toward the fallen race are extended in and through Christ--that the Heavenly Father extends no mercies personally, or independently of the Son, and that "there is no other name under heaven given [E473] amongst men whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) We see too that the work of the Savior is not accomplished merely in purchasing the race, but that after purchasing them it is necessary that he should be the Great Physician, to heal them of sin-sickness, and to restore them to life and to all the perfections of their nature, and thus eventually, through the processes of restitution during the thousand years of his reign, to make ready as many as will obey him for presentation to the Father at the end of the Millennium, in absolute perfection.
Looking, then, to the Mediator, in whose hands has been placed "all power" to save, we inquire whether or not he proposes that those whom he redeemed shall all be eternally saved, or whether or not he has placed limitations upon the matter. We find that the Scriptures clearly state that there are limitations: for instance, when describing the Millennial age as the time when the Adamic curse shall be set aside, and be no longer in operation upon men, and when it shall no longer be the proverb, The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge; the declaration is that every man who then dies shall die for his own sin, and not for the sin of another. (Jer. 31:29,30) We find the declaration also, that when the Lord is the ruler amongst the nations, "the evildoer shall be cut off." (Psa. 37:9) We find that the Apostle Peter, after telling about these "times of restitution," the Millennial age, declares that then "it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hear [obey] that Prophet [the Christ glorified--head and body] shall be cut off from amongst his people"--the Second Death. (Acts 3:19-23) Referring to this same type, another of the apostles declares: "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy....Of how much sorer [severer] punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified [made acceptable to God, justified] an unholy [lit. common, ordinary] thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of [divine] [E474] grace?...It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth [the knowledge of God's grace in Christ, to which God wills that all shall come some time] there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins [the atonement for Adamic sin will not cover wilful sins against light and knowledge], but a certain fearful looking for of judgment [retribution] and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." Heb. 10:26-31
Here we are clearly shown that adversaries of the antitypical Moses (the glorified Christ) shall be devoured or destroyed in a still more severe manner than were those who opposed Moses. But if those who opposed Moses were punished with death, how can those who oppose Christ be more severely dealt with? We answer, that the death inflicted by Moses merely affected the remnant of Adamic life remaining, but could not affect the real being or soul which God purposed to redeem and did redeem by Christ's ransom-sacrifice. He, however, who after knowledge of his redemption refuses to obey the antitypical Moses, will be punished more severely in that he will not only lose a few years of his condemned life, but lose his soul, his being, his existence forever, and that without hope of recovery--for such, and all adversaries, will be devoured as stubble, as thorns and thistles, cumberers of the ground.
Similarly, throughout the entire New Testament, the testimony is conclusive that the law of God against sin will be radically enforced by the Mediator, and that the only deviations from its absolute rule will be allowances for the weaknesses and ignorance of the people; that as these weaknesses and ignorance are overcome during the Millennial age, by the process of restitution, the requirements of the law of Justice will become more and more exacting, until finally the judgment by which our Lord Jesus will in the end of the Millennial age test all who still remain will be no less severe, no less crucial, than that of the Heavenly Father: and under this trial all will fall into the Second Death who either practice sin or sympathize with it in any form or [E475] degree. Perfection having then been attained by the worthy of the race, through the processes of restitution, the demands of Justice will be in full conformity to all the dictates of righteousness, in word, in deed and in thought.
We can see thus God's will shall be accomplished on earth as in heaven--remembering (1) that it is God's will that all should be recovered from the Adamic curse, and brought to a knowledge of the truth; (2) that it is the will of God that eternal life should be given to all the obedient; (3) that it is equally the will of God that all the disobedient "shall be destroyed from amongst the people." This feature of God's will shall be done on earth, also, and none can hinder it.
Some have assumed that since the ransom was provided to the intent that all mankind should be recovered out of the Adamic transgression, therefore an instantaneous restitution to full perfection of the human nature is to be expected for the world of mankind. But such an expectation is neither Scriptural nor reasonable. Nothing in the Scriptures intimates that the restitution work shall be an instantaneous one, but on the contrary, that it will be a gradual one. The inclination to look for instantaneous restitution to absolute perfection of the human nature is the result of false reasoning. It assumes that the race could not be properly on trial for eternal life, under equally favorable circumstances with Father Adam, except by being made perfect, as he was, but we will demonstrate that this is incorrect-- that they can receive a much more favorable trial while imperfect. It assumes that the weaknesses and imperfections common to all mankind through the fall would be insurmountable barriers, which would hinder the redeemed ones from rendering obedience to the divine law, but we shall see that God's provision abundantly meets the necessities of the case. We answer, that on the contrary, if mankind in general were placed back again, by an instantaneous restitution, to the perfection of human nature as enjoyed by Adam, it would mean:
(1) That as perfect beings they should be required to obey [E476] the perfect law of God perfectly; and that no excuse should be made for them, as none was made for father Adam. While a few of the race might pass such a trial favorably, because of present experience with sin, and the lessons learned thereunder, yet we are to remember that the majority of the race would be just as deficient in knowledge of sin and its penalty as was father Adam, because the majority of the race have died in infancy, and of the remainder a large proportion have died in comparative ignorance of the distinctions between right and wrong.
(2) Such a procedure would, to a large extent at least, make void the great lesson which God had been teaching the world for six thousand years, respecting the sinfulness of sin, the undesirability of sin; for the majority have thus far had comparatively little knowledge of righteousness. Their course of instruction will only be complete to mankind by the lessons on the opposite side of the question, the wisdom and profit of righteousness to be inculcated during the Millennial age.
(3) The race, if restored instantly, would be practically a new race, to which all experiences would be comparatively lost; because no member of it would be able to thoroughly identify himself, a perfect being, with perfect faculties and powers, with the being who now has such imperfect faculties and powers: and with infants, who had never come to a knowledge even of themselves, there could not be the slightest identification. So, if this were God's plan, he might just as well have created millions of human beings at first, in Eden, and have tried them all, as to adopt a plan which would place millions in a similar position, by restitution, with no benefit whatever from present experiences with sin.
(4) If each individual were thus instantaneously made perfect there would be no opportunity for the operation of the Church, with their Lord, as the seed of Abraham, to bless the world, to fulfil toward it the office of the "Royal Priesthood." (Gal. 3:16,29) The divine provision for a "Royal Priesthood" implies weakness, imperfection, on the [E477] part of some whom the priests are to help and instruct, and from whom they are to accept sacrifice and offerings for sin, and to whom they are to extend mercy and forgiveness of sins. There could be no room for such a priesthood, if the plan of God were one of instantaneous restitution at the second advent.
(5) If the restitution were to be an instantaneous work, why should a thousand years be appointed, as "times of restitution," when one year would be an abundance of time for an instantaneous restitution to human perfection and for a trial such as Adam passed through?
(6) If mankind were instantly brought to absolute perfection, it would imply that there would be no room for mercy on their account. There could be no plea for mercy for wilful, deliberate, intentional transgression. Furthermore, each individual who would transgress, would individually bring himself under the sentence of death, as a wilful sinner, and no redemption for these would be possible: unlike the case of Adam, where "by one man's disobedience" a whole race was involved, and another perfect man became the redeemer of that race. In this case each individual would be a personal transgressor, and come personally under the sentence of death. To release again from the penalty of even one transgression would require a life for a life for each individual transgressor: a million transgressors would require a million sacrificial deaths of the perfect and holy if their sins would be atoned for; but God having made a full provision for all in Christ, has made no provision for any further sacrifice for sins. Nor could these, after being once restored to perfection by Christ, claim anything further under the merit of his sacrifice, because they would have received all the gracious effects intended and secured by his ransom. There would remain to them no further share in the sacrifice for sins, if they had once experienced full restitution.
But now let us consider the reasonableness of the divine plan of a gradual restitution, progressing proportionately [E478] with man's growing at-one-ment with the Creator and his law--and the benefits of this plan to mankind.
(1) All are to be awakened from the Adamic death, as though from a sleep, by virtue of the ransom given: this will be the first step in restitution blessings. They will then be under the care, charge, supervision, of the Royal Priesthood, whose experience with sin, and with victory over sin, in this Gospel age, will well fit and prepare them to be patient and helpful toward those over whom they will reign, as Kings as well as Priests. Rev. 5:10
The identity of the individual will be preserved, by reason of his being awakened to exactly the same conditions which he lost in death; and the various steps of his progression out of sin and the weaknesses of the present time will be most profitable lessons to him, as respects sin and as respects the benefits of righteousness. Thus, step by step, the great Redeemer will lift up toward perfection the world of mankind, which shall make progress toward perfection in proportion as it wills so to do; and those who will not progress, under all the knowledge and opportunities then accorded them, will, at the age of one hundred years, be cut off from the land of the living, in the Second Death, without hope of any future recovery or opportunity; because having had the opportunity in their hands, and having come to a considerable knowledge of right and wrong, they spurned the grace of God in Christ, in that they neglected the instructions of the great Prophet, and refused to make progress along the highway of holiness. (Isa. 65:20; 35:8) Nevertheless, as the Prophet points out, when dying at one hundred years of age, they may be considered merely as children, because all who will to make any progress might have continued to live at least until the end of the Millennial age.
(2) In taking these steps upward along the highway of holiness, during the Millennial age, the world, while still imperfect, will be to that extent still covered by the merit of the [E479] ransom-sacrifice while learning gradually valuable lessons, and cultivating various fruits of the Spirit: and in the meantime breaks or blemishes, through indiscretion, or through attempts to try other methods, would still come in as part of their Adamic weakness, and to that extent be forgivable at the hands of the great Priest.
To claim that either physical perfection or perfection of knowledge is necessary to a trial for life or death everlasting, is to deny that the Church is now thus on trial: whereas all must concede the Scriptural declarations to the contrary. Nor will such perfections be essential to the world's trial. The world will indeed, as we, be brought first to a knowledge of God's grace in Christ before any trial can begin, and this God has promised they shall have. As a covering for their inherited weaknesses, they will have the merit of Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, while attaining perfection. Not until the end of Messiah's reign will the obedient attain to complete perfection.
(3) The Scriptures represent the Millennium as the Judgment Day for the world saying--"God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [the Christ, head and body] whom he hath ordained." (Acts 17:31) If it were God's plan to coerce all the world or to everlastingly save every member of Adam's race, why call the coming age a Day of Judgment? Judgment signifies trial, testing, and this implies the rejection of the unfit as much as it implies the acceptance and blessing of those proved worthy. And the judgment is unto life or death everlasting.
Note our Lord's parable of the sheep and the goats, applicable not to the Gospel age, but to the world in the Millennium. It opens with "When the Son of Man shall come in all his glory"--and sit upon his glorious throne--a time when, according to his promise, his bride, the "elect" Church shall share his throne and glory--"then shall be gathered before him all nations," and he shall judge them, separating the sheep to the right hand of his favor and the [E480] goats to the left hand of disfavor. This separating and judging will occupy the entire Millennial age, and at its close the "sheep" will all be welcomed to the Father's favor--everlasting life, and the disobedient "goats," with Satan their leader, and all evildoers, shall be punished with "everlasting destruction," everlasting cutting off from life--symbolized by a lake of fire and brimstone--the Second Death.
The Scriptures represent the judgment of that great Millennial Judgment Day as before a great white throne of purity and justice, and portray the decision of the Judge to the effect that those who have, during that time, cultivated and developed the spirit of the Heavenly Father, the spirit of love, to perfection, shall be accounted as the Lord's people and be granted "the Kingdom prepared for them [the earthly Kingdom] from the foundation of the world." Others, who during that favorable opportunity, shall fail to develop to the fullest extent the spirit of love as their character, in the likeness of the Lord, shall be accounted the Lord's opponents, and, with Satan, such shall be destroyed. Compare Rev. 20:9-13.
The doctrine of substitution, clearly taught in the Scriptures, and firmly held for centuries by Christian people, is today giving way, because under clearer reasoning than in the past it is being generally discerned that if eternal torment be the wages of sin, and if our Lord Jesus were our substitute in the payment of our penalty, this would imply that, as our substitute, he must be eternally tormented, else we could not be set free from sin. This reasoning is sound enough: the difficulty is that the premise is a false one. Eternal torment is not the wages of sin--not the penalty against man. Nevertheless, in the minds of many, there remains a general prejudice against the thought of substitution, even after seeing that the wages of sin is death, and that our Lord Jesus could be and was man's substitute in death, and suffered [E481] exactly what man was to suffer, in the most positive and absolute sense. Many are prejudiced against this word, substitution, and inquire, Is the word, "substitution" used in the Scriptures? If not, why use it?
We answer that the word "substitution" is an English word and that no English words are used in the Scriptures, which were written in Greek and Hebrew. If, however, the translators of our English version had chosen so to do, they could, with perfect propriety, have used the word "substitution," because the Greek unquestionably contains the thought of substitution and substitute, in many places. The fact that the word does not occur is merely because the translators did not happen to use it; and inasmuch as we are seeking to impress the thought of the original Scriptures upon our minds, therefore it is proper that this word "substitute" should be impressed, because whatever is in opposition to the thought contained in the word substitute is equally in opposition to the thought contained in the word ransom. As we have already seen, the Scriptures abound with declarations that we were bought with the precious blood of Christ; that he released us by giving his own soul unto death to ransom ours. What is this but substitution?
When a thing is bought, that which is paid for the purchased thing is substituted for it. For instance, if we purchased a loaf of bread for a piece of money, we exchange the money for the bread, i.e., we substitute the money for the bread. If a farmer takes a sack of wheat to the mill, and receives therefore an equivalent value in flour, the wheat has become a substitute for the flour, and the flour a substitute for the wheat. The one is a corresponding price, a ransom, a substitute for the other. Thus it was that in the most absolute sense of the word, our Lord, the man Christ Jesus, gave himself into death, as a ransom, a substitute, in death for Father Adam (and the race that had lost life in him)--a ransom for all, a substitute, a corresponding price. Indeed, the facts of this case are more exact than almost any other case that we could suppose, except it would be in an exchange of [E482] prisoners during war, when there is generally a great particularity to exchange private for private, colonel for colonel, general for general, a corresponding price being required on each side, man for man. The purchase of the bread with money is not so perfect an illustration; because the bread and the silver, although of the same value, are not of the same kind. In the case of man's redemption God required that there be absolute correspondence in nature, in perfection, in everything--a perfect substitute, a thoroughly corresponding price had to be paid, before the race could be liberated from the divine sentence.
One use of the word "substitute," common amongst men, has served to confuse the thought in this respect. In war time, when a draft becomes necessary, and a man is drafted for army service, he is sometimes permitted to find a substitute, who takes his place, serves in his stead, in the army--the man who provides the substitute being thereafter free from all obligations to military service. This particular use of the word "substitute" in connection with military matters, is harmonious enough in the sense that the man who is accepted by the government officer as a substitute for the one released must be up to the physical standards demanded at the time; secondly, he must be a man who has not himself been drafted, and who, therefore, is free to offer himself as a substitute. These features correspond to the case we are considering. Our Lord proposed to be the substitute in Father Adam's place: he met all the requirements of the divine government, in that he was in every way qualified to be the substitute of Adam. He met also the requirement that he was not already under the sentence of death when he took our place and offered himself and was accepted. He had free life to give for Adam's forfeited life.
But here the correspondency between the two substitutions ends, because, in the case of the soldier, the draft or sentence was to participate in the war, and its difficulties, trials, etc., whereas, in the case of Adam, the draft, the sentence, [E483] was to death. The harmony between these two uses of the word "substitute" ends when the soldier is accepted and goes into the army-service--this corresponding to God's acceptance of the offering of our Lord Jesus and his start to go into death. Because the substituted soldier was accepted to the army, therefore the name of the drafted man was stricken off the lists of the drafted, as exempted; and when Christ entered death for Adam, Adam's name was stricken off the lists, so far as the divine condemnation was concerned. The parallel extends no further.
We doubtless do wisely not to unnecessarily obtrude this word "substitution" upon those who already are prejudiced, through a misunderstanding of the subject, and who, because of this prejudice, might be hindered from giving the subject a proper and thorough and unbiased consideration. Nevertheless, we should see to it especially in our own hearts that we are thoroughly loyal to the thought of substitution, which is the thought of the ransom. Whoever, after a proper understanding of the subject, does not believe that Christ was our substitute, is not exercising faith in the ransom, and is therefore lacking of the faith which justifies before God.
Was No Other Plan of Salvation Possible?
Many, who see the subject of the ransom only imperfectly, are inclined to dispute the matter, and to say that they cannot see why God could not have saved the world in some other way than by the death of his Son, as man's substitute or ransom-price. We answer them, that they are taking an improper view of the matter. The question they should ask themselves is not whether God could have adopted some other way, but, did he adopt some other way, or did he adopt the plan of the ransom?
Unquestionably the divine wisdom could have adopted another plan of salvation for mankind, but we may just as positively set it down that no other plan could have been [E484] devised that would have been better, and so far as our judgment and knowledge go, no other plan could have been devised, even by the Almighty, that would have been so good as the plan he has adopted, all the connecting circumstances, conditions and desired results being taken into consideration. The fact that God did adopt a different plan in dealing with the fallen angels proves, we may say, that he could have adopted a different plan in dealing with fallen man. He could have done with man as he did with the angels, but,* as we have seen, this would have been no more favorable, perhaps less desirable, in the judgment of many.
*See What Say the Scriptures About Spiritism? Address the publishers.
Even if we should suppose that a similar number of the human family would be blessed and ultimately restored by such a dealing on God's part, we would see other disadvantages in this method, viz., (1) how much more terrible would have been the moral degradation of our race, had it been left in possession of its complete mental and physical powers, and merely permitted to break down morally! How much of sin can be thoroughly learned in the short period of ten, twenty, fifty or a hundred years, and what depths of wickedness might have been explored and exploited had mankind continued to live with unimpaired powers for six thousand years, separated from God, but not condemned to death!
(2) Such a plan of salvation even if it should reach, eventually, as large a number as the plan God has adopted, would never have revealed to us to the same extent the qualities of the divine character. (a) We see God's Justice in the infliction of the death penalty, even upon those who "did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression," but who were merely born in sin, shapen in iniquity, brought forth sinners, by heredity. (Rom. 5:14,12; Psa. 51:5) He has revealed to us thus, a justice which will by no means clear the guilty, and will recognize nothing short of absolute perfection. (b) He thus revealed to us a love, far [E485] greater than we could otherwise have conceived of--which followed us, and which laid hold upon us "while we were yet sinners," at the cost of the great ransom-price for our recovery. (c) The adoption of this plan of sentencing man to death, redeeming him from death, and subsequently, in due time, restoring him from death by a resurrection, furnishes an opportunity for the display of divine power far beyond anything connected with the work of creation, grand and wonderful as all that was; for unquestionably it requires a greater power to accomplish the divine promise of a resurrection of the millions of beings who have lived and who have died--to bring them forth, identically the same as they were before, even in their own consciousness-- than was required for the creation of the one man. (d) This divine plan, when fully consummated, will show forth divine wisdom in a way in which no other plan could have shown it, so far as we are able to consider other plans. It will show how God knew the end from the beginning, and how he has been working all things according to the counsel of his own will, even while men and angels saw not the purpose and the intention of his operations, and even while the fallen angels and Satan supposed that they were frustrating the divine will. It will be demonstrated beyond peradventure that God is able to cause all things to work together for good, for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. In the end it will be demonstrated that the Word that goeth forth out of his mouth does not return unto him void, but accomplishes that which he pleases, and prospers in the thing whereunto he sent it. Isa. 55:11
Furthermore, in adopting with man the plan pursued with the angels who sinned, or indeed in any other plan that we can conceive of, there could not have been so grand an opportunity for the election of the Gospel church to be the body of Christ; for there would not have been the same grand opportunity for the testing of the loyalty and obedience of the Logos to the Heavenly Father, and consequently of his exaltation to be a participator in the divine [E486] nature--nor an opportunity for a little flock of the redeemed to walk in his footsteps. And finally, we see that these lessons are not merely for humanity, but also for all the intelligent creatures of God, on every plane of being; and not only for a few centuries, but for all eternity.
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his decisions, and his ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor?...For of him and through him and to him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." Rom. 11:33-36