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From Eden to Eden

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    “And Abram believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6.FEE 34.1

    At first glance it might be thought one of the simplest things imaginable to believe the Lord; indeed, it might seem to be a proposition too monstrous to be entertained for a moment, that any people would not believe God. Nevertheless it is true that firm, unwavering belief in the word of God is very rare in the world. Ever since Satan instilled a spirit of distrust into the heart of the mother of our race, and led her to question the righteousness of God in defining her duties and her privileges, the human family have constantly manifested that same distrust, have ever developed that same spirit of rebellion against the word and appointments of God. And so deeply is this spirit inwoven into our natures that, while we stand astonished at the fact of this rebelliousness in the race, we ourselves live in the very atmosphere of rebellion, and our hearts are moved and our lives are fashioned by distrust.FEE 34.2

    When we consider the words of the apostle, that he that believeth not the record that God hath given, hath made him a liar (1 John 5:10), it looks every way just that God should require faith on the part of his creatures. And it seems strange that the self same ones who question the propriety of God’s exacting faith in his word, consider it a grievous offense, worthy of all condemnation, for any to charge them with being liars. As if their names and their reputation were more worthy of respect than the name and word of the Most High!FEE 34.3

    But it is suggested that the Creator is so high, so exalted in his majesty and power, that we may well consider it unworthy of him, beneath his dignity, to exact belief and worship of feeble mortals. But his majesty and power, his exalted position as Governor and Judge of all, are the considerations that make it necessary that his creatures should have faith in him, and should worship him. The more exalted the Governor, the more extensive his government, the greater injury is done to the peace and welfare of his citizens if his authority is denied. When men refuse to worship God, it is because they desire either to exalt themselves in rebellion, or to transfer their allegiance to some object utterly unworthy of their esteem. Whatever may be the motive, its tendency is to anarchy—to the destruction of order and the rights of the people. All that God requires to the maintaining of his own honor and authority is for the security of justice and the welfare of his creatures.FEE 34.4

    There was a time when all the people of the earth had the knowledge of God. From the creation to the flood was one thousand six hundred and fifty-five years; of this period Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, and until one hundred and twenty-six years before the birth of Noah. During this time lived Enoch—one of the most godly men that ever dwelt upon the earth, which shows that there were sincere and faithful worshipers of God in that age. Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, and Shem, his son, lived until Abraham was about one hundred and fifty years old; or, till about seventy-five years after Abraham was called into the land of Canaan. These things show how easily was the knowledge of God, and of the fact of creation, preserved for several thousands of years. Besides this knowledge being transmitted from a father unto his sons’ sons, unto many generations, God was continually revealing himself unto his servants by visions, by dreams, by the visits of angels, etc. The flood did not come, and the Lord did not confound the language of the people, because of their ignorance. They did not sin ignorantly. These calamities befell them because, as Paul said, “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” and, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” Romans 1:28, 21.FEE 35.1

    While almost the whole world were turning away from God, Abraham stood as a bright example, a very pattern of faith, reverently listening to every word that God spoke to him. In this respect he has scarcely been equaled in any age.FEE 36.1

    But faith is far more than mere consent; more than the easy acceptance of the statement of a fact. It is taking the word of God as an obedient and affectionate child takes the word of a loving father. It is the hearty acquiescence in the word of God, in every action and feeling. Such was the faith of Abraham. It was active and efficient in its operation. “Faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.” James 2:22.FEE 36.2

    While it is a truth clearly revealed that the blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness, and it alone can cleanse from sin, it must also be true that we are justified by faith alone “for the remission of sins that are past.” Romans 3:24-28. Over past sins our future actions can have no influence. But not so in the formation of Christian character; not so in reference to our final salvation. Faith in the blood of Christ removes sin, and saves from its curse; obedience to the moral rule of right prevents sin. Inasmuch as Jesus came to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), he came to put away sin (Hebrews 9:26), it is evident that prevention as well as cure is incorporated into the gospel plan of salvation. Moreover, it is plainly stated that “to obey is better that sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 15:22. And Jesus said they call him Lord in vain, and their faith in him is vain, who do not the will of his Father,—if they work iniquity, or, literally, lawlessness. Matthew 7:21-23. Eternal life will be given to them who patiently continue in well doing. Romans 2:7. The same apostle who taught that we are justified by faith without works, in regard to past sins, also commanded us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12. Another apostle said to the brethren: “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” 1 Peter 1:22. This is what is meant by being sanctified through the truth. John 17:17. And all this fully justifies that expression of James—“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:20. And yet, without faith it is not possible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), for of ourselves we can do nothing. John 15:5. The grace of God through Christ is necessary in order that we may work to divine acceptance; and love to God is also necessary that our work may be acceptable Christian service as a “work of faith.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. And genuine Christian faith is a “faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6. And such a faith as this was the faith of Abraham. Of the relation of his faith Paul thus speaks:—FEE 36.3

    “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised, that righteousness might be imputed unto them also; and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” Romans 4:11, 12.FEE 37.1

    This is a very weighty text, fruitful of important considerations.FEE 37.2

    1. Circumcision was a sign or seal of righteousness. How different this statement from that of the multitude of theologians who assert that it was given as a means to keep the Jews a separate people from the Gentiles. It could not mark a line of separation between the children of Israel and the Ishmaelites and the descendants of Esau. And Paul declares that it was no sign at all to the unfaithful and disobedient. It was only a separating line between the righteous and the unrighteous. To Abraham it was a sign of the righteousness that he already possessed through faith. “All unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17), or transgression of the law of God; “for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Abraham had the righteousness of faith, but faith works by love, and love is the fulfilling of the law.FEE 37.3

    And this shows why the circumcision of the unbelieving Jews was of no value. Being given as a sign of righteousness, the sign signified nothing, if the righteousness were wanting. John says that righteousness is obedience, or the opposite of sin, and therefore Paul thus testifies:—FEE 37.4

    “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Romans 2:25.FEE 38.1

    That is, if you keep the law, or maintain the righteousness of which it was the sign, then it is profitable—it has a true meaning. But if you work iniquity, and have not the righteousness required in the law, then your sign becomes no sign; it signifies nothing, for everything is lacking which it was intended to signify.FEE 38.2

    2. He became the father of all them that believe, whether circumcised or uncircumcised, who walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham. This statement demands careful consideration.FEE 38.3

    Circumcision was given as the sign of righteousness. This righteousness was by faith. But in this, nothing avails but a “faith that worketh by love,” and “this is the love of God that we keep his commandments;” and “love is the fulfilling of the law. From all this we are led to the unavoidable conclusion that the steps of the faith of Abraham consisted in obedience to the law of God; and these are the steps which we must follow to be his children indeed. And we are not left to merely draw conclusions, for on this point we have the most explicit testimony. Concerning the promises, the Lord said to Isaac:—FEE 38.4

    “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and I will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father; ... because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 26:3-5.FEE 38.5

    We have shown that God’s purposes toward man, both providential and gracious, were revealed from the beginning, and these purposes he has never changed. When man sinned and fell, then and there the Creator announced the plan of salvation which has been declared from that day to this; it has never been set aside—nor has other ever been devised. The promises made to Adam were fully explained to Abraham, as their fulfillment was to come through his seed, and these are the foundation and substance of the gospel for all ages. And it is equally reasonable, equally true, equally clearly shown in the Scriptures, that the law of God, the great moral rule of right, was also revealed in the beginning, and has been repeated from age to age, and has come down the same through all dispensations. It would be strange indeed if it were not so. Man’s moral nature was conferred in his creation, and all his moral relations are a necessity of his nature. They have been neither augmented nor diminished since his creation. And the moral law is necessary in order to the development of character according to man’s nature and relations. Where there is no law, says the scripture, there is no transgression; and it is equally true that where there is no law there is no obedience. Therefore without law there can be no character developed, either good or bad. If God had given man no law, he might just as well have made him an unreasoning creature, for he could have formed no more character than the brutes.FEE 38.6

    Noah was righteous before God, while the wickedness of the people was great, and the thoughts of their hearts were only evil. Genesis 6:5; 7:1. Lot also was righteous, while the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners exceedingly. Genesis 13:13. Of course Noah and Lot did righteousness, while the people around them transgressed the law of God; for they were sinners, and sin is the transgression of the law, and “sin is not imputed where there is no law.” Romans 5:13. But their sins were imputed to them. Peter says that the righteous soul of Lot was vexed with the “unlawful deeds” of the men of Sodom. 2 Peter 2:6-8. Abraham kept the law of God, even all his commandments. After speaking of the fact that all nations were to be blessed in him, Paul adds:—FEE 39.1

    “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:13, 14.FEE 39.2

    In this scripture we notice these points: 1. Christ does not redeem us from the law, but from its curse; and the curse falls only on the transgressor. Therefore all who have an interest in the redemption of Christ, are amenable to the law of God, and are transgressors of the law. Christ came to call sinners to repentance. 2. This redemption is in order that the Gentiles, or all nations, may receive the blessing of Abraham. And this again proves that the curse of the law rests on the Gentiles Some affirm that the Jews alone are amenable to the law, which is utterly absurd. All men are sinners; all have gone astray; when the law speaks, every mouth is stopped, and all the world stand guilty before God. Romans 3:9-19.FEE 39.3

    And we learn further in the scripture quoted, that they who are under the curse of the law, that is, who are transgressors of the law, cannot receive the blessing of Abraham. He received the blessing solely by faith, and no one can receive the same blessing except by faith. Christ alone can redeem any from the curse, and therefore faith in Christ alone can constitute us children of Abraham, and heirs of his blessing.FEE 40.1

    The same law that Abraham kept, was afterward declared to Israel at Sinai. The covenant with Abraham embraced these two main points, namely: 1. The promise of the land to him and to his seed. 2. The promise was given to him because he kept the commandments of God. In other words, the promises were conditional, the condition being the law of God. This we also find stated in the sacred record, as follows:—FEE 40.2

    “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; and hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.” 1 Chronicles 16:15-18.FEE 40.3

    In these verses the foundations of the Abrahamic covenant are presented in brief. First, the condition; the law which he commanded to a thousand generations. Were this intended to mark a definite period, but a small part of it is yet expired; but it is probably indefinite, merely expressive of a vast or unlimited period. Secondly, the promise of the land, the lot of their inheritance. The law, the word commanded, is essentially distinct from the promise of the land. One is based upon the other.FEE 40.4

    There is in the whole Bible but one “covenant commanded,” which the Lord calls his covenant, defined as follows:—FEE 41.1

    “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deuteronomy 4:12, 13.FEE 41.2

    But here comes the objection, almost constantly persisted in, that this law was given to the Jews, and therefore we have no concern in it. But we have already seen that the word commanded to Abraham and Isaac was confirmed to Israel for a law, even an everlasting covenant. And the Scriptures give us complete, and of course the correct, views of the relation of those things committed to the Jews.FEE 41.3

    This law was indeed given to the Jews, and so were the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, new as well as old (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and the service of God, and the promises. Romans 9:4. For of a truth, “salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22. This was the advantage accorded to Israel, “that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Romans 3:2. And the apostle further shows that their unfaithfulness and unbelief could not make void or of no effect that which was committed to them, for otherwise, how shall God judge the world? For he shows that it is when the law speaks that every mouth is stopped, and all the world stands condemned before God. Romans 3:3-19. God had aforetime given the “lively oracles” (see Acts 7:38) by which he will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. Let us not slight those sacred oracles because they were committed to Israel, for Christ himself was of Israel according to the flesh. Romans 9:5; 1:3; Acts 2:30.FEE 41.4

    But the things that were given to the Jews were not for them alone, neither were they original with or to the Jews. The new covenant was given to the Jews, and we must receive it through them; but it was given to Abraham long before their time. Galatians 3:17. Christ came of the Jews; but he was promised to the fathers, to Abraham, and to Adam from the beginning. Paul says that the service of God was given to the Jews; but it was given to many others before their day. The law was given to the Jews; but every item of it was given to the patriarchs—yes, to all the world, before it was given to the Jews. As before said, man’s moral nature was given in his creation, and the moral law is but the complement, the necessary accompaniment, of his moral nature. Therefore the law was planted in the nature of man, and revealed to the head and representative of the race in the beginning. And thus Paul says, that the nations who had not the written law given to them as it was given to Israel, might yet do by nature the things contained in the law, because they had “the work of the law written in their hearts.” Romans 2:14, 15. In this same chapter the apostle shows that the secrets of men shall be judged by the same law of which he was speaking; the law in which the Jews rested, and in knowing which they knew the will of God. Romans 2:17-23.FEE 41.5

    Of course we make a distinction between the moral and ceremonial law. To deny this distinction because the Scriptures do not use these terms, is not an argument; it partakes more of the nature of a cavil. The word probation is not in the Bible; shall we therefore deny the existence of the fact? The terms moral, morality, moral obligation, moral character, and moral agency, are not in the Bible; but who would argue from this that we do not correctly use these terms?FEE 42.1

    There is a wide distinction between moral and ceremonial or positive law. Moral law is fundamental or primary; positive law is secondary; having no force nor meaning without the primary. Take the law for the offering of sin-offerings: When an offering was brought to the priest it indicated that sin had been committed. If sin had never entered into the world, no sin-offerings would have been required. The offering was made necessary in order to forgiveness. So the relation is easily traced to its foundation. The offering indicated that sin had been committed; and the existence of sin indicated the pre-existence of the law; for sin is the transgression of the law, and where no law is there is no transgression—no sin. Hence the law of sin-offerings was given because another law, of another nature, had been violated. If that other law had never been violated, no sin-offerings would ever have been offered. The same principle is recognized at the present time, for those offerings were types of gospel facts. If sin had never entered into the world, there would have been no gospel; the gospel has the pre-existing law for its basis. Take away the law, and the gospel would be a nullity. It would be an offer of pardon without conviction. Thus it is easy to see that antinomianism is as absurd as it is unscriptural.FEE 42.2

    Look at the sermon of Peter on that Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus. His message to those who were convicted of sin-was this: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Acts 2:38.FEE 43.1

    Repent of sin, and be baptized for its remission. Sin lies back of baptism—back of repentance; and the law lies back of sin. To ignore the law is to have a baptism without any foundation—without any significance. Now if there is no distinction between laws in their nature, then it would be reasonable and proper to command thus: Honor thy father and thy mother, for the remission of sins; Thou shalt not steal, for the remission of sins; Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy, for the remission of sins. Why is it not as correct to read them thus, as it is to command to be baptized for the remission of sins? Clearly because those laws are of another nature; they are moral laws, and required because their transgression is sin. But baptism is not a moral duty, and may therefore be incorporated into a system of remission. If baptism was a primary obligation, it would be required on its own account, as are the ten commandments, and then it could not possibly have any place in the gospel plan.FEE 43.2

    Ceremonial laws are made necessary by the action of man; moral law has its origin in the will of God, without any regard to human actions. Of this nature is every one of the ten commandments. And every precept was known before the days of Moses. When the Lord told Cain that sin lay at the door, it was evidence that he knew the law; and this law certainly included the sixth commandment, which Cain broke, for he was condemned as a murderer. That crime could not have been imputed to him if there had been no law on the subject. Genesis 4:7, 10-12; Romans 5:13. And when the Lord directed Jacob to go to Bethel, he said to his household: “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, ... and I will make there an altar unto God.” Genesis 35:2, 3. Here it was understood that they were unclean in the sight of God, not fit to approach unto his altar while the strange gods were among them. Jacob buried their idols in the earth. And the curse came upon Ham for the violation of the fifth commandment; Genesis 9:21-25; but if the law had not been known he could not have been guilty.FEE 43.3

    Numerous evidences are found in the book of Genesis that the people knew that adultery was sinful. When Abimelech would have taken Abraham’s wife, not knowing that she was his wife, the Lord commanded him to restore her; and the king said to Abraham, “Thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin.” Genesis 20:4-9. And when Joseph refused to comply with the immoral request of his mistress, he asked, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:7-9. These are but a few of the evidences on this precept.FEE 44.1

    When the messenger of Joseph accused his brethren of stealing his cup, they offered proofs of their honesty towards him, and inquired: “How then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?” Genesis 44:4-9. See also chapter 31:19, 30, 32, 39. The transgression of the tenth commandment must precede the violation of the eighth, and it is as sinful to covet as it is to steal.FEE 44.2

    Nothing positive is found in the book of Genesis in regard to the ninth precept. That it was wickedly broken is a matter of record, for Joseph’s mistress maliciously bore false witness against him. Likewise in the book of Genesis not a word is said concerning the sinfulness of taking the name of God in vain. But we find explicit testimony in Leviticus 18. Said the Lord to Israel: “After the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do.” He then enumerated a list of abominable practices among which is the following: “Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God;” and afterwards added: “For in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it.” Leviticus 18:3, 21-25. Profanity was sinful in the nations of Canaan; and because of it and their other sins, the Lord visited them in judgment. But it was as true of them as of others, that “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” For God is no respecter of persons. This is further proof of what Paul teaches in Romans 3, that Jews and Gentiles are and were all amenable to the same law.FEE 44.3

    The evidence in regard to the sabbatic institution is most positive and clear. The Sabbath was not only known before the law was given on Mount Sinai, but it was distinctly enforced before that time. Exodus 16:22, 23. We learn that a double portion of manna was gathered on the sixth day, and on that day Moses said: “To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” The morrow was the seventh day of the week, and it appears from the language of Moses that it was already the Sabbath, before its arrival, and therefore by a previous appointment. When the Lord expressed his intention to give them manna, he declared as an object before him: “That I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” Verse 4. When some of the people sought for manna on the seventh day, the Lord said: “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” Verse 28. From all this it is very plain that the Lord had a law for the observance of the Sabbath before it was given on Mount Sinai. It was called the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord. How it came to be the rest of the holy Sabbath, the commandment spoken by Jehovah himself informs us: “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it” Exodus 20:11. This transaction took place at creation,—before the fall of man. Unlike the ceremonial laws for sin-offerings, it was instituted before sin existed. The Sabbath is a commemorative institution; but it commemorates the work of God—not of man. It originated in the mind and will of God himself, and was not made necessary by an act of rebellion as even the gospel was. It was an original institution, as was marriage, and as such it would have existed and continued if man had never fallen. With what propriety, then, can men call it a Jewish institution? It is so called by many, but in direct contradiction of the Bible, which plainly says: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:10. These are the words of Jehovah himself, and who dares to dispute his claim? He also said of the Sabbath that it is “holiness” to the Lord. Exodus 31:15; margin. By the mouth of the prophet he called it, “My holy day.” Isaiah 58:13. It was consecrated from the beginning, as the commandment says and the historic record proves: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:3.FEE 45.1

    Thus have we identified the holy covenant of God, his word which he commanded to a thousand generations; which was given to Abraham and to Isaac, and confirmed to Israel for an everlasting covenant. The violation of this law has brought the curse upon all the world, Jew and Gentile alike, from which curse we must be redeemed by the blood of Christ in order that we may inherit the blessing of Abraham. Galatians 3:13, 14. And being thus freed from its condemnation we must “Go and sin no more,” and walk in the steps of that faith which our father Abraham had, that we may do his works and be his children in truth. John 8:33-39. Jesus, the seed of Abraham, says: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. The will of the Lawgiver is found in his law, as Paul shows in Romans 2:17-23. Without obedience to the law of God our faith is dead, and our profession of love to God is vain, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” 1 John 5:3.FEE 46.1

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