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The Missionary Magazine, vol. 14

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    February 1902

    “Studies in the Gospel Message. A Vital Question Answered. Christ’s Death and Satan’s Destruction” The Missionary Magazine 14, 2.


    E. J. Waggoner

    QUESTION: In Hebrews 2:14, 15 we read that, since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, Christ “also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them that through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Why was it necessary for Christ to die, in order that Satan might be destroyed?MISM February 1902, page 60.1

    Although there are many things in the work of salvation, for which we may not be able to give a reason, since they are beyond human comprehension, and all things will be better understood as the years of eternity roll by, this is a legitimate question, and one that may with reverence be answered; for the understanding of it is really necessary to our intelligently laying hold of the hope set before us. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” The question on this text brings us to the study of the very heart of the gospel,-into personal touch with God in His secret place.MISM February 1902, page 60.2

    Read the verse again carefully, and you will see that the deliverance of the children from bondage is coupled with the destruction of the devil. It is by the destruction of the devil that they are delivered. Christ died that He might destroy him that had the power of death, and deliver them who through fear of death were subject to bondage. To understand the one is to understand the other. The deliverance from bondage is a present reality to every one who believes Christ, and so accepts Him; and to such the devil is already practically destroyed, since he has no power at all over those who are in Christ. Christ has “spoiled principalities and powers.” “In the faith” we may steadfastly resist the devil, so that he will flee from us. To the true disciple of Jesus, “power and authority” are given “over all devils.” And now let us have a short lesson in the science of salvation.MISM February 1902, page 60.3


    God must be just, at the same time that He is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:23. He is just in all His sayings, and the judgment will show this. He will be clear when he judges. Psalm 51:4; Romans 3:4. Therefore the judgment must reveal the fact that He has never done anything arbitrary-nothing for which a reason cannot be given which will be understood by every created being, and will be perfectly satisfactory. If a single soul should be punished without the justice of his punishment being seen and acknowledged by him and by every other soul in the universe, there would be an opening for another rebellion similar to that of Satan. Every secret thing would not have been made known, and there would be room for the doubt to spring up in some mind, which the serpent insinuated into the mind of Eve, namely, that God does things merely to please himself, without any regard to His creatures. But this state of things can never be after the judgment. The revelation of God in the gospel will be so complete that there will be no room in any heart for doubt.MISM February 1902, page 60.4


    It is by the life of Christ that we are saved. Romans 5:10. He is the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God, and that was and is manifested in the flesh. The Word of life was manifested, in order that we might have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1-3. The Gospel is simply the revelation of the life of God in Christ, and the formation of the life in us. Compare Luke 2:10, 11 and Colossians 1:27.MISM February 1902, page 61.1

    Remember now that all things are from God in Christ. He is the life. Without him there is not one thing in the universe. All things, both animate and inanimate, the mountains as well as men, we his offspring, the product of his life. In his hand “is the soul of every living thing, and breath of all mankind.” God alone has life in himself, and it is his life that is manifested in every living creature. Nay, more, it is the power of his life that holds the particles of inanimate matter together, so that all the so-called “forces of nature” are but the varied manifestations of the working of the one life. The highest angel in heaven and the tiniest creature that finds its whole world in a drop of water, are alike dependent on that life for existence. Nothing has any life in itself, nor any life of its own; every act that is performed, every thought, every breath, every heart-beat, is by the power of the life of him in whom “we live, and move, and have our being.”MISM February 1902, page 61.2


    This is but a simple fact that must be acknowledged by every one who recognizes God as “the Former of all things,” and the upholder of the universe; yet it furnishes the solution to every question that can arise. Let us apply it to the case in hand. The deliverance of the children from bondage means the destruction of sin, and that means the destruction of the devil, “for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” He is the originator of sin, the father of lies. Now we can never know how it was that sin was first conceived in his mind, and we do not wish to (for it was not God’s design that we should ever know evil, and the gospel is for the purpose of getting us as far away from it as possible, and making us lose all knowledge of it); but one thing we do know, and that is that the sin that was first committed, and all that has ever been committed since, has been done with God’s life. But for the breath that God gives to us every moment, no one could have power to deny Him, or to take His name in vain. His life in us actually bears the sins that we commit. So it is a most literal truth that Christ “beareth the sins of the world.” God says: “Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities.” Isaiah 43:24. Therefore He adds: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Sin is most hateful and disgusting to God, yet for our sakes he patiently endures it upon his life. “The long-suffering of our God is salvation.” But he is most anxious to get the burden of it off from his life, and in doing that he clears it from every one who consents to be identified with him.MISM February 1902, page 61.3


    You are doubtless familiar with the excuse that people make for their evil habits, when they try to throw all the responsibility for their sins upon the Lord, saying, “I did not make myself; I had no choice in being born as I was; if the Lord made me thus, how can I help it?” Now God has anticipated all that. It is not true that God has made us as we are, for his handiwork has been marred, and his image defaced; but since it is with his life that all the sin has been committed, he takes all the responsibility on himself. No; that is not quite correct; he had all responsibility on himself from the beginning, since he made man free to sin; we should more properly say that God did not throw off the responsibility for man’s actions. He remained with him, going with him down to the depths, and charging no sin against him. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. The same principle applies to all sinners, as to Satan: If God had arbitrarily cut them off, it would not have been a revelation of his love and justice. He has a way of showing his abhorrence of sin, that is altogether different from man’s way. Men show their abhorrence of an evil deed, by crying out against the transgressor, and cutting him off; God shows his abhorrence of sin by cutting himself off. If he had at the beginning destroyed the devil, that would have indicated his abhorrence of the individual, but some other creature would have taken up the devil’s work of sowing discord, and would have said, just as men even now do, “God gave the devil life, and His life was all that the devil had with which to act, and therefore he was responsible for his actions; and now he has cut him off for that which he could not help.” But God is love; he is justice; and he cannot deny himself; therefore it was not possible that he could destroy the devil, and still maintain his character before the eyes of the universe, without giving up his own life. In giving up his own life in Christ, he showed how greatly he hated the sin that had been brought upon it. Thereby he showed that He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”MISM February 1902, page 62.1


    Christ has appeared “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26. By himself he has made purification of sins. Hebrews 1:3. “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. The sins of the world were on him, and he could not have put them off without dying, except by denying himself, which he cannot do. But now, having given up his own life, thus showing not only his hatred of sin, but also the immutability of the law of righteousness, he has a new life, that has not been tainted by sin, to give to every one who will accept it. His grace is as free as the air we breathe, and therefore there is no excuse for anyone who does not accept the new life in Christ. Whoever clings to the old life of sin must necessarily go to destruction, suffering the same penalty for sin that God himself suffered.MISM February 1902, page 62.2


    You say that this implies that forgiveness was offered even to Satan. Of course it does; who that knows the character of God can doubt it? It is true that the proclamation of the gospel has no reference whatever to him, and that he is not on probation, for the reason that the offer to him was made and rejected, and his place in heaven was forfeited, before man was created. The case of all the angels was decided, and “the angels that kept not their first estate,” had departed from the light of heaven into “everlasting chains of darkness,” before man saw the light.MISM February 1902, page 63.1

    In being made flesh Christ “taketh not hold of angels.” But the tender mercies of God are over all his works, and we may be sure that he did not allow “the anointed cherub that covereth” to leave his presence for ever, without making every effort possible to save him. That was to offer himself, which was the most perfect and the only way that he could disprove Satan’s charge that he was mindful only of himself and regardless of others. It was not, however, merely to disprove Satan’s charge, that God made the sacrifice. He did it because he is love, and love cannot be satisfied without the fullest and most perfect manifestation of itself. He did it not merely that certain lost ones might be saved, but that the millions of unfallen beings might have a sure ground of trust. Righteousness, which means forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9), is the foundation of his throne.MISM February 1902, page 63.2

    Now the sacrifice has been made, and God has shown that He has no complicity with sin and is not in the remotest sense the accomplice of sinners, although all sin has been committed with his life. Now, having taken the responsibility of all sin upon himself, and having given his life as an atonement for it, he can justly destroy the one who originated it, and who has obstinately continued in it. Whoever continues in sin voluntarily chooses the death which the sinful life justly merits, and which God himself suffered. Through death Christ has won the right and power to destroy “him that had the power of death,” and at the same time to deliver all who are bound.MISM February 1902, page 63.3


    And right here comes in that which lifts this study out of the range of formal theological disquisition, and makes it most intensely personal and practical. Here is our encouragement: He who has won the power to destroy him that had the power of death, has won the power to abolish death itself. The offering was nothing less than the life that upheld the universe, so that the atonement having once been made, whosoever will may come. For His own sake God made the sacrifice, and whoever will consent to link his case with God’s, to be identified with him, may share all his gain. Sin must be destroyed; but “he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” The offering once for all embraces all. God can save the whole world as easily as one soul. Will you accept as yours by right, deliverance from Satan’s power, and take it now?MISM February 1902, page 63.4


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