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    July 3, 1884

    2 Samuel 7:1-16” The Signs of the Times, 10, 26.

    E. J. Waggoner

    NOTES ON THE INTERNATIONAL LESSON.
    JULY 20 - 2 Samuel 7:1-16.

    “And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies.” Verse 1. At what time this was it is impossible to determine; probably not long after the events recorded in the preceding chapter. “That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.” Verse 2. This is the first mention of Nathan the prophet, who seems to have been David’s constant adviser. He must have been considerably younger than David, for we read (1 Chronicles 29:29) that he wrote a history of the acts of David, and in 2 Chronicles 9:29 that he did the same for Solomon’s reign. It is not certain, however, from this latter passage, that he outlived Solomon, for it may be that the writings of the two writers referred to are supplementary. That he was a true prophet is evident from the plain rebuke which he administered to David, as recorded in the twelfth chapter.SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.1

    It may not be amiss to notice, in passing, the statements in 1 Chronicles 29:2 and 2 Chronicles 9:29. None of these records by Nathan, Samuel, and Gad, Ahijah, and Iddo, are now extant. Nothing more is known of them than the brief mention in the above verses. Yet there is not the slightest doubt but that they were just as much inspired as were any of the records that we have. Why they were allowed to be lost, we cannot tell, nor does it concern us. The simple fact is that much has been written by inspiration that has not been given to us. In Jeremiah 36 we have an instance of a message directly from the Lord, which was not preserved for us. Of course these things were not of especial importance to us, else they would have been preserved. God has given us, in his word as committed to us, everything that is necessary to enable us to do his will; until we have put in practice all that we have received, it ill becomes us to find fault with him for not giving us more of the same kind of instruction.SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.2

    “And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.” Verse 3. Nathan was a true prophet, and one who was intrusted with important messages from the Lord; yet on this occasion he gave advice that was directly contrary to the mind of the Lord. This does not show any evil intention on his part, but simply that prophets were not inspired at all times. David’s plan was a laudable one, and reasoning from a human standpoint no objections to it could be seen. But Nathan did not know the mind of the Lord on this subject. If there was any blame attaching to him; it was simply in giving his own opinion before asking counsel of the Lord.SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.3

    At all events we read of no rebuke administered; but that very night “the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build meet an house for me to dwell in?” The words, “Shalt thou build me an house?” are equivalent to “Thou shalt not build me an house.” Thus in Psalm 95:10, margin, we have the literal rendering “If they shall enter into my rest,” meaning, “they shall not enter into my rest.”SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.4

    From 1 Chronicles 22:5-10, it is evident that much more was told to David than is here recorded. David there tells Solomon that the reason why he himself was not allowed to build a house of the Lord was that he had shed blood abundantly, and made great wars. From the further statement that Solomon, to whom would be intrusted the work of building the temple, would be a man of peace, and that there should be rest and quietness in Israel all his days, we may suppose that it was not simply the wars that David had made, but also those which he was yet to make, that made it improper for him to build the Lord’s house. Besides the fact that David had shed much blood, the fact that the kingdom was not yet fully established, was an objection, because he would be liable to interruption in the work by enemies. To him it was given to conquer the enemies of Israel, and settle the affairs of the kingdom on a solid basis, so that his successor might prosecute the work undisturbed.SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.1

    The readiness with which the prophet recalled his first advice, at the command of the Lord, is worthy of note. He did not let a false pride keep him from telling the Lord’s message, even though he was compelled to contradict his previous advice. As we look at the case, we can readily see how much better it was for Nathan to do so than to the demur; for in the latter case he would suffer the additional qualification of having his counsel contradicted by some other prophet, and he himself perhaps degraded from his office. Yet we are not always able to reason so clearly in our own cases. We should ever be thankful to God when he gives us an opportunity to correct our own mistakes, and should esteem it one of his greatest blessings that he points them out to us. E. J. W.SITI July 3, 1884, page 406.2

    “Condemned and Justified” The Signs of the Times, 10, 26.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the two preceeding articles on the law we have considered it simply in the light of Christ’s declaration to the young man: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” No one who contemplates the breadth of the law, and believes the inspired statement that it is perfect-the righteousness of God-can feel disposed to deny the statement of the wise man, that to fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man. Obedience to a perfect law must produce a perfect character, and perfection is all that can be required of anybody.SITI July 3, 1884, page 408.1

    But while we have been making these statements upon the authority of the Bible, some reader has doubtless called to mind the fact that Paul says that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified;” and he wants this harmonized with what has been said; or, possibly, he may think that it entirely overthrows our argument. We will examine it. The passage in full reads thus: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20.SITI July 3, 1884, page 408.2

    To understand this verse we must take it in its connection. But first, to the verse itself. Why can no flesh be justified in the sight of God by the deeds of the law? The last clause of the verse gives the answer: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Well, why does the fact that the law gives the knowledge of sin make it impossible for any one to be justified by it? Read from the ninth verse onward, and you will see. Paul says: “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” This he has done in the first and second chapters. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12. After particularizing somewhat on this point, the apostle says: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Verse 19. Then follows the conclusion, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”SITI July 3, 1884, page 408.3

    Now we can see the force of Paul’s conclusion. Since the law gives us the knowledge of sin, by pointing it out, it condemns the whole world, for there is no man that has not sinned; all the world are guilty before God. And this is a sufficient reason why no one can be justified by the law. The law that justifies a criminal is a bad law; but the law of God is “holy, and just, and good;” it will not justify a sinner.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.1

    Let us illustrate this by a familiar example. Here is a man who has been taken in the act of robbing a store. He is brought into court for trial. Now will he stand up before the judge, and declare that he wants no counsel; that all he desires is simple justice, and then demand that the law be read, and declare his willingness to rest his case upon that alone? Certainly not, unless he desires to live in prison. He knows that the law does not justify any man in committing robbery; and he will therefore seek in every way possible to evade it. But there is no possibility of evading the law of God, and consequently all the world stands condemned. No one can fail to see that if the law justified sinners, then sin would cease to be sin; theft, murder, and adultery would be legal acts, and anarchy would prevail and be confirmed throughout the land.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.2

    If, however, an innocent man is accused of a crime, he may with all confidence appeal to the law. He does not wish to have anybody turn aside the law from its true meaning. He is anxious that his acts be compared with the plain reading of the law. And when that law is read, it justifies him, because he has done nothing but what it commends. By these two examples we see the working of a good law: it condemns the guilty, and justifies the one who has scrupulously obeyed its requirements. That this is the case with the law of God is seen by our Saviour’s words: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:20, 21.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.3

    It is plain that under no circumstances can a good law justify crime. The man may say, “This is the first time I ever violated the law.” But the judge would reply, “You ought not to have violated it this time; perfect obedience is what the law requires.” Or if he professes his determination to keep the law strictly forever afterward, that will not justify his sin, for he never can do more than his duty, and thus make up for past neglect. Whichever way he turns, the law stands in his way condemning him. Now shall we say that because the law thus condemns sin it is unworthy of respect, and ought to be abolished? By no means; no one but a confirmed reprobate would desire such a thing. The fact that it condemns the sinner shows it to be a good law, and lovers of the right will rejoice to see it maintained.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.4

    The position, then, thus far, is this: To keep the commandments is the whole duty of man; it is only by keeping them that we can have eternal life. But no man has kept them, neither can any man show a perfect record in this respect. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. How, then, it may well be asked, can any one be saved? How can we become justified? The answer comes: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.5

    Christ was sinless; the law was in his heart. As the Son of God his life was worth more than those of all created beings, whether in Heaven or on earth. He saw the hopeless condition of the world, and came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. To do this he took upon himself our nature, Hebrews 2:16, 17; and on him was laid “the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. In order to save us, he had to come where we were, or, in other words, he had to take the position of a lost sinner. Thus the apostle says: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. It was this fact that caused him such anguish in the garden. He felt that the sins upon him were shutting him away from God. It was this that caused him, when hanging on the cross, to utter that cry of bitter agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It was not physical pain that crushed the life out of the Saviour of the world, but the load of sin which he bore. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. Sin will cause the death of every one who is not freed from it, for “sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15. And because Christ was “numbered with the transgressors,” he suffered the penalty of transgression.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.6

    But the suffering of Christ was not on his own account. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22. He was one who could safely appeal to the law to justify him, for he had never violated it. The law had nothing against him. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5. He alone has done more than his duty-more than was required of him; consequently he has merit to impart to others. This grace is freely given to all who believe in him. Thus: Our past life has been nothing but sin, for whatever good we may have thought to do, it was far from perfect. But we believe implicitly in Christ, and have faith in the efficacy of his sacrifice; and because of this simple faith, Christ will take our load of sins upon himself, and we will be accounted as though we had never committed them. He can take them without fear of any evil consequences to himself, because he has already suffered the extreme penalty of the law for them. And since our sins are taken from us, we are as though we had never broken the law, and therefore it can have nothing against us-it cannot condemn us. So we stand before the court justified. Justified by what? By our works? No; justified by faith in Christ. Our works condemned us; Christ has justified us. And so Paul’s conclusion is true, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.7

    We now see that Paul does not contradict himself when he says (Romans 2:13), “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified,” and when he says (Romans 3:20), that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.” Both are true. The doers of the law are always justified, as we have before shown, and the only reason why there is no one who is justified by the law is because there is no one who has done all the law.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.8

    In this article we have given only a brief outline of the way by which the sinner is justified. In subsequent articles we shall consider his relation to the law after he is justified, and also how, although no one is justified by the law, our Saviour’s words apply with equal force to all, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” E. J. W.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.9

    “The Promise of His Coming” The Signs of the Times, 10, 26.

    E. J. Waggoner

    That there was once upon this earth a man called Jesus of Nazareth, scarcely anyone will now deny. Whatever conflicting views different ones may hold concerning his nature and office, all agree on this one fact. That he was taken, “and by wicked hands crucified and slain,” is quite generally conceded. All, however, are not aware that the admission of these facts is virtually an admission of the inspiration of the Bible, but so it is. Those very things, which no human wisdom could foresee, were recorded by holy prophets hundreds of years before they occurred. This fact shows that those prophets were inspired, or, as Peter declares, they “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.10

    But this much being true, we must admit further that that which they wrote of the mission of Jesus was also true. Paul sums it up in brief when he says that “to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43. Christ is, then, as all Christians agree, the “only begotten Son of God;” he is “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;” he is the divine Word that, having been with God in the beginning, was made flesh and dwelt upon the earth. John 1. The incidents of his life, his subjection to his parents, his baptism, his temptation in the wilderness, his wonderful teachings, his marvelous miracles showing at once his tenderness and his power, his betrayal and crucifixion, and finally his triumphant resurrection and ascension to Heaven,-these are familiar to hundreds of thousands.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.11

    Aside from his wonderful sacrifice, which demands the unending love of all creatures, the character of Jesus as a man was most lovable. His disciples who had been with him night and day for more than three years, had learned to love him devotedly, both for what he was and what he promised them. On him all their hopes centered. Their feelings were well expressed by Peter, who, when they were asked if they would leave Jesus, said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” We can imagine, then, to some extent, their grief when Jesus said to them: “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” John 13:33. It was the blasting of all their hopes; their hearts were filled with anguish. Jesus, whom they loved, was to go away, and even though they should lay down their lives for him, he would not take them along.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.12

    But the compassionate Saviour would not leave his children in torturing suspense. Noticing their despondent looks, he said: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.13

    “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” What can these words mean, but that the words which he was about to utter were the words of God himself, true and unchangeable? Whatever this promise means, then, it will as surely be fulfilled as that God is a God of truth. We can rely upon it implicitly.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.14

    And now as to the meaning of the promise. How could it be made more clear? The gist of it is contained in these simple words: “I will come again.” He was here then, a real being. The word “again,” meaning “once more,” implies a repetition of the same thing. That is, that he would come in the same form in which he then was,-glorified, of course, as we shall see,-but a real, tangible being,-Jesus of Nazareth. There is a great deal contained in the three verses which we have quoted, but at present we are concerned only with the simple fact that Christ has pledged his word to come again.SITI July 3, 1884, page 409.15

    The time which Jesus spent on this earth, from his birth in Bethlehem until his ascension from the Mount of Olives, is known as the first advent, or coming of Christ. There is no question but that he had been upon the earth many times before, but that was his first appearance in connection with the great plan of salvation. And so, although he has since been on earth continuously, by his representative, the Holy Spirit, his second coming must be limited to that one mentioned in the promise, “I will come again.” This promise cannot be fulfilled by anything except by his personal presence in glory. It will be his second coming in connection with the great plan of salvation-this time to complete the work by taking his people to himself.SITI July 3, 1884, page 410.1

    That we are not mistaken in saying that Christ in comforting his disciples, gave promise of a second coming, is proved by the words of Paul, in Hebrews 9:27, 28: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” This places the matter beyond dispute.SITI July 3, 1884, page 410.2

    This text also settles another much mooted question, that of a future probation. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment.” How long after death the Judgment takes place must be determined by other texts. The general truth is stated that men die but once, and that after that their future fate is determined by the Judgment. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” That is, since men have but one life,-one probation,-which ends with their death, so Christ was only once offered. His offering had reference only to men in this present life. If man was to have two or more probations, then it would be necessary for two or more offerings to be made in his behalf; but there was only one offering. At his advent, Christ was offered “to bear the sins of many.” The Lord “laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6. “In his own body” he bore our sins on the tree. 1 Peter 2:24. In order to save us from sin, he was made to be sin (2 Corinthians 5:21); the innocent One was counted as guilty in order that the guilty might be accounted innocent. The benefits of this sacrifice are now free to all who will accept it, while Jesus is pleading its merits before the Father. But when he comes “the second time,” he will be “without sin;” he will then no longer act as substitute for sinners; no longer will he assume any responsibility in their behalf. The sins of the righteous will have been blotted out, and those of the impenitent rolled back upon their own heads. There can then be no more probation for them unless Christ should again take upon himself their sins and make another sacrifice; for there is no salvation in any other. Acts 4:12. And since Christ makes but one offering, it follows that their sins remain upon them, to sink them into perdition.SITI July 3, 1884, page 410.3

    In the texts already quoted, there is sufficient proof that the promised coming is not at the death of the saints, neither the conversion of sinners. He appears “to them that look for him;” to those who “love his appearing.” And this coming is not death, for it is only the “second” coming; if death were that coming, then there would be many millions of comings, for not an instant of time passes in which men do not die. He said that he would come “again;” now we submit that this can with no propriety be applied to death, unless his first coming was death, and they were all dead when he was speaking for “again” signifies repetition.SITI July 3, 1884, page 410.4

    But we have an inspired comment on this point in the last chapter of John. Christ had just signified to Peter by what death he should glorify God, when that disciple, turning about, saw John following, and asked, “What shall this man do?” “Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” Verse 22. Now if the coming of Christ is at the death of his saints, these words of Christ are equivalent to this: “If I will that he live until he dies, what is that to thee?” But such a substitution makes utter nonsense of the passage. Then when Christ spoke of his coming, he had no reference whatever to death. This will be still more evident as we consider texts that describe the manner of his coming. E. J. W.SITI July 3, 1884, page 410.5

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