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    August 7, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School” The Signs of the Times, 10, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner


    1. What events did Christ name as signs of this coming?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.1

    2. What have as to their fulfillment?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.2

    3. How surely do these signs prove his coming to be near?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.3

    4. What expression shows the nearness of the coming?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.4

    5. What did the Lord say would not pass before his words would be fulfilled? Verse 34.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.5

    6. To what generation must he refer?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.6

    7. Cite another instance where the term “this generation” issues with reference to a people not living at the time. Psalm 95:8-10.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.7

    8. What reason had the disciples for not expecting the Lord’s coming in their day? Matthew 24:4-8.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.8

    9. What was Paul’s teachings on this point? 2 Thessalonians 1:2.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.9

    10. What did he say must first come? Verses 3, 4.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.10

    11.Why may we be so confident that the Lord will, in this generation? Matthew 24:35.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.11

    12. Can any man tell the exact time when the Lord will come? Verse 36.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.12

    13. Show how we may know a thing to be near, and yet not know just when it will come.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.13

    14. Are we to expect that all will heed these signs of Christ’s coming? 2 Peter 3:3, 4.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.14

    15. Will the last days be days of quiet to the humble Christian? 2 Timothy 3:1.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.15

    16. What will make the last days perilous? Verses 2-4.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.16

    17. To what time does Christ liken the days immediately preceding his coming? Matthew 24:27.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.17

    18. How wicked were the people in the days of Noah? Genesis 6:5.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.18

    19. Upon what were they wholly intent? Matthew 24:38, 39.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.19

    20. Against what does Christ warn us? Luke 21:34.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.20

    21. In what condition does he say we must be? Luke 12:35, 36.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.21

    22. Can we be said to be waiting for that which we are not prepared to receive?SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.22

    23. Since the times are dangerous, and we know not how soon the Lord will come, what are we expected to do? Mark 13:37.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.23

    24. While waiting and watching what else must we do? Luke 21:36.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.24

    There are some things that all men may know. There are others which are concealed, concerning which it is useless for man to inquire. It is written: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29. This is perfectly reasonable. If the Lord has revealed a thing, it is most certainly for our benefit. Whenever, therefore, we find definite statements in the Bible concerning any event, we may speak of that event with the utmost positiveness to the extent that the statements are made. Now let us apply this to the subject of the Lord’s coming. We know, (1) That the Lord will come again. We have his own word for that. (2) That his second coming will be as literal as his first,-“this same Jesus,”-and that it will be so glorious, and accompanied with such manifestations that no one can be ignorant of it. Matthew 24:27; Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. (3) That before his coming certain signs will take place. (4) That these signs, as recorded in Matthew 24, and learned in our last lesson, are the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars. (5) That these signs have actually taken place in the exact manner foretold by our Saviour. We do not obtain our knowledge of any of the above things by any process of reasoning, but by plain statements of fact. There is yet one thing more that we may know, that we are commanded to know. The Lord, after having informed the disciples of the signs above-mentioned, said: “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [margin, he, that is, Christ] is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. We are to know it just as certainly as we know that summer is near when the leaves begin to appear on the trees. There can, then, be no more doubt that the coming of the Lord is near, than there is that the stars fell in 1833.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.25

    “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:34. There need be no difficulty in understanding this verse. He certainly did not mean to say that his coming would take place before the close of the generation then living, for that would be a contradiction of his own words in verses 4-8, and is directly contradicted by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8. Moreover, whoever claims that Christ did mean that he would come before that generation should pass, must also claim that the dead have been raised and the living translated. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. The fact that Christ has not yet come is sufficient proof that he did not predict an immediate coming. Then what did he mean? This can be answered by finding out of what time he was speaking. It was not of the time then present, for he was looking forward. He had spoken of the destruction of Jerusalem; he had described the 1260 years of papal supremacy, with its disastrous results to the people of God; and he had minutely described the signs that were to follow; the last of which took place, as we have seen, in 1833. Looking at that time, he said, “This generation shall not pass to all these things be fulfilled.” What things? The things recorded in verse. A similar use of the expression “this generation” is found in Psalm 95:10. There are hundreds of persons now alive who witnessed the falling of the stars in 1833. Does anybody doubt that some of that generation will be alive when the Lord comes? Hear what the Saviour says: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.26

    “But of that day and hour knoweth no man.” Here is one of the secret things that belong to God alone. The exact time has not been revealed; therefore we have nothing to do with it; it does not concern us. Yet our ignorance of the exact time does not in the least affect our knowledge of what is revealed, namely, that his coming is near. The farmer knows when summer is near, yet he cannot tell the day when it will be fairly open. We often speak of a friend as coming very soon, yet we do not know the exact time of his coming. After Christ has given us such unmistakable evidences of the nearness of his coming, it is not only foolish but wicked to pay no attention to them, simply because he has not revealed to us the day and hour.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.27

    The fact that comparatively few even of religious people believe in and teach the doctrine of the near coming of the Lord, is sometimes urged as proof that the doctrine cannot be true. If no one believed it, that would not invalidate the Scripture record in the least; the Scripture cannot be broken by the unbelief of man. But the fact that but few are looking for the Lord’s coming is one of the signs by which we may know that we are in the last days. Paul says that in the last days perilous times will come, because men shall be lovers of their own selves. 2 Timothy 3:1. Then he gives a list of special sins of which they will be guilty, and to show that he does not refer to the non-professing world, he says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.” Titus 1:16. And this is in the last days.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.28

    Moreover, our Saviour himself has given a description of the time immediately preceding his coming. He said: “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:26. To find, then, what will be a characteristic of the last days, we have only to read a description of the time just before the flood. Here it is: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5. Here is total depravity. If it had been otherwise the Lord would not have destroyed the people of that time. When the Lord comes it is to destroy the inhabitants of the earth. (The righteous are simply sojourners, and not dwellers.) But he would not destroy them unless they were incorrigibly wicked. We are therefore not to expect any great reformation before the coming of the Lord, or general preparation for that event. Yet the warning is to be given just as faithfully, and people are to be just as earnestly exhorted to repent, as though all were expected to reform. All must hear. “This gospel of the kingdom” must be preached to all the world for a witness. The world has not yet arrived at that state of wickedness described by our Saviour. It is the faithful preaching of the word that will call out the few that will turn to God, and harden the others in their rebellion. The preaching of truth always causes a division. Luke 12:52, 53. And when the word shall have been preached in all the world, separating men into the two classes, “then shall the end come.” It is for this alone that the coming of the Lord now waits. E. J. W.SITI August 7, 1884, page 470.29

    “Christ the End of the Law” The Signs of the Times, 10, 30.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In our last article, two weeks ago, we showed how it is that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” We wish to consider this matter a little further, for, as we then said, there is very much that might be said upon it. Indeed, the whole gospel is comprised in that one sentence; for the gospel is simply the good news of how men who have broken the law may be saved, through Christ, and enabled to keep it. In all our investigations let it be borne in mind that the righteousness of God is contained in his law (Isaiah 51:4-7), and that Christ is the end of the law only for righteousness, which is equivalent to saying that he is the object of the law for obedience.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.1

    We now call the attention of the reader very briefly to the seventh chapter of Romans. We have space to notice only a portion of the chapter. In that the apostle brings to view, using himself as an illustration, the progress of a man from a state of worldly, carnal security, to that of acceptance with God. Let us follow him in his narrative.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.2

    First we notice his statement in verse 7 that the law is not sin. This he proves by showing that it is the law which points out and forbids sin. Then, of course, it must be perfect. We can detect base coin only by using genuine coin as a standard. The parallel to this verse is found in chap. 3:20, where he says: “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” He continues, “For without the law sin was dead.” Verse 8. This is the statement of verse 7 in another form. Before the law was brought to his knowledge, he did not know sin; it did not trouble him any. Although he did not know the law, he was a sinner, yet his sin, so far as his knowledge was concerned, was dead.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.3

    “For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Verse 9. Without the law (“the commandment”) he was in a state of ease and carnal security, perfectly satisfied with himself. But when the law was applied, it made his sin assume hideous proportions. He saw himself just as he was. “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” Verse 10. How is this? The commandment (law) was ordained to life: that is, its object was to give life, which it will always do to those who obey it. “The man which doeth these things shall live by them.” Romans 10:5. This was the object of the law, but now that the law has been violated, it cannot fulfill the end for which it was designed; it can only condemn to death. Mark this well; around this fact the whole argument centers.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.4

    And how did the apostle regard that law which, by showing him to be such a sinner, had condemned him to death? Said he: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Verse 12. He acknowledged the perfectness of the law. And herein he showed his honesty of heart. He did not rail at the law, applying to it all manner of opprobrious epithets, and try to evade it or convince himself that it was abolished. No; he confessed himself a sinner, justly condemned by a perfect law. He recognized the fact that the law had done nothing to him: it had not created in him, but had simply brought to light that which previously existed. The effect of introducing the law is to make sin appear exceeding sinful. It is as a rod thrust to the bottom of a vessel of water, which roils the water by stirring up the sediment that lay in the bottom, yet it creates no impurity whatever. The dirt would be there if the rod were not introduced; therefore Paul did not complain, for he knew that the fault was in himself, and not in the law. So he exclaims: “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.”SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.5

    In verse 9 Paul anticipates his argument, when he says, “And I died.” This was the final result in his ease. What does he mean by this? In the light of the preceding verse the answer is clear. When he was alive, it was when he was without the law-lawless; a servant of sin. Death is the direct opposite of life; therefore when the commandment came, and he died, it must mean that he yielded to the claims of the law, and ceased sinning. And this will be the result with every one who is as honest with himself as Paul was. This is conversion. But as before said, the apostle anticipates in order to place the effect side by side with the cause; he did not die without a struggle.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.6

    We have now the man before us as a convicted sinner, and here is his description: “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Verse 15. This verse is introduced by “for,” showing that it is a consequence of something that goes before. The preceding clause is, “But I am carnal, sold under sin.” Now what is the condition of a man who is sold into slavery? He is unable to do anything for himself. He may be conscious of the degradation of his position, and long to be free, but he is placed where he cannot help himself; his hands or feet are bound with a chain. Every sinner is in bondage. (See 2 Peter 2:19.) Before the law of God is held up before him, he is unconscious of his slavery; when he sees its claims, he arouses to a sense of his condition. But his struggle to break the galling chain is fruitless, because his long-continued bondage has weakened him. This struggle of the convicted sinner against sin is mentioned in several verses of this chapter.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.7

    “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Verses 16, 17. Here we have the case of a man convicted of sin by the law, conscientiously trying to keep it, and yet continually violating it, even against his will. “It is not I that do it,” he says; “I do not design to violate the law; but sin has bound me so long, and has such power over me, that I cannot get free.” It is no longer from desire that he sins, but from the force of habit which he cannot break.SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.8

    And so the fruitless struggle goes on, until the man in an agony of despair, exclaims: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Verse 24. We cannot imagine a more horrible condition than the one here brought to view. In ancient times a criminal was sometimes chained to the dead body of a man, and forced to drag the putrefying carcass wherever he went, until the effluvium caused him to die a miserable death. Think of the desperate attempts such a man would make to get free, and how frantic he would become as he realized the impotence of his arm as compared with the chain that bound him. How his whole soul would go out in that piteous cry, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” How many are there who have felt themselves in such a condition under the load of sin?SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.9

    It is in this condition the apostle (the representative of a class) finds himself. He feels that sin is about to sink him into perdition, and, convinced of the hopelessness of his struggle, he cries out for deliverance, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Immediately the question is answered, and he again exclaims, this time with transports of joy, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” As soon as he realizes his own inability to meet the demands of the law, Christ is presented to his view, and he at once accepts deliverance from the only one who can give it. Christ strikes off the chain, and sets the prisoner free. Not only does he forgive past transgressions, but he helps us to break the chains of habit, and overcome the love of sin. And then the apostle continues: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” The reason why there is not, is told in the following verses, in which it is said that he who is in Christ keeps the law of God; he “walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;” in other words, “he is a new creature.”SITI August 7, 1884, page 473.10

    This argument is not complete without verse 3 and 4 of the 8th chapter: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” What could not the law do? It could not justify any man, and give him life. Wherein lay its weakness? Not in itself, but in “the flesh.” It is the fault of man that the law condemns him, and not the fault of the law. The law cannot give life, because it has been violated. And in this extremity what did God do? He sent his own Son. What for? That the righteousness of the law (i.e., the law in its perfectness) might be accomplished by us. What we could not do while yet in bondage to sin, we may perform when we become free men in Christ.SITI August 7, 1884, page 474.1

    Righteousness is required of us, and that means that there is something for us to do, for righteousness is simply right doing. But Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Our own righteousness, that is, the good that we attempt to do by our own unaided efforts, amounts to nothing. It is not righteousness at all, but unrighteousness. When, however, we join the strength of Christ to our own weakness, we can truly say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” E. J. W.SITI August 7, 1884, page 474.2

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