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    September 2, 1886

    “Comments on Galatians 3. No. 9” The Signs of the Times, 12, 34.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We think the reader who has carefully followed us through the seventh of Romans and the third of Galatians, will have no difficulty in seeing how thoroughly the majesty of the law is vindicated throughout, and its perpetuity shown, and also how beautiful is the harmony between the law and the gospel. Right here we wish to quote a pertinent passage from John Wesley:-SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.1

    “It is the ordinary method of the Spirit of God, to convict sinners by the law. It is this, which being set home on the conscience, generally breaks the rock in pieces. It is more especially this part of the word of God which is quick and powerful, full of life and energy, and ‘sharper than any two-edged sword.’ This, in the hand of God and of those whom he hath sent, pierces through all the folds of a deceitful heart, and, ‘divides asunder even the soul and spirit;’ yea, as it were, the very ‘joints and marrow.’ By this is the sinner discovered to himself. All his fig leaves are torn away, and he sees that he is ‘wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.’ The law flashes conviction on every side. He feels himself a mere sinner. He has nothing to pay. His ‘mouth is stopped,’ and he stands ‘guilty before God.’SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.2

    “To slay the sinner is the first use of the law; to destroy the life and strength wherein he trusts, and convince him that he is dead while he liveth; not only under the sentence of death, but actually dead unto God, void of all spiritual life, ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ The second use of it is to bring him unto life, unto Christ that he may live. It is true, in performing both these offices, it acts the part of a severe schoolmaster. It drives us by force, rather than draws us by love. And yet love is the spring of all. It is the spirit of love which, by this painful means, tears away our confidence in the flesh, which leaves us no broken reed whereon to trust, and so constrains the sinner, stripped of all, to cry out in the bitterness of his soul, or groan in the depth of his heart,-SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.3

    ‘I give up every plea beside,-
    Lord, I am damned, but thou hast died.’
    SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.4

    “The third use of the law is to keep us alive. It is the grand means whereby the Holy Spirit prepares the believer for larger communications of the life of God. I am afraid this great and important truth is little understood, not only by the world, but even by many whom God hath taken out of the world, who are real children of God by faith. Many of these lay it down as an unquestioned truth that when we come to Christ we have done with the law, and that in this sense ‘Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth.’ ‘The end of the law’-so he is ‘for righteousness,’ for justification, ‘to every one that believeth.’ Herein the law is at an end. It justifies none, but only brings them to Christ, who is also, in another respect, the end, or scope of the law,-the point at which it continually aims. But when it has brought us to him, it has yet a farther office, namely, to keep us with him. For it is continually exciting all believers, the more they see of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, to exhort one another so much the more:-SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.5

    ‘Closer and closer let us cleave
    To his beloved embrace;
    Expect his fullness to receive,
    And grace to answer grace.”
    SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.6

    “Therefore, I cannot spare the law one moment, no more than I can spare Christ, seeing I now want it as much to keep me to Christ as I ever wanted it to bring me to him. Otherwise, this ‘evil heart of unbelief’ would immediatley ‘depart from the living God.’ Indeed, each is continually sending me to the other,-the law of Christ, and Christ to the law. On the one hand, the height and depth of the law constrain me to fly to the love of God in Christ; on the other, the love of God in Christ endears the law to me ‘above gold or precious stones.’”-Sermon 34, “Properties of the Law.”SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.7

    The above view of the law is a just one. But all have not so clear an understanding of the law and the gospel as Wesley had. Since some, following the lead of Dr. Clarke, have either confounded the moral law with the Levitical or ceremonial, or else have supposed that the third of Galatians refers principally to the ceremonial law, it may not be amiss to show briefly why it is impossible that the ceremonial law should be the subject of discourse in that chapter. A few points will suffice.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.8

    1. Paul says that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Verse 13. Now (a) There was nothing in the ordinances of the ceremonial law to condemn any one. Condemnation could come only through violation of the ten commandments. The ceremonial law was the sum of the gospel ordinances in the Jewish age. And there was no curse in any way attached to it, any more than there is to the gospel. It certainly did not curse those who carried it out with a sincere heart; for such, like David, offered “sacrifices of joy;” and those who neglected it and thus showed their unbelief, were condemned by the moral law alone, because of their sins; as Christ said, “he that believeth not is condemned already.” (b) Even admitting that the ceremonial law had a curse connected with it, or was itself a curse, “we” never had any connection with that law, and consequently could not be redeemed from it. (c) The Galatians, to whom this epistle was personally addressed, were chiefly converts from among the heathen, and had never had any connection with the ceremonial law. Therefore, although Paul might properly tell them to keep clear of it, he could not say that they had been redeemed from it. (d) The result of Christ’s being made a curse for us is “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” And the blessing of Abraham comes on the Gentiles only as they are redeemed from iniquity,-the transgression of the moral law.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.9

    2. Therefore “the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:22. Only the moral law could conclude men “under the sin.” There was nothing in the rites and ceremonies of the Levitical law that was of primary obligation,-nothing that could show men to be sinners.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.10

    3. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” Galatians 3:23. This is in no sense true of the ceremonial law. It did not precede faith, but followed it. No one ever heard of such a thing as the ceremonies of the Levitical law being performed by one who knew nothing of Christ. But it is true of all men that, before they have faith in Christ, they are “under the law,” condemned, and “shut up” to the faith which may be revealed to them, as the only means of freedom from condemnation.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.11

    4. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24. By no possibility can this refer to the ceremonial law. This text is sometimes read as though it said that the law was our schoolmaster to point us to Christ, and then it is asked, “What is there in the moral law that points to Christ?” The answer is, of course, that there is nothing. But the text says the law brings us to Christ. We have shown how the moral law does this, by giving the convicted sinner no rest until he flees to Christ. The ceremonial law, however, brought no one to Christ. It was simply the means by which those who already believed in Christ as the one who should be offered for sin, might indicate their faith in him. The ceremonial law comprised the gospel ordinances of the Jewish age. The order was, first the moral law to convict of sin and show the necessity for Christ, and then the rites of the ceremonial law to indicate and keep alive the faith that they already had. See Leviticus 4, noting especially verses 2, 13, and 27. Justification has reference only to the moral law. From the transgression of that, man needs justification; but the law cannot justify any sinner, it can only condemn. And so it drives him to Christ, that he may be justified by faith.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.12

    “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Galatians 3:25. But it was only after faith came that people had anything to do with the ceremonial law. Is there a man in this age who has more faith than Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Daniel, who all prophesied of Christ, and who looked to him for salvation? Those men “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Hebrews 11:33, 34. And yet all their lives long they performed the rites of the ceremonial law. If Galatians 3:25 refers to the ceremonial law, those faithful men ought never to have offered one of the sacrifices of that law. It was their faith, however, that led them to offer the sacrifices of the ceremonial law, as Paul says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Hebrews 11:4.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.13

    “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24. The past tense can be used here only by those who have come to Christ and have been justified by faith, as Paul shows in the next verse. Since the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, it must still be the schoolmaster (pedagogue) to those who are not in Christ, and must retain that office until every one who will accept Christ is brought to him. Therefore the law will be a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, as long as probation lasts. But the Levitical law passed away hundreds of years ago; therefore it cannot be the law referred to here. To put the matter briefly, we may say that if the law is a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, to divest it of that office while there are men still out of Christ, yet willing to come to him, would be to prematurely cut them off from hope of salvation.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.14

    We would by no means be understood as holding that the ceremonial law does not figure in the epistle to the Galatians. The controversy over the ceremonial law drew out the epistle. But there was in that controversy, which this epistle must have effectually settled for all candid minds, something deeper than the mere question whether or not men should be circumcised. Paul repeatedly asserts that it makes no difference whether or not a man is circumcised. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing.” But when men submitted to it as a means of justification, that moment it became a serious matter, for such an act is a rejection of Christ.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.15

    Suppose a man has accepted Christ and in him has been made “a new creature.” Now suppose that he is led to accept circumcision, or any other work, as a means of justification, thereby rejecting Christ; what will be the immediate result? He will at once go into sin; for out of Christ no man can by any possibility refrain from sinning. No matter to what heights of holiness a man may have attained, just as soon as he loses sight of Christ as his “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” he becomes carnal and cannot please God. This was the case with the Galatian brethren. They had been called into the grace of Christ; but some had troubled them with another gospel-a gospel of works and not of faith-which was no gospel at all, and by accepting it they had lost their faith in Christ, and consequently had become sinners “under the law.” And it is on this account that the apostle exclaims, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth (Compare Psalm 119:142, 151), before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:19) and again, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Galatians 5:7.SITI September 2, 1886, page 534.16

    But this is sufficient. We did not design to discuss the whole book of Galatians, but simply to show that it gives no comfort to the enemies of the law of God. We wish the reader to keep in view the main thought in our study,-that God desires that all men should be saved. His love is as boundless as the universe, and reaches to the least of his creatures. But he cannot endure it in his presence. Neither could the sinner be happy in the presence of the pure and holy God. Nay, more, it would be impossible for the sinner even to look upon God. Everything that dwells with God must be in perfect accord with him. But all men have violated his holy law, and are by it condemned to death. God has a glorious inheritance promised to the righteous, but who can obtain it? No one can make himself righteous. The sinner studies the law, and learns what sort of a character he ought to have, but that only condemns him the more. It provides no way of escape, but drives him toward the door of mercy, which is ever open. Then, instead of profitless struggles, being justified by faith he has peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the law proves to be the strongest ally of the promise by faith. And this tutorship it exercises until the Seed comes to whom and through whom the promise was made, and then God’s people being all righteous, it ceases to drive them. They are “in Christ,” and the law is in their hearts. In Christ they find everything. No need have they now to teach one another the way of truth, because the truth, is in their hearts. More than this, they are all taught of God, and their peace is like a river, constantly flowing. Fully reconciled to God, they see his face, and in his presence find fullness of joy, and at his right hand enjoy pleasures forevermore.SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.1

    Reader, “now is the accepted time: now is the day of salvation.” “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God;” but if with sincerity you pray with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” he will for Christ’s sake pardon all your iniquity, and then, being a new creature in Christ, you can say, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97. W.SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.2

    “The Only Sure Guide” The Signs of the Times, 12, 34.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Says the apostle Peter: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19. What does he mean by saying that we have a “more sure word of prophecy”? Does he mean that we have one word of prophecy that is more sure than some other word of prophecy? By no means, “for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (verse 21), and therefore it is all equally true. But the apostle has just before related the experience of the apostles with Christ in the mount of transfiguration, when they saw Christ in the glory which he will have when he comes again to earth, and they heard the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved Son.” The apostles were treated to a miniature representation of the coming of the Lord, and so Peter assures the brethren that he had been an eye-witness of the things which he made known to them. But, nevertheless, says he, “We have a more sure word of prophecy?” That is, the testimony of prophecy is more sure than the evidence of our senses. Therefore we must believe the prophecy, even though it is directly contrary to the evidence of our senses. He who thus accepts the Bible can never be deceived, while the one who trusts even his own senses in preference to the Bible will sooner or later surely be led into fatal error.SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.3

    “Feeding upon Christ” The Signs of the Times, 12, 34.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A friend asks what is meant by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ (John 6:53-57), and wishes to know if it has any connection with the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. In reply we would say that it evidently has the closest connection. Christ said: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” John 6:53-56. Now is evident that no man can literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, and this caused the unbelieving to choose to stumble. But Christ meant that by faith we should appropriate him to ourselves, and thus live godly lives for him, just as one lives physically by what he eats. Says Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. So Christ continues: “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” John 6:57. It is by faith that we have that close communion with Christ which enables us to live as he himself would live; for “the just shall live by faith.”SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.4

    The Lord’s Supper is the visible manifestation of this faith which thus appropriates Christ. When Christ broke bread, he said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” Then he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: for, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25. And Paul immediately adds: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup ye do showed the Lord’s death.” Verse 26. It is in the death of Christ, and our death and burial with him, that we are united to him. It is only in his broken body that we partake. And in partaking of the bread and the wine of the Lord’s Supper, we are fulfilling John 6:53-57 as literally as it is possible for us to fulfill it. Of course this is true only so far as the Lord’s Supper is partaken of understandingly, and not as a mere form. He who partakes of it as a mere matter of form, not discerning with the eye faith, the Lord’s body, eats and drinks damnation to itself. Such a person does not eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, but eats and drinks simply bread and wine, and of course does not comply with the divine command.SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.5

    Let no one, however, imagine that Christ’s words in John 6:53-57 can be fulfilled only when the Lord’s Supper is eaten. If the Christian is to live by Christ, and he can live in no other way, he must continually feed on Christ. A man cannot live a year, a month, or even a week without spiritual food anymore than he can live and grow physically without daily partaking of literal food. The true Christian abides in Christ, and Christ abides in him; there is daily and hourly communion. He does not receive Christ on a fixed or varying occasions, but Christ dwells in him; and so when he partakes of the Lord’s Supper, he indicates outwardly that union which always exists, and by that act his union by faith is strengthened. And thus living by Christ who lives by the Father, the Christian becomes “filled with all the fullness of God.” W.SITI September 2, 1886, page 535.6

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