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    August 11, 1890

    “The Sure Foundation” The Signs of the Times, 16, 31.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “He saith unto them, that whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-19.SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.5

    Two expressions in this passage, namely, “on this rock I will build my church,” and, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” have been the object of a great deal of controversy, and they often seriously trouble those who take no stock in the arguments for papal authority, which the Catholics try to draw from them. It is the object of this little study to focus the light of inspiration upon them, that they may be explained, “not in the words which man’s wisdom, teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.6

    First, as to the rock upon which the church of Christ is built. Is that rock the apostle Peter? Or is it something else? That it is not Peter, may be proved both by the text itself, and by the concurrent testimony of Scripture. It is doubtless well known that the proper name Peter signifies a stone. When Jesus first saw Simon, he said to him, “Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone,” or Peter. John 1:42. But perhaps it is not so generally known that the Greek word for Peter is entirely different from that which in Matthew 16:18 is translated rock. Of the former, petra, Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon says: “A piece of rock, a stone, and thus distinguished from petra.” This latter word, petra, where loose stones (petros) are not meant, but “masses of living rock torn up.”SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.7

    Now with these facts before us, who can say that Peter is the rock on which the church is built? He is a stone; but the church is not built on so unstable a foundation. Peter was a man of power, and was a mighty instrument in the hands of God to help build up the church; but it would never do to build that church upon a foundation which could waver in the least; and Peter at one time, long after this, wavered so greatly that Paul was obliged to rebuke him to the face. Galatians 2:11-14. A fearless man of God was Peter, yet only a fallible mortal. The church is built on a rock, a crag, on something that is fixed. The difference in the terms is alone sufficient to show that the apostle Peter is not the foundation of the church.SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.8

    Let us now see upon what, according to the inspired word, the church of Christ is actually built. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, we are told that the Israelites in the wilderness all drank the same spiritual drink; “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed went with them; and that Rock [petra] was Christ.” See also Psalm 18:2; 92:15.SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.9

    In Ephesians 2:20 we are taken a step farther. There the converted Gentiles are told that being now fellow-citizens with the saints, they are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.” This shows that Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built, as 1 Corinthians 10:4 shows that he is the Rock from which it derives its nourishment. If it be imagined from the wording of Ephesians 2:20, that the apostles are a part of the foundation, even then Peter is deprived of the position which the Catholic Church would give him as the sole foundation, the “apostles and prophets” being all included. But we shall see that the apostle does not mean that the apostles and prophets are a part of the foundation, but that the church is built upon the foundations upon which the apostles and prophets built, and which they, in a sense, laid. Thus, we read in 1 Corinthians 3:10-13:-SITI August 11, 1890, page 436.10

    “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, procious stones, wood, hay stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest.”SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.1

    Christ, then, and not Peter, is the foundation upon which the church is built. This will be seen more plainly still when it is remembered that the church existed in the wilderness of Sinai hundreds of years before the day of Peter. See Acts 7:38. When Moses identified himself with this church, he incurred the reproach of Christ. Hebrews 11:25, 26. The Rock from which they drank was the Rock upon which they were built.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.2

    In this connection it is interesting and profitable to note the words of Christ in closing the sermon on the mount. Having given his instruction, he said:-SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.3

    “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise men, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.4

    Here we learn how it is that we may build upon Christ, the Rock. It is by obeying his words. “The words that I speak unto you,” said Jesus, “they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. His words are divine, like himself, whether uttered with his own voice, or by the mouth of a prophet. In fact, Christ dwells in the word; for we read that he dwells in our heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17), and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. By receiving the words of Christ, therefore, we receive Christ himself; and so by building upon those words, we build upon Christ. The members of Christ’s true church, therefore, are those in whom the word of Christ dwells richly.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.5

    To build upon the words of Christ is to believe them so thoroughly that they are made a part of the life, and the mainspring of every action. When it is said that Abraham “believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6), the full meaning conveyed by the Hebrew is that Abraham built upon God. The same idea is found in 2 Chronicles 29:20, where we have the words of Joshua, “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” In reality he exhorted them to build upon the Lord, if they would be established; and contrariwise we have the words of Isaiah to Ahaz, that because he would not build upon the words of God, he should not be established. Isaiah 7:9. Compare these two texts with Matthew 7:24-27. Abraham built upon God, by doing just as God commanded him; for James tells us that Abraham’s obedience to the command to offer up Isaac was the fulfillment of the scripture which said, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” James 2:23.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.6

    Applying all this to the text under consideration, we see the force of Christ’s words. Peter, speaking for the twelve, said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ in saying, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,” puts himself, as the Rock of Ages, in direct contrast with Peter. As he said that whosoever should do his words would be building on the rock, so the church is built upon the acknowledgment of Christ as the Son of the living God. Not simple lip acknowledgment, but the acknowledgment of obedience.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.7

    The remainder of the text will be considered next week under the heading, “The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.8

    Romans 3:9-12” The Signs of the Times, 16, 31.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Before beginning the third chapter of Romans, we must make a very brief summary of the first two chapters, in order to get our bearings. The first chapter, after the comprehensive salutation, tells of Paul’s earnest desire to preach the gospel in Rome, because he is debtor to all men, and is not ashamed of the gospel; and this leads to the real opening of the epistle, in the statement that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, because in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. Then we are shown the justice of God in visiting wrath upon those whose ungodliness stands in the way of God’s truth, because from the things that are made they have full opportunity to know all that may be known of God. We are then told how those who once knew God lost their knowledge of him; and the depth of wickedness to which they fell is made known in few words. This closes the chapter. The second chapter opens with a scathing arraignment of all who know enough to condemn the wicked practices of the heathen, charging them with being in the same condemnation. The apostle goes on to show that none can escape the righteous judgment of God, who is no respecter of persons, but that Jew and Gentile alike must be judged according to the light that they have had; and the last half of the chapter brings the general charge contained in the beginning, directly home to the Jews, and shows that not only are they equally guilty with the Gentiles, but that they are in reality not Jews at all; by their violation of the law, their circumcision is made uncircumcision. Only those are Jews in whom there is no guile; and that only is circumcision which is of the heart.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.9

    The third chapter opens with a series of questions and answers, the questions being those which the apostle puts into the mouth of a supposed Jews, who objects to some of the positions taken in the preceeding chapters. Paul’s writings. Having stated a case and proved it by positive argument, he anticipates all possible objections, and thus presents the matter in the most vivid light. Many people misinterpret his argument, by assuming that the objections which he raises are his own, instead of regarding the questions as those raised by a supposed objector, which he quotes merely for the purpose of answering them. In this case we will examine the questions and answers in detail, and then view the conversation as a whole.SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.10

    The first question that arises after the apostle has stated that disobedience makes circumcision uncircumcision, that circumcision is of the heart, and that the Gentiles who keep the law are counted as Jews and circumcised, is, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?” This is a very natural question. The apostle’s answer is ready,-“Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”SITI August 11, 1890, page 442.11

    It will be understood that the word “circumcision” stands for the Jewish nation, as in Galatians 2:7-9 and Ephesians 2:11, so that the two parts of verse 1 are really one question, and that when Paul says that unto them were committed the oracles of God, he means the Jews, who were “called circumcision.” The “oracles of God” evidently mean the ten commandments. An oracle is a revelation or response made by the mouth of any divinity, whether heathen or not. The oracles of God are those revelations made by the mouth of God. This pre-eminently applies to the ten commandments, and then to the whole Bible as an expansion of that law. Stephen spoke of Moses as having “received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Acts 7:38. The holy of holies in the temple was called the oracle (1 Kings 6:19, 20), because it was solely for the purpose of containing the ark which held the ten commandments. They are the “lively” or “living” oracles, because “the word of God is quick [living], and powerful.” Hebrews 4:12. The law was ordained to life (Romans 7:10), and obedience to it secures life (Matthew 19:17). It is the moral representation of the living God, and is the foundation of that throne which is itself alive (Ezekiel 1), and out of which proceeds the river of life. Revelation 22:1.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.1

    To the Jews was granted the inestimable honor of being the depositaries of this law. See article entitled, “The Advantage of the Jew,” pages 410, 411 of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES of July 14. It was a great thing to be the people chosen by the Lord to make known his truth among the nations of earth. The law was not committed to them because they were so much better than other people; but because of Abraham’s faithfulness, and God’s promise to him, God honored his children in a special manner. They were “beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” Romans 11:28. It was not that God had more interest in the salvation of other people, that he committed his law to them, for he is no respecter of persons, and he loved the world; but he committed the law to them in the line of the fulfillment of his covenant with Abraham; and he showed his great desire for the salvation of other nations, by giving his chosen missionary people the prestige of all his mighty acts.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.2

    But the Jews did not appreciate the honor thus bestowed upon them. Not only did they refuse to do the work assigned them, but they neglected to keep the law themselves. For their disobedience they were delivered into the hands of their enemies, and in captivity were compelled to do that which they might have done as the honored and feared of all nations. By the godly life of some of the Jews, who in captivity were advanced to high positions, the heathen learned of the true God and his laws; and the kings Nebuchadnezzar and Darius proved themselves more worthy to be depositaries of God’s law than the kings of Israel had. See Daniel 4, and 6:25-28.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.3

    Nevertheless God did not entirely degrade the Jews from the high position to which he had advanced them. To his servant Daniel he gave a vision in which he confirmed the promised restoration of the Jews to their own land, and assured them that from the time of the going forth of the decree of restoration, four hundred and ninety years should be allotted to the Jewish nation, in which they could prove themselves loyal to the high trust committed to them. See Daniel 9:24-27. This four hundred and ninety years was to cover the period of Christ’s earthly ministry. But in spite of God’s long-suffering kindness, the Jews proved themselves unfaithful. It is true that they never again relapsed into open idolatry; but they shut themselves up to themselves, and built a partition between themselves and those whom they should have mingled with to instruct. While making their boast in the law, through breaking it they dishonored God; and finally they filled up the measure of their iniquity by rejecting the Son of God himself. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11. Still, as God had given his word, it was needful that the gospel should first be preached to them; but when they not only refused to help on the work, but judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, they were left with nothing but the memory of a wasted opportunity.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.4

    So much for the advantage of the Jew. It was necessary to devote this much space to it, for there is a widespread misunderstanding in regard to it. Comparatively few realize that it consisted chiefly in an opportunity to do good, and not in simply having good things showered upon them. If the Jews had been faithful to their trust, they would have proved that the greatest blessing that God can bestow on any people in this life is to give them an opportunity of working with and for him. E. J. W.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.5

    (Concluded next week.)

    “The Ten Lepers. Luke 17:11-19” The Signs of the Times, 16, 31.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Luke, August 17, 1890, p. 17.)

    In the record of the healing of the ten lepers we have, as in the record of all miracles, proof of the divinity of Christ, and an aid to that faith which will give us eternal life. These miracles are recorded that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through his name. John 20:31. In this miracle we see in an especial manner the depth of the love of God, for we see it bestowed on those who had no appreciation of it. From a study of this miracle we shall receive additional proof in the Scripture that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.6

    Leprosy is one of the most loathsome of diseases. It is constitutional, involving the whole system. It may be said to be a living, progressive death, in that, one after another, the different members of the body lose all sensibility, and finally drop off, the disease inevitably ending in death. It is a disease incurable by any means known to man. So loathsome is it that it forever shuts away its victim from the society of the uninfected.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.7

    In all these things it is a fitting type of sin. Sin is a constitutional disease-a disease affecting the whole system. The Lord says to those who have departed from him, and loaded themselves with sin: “Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Isaiah 1:5, 6. It is incurable by any means known to man. “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Proverbs 20:9. “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” Job 9:20. “For though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God.” Jeremiah 2:22. If a person is diseased in only one member, that member may be cut off, and the spread of the disease be checked in that way, if it is incurable; but when the vital organs are diseased, and the whole body is affected, there is no hope. As the leprosy separates its victims from the society of the pure, so with sin. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” Isaiah 59:2. It is possible, says one who has seen much of leprosy, for lepers who have means to secure such medical treatment as removes most of the external signs of the disease. So sinners may by their works outwardly appear unto men to be righteous, but within they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity, and all uncleanness.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.8

    But although the leprosy is so loathsome and so dangerous, Jesus did not fear it, not did he shrink from contact with it. “And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2, 3. It was not because leprosy was pleasant to Jesus that he touched the leper; we cannot suppose that it was any more attractive to him than to other people. But his love for men was so great that he would touch the leper, in spite of his loathsomeness, that he might cleanse him from it. So sin is not pleasant to the eyes of God; it is most loathsome. Even to our eyes it often appears hideous; how much more so must it seem to the pure and holy God. Nevertheless he so loved men that “he was made in all things like unto his brethren,” that he might purify them. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. In this we may behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.9

    “He saw me ruined in the fall,
    Yet loved me, not withstanding all;
    He saved me from my lost estate;
    His loving-kindness, oh, how great!”
    SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.10

    The readiness of Jesus to touch the poor leper, and the speedy cure which followed, are designed to show to us his willingness to receive sinners, and his power to cleanse form all unrighteousness.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.11

    It was not necessary, however, that Jesus should actually put forth his hand and touch the diseased person, in order to heal him. The centurion whose servant was sick of the palsy, and who begged Jesus to heal him, understood this. See Matthew 8:5-13. So in the case under consideration, Jesus did not touch the lepers, but healed them with a word. From the case already cited, we know that this was not because he shrank from the contact. It must be to teach us the lesson that the centurion had already learned, that Jesus can speak the word, and heal at any distance. We cannot see him; we cannot feel his physical presence; yet all power is given unto him in heaven and earth, and from the height of his sanctuary, from heaven, his dwelling-place, he can heal as well as when he was present in person.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.12

    “And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” The command to go show themselves unto the priests was in accordance with the Mosaic law. See Leviticus 14:1-20. They were full of leprosy, yet they were commanded to go show themselves to the priests, as though they were cleansed. “And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” Their faith was shown in their acting as though they were cleansed before they had any outward evidence of it. Thus they demonstrated the two scriptures, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1), and, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Faith makes its own way.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.13

    “The steps of faith
    Fall on the seeming void, and find
    The rock beneath.”
    SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.14

    One of the ten turned back to glorify God and gave thanks. “Whoso offereth praise,” says the Lord, “glorifieth me.” Psalm 50:23. Ten lepers were cleansed, but only one returned to give thanks. Very many blessings are lost to men through unthankfulness. The men who once knew God, yet glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, lost their knowledge of God, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21. The nine lepers who returned not to give glory to God were cleansed, and God did not withdraw the healing because they did not appreciate it. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45. Yet they could not have failed to lose much that the thankful one received. Jesus said to him, “Arise, to thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” This seems to imply wholeness in a special sense. It can mean nothing less than healing both of body and soul. It is easy to see why there was this difference between him and the others. By their failure to give thanks, they showed that they were prompted only by a selfish desire for health. Having received health, they cared nothing for the beautiful Giver. Of course those who thought no more of the Lord than that, could not have received the fullness of divine blessing. And so we see right here what they lost by their failure to glorify God; they shut themselves away from his choicest blessing.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.15

    Another practical lesson may be learned from this affair. It is this, that Christ did not confine his good offices to those who had living, saving faith in him, or who would be his disciples. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) because that was his nature. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:12. It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4); and so Christ, in the fullness of his love and goodness, went about a blessing to all. How often we read that “he was moved with compassion.” He could not see suffering without wishing to alleviate it; and so he healed all who would allow him to do anything for them. Some were drawn by his goodness to believe in him to the saving of their souls, while others forgot him. Thus it is now; but if we consider Jesus in this light, as doing good to all, and not simply to those who were or would be his disciples, and then remember that this was but a manifestation of the love of God, we shall have a higher appreciation of that love, and will the more readily incline to yield to such unselfish goodness. E. J. W.SITI August 11, 1890, page 443.16

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