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    July 26, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. Acts 11:19-30; 12:1-20” The Signs of the Times, 9, 28.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Lesson for the Pacific Coast-Aug. 4. Acts 11:19-30; 12:1-20.

    “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” These, as we learn from Acts 8:1, 4, were lay members, for the apostles remained in Jerusalem. They could not refrain from telling the wondrous truths that they had learned. This is in accordance with our Saviour’s injunction, “And let him that heareth say, Come.” The proof of their fitness to preach is found in verse 21, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” The enemies of the gospel thought they were crushing it out, when they drove the disciples away from Jerusalem, but instead of that they were causing it to spread. The enemies of the truth may rage, but God can cause even their wrath to praise him. Paul says, “We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.1

    We may learn a lesson from the course of these disciples under persecution. When Christians are in trouble they are too liable to think that God has forgotten them; but these disciples did not stop to pity themselves, and mourn over their hardships. And the results proved that God had an object in allowing this persecution to come upon them; he wanted to use them in his service. If they had murmured at their hard lot, how much they would have lost; they would not have been honored by God with the position in his service, and their selfishness might have resulted in the loss of many souls who, under the circumstances, received the truth at their hands. Who knows but that all who complain on account of trials lose just as much?SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.2

    “And some... spake unto the Grecians.” The Revised Version, following some of the best authorities, has “Greeks” instead of “Grecians.” And this seems the most harmonious. The most of them confined their labors to the Jews, but others, having less national prejudice, or a clearer view of the scope of the gospel, preached to the Gentiles also. The following remarks of H. Clay Trumbull in the Sunday-School Times, are pertinent:-SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.3

    “Christianity is sure to carry some men ahead of their age in the right direction. However the mass of those who are in the church may be bound by the common customs of the present, or by the blind traditions of the past, there will ever be more or less of radical and progressive reformers, who will do as others ought to do, instead of being content to do as others do do. From the days of the apostles this has been the way of moral and religious reforms; their beginning has been with the few extremists, rather than with the many, conservatists. So it was with modern missions, with the Sunday-school work, with the cause of temperance, and of anti-slavery, and of anti-church lotteries, and of anti-duelling; so it is with the progress of both religious and civil liberty; so it is with the now world-wide plan of uniform Bible study. So it is with prohibitory liquor legislation, with the battling of the anti-Chinese spirit, with the pressing of the anti-tobacco reform, and of the anti-church debt movement, and with a host of other good enterprises. Whatever may be the views or the practices of Christians generally, there are ‘some’ who have taken an advance position on these points, a position which they don’t propose to yield for anything short of death, for the second coming of our Lord.”SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.4

    When tidings of these things reached the church at Jerusalem, “they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” The object in sending our best was to assist and direct these disciples in their work. “As far as Antioch,” indicates that he should follow up the work in the various places for the scattered ones had preached. The preaching to the Gentiles may have struck the church in Jerusalem as an irregularity that must be checked. But when Barnabas arrived at the field of labor, he found that he had only to exhort the new converts to continue in the way as they had begun. When he saw the grace of God he was glad. He had no feelings of envy because the Gentiles had received the word, or because some humble persons had been the instruments of their conversion, “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.” The Bible never deals in flattery, and when it says of a man that he was good, means a great deal. The highest titles of honor that this world can bestow sink into insignificance in comparison with the words, “Thou good and faithful servant,’ when spoken by the King of glory.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.5

    “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” On the reason why Antioch should have been the place where this term was first used, “Conneybeare and Howson’s Life of Paul” says:-SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.6

    “As new converts in vast numbers came in from the ranks of the Gentiles, the church began to lose its ancient appearance of a Jewish sect, and to stand out in relief as a great self-existent community in the face both of Jews and Gentiles. Hitherto it had been possible, and even natural, that the Christians should be considered-by the Jews themselves, and by the Gentiles whose notice they attracted-as only one among the many theological parties which prevailed in Jerusalem and in the Dispersion. But when the Gentiles began to listen to what was preached concerning Christ,-when they were united as brethren on equal terms, and admitted to baptism without the necessity of a previous circumcision,-when the Mosaic features of this society were lost in the wider character of the New Covenant,-then it became evident that these men were something more than the Pharisees or Sadducees, the Essenes or Herodians, or any other sect or party among the Jews. Thus a new term in the vocabulary of the human race came into existence at Antioch about the year 44. Thus Jews and Gentiles, who under the teaching of Paul believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Saviour of the world, ‘were first called Christians.’”SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.7

    “Herod the King.” It is not to be wondered at that many persons find it difficult to distinguish between the several Herods mentioned in the New Testament. In character they were all alike,-slaves of lost ambition, and monsters of cruelty. This Herod was Herod Agrippa I., grandson of Herod the Great, who ordered the massacre of the infants, and nephew of Herod Antipas, who caused John the Baptist to be beheaded, and father of Herod Agrippa II., called simply Agrippa, Acts 26. The Herod under consideration is designated as “Herod the King,” because he was the first one since Herod the Great, who had ruled over Judea. On this, Paley, in his “Evidences” makes the following point:-SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.8

    “The accuracy of our historian, or rather the unmeditated coincidence which truth of its own accord produces, is in this instance remarkable. There was no portion of time, for thirty years before, or ever afterwards, in which there was a king at Jerusalem, a person exercising that authority in Judea, to whom that title could be applied, except the last three years of this Herod’s life, within which period the transaction recorded in the Acts is said to have taken place.”SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.9

    The death of James and the prospective death of Peter pleased the Jews. It seems that the church had lost some of that “favor with all the people,” which they gained soon after the day of Pentecost. The reason for this may be found in the fact that they were making many converts, and necessarily showing the errors of the Jewish Church. However much of the favor of the world the people of God may gain on account of their upright course, they may be sure that in time they will lose it for the same reason. The purer the lives and doctrines of God’s people, the more will they be heeded by the world, and an apostate church.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.10

    The antithesis in verses 4 and 5 of chapter 12 is worthy of notice. Peter was in prison with no prospect of coming forth until he was led to execution. He was constantly guarded by four soldiers, two of whom were in the cell with him, and two before the door. Added to this, he was chained to the two soldiers in the cell. There was no use of trying to bribe the guard, for should they allow him to escape their lives would be forfeited. All this was done by Herod; “but prayer was made without ceasing of the church under God” for Peter.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.11

    The disciples had no power to draw the bolts of Peter’s prison door, nor could they hope for any favor from the king, but they had a key that would admit them to the presence of the King of kings, before the weakest of whose messengers Herod’s whole army was as nothing. Well was it for Peter that the church could do nothing but pray.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.12

    Although the disciples had been earnestly and persevering praying for Peter, they could not believe that their prayers were answered. We are not to suppose that they had been praying without any faith, but that they did not expect that their prayers would be answered in that manner. They may have expected that the Lord would so move Herod’s heart that he would release Peter; at any rate it is evident that God did more for them than they had hoped. Their surprise, however, showed that they did not have that full faith that comes from an intimate acquaintance with God. It is as easy for him to do a great deed as a small one; nothing is too hard for him. Therefore we ought ask and expect great things from him.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.13

    “Then said they, It is his angel.” Why the disciples should think that Peter’s guardian angel should come to them, it is needless to inquire. In their surprise and excitement they themselves may not have been able to give a reason. But it is not out of place to state what the text does not mean. It does not mean “The angel Peter,” as we have seen it misquoted. Some commentators say that it was the belief among the Jews at that time that departed souls of good men officiated as ministering angels. Whether or not some Jews believed this is of no consequence, for it is certain that the Bible Christians entertained no such belief. The fact that Protestant commentators can now believe such a theory, gives a clue to the rapid spread of modern Spiritualism.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.14

    Angels are not departed dead men. This may be proved (1) by the fact that “the dead know not anything,” Ecclesiastes 9:5; that “their thoughts perish,” as soon as they die, Psalm 146:4; and that they know absolutely nothing about that which would concern them most if they were conscious, Job 14:21; Ecclesiastes 9:6; and (2) by the fact that angels were in existence before any man had died, Genesis 3:24, and even before man was created, Job 38:4-7. Angels are a superior order of being, entirely distinct from man. And this distinction will remain throughout eternity, for saints will never become angels. The promise to the righteous is, that in the resurrection they shall be “equal unto the angels,” and this of itself shows that they will never become the angels. Angels are now “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation;” and it was in this capacity that one of them rescued Peter from prison. E. J. W.SITI July 26, 1883, page 329.15

    “Questions” The Signs of the Times, 9, 28.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Please answer through your paper the following questions:-SITI July 26, 1883, page 330.1

    1. Do Seventh-day Adventists hold that the fact that God rested on the seventh day, and blessed it, and sanctified it, as authority for its observance among men?SITI July 26, 1883, page 330.2

    2. Do they teach that the ten commandments were enjoined by Moses, or through him upon any beside the Hebrews and those who were circumcised as proselytes to their religion?SITI July 26, 1883, page 330.3

    3. Do they teach that Christ enjoined the observance of the fourth commandment upon the Gentiles who became Christians? If so, cite their Scriptural authority.SITI July 26, 1883, page 330.4

    ANSWER. 1. YES. Webster defines the word “sanctified” thus: “1. To make sacred or wholly; to set apart to a holy for religious use; to consecrate by appropriate rites; to hallow..... 4. To impart sacrednesss, venerableness, inviolability, title to reverence and respect, or the like to; to secure from violation; to give sanction to.” When therefore it is stated in Genesis 2:3, that God sanctified the seventh day, it means that he set it apart to a religious use, gave sanction to it; in other words, he commanded that men should observe it. The word “hallowed,” found in the fourth commandment, is translated from the very same word that is rendered “sanctified” in Genesis 2:3. The fourth commandment introduces nothing new; it simply repeats the command to keep holy the Sabbath-day, refers to the events of the creation week, and states in closing that at that time God commanded the observance of the Sabbath. When God rested upon the seventh day, it became his Sabbath-day or rest-day; the blessing which he pronounced upon it made it superior to the other days of the week; the crowning act of sanctifying it made its observance obligatory on men.SITI July 26, 1883, page 330.5

    2. The ten commandments were enjoined neither by Moses nor through him, but by the Creator himself. See Exodus 20:1, and onward. When Moses, at a later date repeated these commandments, he said, Deuteronomy 5:22, “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.”SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.1

    Now as to the question, “Were the ten Commandments enjoined upon any beside the Hebrews and those who were circumcised as proselytes to their religion?” We answer, The commandments were for all men, irrespective of race or condition. Paul says that “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons.” 1 Timothy 1:9, 10. Now read in Romans 1:21-32 Paul’s description of the heathen nations, and you will see that they did these very things, and that consequently the law was made for them. The law was not made for a righteous man but for sinners; but since there are none who are righteous, Romans 3:9, 10, 23, the law must have been made for all.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.2

    Suppose we particularize in regard to the commandments. Would our friend claim that none but Jews were under obligation to worship the one true God to the exclusion of all others? If so, then he must hold that the heathen committed no sin in worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. Were only the Jews forbidden to take God’s name in vain? Did God design to allow all except the Jews to kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, etc., at pleasure? Most assuredly not. The missionaries of all Christian denominations teach the heathen to avoid all these things, and they do so on the authority of the ten commandments alone. They recognize the truth of Paul’s argument that the law was made for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. The Jews, as a nation, did not exist till several hundred years after the flood, yet we find that before the flood murder, theft, adultery, were regarded as sins, and all the inhabitants of the earth were destroyed on account of those sins. We must conclude, therefore, that the law existed long before it was spoken upon Sinai; and that it was binding upon all the inhabitants of the earth. In the case of the Sabbath the evidence is very clear, for (1) As shown above, we are expressly told that the observance of the Sabbath was enjoined in Eden; (2) There was then but one man upon the face of the earth; then of course it was to Adam that the Sabbath commandment was given; but (3) Adam stood as the representative of the whole human family; therefore the Sabbath was given for the whole human family; and this agrees with our Saviour’s words, “The Sabbath was made for man.”SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.3

    But now the question naturally arises, “If it was intended that the Gentiles should keep the law, why was it spoken only to the Jews at Sinai? It will not be out of place to consider this matter as briefly as possible. In the beginning God talked with man, and made known to him his will. It was his design that Adam should be the head of a race of sinless beings. But Adams sinned; having violated God’s law, he was under sentence of death, but a plan was devised whereby he might escape the consequences of his sin. But as the population increased, sin increased until the whole world had gone astray from God, and the flood was sent to destroy all the inhabitants. Then Noah and his family alone remained to re-people the earth, and to them was intrusted the responsibility of keeping alive the knowledge of God. Again man was unfaithful to his trust, and soon the whole world was lost in idolatry. Only one family, that of Abraham, remained upright. Since he alone was loyal to God, he was chosen as the depository of God’s law. God did not act arbitrarily, or use partiality, when he selected Abraham; he made himself known to him, because He alone wished to retain God in his knowledge, and he alone would command his household after him to keep the way of the Lord. Genesis 18:19. On account of Abraham’s faithfulness, the promise was made to him that he should be a great nation, and that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed. See Genesis 12:2, 3.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.4

    Isaac and Jacob, and their families, were the singular ones of the time in which they live, in that they alone worshiped the true God. Jacob, or Israel, went into Egypt, and there his descendants became a great nation, the Israelites. While here there were so oppressed and hindered in their worship, that when God delivered them it was necessary to repeat his law to them. Why did he give them his law? Because they alone, of all the inhabitants of the earth, would receive it. Other people were not prohibited from learning of God, and of keeping his law, but in conformity with God’s promise to Abraham they were obliged to be adopted into the family of Abraham.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.5

    But the Jews were often unmindful of their obligation to God, and forgot him, until, on account of their stubborn rebellion, they were finally rejected as a nation. God would accept them as individuals, but as a nation they were deprived of the high honor of being the depositories of his law. What then? Did God change his plan, and violate his promise to Abraham? By no means. Read Romans 2:28, 29: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” And Galatians 3:27, 29: “For as many of you as had been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.... And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” God did not cast off Israel, but simply ordained that the badge of citizenship should no more be outward circumcision, but circumcision of the heart, that is, a cutting off and putting away of the carnal mind, bringing it into subjection to God’s law. All who would do this were to be enrolled as Israelites, and those who remained disobedient, even though they could trace their ancestry back to Abraham, were no longer counted as a part of Israel. See Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6-8.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.6

    And so it is the Israelites still, and they alone, who are God’s chosen people. As in the former dispensation, the Gentiles who accepted God and his law became a part of the literal Israel, and shared all their privileges, so now the Gentiles are exhorted to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, but in doing so they cease to be Gentiles and become Jews, apart of the true Israel. Those who do not become Israelites, have no part in the promises, since the promises were made to Israel, and to none other. Romans 9:4.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.7

    3. This question has really been answered above. All who become Christians must keep the law and consequently the fourth commandment. Christ enjoined obedience to the law: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12. And he taught obedience not to a portion of the law only, but to the whole. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18. To the young ruler he said, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17. Does any one say that these words were addressed to the Jews? We reply that Christ taught none directly except Jews. The gospel was not preached to the Gentiles until sometime after his ascension. But just before his ascension he commissioned his disciples to teach all nations and baptize them: “Teaching them,” said he, “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20. All that Christ said was for all. He did not teach one thing for one class of hearers, and another thing for another class.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.8

    Did Christ, then, enjoin the observance of the fourth commandment? We reply, Yes. Upon Gentiles? Yes; upon all who desire to obtain eternal life. Christ, however, enjoined nothing upon his own authority. He commanded nothing new. “My doctrine,” said he, “is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16. He came to do, not his own will, but that his Father. It was not at all necessary that should reiterate the commandments. They had been given in the most formal and solemn manner, and, like all laws, must remain in full force until as formally repealed. Even if Christ did not mention the law at all, we would understand that it stood unchanged, but as above quoted, he declared in the most positive terms that it should never pass away. Christ and the Father are one, that is, there is the most perfect harmony in all their thoughts and actions. They were one in creating the world; one in giving and upholding the law; one in the plan of salvation. E. J. W.SITI July 26, 1883, page 331.9

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