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Waggoner on Romans

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    Establishing the Law

    February 6, 1896

    We now come to the close of the third chapter of Romans. We found that righteousness is the free gift of God unto every one who believes. It is not that God gives a man righteousness as a reward for believing certain dogmas; the Gospel is something entirely different from that. It is this, that true faith has Christ alone as its object, and it brings Christ’s life actually into the heart; and therefore it must bring righteousness. This act of mercy on the part of God is eminently just, because in the first place the sin is against God, and he has a right to pass by offences against him; and, further, it is just, because he gives his own life as an atonement for the sin, so that the majesty of the law is not only maintained, but is magnified. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10. God is just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. All righteousness is from him alone.WOR 64.1

    “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also; seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:27-31.WOR 64.2

    Questioning the Text

    What have we previously learned as to the condition of all men?WOR 64.3

    “Guilty before God.” “For all have sinned.”WOR 64.4

    What is God to them that believe?WOR 64.5

    “The justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”WOR 64.6

    How does he justify those who have sinned?WOR 64.7

    “Freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”WOR 64.8

    What righteousness does the man so justified have?WOR 64.9

    “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.”WOR 64.10

    Where is boasting then?WOR 64.11

    “It is excluded.”WOR 64.12

    By what law? of works?WOR 64.13

    “Nay; but by the law of faith.”WOR 64.14

    What then is the conclusion?WOR 64.15

    “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”WOR 64.16

    Is God the God of the Jews only? is he not of the gentiles also?WOR 64.17

    “Yes, of the Gentiles also.”WOR 64.18

    What is the proof?WOR 64.19

    “Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.”WOR 64.20

    Do we then make void the law through faith?WOR 65.1

    “God forbid [Not by any means]; yes, we establish the law.”WOR 65.2

    No Boasting.-Since righteousness is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ, it is evident that no one can justly boast of any righteousness that he has. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9. “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7.WOR 65.3

    What Boasting Proves.-“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. Boasting therefore is an evidence of a sinful heart. But suppose a man boasts of his righteousness, as, for instance, when a man says that he has lived without sin for so many years? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8. But are not the grace and power of God manifested in Christ to cleanse and keep us from sin? Most certainly; but only when in humility we acknowledge that we are sinners. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. When we say that we have no sin, that very thing is evidence that we have; but when with faith in the word of the Lord we say that we are sinners, then the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. In the plan of salvation there is no place for human pride and boasting.WOR 65.4

    No Boasting in Heaven.-The result of boasting in heaven is seen in the case of Satan. Once he was one of the covering cherubs above the throne of God. But he began to contemplate his own glory and goodness, and his fall was the consequence. “Thou hast sinned; therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” Ezekiel 28:16, 17. If the saints after their translation should begin to boast of their sinlessness, they would be as bad as they ever were. But that will never be. All who are admitted to heaven will have fully learned the lesson that God is all and in all. There will not be a voice or a heart silent in the song of praise, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.”WOR 65.5

    The Law of Works.-The law of works does not exclude boasting. If a man were justified by works, he would have whereof to boast over another who had the same privilege, but did not use it. In that case the righteous could boast over the wicked; and people would continually be comparing themselves with one another to see who had done the most. The law of works is simply the Ten Commandments in form only. Compliance with the law of works enables one to appear outwardly righteous, while within he is full of corruption. Yet the one who follows the law of works is not always necessarily a hypocrite. He may have an earnest desire to keep the commandments, but may be deceived into thinking that he can work them out of himself.WOR 65.6

    The Law of Faith.-This has for its object the same thing as the law of works, namely, the commandments of God, but the result is different. The law of works deceives a man with a form; the law of faith gives him the substance. The law of faith is the law “as it is in Jesus.” The one may be a sincere attempt to keep the law; the other is the actual accomplishment of that desire, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The Ten Commandments as given by the Lord are only a law of faith, since God never designed that they should be taken in any other way; and he never expected that anybody could get righteousness from them in any other way than by faith. The law of works is man’s perversion of the law of God.WOR 66.1

    Faith without Works.-“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Because there is no other means by which he could be justified! We have before seen that all men are sinners, and that no man has power in himself to perform the deeds of the law, no matter how strong his desires. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Romans 2:13. But “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20. Therefore whoever is justified, or made righteous at all, must be made righteous by faith alone, wholly apart from the deeds of the law. This is of universal application. It means that justification, first, last, and all the time, is by faith alone. The Christian can not be justified by works any more than the sinner can be. No man can ever get so good and strong that his own deeds can justify him.WOR 66.2

    Faith and Works.-But that is not to say that works have nothing to do with faith. Justification means making just, or making righteous. Righteousness is right doing. Faith which justifies, therefore, is faith which makes a man a doer of the law, or, rather, which puts the doing of the law into him. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly. That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:8. A man is not justified by faith and works, but by faith alone, which works.WOR 66.3

    One God for All.-There is but “one God and Father of all.” Ephesians 4:6. He “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” “for we are also his offspring.” Acts 16:26, 28. “There is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11. “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:35. The Scripture saith: “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Romans 10:11, 12.WOR 66.4

    One Means of Justification.-The fact that justification is only by faith, and that God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), shows that God regards Jew and Gentile alike. Nor is there any evidence that he ever did put any difference between them. A believing gentile was always accounted righteous, and an unbelieving Jew was never considered by the Lord any better than any other unbeliever. Remember that Abraham, the father of the whole Jewish nation, was a Chaldean. The Jews were related to the Chaldeans who remained in their native land, just as surely as they were to one another in the land of Canaan. Unfortunately, they forgot this; but they are not the only ones in the world who have forgotten that all men are their brethren.WOR 66.5

    In the statement, “It is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith,” there is no need of stumbling over the prepositions. Bear in mind how often we use the words “by” and “through” interchangeably, to indicate means, and there will be no difficulty. The emphatic word is “faith.” Both circumcision and uncircumcision are justified through, or by means of, faith.WOR 67.1

    Making Void the Law.-Making void the law does not mean abolishing it. There is no question as to the perpetuity of the law. It is so plainly eternal that the apostle Paul never wastes space in arguing about it. The only question is as to how its claim may be satisfied. The Saviour said that the Jews made the commandment of God of none effect through their tradition. So far as they were concerned, they made it void. No man could by any action or lack of action abolish or in any way affect the law of God. But anybody may by his unbelief obliterate it from his own heart. The question then is, Do we by faith make the law of God of none effect? Or, more plainly still, Does faith lead to the transgression of the law? The answer is, “Not by any means.”WOR 67.2

    Establishing the Law.-That which has been said in regard to making void the law of God will apply here also. That is, no action of man can make the law anything different from what it actually is. It is the foundation of the throne of God, and as such it will ever abide, in spite of demons and men. But it is left for us to say whether or not we will have it obliterated from our hearts, or have it established there. If we choose to have it established in our hearts, we have only to accept Christ by faith. Faith brings Christ to dwell in the heart. Ephesians 3:17. The law of God is in the heart of Christ (Psalm 40:8), so that the faith which brings Christ into the heart establishes the law there. And since the law of God is the establishment of his throne, the faith which brings the law into the heart, enthrones God there. And thus it is that God works in men “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”WOR 67.3

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