Dear Reader, I have the honour of having been requested to write a foreword to the following set of eight Bible Essays. They were composed during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and this is how they originated: The late brother Fred Lea who, as you will see, contributed most of the essays, was a fervent Christadelphian. Then one day he came across a pamphlet written by brother Broughton who demonstrated that the bread used in the meetings had to be unleavened because this, and only this, truly represented the body of Christ. Fred, after sustained and prayerful thought, concluded that this was correct. Moreover, he discovered for himself all the teaching of the Nazarene Fellowship before he even heard of them. Needless to say that when he and his late wife communicated their views to their Christadelphian meeting they were disfellowshipped. So brother and sister Lea broke bread together on their own, soon to be joined by another Christadelphian couple. Eventually they discovered some more people with these views, and early in March 1948 we were baptized by the late brother Ernest Brady. I say “we” as I was not a Christadelphian. I am a natural born Jew but came to realize that the Nazarene teaching was by far the best and most logical I have ever come across on Religion. Incidentally I am the only natural Jew in this community. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another two ex-Christadelphians. There now arose the question of how to propagate the Truth. We could not so very well distribute Christadelphian literature although we must hand it to them that they still hold much of what is good. So all of us contributed one or more of the Bible Essays now appearing in this booklet. They are intended for distribution among Christadelphians and anybody interested among the general public. We were a small meeting of five or six members meeting in Fred’s house, all of us except myself are now asleep awaiting the resurrection at the Lord’s return. I cannot conclude without paying tribute and expressing my great appreciation of our late brother Fred Lea’s part in the work of the Truth. He was a zealous worker and possessed a superb knowledge of the Scriptures. By profession he was a chiropodist and was constantly occupied typing these essays in between patient’s visits. He had many a talk on the Truth with patients, including Christadelphians who came even after their separation. Many patients, Christadelphians and others, received copies of these essays. Alas, there was hardly any response. It is our duty to sow the seed, God gives the increase. How much of it will have sprung up and borne fruit we hope to find out on that Great Day of the Resurrection. But one thing I am certain of - Fred was a most faithful and industrious sower. May we discover after the Resurrection that it was not all in vain. May God bless and guide the reader into His Truth as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
This is our fervent prayer. G.L.Dreifuss. May 1998
ESSAY NO. 1
The Law of Redemption
As a believer in the Bible I appeal to you to consider the following Bible Truths concerning our redemption. The law of redemption as defined by God in the Law He gave to Israel by the hand of Moses is most interesting and instructive. It is, briefly, that if an Israelite became poor and sold himself to a rich neighbour he could redeem himself, if he were able, or his near kinsman could redeem him. The nearest kinsman had the prior right to redeem; this is shown in the 3rd chapter of Ruth at verse 12. Let us trace that law in relation to our redemption. We, by natural descent, are in need of redemption; we have been sold and are in bondage. Paul says, in Romans 6th chapter, "to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are... whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness... ye were the servants of sin once but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine... ye are now made free from sin... the wages of sin is death." Here Paul "personifies" sin as a master and us as his servants; he refers to this condition of bond service to Sin as "our old man," "the body of (or belonging to) Sin." Personification was not a new idea in the Scriptures. In the Book of Proverbs wisdom is personified as a woman. How, then, did we become Sin's bond-servants? For the answer to this question we must turn to the account of creation. Here we see Adam a free man in the Garden of Eden - God's free man placed there to dress it, and to keep it, with one simple command, namely, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." This law was simple and easy to understand; there was no excuse for disobedience, yet Adam disobeyed God and obeyed the "Devil," or Sin personified; for sin is the transgression of Divine law and, therefore, is personified as a master (see Romans chapter 6). Yet John tells us in his 1st Epistle, 5th chapter, 16th and 17th verses, "there is a sin unto death," and he informs us that prayer for that sin is useless; he also tells us, "There is a sin which is not unto death;" God will forgive that sin for Christ's sake. Under the Law of Moses some sins, or transgressions, were punishable by death - for example, in the case of murder, the law said, "thou shalt take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, he must surely be put to death." So God commanded. The punishment for Adam's sin was death; a judicially inflicted death; an untimely end. His sin was a "sin unto death." Few, if any of us have sinned such a sin, but we were in the loins of our father Adam when he sinned unto death. Now as Levi paid tithes in Abraham (see Hebrews 7:9,10), so we sinned in Adam (see Romans 5:12-18). In other words, Adam sinned and merited death; 'King Sin' now had a claim on his life; his life was now 'forfeited' to Sin, and he no longer had any right to it; God redeemed him, He bought him with the precious blood of His dear Son. But as the time for the full payment had not arrived God instituted a type; He clothed Adam and his wife with the skins of animals. Thus blood was shed and life was taken; this was the type. Sin took place and death followed; but Paul tells us that "the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin." We may ask, Why? The answer is not far to seek - the right of redemption was held by the next of kin, and not by an animal; it could only typify the true "Lamb of God," Jesus, who alone had the right to redeem, being Adam's near-kinsman; and the means, a life unforfeited, free to give for "the sin of the world." Whilst Adam's sin could not be forgiven it could be paid for by the taking or surrender of life. If Adam's life had been taken in Eden, God's plan of filling the earth with His glory and with a people who would revere Him would have been frustrated, and this could not be. God had said to Adam, "Be fruitful and multiply," and this command must be fulfilled. There was not another to take Adam's place and pay the debt; no near kinsman with the right to redeem, but God found a Ransom. No man could by any means redeem his brother, we are told, or give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of their soul is precious. Every man is a bondservant by birth, and owes his life to his master. The life that Adam passed on to his children was that which he had already sold, or forfeited to sin, and thus it belonged to sin and was lost. God's mercy is wonderful. He gave His only begotten Son to die for "the sin of the world," to die for man; the Just for the unjust. The hymn-writer expresses it, "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin." A better way of expressing it would be - there was no other free enough to pay the price of sin. Jesus was the only one who had the right to redeem Adam. Adam was God's son by creation (see Luke 3:38). Jesus was God's Son by begettal, Adam's near kinsman, the second man or second Adam. He had the means by which to redeem the first Adam; His life He received direct from God, free from sin; His right to life He never forfeited or lost by transgression. He was the only man who had power to retain His life or give it freely for us. "No man taketh it from me," He said, "I lay it down of myself." This is in John, 10th chapter, 17th and 18th verses. God saw this "greater love" by which Jesus would lay down his life for the sinner, and foreshadowed it in Eden by the typical "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," and Adam was redeemed; he was not slain; he did not die the death for his sin in Eden - a violent judicial death on the day of his transgression; the animal did die such a death, but as we have seen, its blood could not take away sin; it could only prefigure the "precious blood of Christ," which did. The result of this redemption was that Adam's life was saved from immediate destruction, and he was allowed to continue in life for 930 years. He thus escaped the penalty of his sin and when he died at the age of 930 years that death was the natural death which terminates all life that is manifested in a natural or corruptible body; whether human, animal or bird. This is not the death for sin, as we have seen, but merely the consequence of his failure to attain to the life eternal which Jesus now possesses and enjoys as a result of His perfect obedience. Jesus said, "This is the condemnation that light is come into the world." This light is knowledge, and when we understand these glorious divine truths we are in the light and, therefore, under the condemnation to which Jesus referred, if we ignore the Divinely appointed means of redemption. If then, we do not accept God's terms of redemption by associating ourselves with Christ's sacrifice by being baptised into His name, thus becoming Christ's, we too are guilty of a sin unto death, and will merit the final judgment of Divine wrath, and will suffer extinction in the "second death" (see Revelation 20th chapter, verses 11 to 15). To sum up, it was necessary for Jesus to be one who had the right to redeem; He must be Adam's near kinsman; and it was also necessary that He should have a life free to give for Adam, and that He should be willing to give it. This was not the punishment of a just man by God for the sinner, but the voluntary surrender of life by the "Just for the unjust;" God was the loving Father giving His only and well-beloved Son - "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish" (John 3:16). "Scarcely for a righteous man would one die (writes Paul in Romans 5:6-8)... but God commendeth His love to us in that, whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Such is the love of God for us! Should we not show sufficient interest in these things as to impel us to look further into what God has left on record for our learning in spiritual things, and to aspire after the things which will please Him?
ESSAY NO. 2
The Bible TeachingConcerning Life and Death
Let us at the outset give a brief definition of the word 'Life.' Life is that power by which all animate things or beings move, grow, and multiply; one of the smaller of such forms is the Amoeba, which, though a single cell, exhibits all the characteristics of life. In the Bible this life-power is called the "spirit of God." Death is the opposite of this; it is the cessation of life, the dissolution of being. Having made this definition let us turn to the Bible and read how life first entered into the world. On the sixth day of creation we read that God created the living creatures, birds, and fishes, and finally man. Now we read in Genesis 2nd chapter, 7th verse, "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." Let us consider this process; first we see a dust-formed creature, man; then breath is breathed into him, and he becomes a "living soul." Without that breath of life he is a dead soul or body; this is precisely the case with human beings to-day. If the breath of life is taken away a man dies; his body corrupts, and eventually returns to the dust. Life, then, is the state or condition of being in which is manifested those characteristics which we associate with activity. It is the power or energy which makes possible all the various functions of the body. It is manifested in a variety of ways and forms; thus we have insects which retain life for but a very short time, and monsters like elephants and whales which live for many years. Life is the same however it is manifested. Thus we have human life, animal life, plant life, etc. Human flesh can retain life but a few years; few people, comparatively, attain to much over eighty years of age. The extent, or duration of life, depends on the medium in, or through which, it is manifested. Life manifested through or in an incorruptible body, is unending. The Creator's life is from everlasting to everlasting. We now turn to the Genesis account and read how the man was placed on probation in the garden of Eden, and how a simple command was imposed upon him, namely, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Here we have death as a penalty for sin introduced. Now this cannot be natural death, for that is not a penalty but a natural consequence of the life being held in a corruptible body. The sentence, we note, was to be death on the day of transgression. Here we have introduced death as a penalty, a judicial death, an inflicted death. Other instances of judicial death recorded in the Scriptures come to mind. Under the Law of Moses a murderer was to be put to death; this was a judicial death. An idolater or a man who dealt with a familiar spirit, or a necromancer, also was to be put to death. One of the sins of Saul, the first king of Israel, was that he sought the services of a witch. These and many other sins were sins unto death; concerning which John speaks in his 1st Epistle, when he says "There is a sin unto death; I do not say he should pray for it." Such a death is an untimely end, a cutting short of life. Under the Law of Moses stoning was the means by which this death was brought about. In England hanging was the method. In each case life is brought to an abrupt end. Accidental death, though not judicial, is a violent and untimely end of life; this kind of death is also recognised in the Bible; if any man met his death in this way owing to the negligence of another, provision was made in the law of God for that case. Returning to the Genesis account we find that Adam merited such a violent death, but God, in His mercy, instituted sacrifice as a means of redemption, as we saw in the last essay. Adam was now allowed to continue his life, but under ransom; he was on probation with a life which he had forfeited, and now held in the mercy of God under ransom - but it was natural life. Another kind of death recognised in the Bible is "Spiritual" death. A man may be very much alive in the natural sense and yet be spiritually dead. How otherwise could we understand the words of Jesus, "Let the dead bury their dead"? Or the words of Paul, in Ephesians 2; "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins"? Or again, in the writing to the Romans, chapter 8; "To be carnally minded is death"? Here the mind of the flesh, which we hope to consider more fully in another essay, is regarded as being dead to spiritual things. Another kind of death referred to in the Bible is figurative death. We take an illustration from the apostle Paul, in Romans, 6th chapter on the subject of Baptism. Here we read, "How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?" Again in verse 11, "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." Baptism is a figure of the death of Christ, and as such, is the counterpart of the act of the offerer under the Law of Moses, who, laying his hand on the head of his offering, figuratively transferred his sin to the animal. Baptism is a burial in water after a belief in the things which Jesus taught, and a good confession before God. Thus we are introduced into Christ's death, and escape the death for sin (though we die the natural death), unless we wilfully sin an unpardonable sin and merit the second death, which takes place at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:7-14) This introduces us to the death which those die who, being responsible to the Divine Law, either ignore it, or having responded to it turn away again, and do despite to the word of grace. The Apostle says concerning such; "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall consume the adversaries." This is the end of all those who reject the Divine invitation. Let us now turn to the subject of Life. We have noted that natural life is the state of being alive, or possessing life in a natural body; a body subject to decay and subsequent dissolution of being. We have seen, too, that life can be forfeited; also that a life which has been lost to sin can be bought back with a price - even the precious blood of Christ; that this life which is so bought is under ransom and can again be lost. In the first Essay we saw that the life of Jesus was free and never in bondage to sin. Jesus Himself said, "If the Son shall make you free ye shall be free indeed." We are now introduced to a life made free by the Son of God. Christ died the death unto sin for sinners, and became the author of eternal salvation to every one that believeth, and so by baptism into Jesus a man is introduced into a new relationship. He is now dead to sin, but alive to righteousness. This is a spiritual life, a life of service to God. As they who sow to the flesh shall reap corruption (see Galatians 6:7,8), so he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. This is life manifested in an incorruptible body such as Jesus now has; a body none the less real because it is immortal. Jesus Himself, after His resurrection, said to His disciples, "Handle me and see, for a spirit (that is a mere phantom) hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." We note that He did not say "flesh and blood." His blood had been shed on Calvary for us - the price of our redemption; and we are told by the Apostle Paul that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Here we have flesh and Spirit; incorruptible flesh, flesh which can retain life for evermore; made like unto the angels, dying no more. Such are the children of the resurrection. This is the true hope of the Christian, the hope of the resurrection of the dead; when the "dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we (which are alive and remain) shall be changed." And when this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying, "Death is swallowed up in victory; O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?" "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
ESSAY NO. 3
The Carnal Mindor The Spiritual Mind
In this third essay we wish to consider the Bible teaching concerning the mind of the flesh, compare it with the Bible teaching concerning the mind of the spirit. The word 'carnal' means fleshly, or, according to the thinking of the flesh - in other words, "the mind of the flesh." This mind is prompted by the feelings or sensations of the flesh such as pain, hunger, anger, jealousy, love, hatred, and all the other feelings associated with our mental make-up. The word 'spiritual' describes the mind of God, who is a Spirit. This mind is revealed to us in the Bible; it is cultivated by a study of the precepts and examples of those men of God of whom we read in the Bible. Now let us explain at the outset that not one of the various feelings or sensations of the flesh is evil of itself. Let us take the last mentioned of these - hatred. This is a quality which God Himself has implanted in the human mind. Let us also make quite clear that it is also a quality or attribute of the Divine mind, for we read that God "hates every evil way." The same can be said of jealousy, "I the Lord your God am a jealous God." If, then, the feelings of the human mind have their counterpart in the Divine mind, how is it that we read of "the carnal mind" being a mind of death? It is because the mind of man left to itself, seeks its own gratification without any concern for what is right in the sight of God. The question of right and wrong depends on the acknowledgement of a standard by which to determine the appropriateness of any action. If we take a human standard we shall have the mind of the flesh gratified. Yet that standard will differ in different localities. That which is right in one country is prohibited in another. The exercise of the emotions is quite legitimate so long as it contravenes no law. It is only when an accepted prohibition is ignored and set aside that an action is judged to be wrong. In the life of a community laws are introduced to govern the dealings of man with man. In heathen lands God is ignored. In lands professedly Christian we also find different standards of justice according to the prevailing standard of Christian teaching. The Apostle Paul, when speaking of all those not guided by Christian principles, says, "These, having not the law, are a law unto themselves... their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another" (Romans 2, vv. 14 and 15). He is speaking, of course, in this instance, of the Law of Moses. Paul, in his Epistle, puts the matter very clearly when he says, in the 7th chapter of Romans, at verse 7, "I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covet." And at verse 8, "Without the law sin was dead." Or again, in another place, "Where there is no law there is no transgression." In this 7th chapter of Romans, Paul is considering himself as a natural man without law, exercising the mind of the flesh, or the carnal mind. In this state a man gives unbridled rein to his natural mind and lusts. Whilst he is without law he does not and cannot transgress. Now when law enters, a definition of right and wrong is made and established. Transgression invokes a just penalty. Human law is enforced by human measures, and punished by humanly designed penalties. Disobedience to such laws is called lawlessness. Disobedience to, or transgression of Divine law is called sin. For sin is the transgression of law. Now when the Apostle Paul speaks of law he means God's law, unless he specially defines the law to which he refers as human law. The carnal mind, the Apostle tells us, is at enmity against the law of God. Why so? Because it does not submit itself to the law of God; it chooses its own way, and pleases its self. No man can reward another with eternal life, therefore the end of the best and most law-abiding man is the grave, if his righteousness accords to human standards only. The 8th chapter of Romans gives us the contrast between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind. And so the Apostle says, to those who have chosen to serve and obey God, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit." The expression "in the flesh" in verse 9, and many of the other passages we have been considering, is used in the figurative sense; to be prompted and guided by the motives and minding of the flesh - to be carnally minded - is to be "in the flesh." Therefore, says the Apostle, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." Again, "When we were in the flesh the motions of sin which were in our members did bring forth sin unto death." The motions of sin are the impulses which (guided by the flesh) lead to sin; those same impulses Spiritually directed also lead to righteousness. The Apostle further explains, that the believer in Jesus "is not (now) in the flesh." This, as we have seen, does not mean the physical flesh. It means that they are not in that state or condition in which the natural mind is allowed uncontrolled expression. Let it be emphasised that Paul, in Romans chapter 7, is speaking of his experiences as "Saul of Tarsus" and not of his new state as "Paul of Christ." In the former state he was a persecutor of the followers of Jesus; in the second he could say, "Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ" - the same physical man, but in a totally different state of mind. Let it be further clearly understood that the terms "in the flesh" and "in Adam" are the opposites of the terms "in the Spirit" and "in Christ." The former relates to that state or condition in which a man is "without hope and without God in the world," as the Apostle says, "as natural brute beasts." The latter state indicates that a change of outlook and of disposition has taken place - a change of mind, and of relationship. In the former state a man becomes condemned when the Word of God enlightens his mind to the Divine requirements; he is condemned and convicted of his sin, and is called upon to repent. The latter state is that which a man enters when he responds to the Divine invitation, and complies with the Divine requirements, by belief and baptism. In this state there is no condemnation, nor will he come into Judgment, for he has passed from death unto life. The 8th chapter of Romans describes this new state - a state in which a man begins to develop a character which will be acceptable to God; a character built upon Divine principles. We would like to close this essay with a few words from the pen of the Apostle Paul from his Epistle to the Colossians, where, in chapter 3, beginning at the 1st verse, he writes, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above... Mortify therefore your members which are upon earth..." (here follows a list of some of the works of the flesh), verse 8, "but now ye put off all these... seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man..." verse 12, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind," etc., etc., to verse 17. In these verses Paul enumerates several characteristics of the mind of the Spirit. If these characteristics of the Spirit are developed in a man who has accepted the Word of God in its purity, the result will be a Spiritually minded man. Thus the Apostle exhorts us to develop the Spiritual mind, and to reap Life and Peace; Life Eternal in the Kingdom of God, and Peace with God. The whole of this chapter is specially recommended to the reader.
Please note: We feel it is right to publish Essay No.4 as originally written. However, many people recognize not four births but two i.e. natural and Spiritual. Confusion in part is caused by the Greek word "gannao" being translated both "begotten" and "born." Nevertheless, big changes will take place in the lives of Christians whether we call them births or not, the valuable teaching remains. ESSAY NO. 4
Ye Must be Born Again
The above title is taken from the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, as recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel according to John. Those words are, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Then, in answer to the question, "How can a man be born when he is old?" - "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God..." Born of water and of the Spirit; that is the key. Let us consider some of the ways in which birth can take place. First of all we have the natural order in which like begets like; this is a form of birth which we have all experienced. The second idea which we have before us is a birth of water, this is a typical birth; it is symbolical - some of us have been the subjects of such a birth. Thirdly is a birth of the Spirit, concerning which Jesus says, "That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." None of us has been the subject of such a birth, for Jesus again tells us, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Jesus Himself has been the subject of such a birth for He was able to enter a room "the doors being shut," we are told by John in his twentieth chapter, at verse nineteen. Thus He is called "The Lord the Spirit." Another idea is brought to our notice by Peter in his 1st Epistle, chapter 1 verse 23. It is stated in the following words:- "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God." John expresses the idea as being "born of God," and he says, "He that is born of God overcometh the world," "He that is born of God sinneth not." Thus we have:- (1) A natural birth. (2) A birth of water, or typical birth. (3) A birth of the Spirit, none the less real than natural birth. (4) A mental or moral birth; born of the word of God. Natural, Typical, Spiritual, Moral. These four are here in the order in which they have come to our notice, but not in the order in which they take place. We will consider them more fully in the order in which they take place. (1) Paul tells us (1 Corinthians 15:44-56) that the natural is first; that is corruptible; that is earthy; that it is flesh and blood, and cannot inherit the kingdom of God; that it is in need of a change; that all die. Genesis explains how this comes about. In Genesis 2:7 we read, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. and man became a living soul." Here we have the first man made, from whom all other human beings have been born. There is no suggestion here of incorruptibility, or of everlasting existence. All we read here is that God created a body of dust, a body composed of the elements of which the earth is so full, and filled with the breath of life from God just as the beasts of the field. The breath of life we still breathe through the nostrils; it still passes into the blood as we read in the Scriptures, "The life is in the blood thereof." This breath of life is so necessary to our existence that we die if we are deprived of it. In order to inherit the kingdom of God one must be born of the Spirit, but before this can take place the other two births to which we have referred must have taken place, but in the following order:- The Moral birth, then the Typical birth. (2) The moral birth must precede the typical birth and prepare for it. One statement of Philip the Evangelist will clear that point for us. It is to be found in Acts 8:16-40. It is in connection with the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch. They came to a "certain water: and the eunuch said See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptised? and Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Baptism, or birth of water, can take place only after belief, Philip here tells us. In connection with belief, Paul says in Romans 10:14,15, "How shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" And in verse 17, "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." In Psalm 119 we read, "The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." And so the reading of God's word prepares the mind for the moral re-birth. It is according to how we read and understand God's word that we shall be renewed in our minds, and be born again, "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God." The result of this rebirth is that we shall have a desire to please God; to obey Him; to be like Him. His word, having sunk into our hearts and minds, will bring forth a God-like disposition. A desire to learn more of His word and being thus born again, not of corruptible seed, but by the word of God, we will not sin (wilfully) because we are born of God. This attitude of mind is a necessary preliminary to the birth of water, "if thou believest," said Philip, "thou mayest." (3) After an acceptance of the Divine doctrines and precepts as laid down in God's word, a believer is led to seek the forgiveness and mercy of God by repentance and change of life. How can this change be most acceptably expressed? Has God revealed His mind on this most important subject? Most assuredly He has. It is very clearly expressed in His word. Under the Mosaic Law a man who contracted any ceremonial uncleanness must wash in water before he could hope to be accepted by God. Accordingly, when John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness as the forerunner of Jesus, it was the Baptism of Repentance for the remission of sins which he preached. Since the death of Jesus, baptism into His name has been preached. The question now arises, what is baptism? How is it performed? Under what conditions can it take place? The first essential to make baptism valid is, according to Scripture, belief; the knowledge must precede belief. What is it that we are expected to believe? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" is a Bible expression. Now in order to believe on Jesus Christ one must know what He taught; one must be acquainted with the gospel He went about preaching during His ministry when upon earth. The word 'Gospel' means Good Tidings, and the good tidings which Jesus preached had reference to two things in particular:- The Kingdom of God, which is to be established upon earth; and the means by which men and women were to be accepted into it. Very briefly, the gospel of the kingdom of God is that God is going to establish a kingdom upon earth; that this kingdom is to be the ancient kingdom of Israel restored; that Jesus is to be the King and return from heaven; (Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews) that the apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel; that the saints of all ages will be resurrected to take part in this Millennial reign; that all earth's wrongs will be righted; that the believers of all ages will enjoy endless life in glorified bodies of Spirit nature; and that peace will extend from end to end of the earth's surface. The means by which men and women are to be admitted into that kingdom of righteousness and peace are briefly; baptism by immersion in water upon recognition of their position in the sight of God as being estranged from Him; this estrangement is the result of sin (as we have seen in earlier essays); mankind has been sold to Sin by their first parent, Adam; that man is in need of redemption; that Jesus is the Redeemer; that He died the death for sin for all mankind; that as he that is dead is free from sin, so baptism into Jesus is baptism into His death and frees us from sin; that such an association with the death of Jesus assures a rising with Him to a new life (in the present time, to a life of well-doing, and to the age to come to a life of incorruptibility and life everlasting); that participation in the resurrection of life eternal is dependent upon a continuance in well-doing, and abiding in Him, as He said. How does baptism achieve this? And how can baptism be regarded as a re-birth? Birth is a bringing forth - a bringing to light, or into existence, a revealing. Now Bible baptism is just such a thing; it is a burial in water as an answer of a good conscience towards God. So we are told in the words of Scripture. Burial signifies death, death to the old order, the old way of life, the old man. Death and burial then precede resurrection, or new birth. And thus the subject of baptism rises again to a new life; born of (or out of) water, thus being dead to the old order and alive to the new; they are new creatures "in Christ Jesus," reconciled to God. And as He said, "Ye must be born again... born of water..." (4) Now as baptism signifies, or typifies, death, burial and resurrection, so also there must be an anti-typical. The anti-type is Jesus; He was "dead and buried and He rose again." Now when Jesus rose again He rose to die no more, He was now "the Lord the Spirit." Not a mere phantom, such as the disciples thought they saw. Jesus told them "Spirit (phantom) hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." His was a Spirit body, just as God is a Spirit. This introduces us to the next re-birth; that of the Spirit, which all who inherit the Kingdom of God will experience. "Born of water and of the Spirit" said Jesus. The apostle Paul makes this aspect of our subject very clear in 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter is commonly called the burial chapter and also the resurrection chapter. He makes the comparison when he says "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Those who remain "in Adam" will all die, but he goes on to say that those "in Christ" shall all be made alive. But as he tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians, "Every man in his own order, Christ the first-fruits, then they who are Christ's at His coming, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air, and so shall we be for ever with the Lord." What does he mean by this? Simply that when Christ comes the "dead will be raised, as Paul says, incorruptible, and we shall be changed." This is the birth of the Spirit. "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a Spiritual body." Only these who have been baptised into Christ have "put on Christ," only these are "in Christ;" all others are "in Adam" and Paul says they "all die." Those who are "in Christ" have come out of Adam and so are associated with Christ, and will rise again, to die no more. They are equal unto the angels dying no more, said Jesus, being the children of the resurrection. So then, we have considered four different kinds of birth:- Of the first we have all been subject. Of the second we may become the subjects Of the third only if we have already been subject to the second Of the fourth only if we have remained faithful to the implications and responsibilities of the third, i.e. if we have remained "in Christ," otherwise we shall "be cast forth as a branch and be burned, as Jesus said." So we must abide "in Him" if we would be saved. May God grant that those who read these notes will be wise and take advantage of the Divine invitation "while it is called to-day" and remain "in Christ" and thus be accounted worthy of that Age, and the "resurrection of the dead."
ESSAY NO. 5
Why The Cross Was Necessaryfor Salvation
What is Salvation? It is a well known fact that all animals, human or otherwise, must inevitably die (one exception recorded in the Scriptures is that of Enoch, who was "translated that he should not see death" - but this exception goes to prove that God can alter this rule at His will). There will be, in the future, others who will not die, but who "shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump" (1 Corinthians 15:52) at the return of Jesus. We are told, in John 3:16, that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Also we read, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25); "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10; see also Luke 9:56, etc.). Thus we see that salvation is a saving from or out of death. Believers from the beginning of the creation, who have died, are not reckoned as having perished, for they are all written in God's Book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5, etc.) and they will take part in a resurrection at the appointed day (compare the statement of Jesus - "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" - to prove to the Sadducees the certainty of the resurrection). Why Does Man Die? Paul tells us clearly (Romans 5:12), "By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." This one man, was of course, Adam (verse 14) who, by eating of the forbidden fruit, transgressed God's law, and as a consequence was expelled from the Garden of Eden, "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever" (Genesis 3:22). To this day the tree of life is still withheld from us and we die. Our own individual sins do not constitute the cause of our dying (for otherwise there would be no infant deaths), nor can our own righteousness bring about everlasting life, "For there is none other name (but Jesus) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). The Qualifications Of A Saviour: (a) The Saviour must be a man. Since it is mankind which is guilty of sin, it would not be right, even according to man's view of justice, to inflict the penalty on some other animal or creature. Scripture takes the same view, for in it we read (Hebrews 10:4) "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." But how can we know that human blood (under certain circumstances) may accomplish this? Well, it is laid down in God's plan of salvation which began to operate in the very earliest days, and we may understand some of it by studying His word. If we turn for a moment to the first pair who sinned we can see some of the principles involved. After their transgression, Adam and Eve immediately became conscious of a feeling of nakedness which they sought to overcome by wearing aprons of fig leaves. As a mere bodily covering no doubt these served their purpose, but evidently they were not approved by God, who made coats of skins and clothed them, their consciousness of nakedness and of guilt thereby becoming dulled or non-existent, (we may here remember the words of David; "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." - Psalm 32:1). But in order to cover them with skins it had been necessary to cause the death of some animal, or animals and here we see a principle of salvation coming to light. The penalty of Adam's transgression was death in the day that he ate of the fruit. Adam did not die that day, but some animal did. Now we read, in Revelation 13:8 about "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world" - an obvious reference to Jesus (see Revelation 5), and so we see that the animal slain in the Garden of Eden was but a representative of Jesus - a token payment, a promise that in due time someone should come who, by his death, would pay in full the price of Adam's transgression. It is not surprising that this person should have to be a male when we consider the following: - (i) The law in Eden was given to Adam when he was the sole human on the earth. We are not told whether it was later expressly given to Eve, but undoubtedly she understood the law to be binding upon her also (Genesis 3:3). At any rate, Adam was the responsible party though not actually the first to transgress. (ii) Eve was formed from Adam's rib and can still be regarded as being "in Adam" or part of Adam or, as he himself said, "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh" (Genesis 2:23), and in the same way that Levi is said to have paid tithes in Abraham (Hebrews 7:9), so also Eve may be said to be in Adam. (iii) God called their name Adam (Genesis 2), thus showing again that the man was the responsible one and that the actions of Eve were done in, or under, his name. (b) He must be an Israelite. This may not have been necessary for the salvation of the Gentiles, but for the Jews it was vital that he should be of their race, for they were under another law or system of laws, with its own benefits for adherents thereto and its own penalties for infringement. For some offences the penalty was death. Now, we read in Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them," and in James 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Therefore the children of Israel needed to be redeemed from the death penalty; even those who might not have committed sins worthy of death, and to do this their redeemer must also be under the same law. (c) He must be sinless. Obviously a man under the sentence of death cannot be bought back by someone under the same sentence, and so it was necessary that the redeemer should be guiltless. (d) He must have a life to give. It is obvious also that a man cannot be said to give his life for someone else if he is bound to die in any case. Therefore a redeemer must possess a life which cannot be taken from him without his consent. (e) He must be willing. It would not be just to exact from an innocent person the penalty due to a sinner, but if the innocent one willingly offers to die in the place of the sinner then there is no injustice. How Jesus Fulfilled All These Conditions. (a) & (b). Jesus was the son of Mary who was of the tribe of Judah. The law recognised Joseph, the husband of Mary, as the father of Jesus, but Joseph was also of the tribe of Judah. (c). There are many references which testify to the absolute sinlessness of Jesus. For example: - "For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," (Hebrews 7:26). "For He hath made him to be sin (sin-offering) for us, who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18). "He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5). (d). Adam was the first son of God (see Luke 3:38); Jesus, though not a new creation, was the only begotten Son of God, for although He was born of Mary, His life came direct from God who was His Father. For this reason He is called the second man (1 Corinthians 15:47) or last Adam (I Corinthians 15:45). As Jesus had a life unforfeited by transgression He had the right to eat of the tree of life like the first Adam before his transgression. Jesus Himself said; "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself" (John 5:26). "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:17,18). "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). (e). His voluntary submission to His Father's will was as complete during the sufferings on the Cross as throughout the whole of His lifetime: "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). "I lay it down of myself" (John 10:18). "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend's" (John 15:13). "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Why The Cross? It was the Father's will that Jesus should endure the sufferings of the Cross, and so we must conclude that those sufferings must have been absolutely necessary. A natural death (i.e. one due to old age or "natural causes") would not have sufficed. Most of us die a natural death, but this is not the penalty for sin, as even innocent babies die. The wages of sin is an inflicted death from which we are saved by belief in Jesus who, though Himself sinless, took our punishment upon Himself. Thus, by His sacrifice, we have been permitted to have life (through Adam, whose life was spared on account of that sacrifice), and those who are accounted worthy will later receive life more abundantly (see John 10:10). Paul states that "without the shedding of blood is no remission" (of sin) (Hebrews 9:22, see also Leviticus 17:11). This was in relation to the Law of Moses which pointed forward to Christ (Colossians 2:17, etc) and the principle still applies. Therefore the mode of death of the Saviour necessitated the shedding of His blood. The Jewish method of execution was by stoning, but under the Roman law which was in force over the Jews at the time of Jesus, the method was by crucifixion. Now whereas it may be possible for a man to be stoned to death without the shedding of blood (by a blow to the head, for example), the crucifixion of Jesus made the shedding of blood a certainty, for His hands and feet were pierced in order to nail Him to the Cross. (Much more blood was spilled later when His side was pierced with a spear), But since the blood shedding could have been brought about some other way there must be some other reason for the use of a Cross. Paul explains the reason to us in Galatians 3:10-14. As has been mentioned before, the Law of Moses contained a curse "for everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). It is written in Deuteronomy 21:23 and quoted in Galatians 3:13, that "cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree." By his suffering on that wooden Cross, Jesus took upon Himself that curse (of death) which the law held over the Jews, and by this means He redeemed the Jews from that curse "that the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:14). "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." Romans 11:33).
ESSAY NO. 6
The Forgiveness of Sins,The Resurrection of the Body,The Life Everlasting
Probably these words will be quite familiar to many people, or at any rate awaken a memory of having heard them before, yes they are Scriptural and they are here quoted in the right order. Of the three ideas, forgiveness of sins is the foundation upon which the other two depend. There can be no everlasting life without a resurrection, and no resurrection without the forgiveness of sins. Let us consider each point separately. Forgiveness of Sins. Every time we repeat the Lord's prayer we pray to God to forgive us our trespasses or sins, thus admitting that in some way we have sinned against God, and are consequently sinners in need of forgiveness. It is not our purpose in this article to discuss how sin came to be in the world (that has been dealt with in Bible Essay No. 1 - "The Plan of Redemption"), but we will accept the fact that "all have sinned." In this respect not one of us is better than another. We are all servants of Sin, and, to quote Psalm 49, "No man can redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him," because it is not possible for one who is held to ransom to pay the ransom-price for another who is also held to ransom. The one who pays the price must himself be free. It is not our liability to sin but our sins that are an offence to God; not our weaknesses in regard to temptation, but our yielding to temptation which incurs the wrath of God. Jesus "was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). A reconciliation was not required between God and His Son. It is we, the people in the world, who are in need of reconciliation, so that we may be at one with God. How, then, can this Atonement (At-one-ment) be accomplished? Here, then, is the position: we, as sinners, are alienated, estranged from God, who, in His great mercy, has provided the means by which we can be reconciled to Him. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Jesus was the only one free from sin who could, and did, give Himself as a ransom (1 Timothy 2:6}. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." "And you who were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind... yet now hath He reconciled, in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, unblameable and unreprovable in His sight, if ye continue in the faith..." (Colossians 1:21,27). In Hebrews 10:17 we read that God says "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." God means what He says. It is impossible for Him to lie. Read now Isaiah 53, where the prophet foretold that Jesus should be "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." The realization of sins forgiven and that "there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), brings a deep joy and an increased and overflowing love to God the Father and to Jesus our Saviour. We feel impelled to do our utmost to continue to "walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." In other words, to please God. Perhaps it would be profitable to pause here and consider what is meant by the words, "to them that are in Christ Jesus." We read that "if any man is in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away" (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is necessary to "put on" the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). How can we do this? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, very clearly and simply says, "so many of you as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). The Apostle Peter mentioning how, in the days of Noah, a few persons were saved by water, goes on to explain, "The like figure, even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience towards God," in other words, not only a washing away of our sins, but also a regeneration - living a new life. Did not Jesus tell Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God"? "Know ye not, that so many of us as are baptised into Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:3-5). Resurrection. Very little is mentioned in the Old Testament about resurrection, for it was Jesus who brought life and immortality to light. Many people do not realize that there are three great epochs connected with the subject of Resurrection. They are summarized by the writer to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:23,24), "Every man in his own order," (1) Christ, the first-fruits. This event is passed, when Jesus rose from the dead. (2) Those who are Christ's at His coming, has not yet taken place. In the very near future we expect the words of Thessalonians to be fulfilled - "The dead in Christ will rise first and those who are His at His coming will be caught away with them to meet the Lord." The just are those who, having put on Christ, have been justified, sanctified and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. Those included in this class are given great confidence by the words of 1 Corinthians 15:15-58, "Behold, I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed, in a moment... for the dead shall be raised incorruptible." These words are confirmed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, where we learn that at the coming of the Lord, "the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive shall be caught away with them... and so be for ever with the Lord." All in this class will then have been changed, will have become incorruptible. They can die no more, but will have eternal life, everlasting life. This is the promise He has promised us, even eternal life (1 John 5:11 & 5:13). Many foolish and unscriptural notions have been brought forward at different times about the state of the dead and a future life. It is stated in several passages in the Bible that the dead are unconscious, in the grave. The first resurrection is at the commencement of the Millennium reign of Christ on earth, during which period the redeemed, who have been made equal unto angels, and are the children of God (Luke 20:36), will live and reign with Christ. Life Everlasting. Referring to this Kingdom, the Apostle Paul says, "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9,10). We are permitted a glimpse of some of the blessings; for example, in Isaiah 35; 55:12, 13 and 65. An understanding of these portions conveys to the mind the assurance, which is corroborated by other inspired writers, of freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the abolition of sin, with all the blessings, joy and happiness which will accrue from the beneficent rule of a Righteous Ruler. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6). (3) Perhaps you are now wondering about the fate of the wicked, or unjust. This is the third order; they have been reserved unto the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9; Job 21:30). At the end of the thousand years they will be raised, but to a resurrection of judgment, and become subject to the second death. The sentence is inevitable and conclusive (Revelation 20:14). After this, when the earth has been cleansed from all sin and wickedness, and when Jesus has delivered up the Kingdom to His Father (1 Corinthians 15:24), into this new order God shall come and dwell with men. "God will wipe away all tears, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away." Many other texts could be quoted in support of each section in this paper, but enough has been brought forward for the present occasion to show that if we confess our sins "God is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. If we have put on Christ in the appointed way, we can rejoice greatly in the knowledge of sins forgiven; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:12), our bodies changed from natural to Spiritual, from corruptible to incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:53,54). When "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Now as ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God (1 Corinthians 5:20). "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55: 6). "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come, and he that heareth says, Come." "The Lord direct your hearts into the patient waiting for Christ."
K.H. (Name unknown)
ESSAY NO. 7
Understanding The Scriptures
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." So said Jesus to His disciples. So we see that the privilege of obtaining eternal life depends on knowing God and Christ, and what has been revealed to us by them. The only source to turn to for this information is His word as left on record in the Bible, this was written by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit, and so its contents do not consist of ideas of men, but of God's thoughts. As the Apostle Peter also wrote to the early churches, "Knowing this first that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old times by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20,21). But for the right understanding of the Scriptures, knowledge of the Old Testament is as important as that of the New. In fact, once we comprehend the link between Old and New Testaments we have much of the clue to the complete understanding of the Word of God. So in this essay we shall briefly survey a few events and prophecies mentioned in the Old Testament and referred to again in the New. In the first book of the Bible we read, after a short account of the creation, how Adam and Eve sinned, of their attempt to cover themselves with fig-leaves, and of God's making them animal skins for their covering instead. This teaches, right from the start, an important lesson, which is borne out by later incidents in the Bible and which cannot be impressed too strongly - when man has sinned, God is eager and willing to forgive. But it must be on His terms; what God says, man must do, not what man thinks. But let us pursue the history given in the Book of Genesis a little further. We learn next of Cain and Able. They both brought an offering to God. We are told that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, and that the Lord had not respect to his offering; that Abel brought sheep of his flock and that the Lord had respect to his offering, and we ask, Why? Before we attempt to answer this question we ought to point out two important principles to be applied always when trying to get any information from the Bible, and to study it properly. The first is that the Bible is full of cross references. An incident or a prophecy dealt with at one place is referred to again at another - where least expected. We shall find several examples of this as we go on. For now let us point out that this being so, then in order to understand the Bible really completely and thoroughly, it is indispensable to read it right through from beginning to end; not once, but several times. The second principle is that many things mentioned in Scripture have a two-fold meaning; the obvious one, which appears just from a superficial reading of it, and also a more hidden meaning which is only revealed much later in Scripture and which we can only therefore get to know by reading through the whole of the Bible. For example, we read early on in Genesis of two trees that were in the Garden of Eden; the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, and we are told that when Adam and Eve sinned they partook of the first, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and as a consequence God withheld from them the Tree of Life by driving them out of the Garden. Now this Tree of Life is mentioned again in the very last chapter of the Bible, the last chapter of the Book of Revelation given by Christ Himself. This last chapter gives a description of the throne of God in the Kingdom finally to be established on earth, and an invitation to anybody willing to avail himself of a place in that Kingdom. This is what we are told of the Tree of Life, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:1,2). And as a further cross-reference we go back again to the Old Testament where the prophet Ezekiel described a vision very similar to the one just referred to in the Book of Revelation. This is the vision of the Temple in Jerusalem, restored after the return of Christ (1) which we hope will shortly come to pass. Again we read of waters issuing out of the midst of the Temple of God. These waters are to be endowed with a life-giving force. Again we read of trees at the bank of the river. This is what we are told of these trees, "And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed, it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." (Ezekiel 47;12). So then, from all these dispersed statements we learn this: in the future Kingdom, the throne of God, with the Temple, occupies the centre, and from it issues a river that contains some life-giving force. On its bank there is a tree (several trees, in Ezekiel's vision; but this is no contradiction, because Ezekiel's vision refers to a different time), and this tree bears fresh fruit every month and its leaves are connected with the power of healing. 1. Some hold the view that the temple of Ezekiel's prophecy was that built at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. E.g. Ezekiel 43:11 cannot be applied to the future Kingdom age. All this information we get by putting all the statements of this life-giving tree together. So here, then, is an example to show the necessity to read the whole Bible, because only then are we in a position to know where to find all that is taught therein on a particular subject. Also, the Book or Revelation from which we took one quotation, is a book full of symbolical language, although not a single symbol used is in any way mysterious; they are all explained in earlier books of the Bible if only we know where to look for them. It is not easy to say whether the tree is one of the many symbols, or whether there will, in fact, be such a tree in the New Jerusalem to be established. One thing is certain, that is that the tree mentioned in Genesis was, at any rate, an actual tree, though no details about it are revealed. And so we see how this tree, mentioned in the Book of Genesis eventually becomes a symbol of eternal life and of healing. Finally, the waters which we have seen to issue from the throne and the Temple of God are tied up with the description of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, where we read that a river went out from Eden to water the Garden, which divided into four, flowing roughly north, south, east and west. So all these statements, apparently taken at random, dovetail together. They all show one and the same pattern, the centre of which is occupied by the Glory of God, and every time it is mentioned we read of a river, a tree and the idea of eternal life and health connected with it. This, incidentally, shows the Divine inspiration of Scripture, for the writers of all these books lived many centuries apart. We shall now apply these principles to answer our first question, Why was Cain's offering of the fruits of the ground rejected, and why was Abel's offering of the firstling of the flock accepted? Let us look, then, where the matter is mentioned again and we find this about Abel, in the Epistle to the early Hebrew believers, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and by it he being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4). From this we see that faith, and the kind of sacrifice brought, both have something to do with it. Note also the clause, "by which faith he obtained witness that he was righteous. God testifying of his gifts." From this we see how we must go about to please God, first, faith, then doing what God commands us. Let us now pursue these two subjects separately, Faith and Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Let us take the second one first. The bringing of animal sacrifices occupies a central part of the Old Testament, not only in the Law of Moses, for it is much older than that. In fact, we can trace it back to the fall of man in Eden, for when God clothed the first pair with skins, some animal must have been slain. Furthermore, all men on record long before Moses, of whom it is recorded that they were approved of God, brought an animal sacrifice at least once. In fact, the promises of blessings which God made to all His righteous servants were confirmed in that God showed, in some visible manner, that He accepted their sacrifice. But all these were animal sacrifices. Sacrifices of the fruits of the field are only exceptional and were commanded in the Law of Moses as thank offerings. But the sacrifice as a means of forgiveness of sin was always an animal offering, and under the Law of Moses, it was a strict commandment that the blood of the animal was to be poured out to the ground. So then, the acceptable sin-offering in the sight of God, is an animal. That was why Abel had offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and that was why God witnessed that he was righteous. It is vital to realise that these sacrifices and the shedding of their blood were not just ancient customs which somehow at the time of Christ had become out of date. Their meaning is fully revealed in the New Testament and without this revelation we cannot possibly understand the mission of Christ. First of all then, let us look into the kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice necessary to obtain God's pardon for a sin committed was a lamb without blemish, so the children of Israel were commanded by Moses. And John the Baptist introduced Christ as "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Also in the Book of Revelation we read of the throne of God and the Lamb, which again refers to Christ. So it is evident that these lambs pointed to Christ. His blood was shed when the Roman soldiers pierced His side on Calvary, and although the Roman soldiers did not know it, this was not just something that happened by chance, for this was the way that Christ should reconcile the world to God, and this was the plan of God ever since the first pair sinned: that is, ever since God's forgiveness for sin became necessary. This is why John introduces Him as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, for the whole of Adam's posterity suffered as a consequence of his sin. The writer of Hebrews deals with the meaning of these sacrifices and how they pointed to Christ, in great detail. Space does not permit us to go into it in detail but we must give just one verse from it showing the necessity of the shedding of the blood, part of the Law of Moses. We are told "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). Cain, who brought of the fruit, cannot possibly have shed blood. One of the first principles in God's dealings with man is that we can obtain His favour only if we come to Him on His terms and that in faith, that if we do our part, the promises which God made for those who love Him He is able and willing to fulfil. Faith. This brings us now to the second part of the question of the sacrifice of Abel; his faith. For the inspired writer of the letter to the Hebrews leaves us in no doubt that Abel's faith played an essential part, and was just as important a reason for his acceptance as the actual sacrifice itself; in fact, the promises made by God to those who faithfully serve Him and who accept them in faith, is the second important theme, besides the one on sacrifice, running right through the Bible. In a very vague way Christ was intimated to Adam and Eve after they sinned, for God promised them a seed who would bruise the head of the serpent, the cause of the first sin. More promises were made to Abraham. He said to Abraham that in his seed would all nations be blessed, and that his seed would become an innumerable multitude. God made this promise at a time when his wife, Sara, was already old, and He fulfilled it in that Sara, through a miracle, bare him a son in her old age. But Abraham believed God long before this was fulfilled. He knew that with God nothing is impossible, and he believed God when a messenger told him that Sara herself would have a son, though at that time she was at least 90 years of age. This is an important statement, "And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6). Why this statement is so important is revealed in the New Testament, especially in the epistles to the Romans and Galatians. In the latter, Paul repeats this very verse to show that, in his own words, "they which are of faith the same are the children of Abraham." (Galatians 3:6,7). Space permits us to give only a summary of what Paul has to say on this righteousness by faith. Christ is not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Mary, who was a Jewess. Hence this is the Seed of Abraham in whom are all nations to be blessed, and Paul goes on to show that if we show the childlike undoubting faith of Abraham, not regarding anything God promised as impossible, though not the natural seed of Abraham, are Abraham's seed by adoption, and at the same time, belong to Christ. Christ, by the way is not only the Seed of Abraham, He is also the Seed promised in Eden, and earlier, we have seen that He is also the Lamb, the offering for sin. So again we see how Old and New Testaments dovetail together, one common thread running through both. We can now get, perhaps, an insight into an observation made earlier in this essay, namely, that on important occasions, God always confirmed His promises by showing visibly that He accepted the sacrifices brought by His servants. The important thing is that both sacrifice and promises are related to Christ; he is the centre of both, and indeed all past history was determined by God with the final object of setting up His Kingdom with His own Son as the King. And not King only but the One who personally undid the harm done when the first pair sinned; for He it is who reconciled the world to God by giving His own life and took our sins upon Himself, who was sinless. Space does not permit us to deal with the later revelations about Christ by the prophets. Let us just say that in the last books of the Old Testament it is clearly shown that at a time not too distant, God will re-gather His chosen people, Israel, into the Holy Land, and the Kingdom of God is there to be established with the ancient nation of Israel restored, and Christ, the Ruler of Israel, and indeed of all the other nations. This is the Kingdom of God preached by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. So then the connection between the Old and New Testaments, so vital to the understanding of Scripture, is this: (1) The shedding of blood is absolutely necessary for the remission of sins. The animals so killed were symbols of Christ who came to reconcile the world to God by giving His own life-blood. (2) The promises of eternal life are to those who serve God in a child-like faith, counting nothing impossible with Him. These promises centre round Christ and the future Kingdom of the faithful ones, who, by that time, will have obtained eternal life, symbolised by the trees of which we spoke earlier. They will gain this life by the resurrection from the dead. They are also regarded as the children of Abraham to whom these promises were first made. Allow me to close with an appeal to the reader to read the whole Bible; gradually but systematically, preferably a portion daily, according to some plan. There are many printed Bible guides in use, they all have their "for's" and "against's" but any one will serve its purpose as long as it takes you through the whole Bible. Only so is it possible to become acquainted with the Word of God. That many may get this vital knowledge of what God has left on record for those desiring His favour, is the writer's earnest prayer. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23,24). "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:6-8). "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36).
ESSAY NO. 8
The Heavenly Things of Hebrews 9:23
What are the Heavenly Things? The ninth verse of this same chapter gives the clue to the answer to our question. There we read concerning the Tabernacle and its worship, "which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience," then reading on to the 14th verse we learn that the blood of Christ obtains for us an eternal redemption and purges our conscience, too. The first three verses of the tenth chapter tell us that the law was a shadow of good things to come, and could not make the comers thereunto perfect, as there was a remembrance made of sins every year. Verses 12 to 14 tell us that Jesus "made one sacrifice for sins for ever," and "perfected for ever them that are sanctified." From these verses we gather that the ordinances of the Law of Moses with the Tabernacle and its service were symbols, shadows, or figures of that which is referred to in this ninth chapter at verse 23 as "the heavenly things." The Tabernacle itself symbolised two states, or orders of priesthoods. The first Tabernacle, or tent, which was the largest, was fitted for the service of the priests; those men who did the service of God, and they were types of all the believers of the Gospel in these days, as Paul says, "Ye are a royal priesthood." In other words, we are called to serve God in holy places; in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, serving, as it were, in the first Tabernacle, where we find the "Lightstand," or Candlestick, speaking to us of the Light of God's Word; the shewbread, speaking to us of the Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ on whose words we feed; and the Altar of Incense, which we are told represents the "prayers of the saints," or believers. These are the Holy, or Heavenly Places in Christ Jesus. The second Tabernacle, or "Holy of Holies," or "Holiest of All," was the place into which the High Priest alone was allowed to enter, and that only on the Day of Atonement. The High Priest was a type of Christ, the other priests were types of the believers. It is of note that the priests entered the Holy Place daily ministering (see chapter 8, verses 4 and 5). They were never allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies represents heaven itself into which Jesus alone has entered, as the Great High Priest, there to appear in the presence of God for us. This is a brief statement; let us consider the question more carefully. In these chapters we have both a comparison and a contrast. We will find the details of the Tabernacle in the 26th chapter of Exodus, which the reader is advised to study. We intend to confine our remarks almost entirely to these chapters in Hebrews, with one or two other quotations to illustrate or confirm our conclusions. From the three last verses in the sixth chapter to the 30th verse of the tenth chapter, we have three orders of priesthood described to us. Firstly, we have the priest, Melchizedec; secondly, the priests after the order of Aaron; thirdly, the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ and that of Melchizedec have certain characteristics in common. That of Jesus as being the first and last of its kind is said to be after the order of Melchizedec, who was described as being "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but... abideth a priest continually." When trying to understand this description of Melchizedec's Priesthood, we must remember that, as we are told in Hebrews chapter 6, we have left the first principles of the Truth and are going on to the deeper things of the Spirit of God; going on, as the Apostle says, "unto perfection." The main characteristics of the Priesthood of Melchizedec are: (a) He was the only priest who was also a king. His name is composed of two words - Melci - king; and Sedec - righteous (or righteousness). Therefore "King of Righteousness," or Righteous King. And we are told, after that, King of Salem, which is King of Peace. So is Jesus - King and Priest. (b) The words just quoted provide us with the next characteristic. "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, abideth a priest continually." From this we conclude that His Priesthood was without predecessor and without successor, and, therefore is concluded as being still continuing. It is Melchizedec's Priesthood which is here described, and not Melchizedec himself. So is the Priesthood of Jesus. Not after the order of Aaron, but after the power of an endless life - abiding a Priest for ever. Thus we have the Priesthood of Jesus typified by Melchizedec. Now we come to the second order of Priesthoods - the Aaronic. Aaron was chosen as the High Priest and his sons with him as assistant priests (or Common Priests). A clear distinction is made between the High Priest and the priests of the common order. The High Priest had robes of Glory and Beauty over his white robes of Purity and Righteousness; the other priests had only the white robes. The High Priest went in to the Holy of Holies once a year; they never were allowed to enter that Most Holy Place. They were allowed to minister only in the first Tabernacle. Herein we have the comparison with Jesus. Aaron was the High Priest; Jesus is the Great High Priest. Aaron wore robes of Glory and Beauty over his white robes; Jesus is clothed with Glory, Honour, and Majesty over His Righteousness. Aaron entered the Holiest of All with the sacrificial blood of animals; Jesus entered heaven itself there to appear in the presence of God for us. Aaron ministered in the Holiest for Israel; Jesus ministers in Heaven for Believers. Now to the contrasts; Aaron entered the Holiest every year; Jesus once only entered heaven. Aaron died and his son succeeded him; Jesus ever-liveth and has a continual Priesthood. Aaron's offerings and the Law of Moses were a shadow of good things to come; Jesus and His sacrifice were the good things themselves. The Aaronic sacrifices were repeatedly necessary; that of the Lord Jesus once for all. Thus we see that the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus far transcends that of Aaron and that of Melchizedec, too. There's were patterns; His was, and is, the True. The Tabernacle was an earthly building typical of Spiritual, or heavenly things. The Holy of Holies was typical of heaven itself. Aaron alone entered the Holiest Place. No other priest was allowed to pass the veil. Jesus alone has entered heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. We are never allowed to follow Him there. "No man has ascended into heaven," we are told, and "David is not ascended into heaven." (John chapter 3 and Acts chapter 2). Aaron was the High Priest, his sons were common priests of a lower order. Jesus is the High Priest over His house, whose house are we, if we hold fast the truth. We are allowed to serve in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, but not in the very presence of God in the Holiest of All. The heavenly things are those to which we are now called; not in heaven, but in heaven-like places in Christ Jesus. In the heavenly places to which we are called is the Bread of Heaven, and the Light of the World. Here we are in association with the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and the True Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Here on earth we are ministers in the House of the Lord. These then, are the "heavenly things" to which the Apostle refers in Hebrews chapter 9, and at verse 23. May God grant that we may serve faithfully and receive that great recompense of reward.