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ADMITTING that we are not justified by the degree of our knowledge of the Divine Plan, but by the fulness of our faith, we are, nevertheless, deeply interested in every expression of the Scriptures bearing upon the philosophy of the great fact which the arms of our faith have grasped as a whole. The fact was as large when first we laid hold upon it as it is today, but we did not see its details as we now see them. And quite possibly there may be certain features which will yet more fully open to our eyes of understanding in the future. Our proper attitude is one of gratitude to God for knowledge of the blessed fact that his forgiveness of sins is somehow or other made possible to us through the death of Jesus. It was the appreciation of that fact which justified us and drew us to the Lord in consecration, saying, "The love of Christ constraineth us." (I Cor. 5:14.) Since that blessed moment it has been our privilege to go on and on, growing in grace and in knowledge and appreciation, in love and self-sacrificing obedience. Let us continue in this way and permit no amount of philosophizing to rob us of the blessings and privileges already secured. Some seem in danger of so doing—in danger of quarreling over philosophies which they cannot see; and, by the wrong spirit fostered through the quarreling, they seem in danger of losing all the blessings ever enjoyed. Let us not follow such a course, but, while maintaining our justifying faith and spirit of devotion, let us seek to appreciate every feature of Divine Truth presented to us in the Divine Word.
The Gospel message is the good tidings respecting a Ransom sacrifice, on account of which God may be just and yet be the justifier of the believer. Of the Ransomer God gave the first intimation to father Abraham, yet without explaining the particulars. He merely intimated that in some manner Divine Justice would be satisfied by Abraham's offspring, the Messiah, and that in consequence a blessing would go through his Seed to all the families of the earth. When our Lord was introduced as the Seed of Abraham he made the first statement of the philosophy of the Divine Plan by which, as Abraham's Seed, he was to bring the promised blessing. He declared, "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28.) This comprehensive statement of the Ransom was not elaborated—no details were given. However, in the Law to Israel, God prefigured and elaborated the Ransom, not in such a manner that all would understand it, but in types and shadows, which in his "due time" he proposed should be made clear and plain to such as would have the proper eye of understanding, enlightened by the holy Spirit.
The word Ransom, as we have already pointed out, signifies a price to correspond. Adam, disobedient and a sinner, was condemned to death and needed to be Ransomed or Redeemed or Purchased back from death and from the condemnation of Justice. As he was but one man, so it needed but one man to Redeem him, to Ransom him. But it needed a perfect man, and there was none such. And so God sent Jesus, holy, harmless and undefiled, to be the Ransom of Adam and incidentally of his race, because all were involved through his disobedience. When, therefore, Jesus "died, the just for the unjust," on Calvary, a price sufficient had been laid down to redeem Adam and his race.
But this merit has not yet been placed in the hands of Justice. Merely the merit of the sacrifice of a perfect human life was laid down in death, and it belonged to our Lord Jesus when the Father raised him from the dead by his own power.
What did the risen Jesus do with the merit of his own sacrifice? We answer, that forty days later he ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God for us—believers, the "household of faith." This was pictured in the Law. As Jesus said, "Moses wrote of me." (John 5:46.) In the type Aaron, the high priest, typified the consecrated Jesus anointed with the holy Spirit, the High Priest of our profession. As Aaron took the blood of the bullock, which represented his own blood or life or sacrifice, and went with it into the Most Holy and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat to make for himself (and the under-priests) and for his house (the tribe of Levi) atonement for sins, so did our Lord Jesus do in the antitype. He took not the blood of the bullock, but "his own blood," the merit of his own sacrifice. He sprinkled it not for the literal priests and Levites, the typical people, but for the antitypical Royal Priesthood, and Levites (or servants) of the "household of faith."
What has this to do with the Ransom? We answer, This is the philosophy of it, as set before us in the Scriptures. It is not God's intention nor our expectation that all or many will be able to understand this Divine philosophy. As our Lord says, It is "given" to some to understand and not "given" to others. (Matt. 13:11-17.) We write in hope of assisting only those to whom it is "given to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven." We write not to those outsiders to whom it is not intended these mysteries shall be understood or made known—either because they never came into the right attitude of heart to receive them, or because they subsequently left that proper condition of loving devotion, humility and teachableness.
So, then, our Ransom sacrifice was presented before the Father when Jesus ascended up on high after his resurrection; and, according to the God-given type, it was presented, not for all the people, but merely for the antitypical "household of faith." The Sin-Offering, the offering which Christ made to Divine Justice in offset to man's sin, was the Ransom. None but he could have given it, as we have shown, and he could have given it for one of the race only, or for all of the race of Adam, as he might choose to apply it. As a price it was sufficient for all, but for how many of the all he would choose to apply it rested entirely upon himself and the Divine Plan, which he was following, although, as the type shows, he did not apply it for all, but for merely the "household of faith"—"for us." Nevertheless it is ultimately to apply for all, "a ransom for all," not only in the sense that it was sufficient to meet the penalty for all, but additionally in the sense that it will yet be made available to all—indirectly—by passing the merit through the "household of faith," through the "members of his Body."
The waters of a great spring are set apart for the supply of a great city. To serve the intended purposes it is passed through numerous pipes and spigots. It is the same water in each spigot because from that same spring. In partaking of its refreshment we might indeed refer to the spigot from which we drew it, or we might refer to the spring itself or sometimes to the one and sometimes to the other. So in thinking of the merit of our Lord Jesus' sacrifice we should remember that all sin-atonement merit sprang from our Lord's sacrificial death—whenever applied and however. He is the Ransomer. His blood is the blood of Atonement [R4352 : page 88] for the sin of Adam, which brought the death sentence upon him and his race. No one adds to that Ransom and no one takes away from it. In the divine plan it is appropriated to the Church, "the elect," in order to let us have the privilege of joining our Lord as his "members" and by dying with him; as sharers of his sacrifice we merely pass his merit on to natural Israel and the world through the New Covenant. He is the spring, we are the pipes.
In Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices (published in 1880) we have already elaborated this subject. We therein show that Christ, instead of applying the merit of his sacrifice directly to the whole world, eventually effects the same thing by applying his merit to the comparatively small class drawn of the Father during this age. The Father draws (John 6:42) to the Son for "justification by faith in his blood" those who love righteousness and hate iniquity, and who are feeling after God, if haply they might find him. The Son receives these and acquaints them with the fact that he has already made atonement for sin and presented it on behalf of "every one that believeth." And then he guides them to the further privilege of this Gospel Age—that they may become joint-sacrificers with him and thus become his Bride and Joint-Heir in his Mediatorial Kingdom, which is soon to be established for the blessing of the unbelieving world—yet undrawn, unjustified, unblessed. The Son will draw them during the Millennium.—John 12:32.
We answer that this feature of the Divine Plan of the Ages is, as yet, a "Mystery" to all except the "saints." To the latter God reveals this great privilege—that by it he will "bring many sons to glory," under the Captaincy of Jesus, and that these will be called "his brethren," "his members," "his bride," according to the various standpoints of observation. In order that they may share his nature and its glory they must share his sufferings, "his death"; thus, since he must suffer, the just for the unjust, so these, being justified through faith in his blood, must similarly suffer, the just for the unjust, as his "members," and as "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ;" not afflictions left behind in the sense of the Redeemer's incompetency to make the full Atonement for the sins of the whole world, but sins left behind in the sense that our Lord did not apply his own merit directly to the world of unbelievers. Their sins are left behind that the merit of Christ, passing through the elect Church, might benefit them just as much in the end, and additionally might give the "elect" of this age the opportunity of suffering with their Lord and Head, in order that in due time they might be glorified with him.—Col. 1:24.
This is all clearly shown in the type of Leviticus 16. As [R4354 : page 88] the High Priest's own personal sacrifice is represented in the bullock, so the sacrifice of his adopted members, justified by his blood, is shown in the secondary or supplemental sacrifice of the goat. All who have studied the subject remember well that everything that was done to the bullock was done to the goat, and that thus our Lord in advance foretold and illustrated that all who will be members of the "elect," the Royal Priesthood, must be copies of God's dear Son, the great High Priest, by whose sacrifice they were justified. Again, these are they who are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in the "narrow way"—the way of self-sacrifice, self-denial, the way of the cross.
We have repeatedly called attention to the fact that these highly honored ones were originally "children of wrath even as others," and many of them "strangers and aliens from God," but brought nigh unto him "by the blood of the cross" and still closer through the sufferings of this Gospel Age, this antitypical Atonement Day of sin-offerings.
Who cannot see that our Lord offered himself once for all, a sin-offering? and that Christ dieth no more than "once for all"? Who cannot see that there were two distinct sin-offerings in the type—the bullock and the goat? Who cannot see that there are two sin-offerings during this Gospel Age, our Lord, our Redeemer, the center of all the merit, and the sacrifice of his Church, his Body, to whom his merit is applied? Who cannot see that these two offerings, the bullock (Jesus) and the goat (the members of his Body), are the "better sacrifices" mentioned by the Apostle Paul? (Heb. 9:23.) Who cannot see that these are the sin-offerings which alone were burned outside the camp? (Lev. 16:27.) Who cannot see that the Apostle urges us to present our bodies living sacrifices and to "Go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach"? (Heb. 13:13.) So surely as two and two make four, we who go without the camp with our Lord are therefore participants in the sin-offerings, exactly as the Apostle declares.
We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. The world has no advocate with the Father, because they do not believe and have not accepted Jesus as their Redeemer and Advocate: he has not "appeared" for them, but "for us." When he appeared in the presence of God for us, just after his ascension on high, he presented his merit for believer's "sins that are past by the forbearance of God." He did not apply his merit for our future sins, transgressions, trespasses, weaknesses, ignorances, etc. As the basis of his work as our Advocate, our Lord retained a measure of his abundant merit for this purpose, with a view to having us come daily to the throne of the heavenly grace to obtain mercy—not for the original sin, which for believers is past, through the forbearance of God, but for our daily trespasses of ignorance or weakness. So he encourages us to remember that the imperfections of our earthen vessel need be no hindrance as New Creatures, spirit-begotten, because for all these human weaknesses "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." Thus we are exhorted to keep our garments unspotted from the world, because if we are in the right condition of heart we may appreciate the privileges of going to the throne of grace and having every trespass of weakness and ignorance blotted out, washed away.
Thus our Lord is the Atoner "for our sins and also for the sins of the whole world." But there is a difference. Our sins are represented in one part of the sin-offering, the bullock, and the sins of the whole world are represented in the other part, the goat. (Heb. 13.) He has already made satisfaction for our sins. Now he is offering his "members" in sacrifice that we may share his sufferings and glory. He is passing his merit through us that he may apply it "in due time" "for the sins of the whole world." Surely the merit of the Atoner is not decreased in any wise by reason of its passing through those whom he accepts and whom the Father accepts as his "members" on the larger scale!
This is the thought which our Lord suggested, saying, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24.) The immediate fruitage of our Lord's death was the bringing forth of the Church and the "household of faith." The dying in turn of those grains accepted as part and parcel with the original is to bring forth in the Lord's due time the appointed crop suggested by the Prophet, saying, "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon."—Psa. 72:16.
The word "Mediator" is not synonymous with the words "Ransomer," "Redeemer," etc. On the contrary there could be no use for a Mediator until first a Redeemer had ransomed mankind. The word "mediator" is Scripturally used in connection with the establishment of the Covenants, and never otherwise. For instance, "Moses, the mediator of the Law Covenant," and Christ, "the Mediator of the New Covenant." Notice, however, that Aaron, the priest, did not mediate any Covenant; neither does Jesus, as the antitypical Priest, mediate a Covenant. It was the work of the priest to offer sacrifices for sins, and this our Lord has been doing for nearly nineteen centuries, as the antitypical High Priest. All of the antitypical priesthood must offer up "sacrifices holy and acceptable to God," else they cannot be of the "Royal Priesthood."—Rom. 12:1.
But notice further that Moses typified the greater Christ [R4354 : page 90] —Jesus the Head and the Church his "members." As, for instance, in Acts 3:23 St. Peter says, "For Moses verily said unto the fathers, a Prophet (Teacher and Mediator) shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye obey in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you; and it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not obey that Prophet, shall be destroyed from amongst the people." The antitypical Moses here pictured was undoubtedly the glorified Christ, Head and Body, in his instruction of the world during the Millennium. It is certainly not true that all are destroyed who disobey the Lord at the present time. It is this antitypical Moses taken from amongst the brethren that God has been raising up during this Gospel Age. Our Redeemer and Lord was raised up first to be "Head over the Church which is his Body." Since then the members are being raised up from the world, separated from the world to the Lord and the Millennial work.—Eph. 1:23; 4:4,12,16; 5:30; Col. 1:18; 3:15.
Moses was not the typical priest and made not the typical atonement for sin; that was the work of the priest—Aaron. Moses as the mediator of the Law Covenant typified The Christ, Head and Body, Mediator of the New Covenant.
However, that it might be seen that the work of the Mediator of the future in the sealing of the New Covenant will be vitally identified with the Atonement work, we have the declaration of the type that Moses used in sealing the Law Covenant, the typical blood of both bulls and goats. The lesson of this most distinctly is that the greater Mediator, Jesus the Head of the Church, his "Members," will seal or sprinkle the New Covenant with the blood of both of the sacrifices the meritorious blood of the antitypical bullock (our Lord, our Redeemer), and also the blood of his "members" (the Church), the antitype of the goat.
Looking back at the original Covenant made with Abraham, it is like a closed-up telescope. For hundreds of years natural Israel seemed to be the Seed of Abraham, to whom the promises were made and through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. Yet after more than sixteen centuries the telescope was slipped out a notch and matters so completely changed that the Jew does not know what happened unto this day. The thing which did happen was that Christ Jesus came and personally became the Seed of Abraham, by obeying the Law. Then, by dying for Adam's race, he was exalted to be the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. Then he was ready to give the earthly part of Israel's blessings to as many as would receive them—by justification by faith. Bewildered Israel held off and the favor went to the few of that nation and to thousands of others previously in darkness—Gentiles. These, after accepting the blessed privilege of human justification, were invited to surrender it, to sacrifice it, as their Redeemer had done.
This work of sacrificing has been going on for more than eighteen centuries, and soon will be finished. When the sacrificing finishes, to whom will the blessed privileges of fellowship with God and Covenant privileges then be given? We answer that the Apostle and the prophets declare that it will be given to Israel again, but not by their own Law Covenant, but by a Law Covenant which the Lord will make with them at that time. The Redeemer and his sacrificing associates, his "members" or "Bride," will act as Mediator of the New Covenant between God and Israel.—Ezek. 16:60,61; Rom. 11:27-32.
Furthermore, the blessed privileges of that New Covenant will not be confined to those of Jewish birth, but all the nations of the earth will be privileged to become "Israelites indeed," without guile, and to come under the terms, conditions and blessings of that New Covenant.
Thus eventually the blood of Christ shall extend in its efficacy and blessing, not only to the "household of faith" of this present time, but to the Jews in the next age and through them to all nations. It will be none the less the blood of Christ that will bless and whose efficacy will restore all nations to fellowship with God because (1) Spiritual Israel and (2) Natural Israel shall have been associated in conveying the blessing to all nations.
Have in mind, then, that a priest never is a mediator of a Covenant and that a mediator of a Covenant is never a priest to offer sin-offering and make atonement. What God has thus distinctly separated in his Word, we do well to keep separate in our thoughts and words, else our poor heads will become confused over terms, even while holding fast to certain facts.