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    September 22, 1887

    “Partakers of the Divine Nature” The Signs of the Times 13, 37, p. 583.

    A SHORT time ago the question was asked the Interior:SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.1

    “Is it orthodox, in a Presbyterian sense, to teach for sound doctrine that as Christ took upon himself human nature, so we shall at last take upon us the divine nature?”SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.2

    The Interior gave the answer, “There is no warrant in Scripture for such an assertion.” Now whether the Interior made its answer upon the broad sense of the question, or upon the particular point involved in the terms “as” and “so,” of course we cannot say. But be that as it may, there certainly is in Scripture ample warrant for the statement that we shall “at last” be partakers of the divine nature. For Peter says directly, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4.SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.3

    John says: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2. As he is, he is assuredly divine, and if we shall be like him as he is, it cannot be otherwise than that we shall be partakers of the divine nature. Paul says on this point: “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20, 21. His glorious body is most certainly divine; and when our bodies shall be changed and fashioned like unto his glorious body, then we shall be partakers of the divine nature.SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.4

    This too is precisely that to which Peter referred in the verse quoted above. For in his first letter, chapter 5:1, he uses the same word “partaker” saying, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” And Paul says of this glory: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:16-18. And again, we shall be “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. And Jesus said, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Matthew 13:43. Now how all this can be, and yet we not “take upon us the divine nature,” is more than any man can make to appear. And how the Interior cay say that “there is no warrant in the Scripture for such an assertion,” is more than we can understand.SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.5

    There is another consideration that proves clearly that we shall “be partakers of the divine nature.” Immortality is an attribute of Divinity. It inheres solely in Him. For thus it is written: “Not unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever.” 1 Timothy 1:17. And again, speaking of the “appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” it is written: “Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality.” 1 Timothy 6:15, 16. Yet, although he only hath immortality, he has promised to give of it to all who will obey him; for Christ has brought it to light through the gospel. And to all who seek for it through him it will be given, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53. Therefore as immortality is a property solely of the divine nature, when we shall have put on immortality, and so shall have been made like unto the glorious Son of God, we shall then have taken upon us the divine nature, we shall then, with all the redeemed, be “partakers of the glory that shall be revealed,” and “partakers of the divine nature” of the glorious One who reveals it. Thanks be unto God for the unspeakable gift of his exceeding great and precious promises. J.SITI September 22, 1887, page 583.6

    “Apostolic Example, or Christ’s Example” The Signs of the Times 13, 37, pp. 584, 585.

    IF the phrase, “apostolic example” means anything at all, it means that the example of the apostles is the standard of human duty in moral things. But if that be so their example must be the standard in every other duty as well as in the duty of keeping the first day of the week. But nobody ever thinks of appealing to the example of the apostles in any question of morals, except in the (supposed moral) matter of the observance of the first day of the week as a sacred day. By this, therefore, even those who make the claim of apostolic example, do, in effect, deny the very claim which they themselves set up.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.1

    Who ever thinks of resting upon the example of the apostles, the obligation to obey any one of the ten commandments? Take the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Who ever thinks of appealing to the example of the apostles in impressing upon men the obligation to obey this? and what should be thought of a person anyhow who would do it? That commandment is the will of God, and the basis of its obligation is as much higher than the example of the apostles, as Heaven is higher than earth, or as God is higher than man.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.2

    And the obligation to obey that commandment rested just as strongly upon the apostles as it ever did, or as it ever will, upon anybody else. Nor was their obedience to it of such transcendent merit, that it was established forever as an example for all men to follow.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.3

    It is so with every commandment of the decalogue, and with every form of duty under any one of the commandments. Who would think of impressing upon children the duty to honor their parents, by citing them to the example of the apostles? The duty to honor parents possesses higher sanctions than the example of the apostles, even the sanctions of the will of God. And to inculcate upon the minds of children this duty upon the basis of the example of the apostles, would only be to turn them away from God, and would destroy all the force of this duty upon the conscience. It is so in relation to every moral precept. The apostles were subjects and not masters of moral obligation. Moral duties spring from the will of God, and not from the example of men; and a knowledge of moral duties is derivable alone from the commands of God and not from the actions of men; all of which goes to show that in point of morals there is no such things as apostolic example. This is shown by other considerations as well. In fact every consideration only the more fully demonstrates it.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.4

    The law of God—the ten commandments—is the supreme standard of morals for the universe, and so expresses the whole duty of man. That law is perfect, and demands perfection in every subject of it. Therefore, whoever would be an example to men, in the things pertaining to the law of God, that is in any moral duty, must be perfect. Whoever would be an example to men in moral duties, must not only be perfect, but he must have always been perfect. He must always have met to the full every requirement of the law of God. But this no man whom the world ever saw has done. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “They are all gone out of the way.” The perfection of the law of God has never been met in any man whom the world ever saw. Therefore, no man whom the world ever saw can ever be an example to men in moral duties. Consequently there is not, and there never can be any such thing as apostolic example in moral things.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.5

    We know that to many this will appear as stating the case too strongly, because it is plainly taught now by prominent men, Protestants too, that the apostles, because they were inspired men, are examples in moral duties. But we say without the slightest hesitation that, although the apostles were indeed inspired, they are not examples to men in moral duties. Because, first, no degree of inspiration can ever put a man above the law of God; and because, secondly, although we know that the doctrine and the writings of the apostles are inspired, yet we know also that their actions were not inspired. This we know because the inspired record tells us so. Although we mentioned the facts last week, we present them again, in this connection. Here is the inspired record of one instance in point: “When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all” etc., Galatians 2:11-14.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.6

    Peter “was to be blamed.” He “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.” Then what kind of “apostolic example” was that to follow? and where were those led who followed it? They were being carried away with dissimulation—two-facedness, hypocrisy; they were being led away from “the truth of the gospel.” But they could claim apostolic example for it, and that too with the very apostles—Peter and Barnabas—present, who were their examples. But God did not leave them there, he rebuked their sin and corrected their fault, and brought them back from their blameworthiness to uprightness once more according to the truth of the gospel. And in the record of it God has shown all men that there is no such thing as “apostolic example” for anybody to follow, but that the truth of the gospel and the word of God is that according to which all men must walk.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.7

    Another instance, and in this even Paul himself was involved: “Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other.” Acts 15:36-39.SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.8

    “The contention was so sharp between them.” Is that “apostolic example” which is to be followed by all men? Everybody will at once say, “No.” But why is it not? Because it is not right. But when we say that that is not right, in that very saying, we at once declare that there is a standard by which the apostles themselves must be tried, and by which their “example” must be measured. And that is to acknowledge at once that there is no such thing as “apostolic example.” We do not cite these things to reproach the apostles, nor to charge them with not being Christians. They were men of like passions with all the rest of us; and were subject to failings as well as all the rest of us. They had weaknesses in themselves to strengthen by exercise in divine grace, and defects of moral character to overcome by the help of God. They had to fight the good fight of faith as well as all the rest of us. And they fought the good fight and became at last “more than conquerors through Him that hath loved” them as well as us, and hath washed us all “from our sins in his own blood.” Far be it, that we should cite these things to reproach the apostles; we simply bring forth the record which God has given of the apostles, to show to men that if they will be perfect they must have a higher aim than “the example of the apostles.” By these things from the word of God we would show to men that in working out the problem of human destiny under the perfect law of God, that problem must be worked by an example that never fails. We write these things not that we love the apostles less, but Christ more. And this is only what the apostles themselves have shown. Ask the apostles whether we shall follow them as examples. Peter, shall we follow your example? Answer: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:21, 22. Paul, shall we not follow your example? Answer: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. John, “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” shall we not follow your example? shall we not walk in your ways? Answer: “He that saith he abideth in Him, ought also so to walk, even as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. Wherefore, as the apostles themselves repudiate the claim of apostolic example, it follows that there is no such thing as “the example of the apostles.”SITI September 22, 1887, page 584.9

    Jesus Christ is the one only example for men to follow. To every man he commands absolutely, “Follow me.” “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” “I am the door,” “he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” The Lord Jesus is the one only person whom this world ever saw who met perfectly, in the fullest measure, every requirement of the perfect law of God. He was made flesh, and he in the flesh and form and nature of man, stood in every place and met every temptation that any man can ever meet, and in every place and in everything he met all the demands of the perfect law of God. He did it from infancy to the prime of manhood, and never failed. “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” Therefore, as he is the only person whom this world ever saw who ever met to the full all the perfect requirements of the law of God, it follows that he is the only person whom the world ever saw, or ever shall see, who can be an example for men, or whose example is worthy to be followed by men.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.1

    Therefore, when preachers and leaders of theological thought anywhere present before men any other example, even though it be the example of the apostles, and seek to induce men to follow any other example, even though it be proposed as apostolic example, such conduct is sin against God, and treason against our Lord Jesus Christ. And that there are men, in this day, Protestants too, who are doing that very thing only shows how far from Christ the religious teachers of the day have gone. It is time that they and all men should be told, that the law of God is the one perfect rule of human duty; that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one perfect example that has been worked out, in this world, under that rule; and that all men who will correctly solve the problem of human destiny must solve it by the terms of that rule as exemplified in, and according to, that example. Whoever attempts to solve the problem by any other rule or according to any other example will utterly fail of a correct solution; and whoever teaches men to attempt to solve it by any other rule or according to any other example, even though it be by “the example of the apostles,” both acts and teaches treason against the Lord Jesus Christ.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.2

    What, then, is the example of Christ in regard to keeping the first day of the week? There is no example about it at all. He never kept it. But where there is no example of Christ there can be no example of the apostles. Therefore there is not, and cannot be, any such thing as the example of the apostles for keeping the first day of the week.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.3

    What then, is the example of Christ in regard to keeping the seventh day? He kept the first seventh day the world ever saw, when he had finished his great work of creation. When he came into the world, everybody knows that he kept it as long as he lived in the world. And “he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk even as he walked.” Therefore those who walk as he walked will have to keep the seventh day. His steps led him to the place of worship on the seventh day for thus “his custom was” (Luke 4:16), and he taught the people how to keep the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord (Matthew 12:1-12). And he has left “us an example that ye should follow his steps.” And all who follow his steps will be led by those steps to keep the seventh day, and to turn away their feet from the Sabbath, for such is his example.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.4

    Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Now was Paul a follower of Christ in the matter of the seventh day? Let us see: “And he [Christ] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16. And of Paul it is said, by the same writer, “They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews, and Paul, as his manner [custom] was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” Acts 17:1, 2. Paul did follow Christ in his “custom” of keeping the Sabbath day—the seventh day—therefore if any man will obey the word of God by Paul and will be a follower of Paul as he followed Christ, it will have to be his “custom” to go to the house of God, and to worship God, on the seventh day.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.5

    For the keeping of the seventh day we have the commandment of God and the example of the living God (Exodus 20:8-11; Genesis 2:3), and of the Lord Jesus Christ both in Heaven and on earth, both as Creator and Redeemer. And there is neither command nor example for the keeping of any other day. Will you obey the commandment of God, and follow the divine example in divine things? or will you instead obey a human command and follow human examples in human things, and expect the divine reward for it? Answer now as you expect to answer in the Judgment.SITI September 22, 1887, page 585.6

    J.

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