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    July 21, 1887

    “The First Commandment. No. 3” The Signs of the Times 13, 28, p. 440.

    “THOU shalt have no other gods before me.” When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go,” Pharaoh answered, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?” Before that controversy was over Pharaoh had learned by a terrible experience that the Lord God of Israel is above all gods. The Lord God of Israel is the true God, and whoever does not worship him does not worship the true God, and his worship is a false worship. This God is the God that is revealed in the Bible, that is revealed in Jesus Christ, and whoever does not worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whoever does not worship the God of the Bible, does not worship the true God. He it is who has created all things, and commands every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, to “fear God, and give glory to him; ... and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7. Yet he must not only be worshiped, he must be worshiped in the right way.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.1

    To the woman of Samaria, Jesus said of the Samaritans, “Ye worship ye know not what;” while of the Jews he said, “We know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.” And yet the Samaritans had built a temple for the worship of God; they had the Scriptures of the Pentateuch; and, no doubt, at the time of the Saviour, supposed they were worshiping God, but he told them, ye worship ye know not what. And although the great body of the Jews were no more ready to receive the Saviour than were the Samaritans; and though Jesus was just as ready to speak salvation to the Samaritans as to the Jews; yet salvation is of the Jews and the Jews knew what they worshiped while the Samaritans did not know what they worshiped. But whether the worshipers be Jews, Samaritans, or Gentiles, the true worshipers “worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.2

    Now because of a misinterpretation of this statement that “God is a Spirit,” we very much fear that there are many people in this day, and in this land, who worship they know not what. More than one large denomination of Protestants declare in their creeds, confessions of faith, or whatever it is most proper to call them, that God is “without body, parts, or passions.” Now if these people really worship strictly according to their creed, it is exceedingly difficult for us to understand how it can be otherwise than that they worship they know not what. For under such a statement as this what is there for the mind to grasp or conceive of? And if there is nothing for the mind to take hold of, how then is it possible for that person to intelligently worship anything of which he can have no intelligent conception? We know not how an utter nonentity could be more clearly described than by some such statement as that it is “without body, parts, or passions.” It is but fair to state, however, that it is doubtful whether the members of these denominations really worship according to this part of the creed. Yet it is difficult to decide, for the creed is inconsistent with itself.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.3

    For, whereas, in one place it is plainly stated that God is “without body, parts, or passions,” in another place it is just as plainly stated that Christ “being very and eternal God” was born “of the Virgin Mary,” “was crucified, died,” and “on the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into Heaven,” etc. Now as Christ ascended into Heaven and is there yet, with a body, and as he is said to be “very and eternal God,” the query with us is, How then can it be that God is “without body, parts, or passions”? Besides this they will talk about the “passion” of Christ. But if Christ be very and eternal God, and God is “without body, parts, or passions,” then how could he possibly have any passion? It will not help the matter a particle to say that this refers to the passion of his human body, because there stand their own words that “he ascended into Heaven” “with the same body in which he suffered,” and that is the same body that he has now. Therefore, if there was ever the passion of Christ; if Christ be very and eternal God; if he ascended to Heaven with that body in which he entered his passion; then it is literally impossible that God should be “without body, parts, or passions.” For this reason it is that we know not where to place the worshipers who profess this creed. Do they worship One without body, parts, or passions, according to the first statement of the creed? or do they worship One with a body and who endured a passion according to the second statement? or is the matter as much confused in their minds as it is in the creed, so that they worship they know not what?SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.4

    Let no one suppose that we are treating this subject, or these worshipers, lightly, or disrespectfully. God forbid. It is too important and too solemn a subject for that. But we are treating the subject plainly. We are really endeavoring to expose an inconsistency in the confession of the worshipers. Jesus said that the Father seeketh such to worship him as shall worship him in spirit and in truth, and it is absolutely certain that that part of this confession which says that God is without body, parts, or passions, is not the truth. And those who attempt to worship him according to such a conception do not worship him “in truth,” because such a conception is not the truth.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.5

    Though Jesus said, “God is a Spirit,” it does not follow at all that he is a nonentity, or even unreal. “He maketh his angels spirits,” yet they are real beings. They have been seen of men, they have talked with men, time and again. Jesus is a Spirit, yet the disciples saw him ascend bodily into Heaven, and Stephen, and Paul, and John, all saw him and recognized him there. And God is just as real as Jesus Christ is. God is a person and has a person, for Christ is not only the brightness of God’s glory, but also “the express image of his person.” Hebrews 1:3. How could God have a “person” if he is without body or parts? God has a form, for Christ “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Philippians 2:6. How could God have a form, and yet be without body or parts. One of the gracious promises of God is that the ransomed “shall see his face.” Revelation 22:4. How can they ever see his face if he be without body or parts? Did he not speak the ten commandments with an audible voice in the hearing of the whole nation of Israel? Did he not write the commandments on two tables of stone? Were not the tables the work of God? and was not the writing the writing of God graven upon the tables? Did not God give to Moses two tables of testimony, tables of stone written with the finger of God? But why need we say more? We might go through the whole Bible this way and it would all tell the same story. The truth is that there is not in all the Bible a vestige of any such idea as that God is “without body or parts or passions.” The idea is nothing under heaven but a piece of Papal mystification by which God should be obscured to the minds of men so that they should worship the Papacy or else worship they know not what.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.6

    There are, though, in these confessions, some texts referred to, to prove the statement. To prove that God is without body or parts we are referred to Deuteronomy 4:15: “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire.” Well, because they saw no similitude, does it follow that there was no similitude? When the mount was altogether on a smoke, as the smoke of a furnace, and blackness and darkness and tempest, it is not at all strange that they saw no similitude, even though the Lord did descend there with tens of thousands of angels and twenty thousand heavenly chariots. And the cloud and darkness upon and about the mount were expressly that they might not see any similitude. If there was no similitude, then what was the use of the darkness? But why did not the Lord want them to see any similitude? The Lord himself tells, and this is why: “Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, ... and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them.” Deuteronomy 4:16-19. That explains it all in a word. If they had been allowed to see one of the angels or the cherubim or any figure at all, they would have at once made an image of it. Or if they had not even seen any of these and yet had been allowed to see only the brightness that surrounded the scene, they would have turned to worship the sun or moon or stars or all together. And that is why God screened the whole scene from the people, by a thick cloud, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest. It was not that there was no similitude that the cloud covered the scene, but that they should see no similitude lest they make an image of it, and corrupt themselves with idolatry.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.7

    To prove that God is without “passions” Acts 14:14, 15 is given. Barnabas and Paul “rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.” The argument of the creed seems to be that because Barnabas and Paul were men of like passions with the Lycaonians and other men, therefore the Lord is “without passions.” Profound logic indeed! Yet it is fully as profound as the idea which it is intended to support.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.8

    No, God is a real person, who loves the children of men. Yea, he “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And that dear Son has promised that the pure in heart shall see God, that they shall see his face, and that they shall stand before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. This is he who says to all creatures, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And him thou shalt have, him alone, and him with all the heart. “For thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.9

    He that doeth these things will know what he worships; he will know whom he worships. And if he worships Him in harmony with his own Holy Spirit and according to his own word of truth, then he is a true worshiper, worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth. May the Lord help us that we may not only “know what we worship,” but that we may be indeed “true worshipers” of the One that we know. J.SITI July 21, 1887, page 440.10

    “The Excellency of Christ” The Signs of the Times 13, 28, p. 441.

    IN the first chapter of Hebrews the great apostle treats of Christ in his exaltation before he came to the world. In the second chapter of the same book he treats of his humiliation in this world. In the first chapter he shows a contrast between Christ and the angels, as also he does in the second; but in the first chapter he shows Christ higher than the angels, while in the second he shows him lower than the angels. Hebrews 1:4 says of him, “Being made so much better [Kreisson, superior, more excellent, of a higher nature—Greenfield] than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they;” while chapter 2:9 says, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels.” In the first chapter he is presented to us as equal with God; in the second he is presented to us as equal with man. Than in the first chapter of Hebrews we know of no place in all the Bible where a greater effort has been made to set forth the excellency of Christ, as he was with the Father before the world was; and than in the second chapter we know of no place in all the Bible where a greater effort has been made to set forth his excellency as he was in the nature of man in the world.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.1

    First, it is said, “Unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” Although man was made a little lower than the angels, yet he was crowned with glory and honor, and was given dominion over all the earth and every living thing upon it. But now we see it is not so. Man has lost his dominion, his glory, and his honor. Instead of retaining his dominion free under God, he yielded himself to obey Satan and so became subject to him. Instead of retaining the dominion over the world and himself he surrendered himself a servant to Satan, a slave to sin, and a victim of death, and entailed it all upon all his. Thus it is “now we see not yet all things put under him.” And if left to himself we nevermore should see all things put under him.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.2

    But thanks be to God, although we see not yet all things put under man, we do “see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Thus he stepped right into the place that man occupies, took upon him man’s nature, and became subject to all the conditions of that nature and of the world in which man dwells—all the conditions except that of sin. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Christ put himself in man’s place, and lived there, and acted there, without sin, that through him man might reach a place and condition where he can live and act without sin.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.3

    Secondly, he came not simply as a man amongst men but he became subject to the temptations, the trials, and the sufferings of men, that he might be not only a man among men but a friend and brother to all the race. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” There is nothing that will bind hearts together as will the experience of suffering together. It is this that makes Christ and his people one. We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” For “it is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” And thus “both he which sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.4

    Thirdly, nor was it only that he might be a man amongst men, and a friend and brother of all through suffering, that he came, but also that he might destroy the devil and deliver all who will be delivered from the ruin which the devil brought. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The devil brought death into the world and into the universe of God, and by that evil which he brought he shall be destroyed forever; and all who desire to be freed from the bondage of sin and the consequent fear of death shall be forever delivered. Death is the consequence of sin, for “the wages of sin is death.” And that it is sin that brings man into bondage and the fear of death is clear. Said Jesus to certain Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [bond-servant, Revised Version, slave, Greek] of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” And “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” And the son abideth forever. Thus Christ delivers from the bondage of sin and the fear of death.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.5

    Fourthly, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Thus we see that he did not take on him the nature of the Gentile alone to the exclusion of the Jew; nor did he take on him the seed of Abraham alone to the exclusion of the Gentile; nor yet did he take on him the nature of his brethren alone, elected to be so, to the exclusion of the non-elect. He took upon him the nature of man, whether he be Jew or Gentile, bond or free; he made himself the brother of the race, and all the race may become his brethren if they will.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.6

    “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.7

    J.

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