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The Doctrine of Christ - Contents
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    LESSON EIGHTY-SIX Substituting Something in Place of Christ

    1. All worship is due to God the Creator, and is rendered through Jesus Christ our High Priest and Mediator. Psalm 95:3-7; 99:9; 1 Peter 2:4, 5; Hebrews 13:15.TDOC 273.1

    2. The Son shares with the Father in the worship which is thus offered. Hebrews 1:5, 6; John 5:22, 23; Revelation 5:11-13.TDOC 273.2

    3. The worship of other beings is strictly forbidden. Exodus 20:2, 3; 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:14; Psalm 81:9; Revelation 22:8, 9.TDOC 273.3

    4. Satan has sought to secure from the human family the worship which is due to God. Isaiah 14:12-14; Matthew 4:8, 9; Revelation 12:9; 13:4.TDOC 273.4

    5. The very essence of idolatry is the worship of something else in place of God, the Creator. Romans 1:23, 25, A. R. V.TDOC 273.5

    6. Both ancient Babylon and modern Babylon, the Papacy, are notably guilty of idolatry. Jeremiah 50:38, 2; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 11. (In verse 11 read “the lie,” in place of “a lie,” and understand that “the lie” is the substitution of the false worship for the true. Read Isaiah 44:19, 20, and Jeremiah 10:14 and note that an idol is a lie.)TDOC 273.6

    7. To teach the precepts of men in the place of the commandments of God is just as vain a worship as the worship of idols. Mark 7:6-9. (Cf. Acts 14:13-15 and 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 9.)TDOC 273.7

    8. To perform divinely prescribed duties in a merely formal manner while the heart is estranged from God, is just as offensive to God as pagan idolatry. Isaiah 1:4, 10-14; 66:3, 4.TDOC 273.8

    9. To seek to be justified by the works of the law is to subvert the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ, and is in effect a return to heathenism. Galatians 5:2-4; 1:6, 7; 4:8-11.TDOC 273.9

    10. Idolatry in any form, which is the substitution of something in place of Christ, will shut the idolater out of the holy city, and therefore one of the last injunctions of the aged apostle John is to shun idolatry. Revelation 21:27; 1 John 5:21. (1 Corinthians 10:7, 19, 20; Psalm 106:34-39.)TDOC 274.1


    True religion defined

    “True religion is a conviction of the character of God, and a resting upon that alone for salvation.”TDOC 274.2

    False worship starves and stunts

    “It has been held as a reason for the worship of idols that they excite the affection and imagination of the worshiper. They do no such thing: they starve and they stunt these. The image reacts upon the imagination, infects it with its own narrowness and poverty, till man’s noblest creative faculty becomes the slave of its own poor toy.”TDOC 274.3

    The Son not a creature, but the Creator

    “If the Son is the effulgence of God’s glory and the express image of his essence, he is not a creature, but is the Creator. The Son is so from God that he is God. He so emanates from him that he is a perfect and complete representation of his being. He is not in such a manner an effulgence as to be only a manifestation of God, nor in such a manner an image as to be a creature of God. But, in fellowship of nature, the essence of God is communicated to the Son in the distinctness of his mode of subsisting. The apostle’s words fully justify perhaps they suggested-the expressions in the Nicene and still earlier creeds, ‘God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.’ If this is his relation to God, it determines his relation to the universe, and the relation of the universe to God. Philo had described the Word as an effulgence, and spoken also of him as distinct from God. But in Philo these two statements are inconsistent. For the former means that the Word is an attribute of God, and the latter means that he is a creature. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says that the Word is not an attribute, but a perfect representation of God’s essence. He says also that he is not a creature, but the sustainer of all things.”TDOC 274.4

    Self-serving and love of ease are idolatry

    “The apostle’s words of warning to the Corinthian church are applicable to all time, and are especially adapted to our day. By idolatry he meant not only the worship of idols, but self-serving, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion. A mere profession of faith in Christ, a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not make a man a Christian. A religion that seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or that sanctions self-indulgence, is not the religion of Christ.”-The Acts of the Apostles, 317.TDOC 274.5

    On proposition 5 read the “Source Book,” pages 214-217.TDOC 275.1

    On proposition 6 read the “Source Book,” pages 61-65, 218, 219.TDOC 275.2

    The Reformers’ protest was against substituting things for Christ

    “The protest of the Reformers was directed, not only against the worship of the Virgin and saints, but against the priestly assumptions of the clergy and the principle of sacramental efficacy, and it was the protest against the latter which evoked the chief fury of their persecutors. Their protest, in short, was against the principle of Catholicism, which is idolatry, or the substitution of material and created things for Christ. For whether it is the mediation of the Virgin and saints, or a trust in the guidance of the priesthood and in the spiritual efficacy of the sacraments administered by them, or a belief in the virtue of holy water, holy oil, images, crucifixes, relies, and other material symbols and ritual acts, they one and all combine to take the place of Christ to the sinner, and keep him from going to him for life.TDOC 275.3

    “Instead of these things, the Reformers asserted that salvation was dependent on Christ alone, and that the sinner, instead of assuming himself to be a Christian in the virtue of the rite of baptism, could only become so by a true, living, and constant faith in Christ; and that the word of God and the Spirit of God, and not the priesthood, were the only guide to the truth.”TDOC 275.4

    Revelation not magical but rational and moral

    “God reasons with man-that is the first article of religion according to Isaiah. Revelation is not magical, but rational and moral. Religion is reasonable intercourse between one intelligent being and another. God works upon man first through conscience.TDOC 275.5

    Evils of a failure to think

    “Over against the prophetic view of religion sprawls and reeks in this same chapter [Isaiah 1] the popular religion as smoky sacrifice, assiduous worship, and ritual. In this hour of extreme danger the people are waiting on Jehovah with great pains and cost of sacrifice. They pray, they sacrifice, they solemnize to perfection. But they do not know, they do not consider; this is the burden of their offense.TDOC 275.6

    To use a better word, they do not think. They are God’s grown-up children (verse 2) children, that is to say, like the son of the parable, with native instincts for their God; and grown up, that is to say, with reason and conscience developed. But they use neither, stupider than very beasts. ‘Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.’ In all their worship conscience is asleep, and they are drenched in wickedness. Isaiah puts their life in an epigram wickedness and worship: ‘cannot away,’ said the Lord, ‘with wickedness and worship.”TDOC 275.7

    Popery’s denial of Bible doctrine

    “The policy of popery is not to deny truth; it ever acts as a vice-Christ, as a pretended friend; its policy is to pervert truth, to metamorphose it, and make it fight against itself. There is not a doctrine in the Bible which popery does not in appearance admit; there is not a doctrine in the Bible which popery does not in reality deny, and. the saving effects of which it does not make void.”TDOC 276.1

    “The all-deceivableness of unrighteousness.”

    “Popery has a god of its own. It has a savior of its own the church, to wit. It has a sacrifice of its own—the mass. It has a mediator of its own—the priesthood. It has a sanctifier of its own—the sacrament. It has a justification of its own that even of infused righteousness. It has a pardon of its own the pardon of the confessional; and it has in the heavens an infallible, all-prevailing advocate unknown to the gospel the ‘mother of God.’ It thus presents to the world a spiritual and saving apparatus for the salvation of men, and yet it neither sanctifies nor saves any one. It looks like a church; it professes to have all that a church ought to have; and, yet, it is not a church. It is a grand deception—‘the all-deceivableness of unrighteousness.’”TDOC 276.2

    Two mysteries contrasts

    “The ‘mystery of godliness,’ beginning in the cradle, ends on the throne-the throne of heaven. The ‘mystery of iniquity,’ beginning in the silent and hidden workings of early times, ends on the throne-the throne of earth.”TDOC 276.3

    Christ the true corner-stone

    “That ‘Christ is the Son of God,’ is the corner-stone of the gospel church. Out of that root the whole gospel springs. It is the ‘rock’ on which Christ, addressing Peter, said that he would build his church.TDOC 276.4

    “That the ‘Pope is the vicar of Christ’ is the corner-stone of the papal church. Out of that root does the whole of popery spring. On that ‘rock,’ said Boniface III in the seventh century, and Gregory VII, with yet greater emphasis in the eleventh, will I build my church.TDOC 276.5

    The church rests on a person

    “And let us further mark that both churches rest not on a doctrine, but on a person. The church of God rests on a Person, even Christ. No one is saved by simply believing a system of truth. The truth is the light that shows the sinner his way to the Savior. He is united to Christ by his faith which takes hold of the Savior, and by the Spirit who comes to dwell in his heart. Thus is he a member of the spiritual body. The Bible, ministers, and ordinances are the channels through which the life of the Head flows into the members of the body. Thus are they built up a spiritual house, a holy temple—‘built on the foundation of prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself the chief corner-stone.’TDOC 276.6

    “All this is most adroitly counterfeited in the Pope’s church. It is only in the way of the members of that church resting on Peter, or what is the same thing, on the Pope, that they can be saved. Romanists tell us that it is essential to the salvation of every human being that he be subject to the authority of the Pope. Peter-that is, the Pope-is the one reservoir of grace; from him it flows down through the grand conduit of apostolic succession to all the members of the ‘church,’ and thus are they built up a spiritual house-built upon the foundation of traditions, sacraments, priests, bishops, cardinals, the Pope himself being the chief corner-stone.”TDOC 277.1

    Can that be Christianity which denies Christ?

    “Can that be truly called Christianity, then, which is the reverse of it? Can that be fitly treated as Christianity which hates it, denounces it, and tries to destroy it? Can that be Christianity which forbids liberty of conscience, and the rights of private judgment? Which commands the Bible to be burned! Which teaches the worship of saints and angels! Which makes the Virgin Mary command God? Which calls her the mother of God, and the queen of heaven? Which sets aside the mediation of Christ, and puts others in his place? Which makes salvation depend on confession to man, and this in a confessional so filthy that Satan himself might well be ashamed of it? Can that be Christianity which condemns the way of salvation through faith, as a damnable heresy? Can that be Christianity which, by the bulls of its popes, and decrees of its councils, requires both princes and people to persecute Christians? Which actually swears its bishops and archbishops to persecute them with all their might? Can that be Christianity which has set up, and still maintains, the Inquisition? That which has been so cruel, so bloodthirsty, that the number slain by it of the servants of Christ, in about 1,200 years, is estimated at 50,000,000, giving an average of 40,000 a year for that long period! No, it cannot be! With a voice of thunder, let Protestants answer, No!”TDOC 277.2

    The spiritual and the ritualistic

    “The apostle regards the higher element in heathen religion as corresponding, however imperfectly, to the lower in the Mosaic law. For we may consider both the one and the other as made up of two component parts, the spiritual and the ritualistic. Now viewed in their spiritual aspect, there is no comparison between the one and the other. In this respect the heathen religions, so far as they added anything of their own to that sense of dependence on God which is innate in man and which they could not entirely crush, were wholly bad. On the contrary, in the Mosaic law the spiritual element was most truly divine. The ritualistic, element alone remains to be considered, and here is the meeting point of Judaism and heathenism. In Judaism this was as much lower than its spiritual element, as in heathenism it was higher. Hence the two systems approach within such a distance that they can, under certain limitations, be classed together. They have at least so much in common that a lapse into Judaism can be regarded as a relapse into the position of unconverted heathenism.”TDOC 277.3

    The root of Christian life is not the law, but Christ

    “The pregnant force of Paul’s Greek [in Galatians 5:24] is untranslatable. Literally his words run, ‘You were nullified from Christ brought to naught (being severed) from him, you that in law are seeking justification.’ He puts his assertion in the past (aorist) tense, stating that which ensues so soon as the principle of legal justification is indorsed. From that moment the Galatians cease to be Christians. In this sense they ‘are abolished,’ just as the cross is virtually abolished if the apostle preaches circumcision (verse 11), and ‘death is being abolished’ under the reign of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:26). He has said in verse 2 that Christ will be made of none effect to them; now he adds that they ‘are made of none effect’ in relation to Christ. Their Christian standing is destroyed. The joyous experiences of their conversion, their share in Abraham’s blessing, their divine son-ship witnessed to by the Holy Spirit all this is nullified, canceled at a stroke, if they are circumcised. The detachment of their faith ‘from Christ’ is involved in the process of attaching it to Jewish ordinances, and brings spiritual destruction upon them. The root of the Christian life is faith in him. Let that root be severed, let the branch no longer ‘abide in the vine’ it is dead already.”TDOC 278.1

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