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    June 19, 1884

    “The Sabbath-School. Acts, Chapter 28” The Signs of the Times, 10, 24.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness.” “The Greeks regarded all as barbarians who did not speak their language, and applied the name to all other nations but their own. It does not denote, as it does sometimes with us, people of savage, uncultivated, and cruel habits, but simply those whose speech was unintelligible. See 1 Corinthians 14:11. The island is supposed to have been peopled at first by the Phoecians, afterward by the Phoenicians, and afterward by a colony from Carthage. The language of the Maltese was that of Africa.”-Barnes.SITI June 19, 1884, page 374.1

    “And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks.” This was perfectly in keeping with Paul;s character. He was never idle. He was the foremost preacher of the age, commissioned directly by the Lord, yet he was not above engaging in the most menial work when it was necessary. In Paul we find all the characteristics of a true missionary. He was able to adapt himself to all circumstances. His knowledge was varied. He could preach the truth in such a way as to make kings tremble, could direct the management of the ship, and control a mutinous crew, and when shipwrecked, could at once provide for the comfort of himself and companions. He was what we would call a man of resources.SITI June 19, 1884, page 374.2

    When Paul reached Rome he acted with characteristic promptness. Within three days he called the chief of the Jews together to lay his case before them. Although he was manifestly in the hands of God, he did not think it unnecessary to taking the precaution for his defense. It was best for him to get the goodwill of these Jews as far as possible before the case came to trial, by disabusing their minds of wrong impressions which they might have gained. He asserts his innocence in these words: “Though I have committed nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.” This was all strictly true. He had not done anything against his own nation. On the contrary, he had devoted much time and strength to the collection of alms for the poor of Judea. And he had really done nothing against the customs of the fathers-the special point of which he was accused. It was while he was engaged in the performance of duties enjoined by the ceremonial law that he had been arrested. While it is true that Paul had mingled with the Gentiles, and had held that circumcision was a matter of indifference, he was entirely innocent of the charge brought against him, and it is of this that Paul speaks. It is a common form of speech, when one is falsely accused, to say, “I have committed no crime, nor been guilty of any wrong act.” By this the speaker is not understood as claiming that he never did anything wrong in his life-time, but that he is innocent of the thing brought against him.SITI June 19, 1884, page 374.3

    We would not be understood as intimating that Paul had committed any wrong act at any time, although he had, during his ministry, done many things which a Jew of that age would not have done. But he refers to the fathers, and we have evidence that the exclusiveness which led the later Jews to refuse all intercourse with Gentiles was not shared by them. It is worthy of note, however, that even the Pharisees, those zealous advocates of law, never brought any charge of immorality against Paul. He was never accused of breaking the Sabbath or of any other violation of the ten commandments. This is a strong evidence as is needed to prove that Paul was always a devout Sabbath-keeper. If he had not kept the Sabbath of the commandment-the seventh day of the week-his enemies would have speedily become aware of it. Such a flagrant violation of the law would not be allowed to pass unreproved. And the fact that when they were clamoring for his blood, and inventing grievous charges against him, they did not accuse him of Sabbath-breaking, shows that Paul had never even technically violated the fourth commandment. He could truly say to the Sanhedrim,” have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Acts 23:1. He believed “all things which are written in the law and in the prophets;” and what he believed he acted upon. So we see that when Paul preached in the synagogues of Antioch, Thessalonica, and Corinth on the Sabbath-day, it was not an accidental occurrence, but in perfect harmony with his life-long habit and settled convictions. E. J. W.SITI June 19, 1884, page 374.4

    “An Important Question” The Signs of the Times, 10, 24.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:16-22.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.1

    The question asked by the young ruler is one that has been asked by thousands, and one that should interest every person. Life is a boon of inestimable value; men will spend the earnings of years, and travel to the utmost limits of the globe, in order to prolong their lives for a few years. How eagerly, then, should they grasp anything which will lengthen out their lives to all eternity. It is indeed wonderful that so few manifest an interest in that which pertains to their eternal welfare, while they are so zealous for life and happiness for a short time. In this the majority of mankind manifest only the wisdom of the infant who seizes the glittering toy, and rejects the infinitely more valuable bag of treasure. But there are some who are anxiously inquiring, “What must I do to be saved?” And to such the words of our Lord himself on this subject must be of all-absorbing interest.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.2

    The reader will notice that Jesus did not at once answer the young man’s question, but asked him one on another subject. “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God.” Our Saviour did not mean to intimate by this that he was not good. He himself said that it was his meat to do the will of the Father (John 4:34); and again he said to his disciples, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” John 15:10. To the Jews he said, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?’ (John 8:46), thus demanding the closest scrutiny of his life. Paul says that he “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); Peter says of him that he “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22); and even the devils acknowledged him to be “the Holy One of God.” Mark 1:24. His character on earth was the same that it is now as our High Priest, “holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners.” Hebrews 7:26. He was absolutely good; the perfection and embodiment of goodness.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.3

    This being the case, we can understand his words, “there is none good but one, that is God,” as nothing but a statement of the fact that he himself was entitled to be called God. If there is but one that is good, viz., God, and Christ is good, then Christ must be God. And this agrees with what the prophet had said of Christ: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. John also said: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ John 1:1. Since he is the Son of God, he partakes of the divine attributes; and so Paul says that he occupies a more exalted position than the angels because “he hath by inheritance a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:4. He was never on probation, as a candidate for life, as are all created beings, but has “life in himself’ (John 5:26), being the creator of all things. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.4

    The Father and the Son are one. John 10:30. Both are worthy of worship. God alone may be worshiped (Revelation 22:8, 9), but Christ did not refuse the adoration of his disciples. Luke 24:52. We are not called upon to explain the mystery of godliness, nor expected to understand it, but Christ has explained to us how he and the Father are one. In his memorable prayer for his disciples, he said: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are one.” “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one.John 17:11, 22. This oneness, then, is that of two distinct individuals having the same thoughts, the same purposes, the same attributes. The Father and the Son were one in creating the earth, and one in the devising and carrying out of the plan of salvation. They never worked at cross purposes; and in harmony with Christ’s prayer that union may exist among his disciples, Paul exhorts us to “all speak the same thing,” and to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.5

    We understand, therefore, that when Christ addressed to the young man the words found in Matthew 19:17, it was because he saw that this ruler, like Nicodemus, did not appreciate the divine character of Jesus, but thought him to be a mere man. Christ penetrated the young man’s thoughts, and by this question and reply revealed to him his own true nature.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.6

    Having incidentally settled this point, our Lord immediately answers the question, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” He did not say, “You must not do anything,” but said plainly, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man, greatly surprised, asked, “Which?” Being a ruler of the Jews, he had, of course, kept the law, and prided himself on the strictness with which he had heeded all its requirements. The strictness of the Pharisees, extending even to the minutest forms and ceremonies, is proverbial. The young man, doubtless, like Paul, lived under the “straitest sect” of the Jew’s religion. We can therefore imagine the astonishment and assurance with which he uttered the word, “Which?” As much as to say, “Why, are there any other commandments? Have you some new ones that are not written in the law? If so, tell me what they are.” Jesus calmly quotes a portion of the ten commandments, as showing that the law to which he has reference. The fact that he did not quote all of them is no proof that he did not design that all should be kept. He did not quote the first nor the third, yet no one would argue from this that Christ meant to indicate to the young man that he could worship idols or indulge in profanity and still be saved. He simply quoted enough to show that he referred to that which was regarded by all as the law, and that he had no new commandment to offer.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.7

    Before commenting further on the observance of the commandments as the condition of eternal life, or the truth of the young man’s reply in verse 20, we wish to briefly notice what this law is. In a matter of life and death it will not do to make a mistake. If the commandments are to be the test of our fitness for eternal life, we must have those commandments so clearly defined that there can be no doubt. Fortunately, this is not a difficult thing to do. In the third month after the children of Israel left Egypt, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. The Lord told them to make certain preparations, for within three days he would come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10, 11. Nehemiah tells us why he thus came down: “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Nehemiah 9:13. His object, then, in coming down was to give the people laws of truth, good statutes. Besides this, Nehemiah says, “and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” Verse 14. If now we can distinguish between the statutes given by the Lord himself and those given to Moses, we shall have discovered that which we seek-the condition of eternal life.SITI June 19, 1884, page 377.8

    Returning to Exodus, we find that when the necessary preparations had been completed, the Lord did come down upon Mount Sinai, with fire and smoke, thunders and lightnings, and an earthquake. Exodus 19:16-18. In the 20th chapter, verses 3-17, we find the words which the Lord spoke from the mount. In Deuteronomy 4:11-13, Moses rehearses the scenes of Sinai and plainly says that the words which God spoke are the ten commandments. But may it not be that there is something besides these? Let us see. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses, in the course of his last charge to the people, repeated in substance these ten commandments as recorded in Exodus 20:3-17. When he had finished the recital, he said: “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.” Deuteronomy 5:22.SITI June 19, 1884, page 378.1

    Of these commandments, Moses said, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” Deuteronomy 6:7, 8. That these are the commandments, the keeping of which is the condition of eternal life, is proved by verse 25: “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.”SITI June 19, 1884, page 378.2

    We have now found the commandments to which our Lord referred. We are not now concerned with the particulars of the laws given to Moses, since the keeping of them is not required. “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” is the question in which we are now interested, and those things not pertaining to this may be passed by. We now know what the law is. Next week we will consider the “Nature of the Law,” to see why the keeping of it should be able to confer immortality. E. J. W.SITI June 19, 1884, page 378.3

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