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    June 3, 1886

    “Under the Law. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times, 12, 21.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Concluded.)

    We have now learned the danger which threatened the Galatian brethren, and can understand Paul’s fear for them, and his statement that they desired to be “under the law,”-in bondage to the elements of the world. It will therefore be a short task to examine the remaining portion of this fourth chapter of Galatians, and note what bearing it has on the law. The apostle continues:-SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.1

    “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:21-26.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.2

    It will be seen at once that in these verses three things are placed in contrast with three other things: Hagar, ancient Jerusalem, and the old covenant are placed in opposition to Sarah, the new Jerusalem, and the new covenant. Ishmael and Isaac stand respectively as representatives of those under the old covenant, and those under the new. It will also be noticed that those who are free are the children of the New Jerusalem, the new covenant, while those in bondage, “under the law,” are children of the old Jerusalem, the old covenant. The explanation of this chapter, then, involves an explanation of the two covenants. This we can do only in the briefest manner.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.3

    The first covenant was made with the children of Israel when they left Egypt. See Hebrews 8:8, 9. The terms of that covenant are found in Exodus 19:3-8; 24:3-8. They were simply as follows: God promised to make of the Israelites a great nation, a kingdom of priests, if they, in turn, would obey his law. This they promised to do. Thus the covenant, or agreement, was made. The law of God was the basis of the covenant, or that concerning which the covenant was made. See Exodus 24:8.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.4

    Now notice what this covenant required of the people. The Lord had first promised to do certain things for them if they would obey his voice. Then they heard his voice speaking the law in thunder tones from Sinai, and after that they renewed their promise of obedience, saying, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. This was nothing less than an agreement to yield perfect obedience to the law. Those who “hear the law,” know that it covers every act or thought of man’s entire life. Therefore, if the Jews had fulfilled their promise, they would have merited all the blessings which God promised them; but, unfortunately, they did not, neither could they. They had already broken the law many times, and were sinful by nature, so that it was utterly impossible for them, in their own strength, to yield perfect obedience to it. See Romans 8:7, 8; Galatians 5:17. Now in this covenant there was no provision for the forgiveness of sins either past or future,-no hint of Christ, through whom alone forgiveness and power to keep the law can come. They had virtually made a promise to make themselves righteous before God. But every one who attempts to do this must fail, and therefore it is truly said that that covenant gendered to bondage. Let no one imagine that we mean that that covenant made them under obligation to keep the law. The obligation to keep the law existed before any covenant was made; but we mean that that covenant left them just where it found them,-in condemnation because of violated law.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.5

    Had there never been any other covenant than this, the whole world must have been lost. (Romans 3:19.) Some will ask if God did not know that they could not of themselves keep the law perfectly, and if it was not trifling with them to make such a covenant with them. God did indeed know that they had no power to do as they agreed, but in making the covenant he was not trifling with them. The making of such an agreement was the most forcible way that could be devised to bring home to their minds a sense of their condition. In their vain endeavors to keep the whole law in their own strength, they would learn their need, and that would turn their attention to that other covenant, called the new covenant, but which in reality had been in existence ever since the fall. Here it is:-SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.6

    “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after these days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.7

    In what respect does this covenant differ from the other? Is it in regard to the keeping of the law? No; for that is required in both. But in this there is forgiveness of sins, and the blotting out of transgressions. More than this, the law is to be written in the hearts of the people, and that means that they will be enabled to keep it perfectly. See Psalm 40:8. This work is done by Christ. Through him pardon is secured, and he enables us to be made the righteousness of God. It will readily be seen that, whereas the other covenant found and left the people in bondage to sin, and under condemnation of death, this covenant enabled them to become free from sin and condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.8

    Now the application of Paul’s words is easy. Hagar was a bondwoman, and Ishmael, her son, was begotten according to the flesh. Sarah was a freewoman, and her son, Isaac, was a child of promise, born not according to the flesh, but when humanly speaking, such a thing as the birth of a child was impossible. Since Ishmael “was born after the flesh,” he is a fit type of those who are “in the flesh;” and in this condition are all careless sinners, as well as all who attempt to secure salvation by their own unaided efforts. When men have once sinned, it is contrary to anything in nature that they should ever be made to appear perfectly righteous,-as though they had never sinned. But God, by a miracle of grace, which is manifested through Jesus Christ, causes this to be done, so that the sinner may stand before the law uncondemned. And so those who have obtained this freedom may be fitly represented by Isaac, who was born contrary to the order of nature, solely because of the promise of God.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.9

    So likewise, the old Jerusalem, which was rejected of God because it had killed the prophets, and stoned them which were sent to it, and had rejected Christ, is very aptly termed the mother of those who are in bondage because of sin. The New Jerusalem, however, is called the Bride, the Lamb’s wife (See Revelation 21:2, 9, 10, and onward); and since Christ is the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), and it is he alone that gives freedom (Romans 8:1; John 8:33-36), the city is very properly called the mother of all those who are saved from sin.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.10

    “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” Galatians 4:20. This is only another form of what we find in Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.11

    “Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” Galatians 4:30. Exactly; the works of the flesh must be put away, for “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.12

    The apostle, having shown the bondage in which all sinners are held, and how Christ alone can set men free, and enable them to do the requirements of the law, says: “So, then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Galatians 5:1. Compare this with Galatians 4:8, 9.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.13

    Here we might leave this portion of Scripture, since we have fully explained verse 21, which is all that we set out to do; but the one who has read thus far will scarcely fail to read the verses immediately following the one last quoted, and will doubtless be puzzled over one or two expressions which are there found. A few words will suffice to explain them. We quote:-SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.14

    “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Galatians 5:2-5.SITI June 3, 1886, page 326.15

    The reader will recall what has before been said concerning circumcision and other ceremonies. It is evident that Paul did not mean that circumcision was in itself so terrible a thing that the receiving of it would cause a person to fall from grace; for the apostle himself circumcised Timothy as an act of expediency. See Acts 16:1-3. It must be, then, that he refers to circumcision as taught by the men who came down from Judea, and who were trying to turn away Paul’s converts from the faith. They urged it as the means of justification. They said: “Except ye be circumcised, ... ye cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1. But since pardon and justification can be secured through Christ alone, those who adopted circumcision for that purpose, necessarily rejected Christ; and if they had previously accepted Christianity, of course their rejection of Christ was a fall from grace. Christ was of no effect in any one who expected to be justified by his own works. But we, on the contrary, says Paul, “wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” This shows that the mode of justification from sin is the subject still under discussion.SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.1

    But how about the expression, “I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law”? Does that mean that if a man is circumcised he must keep the law, but that if he is not circumcised he may disregard the law? Not by any means. The law is of universal obligation; all men, whatever their condition, are in duty bound to keep it. It is because this duty rests upon every individual, that all the world are guilty before God; for all have transgressed the law. Since all have transgressed the law, they are condemned. Now “the doers of the law shall be justified.” None others can be. But “a doer of the law” is one who can present a record of obedience unbroken by a single sin. Thus it follows that, after all have sinned, by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified.SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.2

    Now suppose a man starts out with the determination to secure righteousness without the aid of Christ. What must he do? Why he must do the whole law. Very well; suppose that it is possible for him to keep the law perfectly for the remainder of his life, will he be lacking in anything? Certainly; for the law demands obedience for that part of his life which he spent in sin, before he attempted to do right. Perfect obedience is required of him who would stand as a doer of the law. So Paul virtually says: If you set out to be justified by circumcision, or by any other work, it will be necessary for you to show a perfectly clean record: you must your own self take away those past sins, so that the law will witness to your perfect righteousness,-so that it may appear that you have never sinned. But this he cannot do, and therefore he is in the fullest sense “a debtor,”-eternally a debtor. He is in the condition of the man who owed his lord ten thousand talents, and had nothing with which to pay, and who was cast into prison till he should pay it all. For him there was no hope. To all eternity he must remain a debtor to his lord.SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.3

    So with the man who seeks to stand justified before God by any works of his own. There is a depth of meaning to the words, “he is a debtor to do the whole law,” which the casual reader does not catch. The hopelessness of the bondage into which the man is cast who goes about to establish his own righteousness can scarcely be conceived. In this bondage we all are, or have been. Let us ever rejoice that “with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption” (Psalm 130:7); and that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. W.SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.4

    “A Little Confused” The Signs of the Times, 12, 21.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The editor of the Tennessee Baptist, having received a copy of Professor Pettengell’s book, “The Unspeakable Gift,” feels moved to do something to stay the tide of “heresy,” and gives the following notice:-SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.5

    “A RICH TREAT FOR OUR SUBSCRIBERS.-We have engaged our stated contributor, A. J. Frost, D. D., of Sacramento, Cal., to review thoroughly the prevailing theory of Conditional Immortality, or Annihilationism. This is a modern phase of old Universalism and Restorationism, which is extensively prevailing in many parts of the North and West, and is destined, at an early date, to be the most popular delusion of this age.”SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.6

    If Mr. Frost knows no more about the doctrine of conditional immortality than the editor of the Tennessee Baptist seems to, his review will indeed be “a rich treat.” To say that conditional immortality is a modern phase of Universalism and Restorationism is about as true as it would be to say that Presbyterianism is a modern form of Catholicism or that Luther was special emissary of Pope Leo X. or that Christianity, is a modern form of paganism. Conditional immortality is as much different from Universalism as daylight is from darkness. Indeed it is the only doctrine that can successfully combat Universalism. Universalism teaches that when.... their belief and practice; the doctrine of conditional immortality teaches just what the Bible teaches that, “He that believeth on the Son hath life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” The one robs Christ of all his glory, making his sacrifice a useless thing, while the other crowns him “Lord of all.” No man can be a Universalist or a Spiritualist so long as he holds to the doctrine of conditional immortality; but the one who believes in natural immortality has no safeguard against either delusion. W.SITI June 3, 1886, page 327.7

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