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    August 18, 1890

    “The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Last week we studied the first part of Matthew 16:18, finding out what the rock is upon which the church is built, and how we may build upon it, namely, by obeying from the heart the words of Christ, the true foundation. We have now, according to promise, to study verse 19; but first we must notice the statement, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The word “hell,” hades, means the grave, as it is correctly rendered in the Revised Version. How is it that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church? The idea is not that of warfare, for gates do not fight and overcome; but gates can shut people in, and close so tightly as to prevent any that are inside from escaping, and thus prevail against them. The meaning of the text is that the gates of the grave shall not prevail against the church of Christ.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.17

    Why not?-Because it is built upon him. It is firmly fastened to him, so that the foundation and the superstructure are one. Therefore whatever befalls the foundation, must likewise come to the building. The foundation in this instance occupies the same relation to the building that the head does to the body; and whatever the head shares, the body shares with it. Where the head goes, the body goes. The members of the church are joint heirs with Christ. Now Christ announces himself as the one that liveth and was dead, but is alive forevermore, and has the keys of the grave and of death. Revelation 1:18. Death and the grave were not able to hold Christ. Acts 2:24. Therefore they cannot hold those who are built upon and united to him. Because he lives, they shall live also. This is consistent with the idea that Christ is the resurrection and the life. The grave is only an incident in the lives of those who are his; it has no power over them. But this confident language could not be used if Peter were the foundation of the church. He could not save even himself, but, like all other mortals, is dependent upon Christ for life.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.18

    “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.19

    The first thing to consider is what constitutes the keys of the kingdom of heaven. A key is that which unlocks or locks; it is anything by which we gain access to any place, or which enables us to understand any given thing. Now what is it that opens heaven to mankind, and enables us to understand God?-Evidently the gospel, and nothing else. Paul says that Christ has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10. Immortality stands for all heavenly blessings, as it comprises all. It is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.20

    Christ declares himself to be “he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” Revelation 3:7. In Isaiah 55:3, 4, we read: “Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.” The sure mercies of David are the blessings which are assured to us through Christ, the Son of David.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.21

    While the gospel opens the kingdom of heaven to men, it also shuts out those who reject it. The apostle Paul says: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.” 2 Corinthians 3:14-16. Thus the gospel opens and shuts.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.22

    It seems plain, therefore, that when Christ said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” he referred to the gospel, which he was about to commit to Peter and his associates. But how about their binding and loosing on earth, and it being bound or loosed in heaven? A text in Jeremiah will help us to understand this. In the record of the calling of the prophet, we read: “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:9, 10.SITI August 18, 1890, page 443.23

    Jeremiah was only a man, yet he was clothed with wonderful power. As strong language was used concerning him as was spoken to Peter. Now how was he to root out kingdoms, and to pull down and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant them? Simply by the word of the Lord which he should speak. A prophet is simply the mouth-piece of God. He utters nothing of himself, but only as God speaks through him, and yet he maintains his individuality, so that the words are his own. It is all of man and all of God. The words of the man are also the words of God, and so whatever the man utters on earth, are the decrees of heaven. Whatever he binds or looses on earth, is bound or loosed in heaven.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.1

    It was the same with the apostles. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came on them, they began to speak, with tongues, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” We have before quoted the statement of Paul, that in making known the gospel he spoke, “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. The same word of God, which was given to Jeremiah and Isaiah, was committed to the apostles. Peter, after quoting from Isaiah the statement that “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth forever,” adds: “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:24, 25. Therefore just as Jeremiah, as the spokesman for God, could tear down and build up nations, so the apostles, with the words of Christ in their mouths, could bind and loose, according to the will of heaven. The acts of men in such cases were not the acts of men, but of God. Men were simply the mouth-pieces of his righteous decrees.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.2

    But how about the words of Christ being addressed directly to Peter? There is no question but that Peter occupied a prominent place among the apostles. He was a natural leader, and often spoke for the others. Moreover, he was a pioneer in gospel work. In the council at Jerusalem he said: “Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.” Acts 15:7. But although he was the first one to preach to the Gentiles, his special work was among the Jews, as we read from Paul, concerning this same council:-SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.3

    “When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter (for he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles): .... they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:7-9.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.4

    Here we find that a special dispensation of the gospel was committed to Peter, even as unto Paul. But this did not constitute him the sole guardian of the doors of heaven. As one to whom the gospel was specially intrusted, he did most certainly have the keys of the kingdom of heaven in his possession; but this special commission he shared with Paul, and to Paul was given the greater work. So the keys of the kingdom of heaven were committed to Paul as well as to Peter, and in a greater measure, since he “labored more abundantly than they all.” 1 Corinthians 15:10. And not only were the keys given to Peter and Paul, as pioneers in the great work of the gospel, but to all their associates, who received the same divine commission (Matthew 28:19, 20); and not only to the apostles, but to the prophets, who declared the word of the Lord. And so the church, which is the house of the living God, stands not upon any one man, nor upon any company of men, but “on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone,” and the entire foundation. E. J. W.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.5

    “The Day which the Lord Hath Made” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. Does this refer to the first day of the week? There are many who assume that it does. On what grounds?-Simply these: It has become quite a common thing to call the first day of the week the Lord’s day. This custom arose long after the New Testament was written. But having given the day that title, men now claim that every reference to the Lord’s day, or to the day which the Lord made, must refer to Sunday. Thus the Bible is made to support an institution of men. There is not the slightest intimation in the psalm that any day of the week is referred to. The Lord did not make one day of the week any more than another. He made them all. Therefore it is absurd to single out any one day of the week, and say that it alone is referred to by the statement, “This is the day which the Lord hath made.”SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.6

    The day referred to in this verse is the “day of salvation,” in which Christ, the head stone of the corner, opens to all men “the gates of righteousness.” This day of salvation, which the Lord has made, in which he opens the gates of righteousness, is a day in which to be glad and rejoice, as the prophet says: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10. Abraham saw this day, and was glad (John 8:56), because he received the righteousness of God, through faith in Christ.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.7

    It is true that the Lord has a day of the week that he claims as specially his own, not because he made it any more than any other day, but because he reserved it to be devoted specially to him. The Lord’s day is holy (Isaiah 58:13), and it is the Sabbath-day. It is the seventh day that is the Sabbath. It was for an alleged violation of that day that the Jews upbraided the disciples of Jesus, when he cleared them from the charge of Sabbath-breaking, and showed his authority to decide in the matter, by declaring that he was Lord of the day. Mark 2:23-28. This of itself is sufficient to show that the seventh day and that alone is the Lord’s day.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.8

    But while this is true, it is not true that on this day any more than any other day can people enter into the gates of righteousness. The Sabbath-day is to be kept holy unto the Lord; but the Lord is just as willing to forgive sins and to grant blessings on any other day as on this day. His ear is ever open to the cry of his creatures. The Sabbath is not to be kept as a bribe to induce the lord to bestow blessings, but because of love to him for his love to us in this accepted time, the day of salvation.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.9

    “Getting Even” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    An expression that is very frequently heard among certain people is, “I’ll get even with him.” Everybody knows the circumstance which calls the expression forth. The speaker has received some slight or personal injury, at the hands of another, or has been slandered, and he determines to retaliate. He is going to give the other one “as good as he sent,” which was all bad. In other words, one person has done a mean act, and another person is going to lower himself to the same level, in order to “get even.” Isn’t it strange that people never talk about getting even except when they have to lower themselves in order to do it? Would it not be more reasonable to talk about getting even with someone who has done a good act? It is true that nothing is to be done through strife and vainglory, yet we are exhorted to “provoke one another unto love and good works,” and if that is done, it follows that it is proper to be “provoked” in that way. If we are anxious to have things even, let us do it by helping some fallen one up to the place where God’s grace may have placed us, instead of ourselves going down to a lower plane.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.10

    “Christ Will Come” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    What is an Adventist? An Adventist is one who believes in the advent or coming of the Lord to this earth the second time. The term is specially applied to one who believes that that coming is near. Isn’t it a piece of fanaticism to think that the Lord is coming to this earth again?-Not if the Bible is the word of God. That Christ will come again is just as sure as that he once came and went away. Hear his own words: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.11

    Now it is certain that Christ did go away. Forty days after his resurrection he talked with his disciples, and renewed to them the promise of the Holy Spirit; “and when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9. Now listen to the words that were immediately spoken by two heavenly messengers:-SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.12

    “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in while apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10, 11.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.13

    He was taken up, and a cloud received him out of sight; and he is coming in like manner. With this agree the words written by John: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Revelation 1:7.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.14

    This coming has not yet taken place. No one has seen him descending with clouds. Salvation is yet freely offered to the inhabitants of earth; but when he comes salvation will be complete. He is to come only once more, and that will end the day of salvation. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:27, 28.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.15

    It will be utterly impossible for this coming to take place and everybody not know it, for “every eye shall see him,” when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.16

    We have not time and space to note the signs which Christ said should precede his coming, but will only note that he expects his people to know when that coming is near. He said: “Learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it he is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:32, 33. And the apostle Paul says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.17

    In view of these plain texts of Scriptures, is not Adventism a reasonable doctrine, and worthy of earnest, candid attention? E. J. W.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.18

    “Resolutions Not Sufficient” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Washington correspondent of one of the New York religious weeklies writes:-SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.19

    “It is rather remarkable that while the Universal Peace Congress is holding its session in London, there is more talk of war among the nations than for some time past. Here is the outbreak of a war between Nicaragua and Guatemala, and dispatches have been received in this city stating that three more of the South American republics have united with Guatemala in an offensive alliance against Salvador. Considering that the Pan-American Congress, which adjourned but a few weeks since, passed resolutions to substitute arbitration for war, people are wondering what has become of the practical carrying out of that resolution.”SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.20

    There is nothing so very remarkable about it. Resolutions will not change men’s natures. Men may resolve to substitute arbitration for war, but that will not diminish the perilous times which the Scripture has said shall abound because men will be lovers of their own hearts. 2 Timothy 3:1, 2. It is a significant fact that none of these arbitration resolutions are passed by the heads of governments, or by those who have any voice in the management of affairs. There will never be any end of strife in this earth until He comes whose right it is, and, gathering out of his kingdom everything that offends, casts it into a furnace of fire. Matthew 13:40-42. But even when this time of destruction is most imminent, men will be tickling the ears of the world by assurances of peace and safety. 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.21

    “Prevailing Prayer. Luke 18:1-14” The Signs of the Times, 16, 32.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Luke 18:1-14; August 24, 1890.)

    “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought alway to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man; and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others; two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:1-14.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.22

    It is highly probable that a majority of those who read this simple parable fail to learn the lesson from it that they should. They look at it as though it designed to teach that the unjust judge is a type of God, which cannot by any possibility be the case. If it were, then it would poorly serve the object of encouraging men always to pray, and not to grow weary. Few persons would have the heart to hold out against oft-repeated rebuffs.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.23

    The parable was spoken in order that men might, according to the Syriac, pray at every opportunity, and not grow weary. Surely this parable would not help men to that end, if it taught that God is like the unjust judge-hard to move. There would be no encouragement in that. Such an idea does violence to the whole tenor of Scripture. Hear what the character of God is:-SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.24

    “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Psalm 103:13.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.25

    “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” 1 Peter 3:12.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.26

    “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6, 7.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.27

    “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7:18.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.28

    “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not; I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face.” Isaiah 65:1-3.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.29

    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.30

    Add to all these the following: “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:9-11. Here Christ is both compared and contrasted with earthly parents. He has the same kind of love for his children who are in need that an earthly parent has for his children, but he is infinitely greater and better, and his love for his children is as much greater than that of an earthly parent for his children, as God is greater than man. If a person, then, wishes to know how willing God is to answer prayer, let him think of his own willingness, yes, eagerness, to give his children needed things, and then multiply that degree of willingness by infinity.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.31

    Besides this, we read: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5. He does not upbraid us because we have not asked before, nor because we have squandered that which he has previously given us; when we ask in faith, he gives freely, without taunting us with our short-comings.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.32

    Now we can readily understand the parable of the unjust judge. He was utterly hardened. He “feared not God neither regarded man.” It made no difference to him what people said about him. He was sure of his position for this life, and he had no thought of God and the future life. All he lived for was his own selfish pleasure. This poor widow had a just cause; but he knew nothing of justice, and paid no attention to her. But she persisted; she could not rest without having her cause decided. Her life depended on it. So she kept coming again and again, until finally the judge’s comfort was interfered with. So, at last, in order to get rid of her, so that he might enjoy his own pleasures undisturbed, he granted the widow’s request.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.33

    “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” He who concludes from this that in order to get judgment from God it is necessary to plead and urge as long as the widow did the judge, in order to overcome his indifference, or to gain his attention, maligns the character of God. The parable contrasts God with the unjust judge, instead of comparing them. If the unjust judge, with his callous heart, could be moved to do justice by the importunity of the poor widow, shall not God, who delights in mercy, avenge his own loved ones? Who can doubt it.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.34

    “Though he bear long with them.” The Revised Version renders this passage literally: “And he is long-suffering over them.” That deepens the contrast. The unjust judge was cruel, and had no care for man; God loves his people, and is tender and compassionate with them. What a world of encouragement there is in this, to pray at every opportunity, at every time of need, and not to grow weary, thinking that God is weary of granting our request.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.35

    “But,” says one, “I thought that we had to strive, to agonize, to enter in; that the kingdom of heaven must be taken by force.” Very true; we must “pray without ceasing;” but that does not necessarily mean that we must importune forever in order to get one thing. We are not heard for our much speaking; God does not wish us to be like the heathen, who imagine that the more frantic they become in their appeals, the more likely they are to be heard. Note the difference between the prayers of the prophets of Baal, and that of Elijah. 1 Kings 18:26-29, 36, 37. Consider the reverent calmness of the prayer of Christ at the tomb of Lazarus. John 11:41, 42. When we pray, we are to believe that our request is granted, and it is granted. Mark 11:24. The instant Daniel began to pray to God, an angel was dispatched to give him the knowledge he desired. Daniel 9:23; 10:12. Circumstances, and the interests of others, of whom we may know nothing, may delay the messenger, and our faith may thus be tested; but God is not unfaithful. By the cases and the assurances put on record, we may know of a surety that if the answer is delayed, it is coming.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.36

    But having received one petition, we are just as needy. And so we must continue “instant in prayer.” We must not lose heart and become weary. Men ought to pray at every opportunity, at every time of need. This is what the Scriptures mean.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.37

    The parable of the Pharisees and the publican, which follows, emphasizes this, and shows how readily God answers prayer. It also shows what really constitutes prayer. Since the parable was spoken to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, it is evident that such ones do not offer prayer acceptable to God. The one who would receive anything from God must pray “in faith, nothing wavering.” James 1:6. But faith does not and cannot exist in that soul that is “lifted up.” Faith is dependence on another. Faith comes to a man when self goes out. The man who trusts in himself that he is righteous cannot expect to receive anything from the Lord, because he doesn’t ask for anything. Why should he? If he has righteousness by his own works, why should he ask the Lord for it?SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.38

    This was the case with the Pharisee. He “stood”-struck an attitude-“and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” He prayed “with himself,” and not to God. Apparently he began by thanking God, but actually he was congratulating himself.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.39

    “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” He had no confidence in himself. He did not, like the Pharisee, compare himself with others, to their disadvantage; he had no thought of others, but only of himself as the chief sinner. He used the definite article: “God be merciful to me, the sinner.” He acknowledged his own sin, but didn’t confess for anybody else. Thus he put himself directly in the class of those upon whom God delights to have mercy.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.40

    The prayer was short, but it was long enough to get all that he wanted. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than [instead of] the other.” What had he done to secure this? He had simply trusted in the Lord. He went up to the temple a sinner; he went down to his house a righteous man; not having his own righteousness, but “that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” E. J. W.SITI August 18, 1890, page 450.41

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