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    September 29, 1890

    “The Blessing of Abraham” The Signs of the Times, 16, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Last week we considered a particular case of justification-that of Abraham-illustrative of the general truth set forth in the third chapter of Romans. In verses 1-8 we found that Abraham was not made righteous by works, but by faith. Righteousness was a gift by the grace of God to Abraham, the same as to all others, so that even he had nothing whereof to boast. We found also what the imputation of righteousness is, namely, the forgiveness of sins. The righteousness which is counted to a man in response to his faith-the righteousness which is put into and upon all them that believe-is the remission of sins. See Romans 4:5-8.SITI September 29, 1890, page 490.23

    It ought to be apparent from what we have already learned in the book of Romans, that forgiveness of sins is not a mere book transaction,-the simple entry of the word “pardoned” on the books of record,-but that it is an actual fact; something that personally affects the individual. It is righteousness put into and upon the man; it is blessedness that comes to him. It is a change. It does not consist simply in the Lord’s saying to the sinner, “I will not hold the past against you,” but it consists in taking his sin away from him,-removing it as far as the east is from the west,-so that he now stands in the sight of God as though he had never sinned. This is blessedness indeed. Surely, this is more than a change in theory. It is taking a man who is morally bankrupt, and setting him on his feet, so that he can now do good works; for it is only the good man that can do good works. See Luke 6:45. And that the righteousness which is imputed for the remission of sin does effect a change in the man is evident from Romans 3:22. It is righteousness put into and upon the sinner. That is, he is made righteous both inside and outside.SITI September 29, 1890, page 490.24

    The question that the apostle now asks is if this blessed gift comes upon the circumcision only or upon the uncircumcision also; that is, if it is only to Jews or to Gentiles as well. Romans 4:9. This is answered by finding out Abraham’s condition when it came to him. “How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” Romans 4:10, 11.SITI September 29, 1890, page 490.25

    It will be seen at a glance that this settles the matter as to who are children of Abraham. A man cannot claim to be a child of Abraham simply because he has been circumcised. And this means not now only, but at any time in the past. Righteousness was imputed to Abraham before he was circumcised. Therefore since he is the father of all them that believe, it follows that it makes no difference whether they are circumcised or not. Circumcision was only a sign of the righteousness which he already had by faith. Therefore those who had not righteousness had no right to the sign; and if they had the sign and were not righteous, they were children of Abraham only in appearance, and not in fact. See John the Baptist’s burning words to the Pharisees. Matthew 3:7-9.SITI September 29, 1890, page 490.26

    Moreover, it is evident that the sign of circumcision was not given to Abraham and his seed for the purpose of keeping them separate from other nations. God never builds up a wall of partition to keep his people from those who do not believe. Christ said, “Ye are the light of the world,” and reproved the Jews for hiding the light which God had intrusted to them. This they did by clannishly separating themselves from others, considering themselves too good to associate with them. Christ himself set the example, mingling freely with all classes, and bringing from the self-righteous Pharisees the intended reproach, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:2. He prayed for his disciples, not that they should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept from the evil. John 17:15. The man who is righteous, and who maintains his integrity at all times, and in all places and society, is as separate from the world as God ever designed any man to be.SITI September 29, 1890, page 490.27

    Compare for a moment Romans 4:11 and Genesis 17:11. In the latter text we learn that circumcision was a token or seal of the covenant which God made with Abraham. In the former we learn that it was a sign or seal of righteousness. Therefore we are forced to conclude that the covenant with Abraham was a covenant of righteousness. This is confirmed by Romans 4:13: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Now note: (1) The possession which was promised to Abraham was not confined to the small territory of Canaan, which the Jews afterwards occupied. Canaan was designed only as the beginning of that possession. The promise can never be considered as completely fulfilled until the seed of Abraham, together with Abraham himself, occupy the whole earth. This is in harmony with the words of the apostle, that Joshua did not give the Jews the promised rest or inheritance, and that therefore there remains a rest to the people of God. Hebrews 4:8, 9.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.1

    2. The covenant with Abraham involved this possession. The covenant assured to Abraham the inheritance of this earth for an everlasting possession. Compare Genesis 17:7-11 and Romans 4:11-13. But the covenant was a covenant of righteousness. Therefore the promise made to Abraham comprehended nothing less than the new heavens and the new earth, for which we also, in accordance with that promise, look. 2 Peter 3:13. So the covenant with Abraham included righteousness and eternal redemption, and the everlasting possession of the earth. This is for all who have the same faith that Abraham had.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.2

    “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise of no effect.” Romans 4:14. This does not mean that faith is made void and the promise of no effect if those who keep the law are heirs; for none others are heirs. The inheritance is to those who are righteous, who have the righteousness of faith. Faith establishes the law and its righteousness. But it means that the mere possession of the law and the trusting in it for justification cannot constitute one an heir. If it could, then there would be no such things as heirship by faith. And it is easy to see how in that case the promise would be of no effect. Thus: If God has promised an inheritance on the sole ground of faith (a working faith, of course), and then requires us to work and earn that inheritance, the promise amounts to nothing. But all the promises of God are in Christ Jesus yea and amen; therefore the inheritance comes through the righteousness of faith.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.3

    “Because the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15. This is positive proof that the inheritance cannot come through the law, but must be by faith. The law gives the knowledge of sin; we have already learned that all have sinned; but the law works wrath to the transgressor; therefore all are condemned. Now here is the broad earth, which is the promised inheritance. Here is a man who ignores the promise of God, and proceeds to work out his title to a portion of the land. The time of judgment comes, and he thinks that he has worked enough to enable him to “prove up” on his claim, and he goes to the court to have the inheritance forever confirmed to him. But now he finds his mistake, for the law in which he had trusted declares that his life is forfeited as a rebel, and, instead of getting an inheritance, he loses his life.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.4

    “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all (as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations), before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Romans 4:16, 17.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.5

    This is the great ground of confidence. The inheritance is of faith, that it might be by grace; therefore anybody can have a share in it. What if the law has declared our lives forfeited? “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree); that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13, 14.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.6

    What a blessing! And what assurance we may have that we shall share in it! The blessing is an inheritance in the new earth, which will never be defiled with unrighteousness. God’s holy will-his law-will be done in it even as it is now done in heaven. But we have all sinned, and are under the curse of the law-doomed to eternal death. How then can we hope for a share in the everlasting inheritance?-Through the unbounded mercy of God in Christ. Christ has taken upon himself the curse of the law for those who believe,-he bore our sins in his own body on the tree,-and so the promise to Abraham may be as sure to us as though we had never violated the law. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.7

    A law is in force until it is repealed. The repeal, in justice, should be given as wide a publicity as the enactment of the law. These are simple principles recognized in all the governmental affairs of man. Apply the same principles to the decalogue, the law of God. It existed from the beginning. It was solemnly spoken by the Majesty of Heaven in a voice which shook the earth; it was written by his own finger on tables of enduring stone; it was complete in itself. It is repeatedly declared to be perfect, sure, good, true, righteous, everlasting, throughout the Old Testament. Jesus, in the New Testament, declares that he came not to destroy it, and that is is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 16:17. The psalmist declares (Psalm 119:172) that it is God’s righteousness, and the Lord says through his prophet that his “righteousness shall not be abolished.” Isaiah 51:6, 7. In the light of these simple principles and plain declarations of Scripture, how can man say that the Sabbath has been changed or abolished? Why is it not better to believe God?SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.8

    “Law in Force” The Signs of the Times, 16, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A law is in force until it is repealed. The repeal, in justice, should be given as wide a publicity as the enactment of the law. These are simple principles recognized in all the governmental affairs of man. Apply the same principles to the decalogue, the law of God. It existed from the beginning. It was solemnly spoken by the Majesty of Heaven in a voice which shook the earth; it was written by his own finger on tables of enduring stone; it was complete in itself. It is repeatedly declared to be perfect, sure, good, true, righteous, everlasting, throughout the Old Testament. Jesus, in the New Testament, declares that he came not to destroy it, and that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 16:17. The psalmist declares (Psalm 119:172) that it is God’s righteousness, and the Lord says through his prophets that his “righteousness shall not be abolished.” Isaiah 51:6, 7. In the light of these simple principles and plain declarations of Scripture, how can man say that the Sabbath has been changed or abolished? Why is it not better to believe God?SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.9

    “The Parable of the Vineyard. International Lesson Notes. Luke 20:9-19” The Signs of the Times, 16, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner

    INTERNATIONAL LESSON NOTES.
    (Luke 20:9-19; October 5, 1890.)

    THE CONNECTION.-The speaking of this parable (see also Matthew 21:3-46; Mark 12:1-12) came the next day after the events recorded in the last regular lesson. It was the last great day of our Saviour’s teaching in the temple. On Sunday he had ridden into Jerusalem as a conqueror. On Monday he had driven out of the temple the extortionate and covetous who were defiling with their unholy traffic the temple of God. Other events, such as the cursing of the fig-tree, the lesson of the prayer of faith, the crafty scheme of the scribes and Pharisees to entrap Jesus with artful questions, and the parable of the two sons, preceded the parable of the vineyard, and can be studied with profit.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.10

    This one fact is nearly always prominent in the Lord’s parables, he uses as his illustrations things with which the people were familiar. In this parable, our Lord simply uses that which his Spirit had inspired some hundred years before. See Isaiah 5:1-7. The vineyard represents Israel; the tower, the temple at Jerusalem; the place of resort, the strength and center of their worship, the place from which the whole vineyard could be overseen. The wine-press evidently includes all those means which God gave Israel by which the riches of their vineyard could be developed and used to God’s glory. This vineyard was “hedged about,” separated from other fields. Israel was a separated people. That which separated them was God’s truth-his law, his statutes, his promises to the fathers: “Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them; that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spew you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations, which I cast out before you; for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey; I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.” Leviticus 20:22-24.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.11

    The one who planted the vineyard is the Lord; the husbandmen were those in responsible places in the Jewish nation. And truly what great things God had done for his people! From the time of his first call to them in Egypt till they were cast off forever, the way was strewn with the mercies of God. Truly the Lord could say: “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.12

    The householder sent his servants to the husbandmen; the Lord sent his prophets to Israel. It was Samuel, and Elijah, and Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, and many others. But as the husbandmen beat the servants of the owner of the vineyard, so Israel abused the prophets of God. The record is very explicit on this point: “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” 2 Chronicles 36:15, 16.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.13

    God left them without excuse. He sent “betimes” to them, or, as the margin reads, “rising up continually and carefully and sending.” He could not let them go. The language of God’s heart was: “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.” Hosea 11:8. These are the pleadings of Infinite Love to rebellious and fallen man. He will not yet reject Israel. He has one more evidence of his love; he will bestow that; surely they will yield him his due then.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.14

    Then the Lord of the vineyard sends his only begotten Son for the love which he bore to the world. John 3:16. Christ “gave himself.” Titus 2:14. Heaven or the universe could bestow no more; it bestowed its Maker. He who with the Father created all things, laid aside his glory and came to earth, and endured what man must endure, was tempted, tried, and suffered for man’s sake. “He came unto his own,” but, sad to say, “his own received him not.” The Jewish nation had closed their hearts against him. They continually read the prophecies which foretold his coming; they continually offered those sacrifices which typified his death, but the antitype they knew not. Their heart was not in harmony with the message of meekness and humility and heart righteousness; therefore they could not receive him.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.15

    But they said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” And this is just what the Jews did. Strange madness, that such should be the case, and yet it was, after three and one-half years of teaching such as the world never heard. No charge could be brought against it, neither could they bring aught against his life. He could say without boasting, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” He met in himself all the specifications of the prophecy. He went beyond this. The mighty power of God was manifested by him wherever he went. The crowning miracle of raising to life him who had been dead four days had but recently been wrought. Lazarus was known to the priests and many about Jerusalem. This miracle, in connection with all the evidences of Christ’s divinity which preceded, had led a multitude to believe in him. In fact, no evidences were wanting. The priests had confessed that the “world” had “gone after him.”SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.16

    But notwithstanding all this, the Jews cast him out and crucified him, after a heathen governor had repeatedly declared, “I find no fault in him.” In rejecting Christ, the Jews filled up the cup of their iniquity.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.17

    This is the lesson of the parable, from which, according to the account by Matthew, the Jews themselves drew the lesson: “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Then our Lord forced home the lesson of the parable by a reference to a well-known scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.18

    When the temple of Solomon was built, the stones were all prepared in the quarry, so that no sound of tool was heard in the building. It is said that one stone was for a long time rejected by the builders as of no use; but it was finally ascertained that it was the chief corner-stone. This stone typified Christ. Rejected of men, but chosen of God and precious, he was the tried upon whom if anyone believed he would not be ashamed or confounded.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.19

    “Whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken.” Whosoever comes before God with a “broken and contrite spirit” (Psalm 51:17), falling unreservedly upon his mercy, will be received. The brokenness is the brokenness of heart so pleasing to God. He dwells with the humble (Isaiah 57:15); God looks with favor upon the contrite of heart (Isaiah 66:2). But whosoever rejects the mercies of God, will, like the Jews, be rejected of God. If they will not receive Christ as a Redeemer, they must meet him as Judge, when he dispenses judgment without mercy. The lesson for the Jews is a lesson for us all. Let us heed the lesson.SITI September 29, 1890, page 498.20

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 16, 38.

    E. J. Waggoner

    It is often said that the ten divisions into which Rome was divided in the third and fourth centuries is denoted by the toes on the great metallic image of the second chapter of Daniel. But this is not the case. The prophecy expressly shows that the division of the Roman Empire is not denoted by the toes, but by the intermingling of the iron and the clay. “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter’s clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided.” Daniel 2:41. Iron and clay will not mix and become homogeneous. They will not unite. There is division wherever the two materials exist. Even so the divisions of the Roman Empire will “not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” Verse 43.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.1

    It is a precious thought that God not only helps a man after he becomes a Christian, but he helps him to begin the work. No man can lift up himself. The hymn is true; Jesus must take us just as we are.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.2

    “Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,-
    Sight, healing, riches of the mind.-
    Yea, all I love in thee to find,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
    SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.3

    Christ says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” We are literally “without strength.” Furthermore, Jesus says, “No man can come unto me except my Father draw him.” But, praise God, he draws all men. He desires all men to be saved. He calls to all the ends of the earth, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” God invites by his Spirit, by his word, by his servants. He draws us by the manifest exhibitions of his love; he gives us strength to accept the invitation and come; he freely accepts us when we come. The strength, the power, the glory, are all God’s. Man has naught of which to boast.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.4

    In Europe we hear of the “English Sabbath,” and the “Continental Sabbat;” in America, the “Puritan Sabbath” and the “American Sabbath;” and now the Australian Christian World is calling for an “Australian Sabbath.” If all these dear people would believe God and accept of his word, they would get along with one Sabbath-the Sabbath of the Lord our God. God is a God of Gentiles as well as Jews. Romans 3:29. His Sabbath is not local; it “was made for man,” for the race. Mark 2:27. But it belongs not to man or country, it is God’s “holy day.” Isaiah 58:13.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.5

    The Presbyterian mourns the growing disposition in the country to exclude the Bible from the public schools, and says: “The conscience must be trained as well as the intellect.” “In Australia, men of observation, influence, and position...are calling for suitable religious instruction in their public schools.” This is strange talk for a religious journal. What are churches and Sunday-schools for? For what are fathers and mothers? But if the church and home cannot give sufficient moral instruction, how will the public schools, which are furnished and fed from the home, be able to do this? They will never be higher morally than the elements they may be made. The public schools are not founded for moral and religious training. It is utterly impossible for them to fulfill the requirement. It is one of the follies of National Reform that such a thing could be thought feasible.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.6

    The Union Signal of August 28 has the following item: “Mrs. J. C. Bateham has returned to San Francisco from her very successful work for Sabbath observance in the Sandwich Islands.” Of which we have to say: (1) Mrs. Bateham not only does not “work for Sabbath observance,” but she is doing all she can against all true Sabbath observance; and (2) unless her work in the Sandwich Islands was vastly different fro her work in the city of Oakland, she counts her success wholly by faith. But perhaps the islanders were more profoundly impressed by her profound ignorance of the question with which she presumes to deal.SITI September 29, 1890, page 500.7

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