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Waggoner on Romans

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    The Surety of the Promise

    February 27, 1896

    In our last lesson we learned what Abraham found, and how he found it. At the same time we have learned what God has promised us as well as Abraham, if we believe his word. God has promised to every man who believes him nothing less than the freedom of the world. This is not an arbitrary thing. God has not said that if we will believe certain statements and dogmas, he will in return give us an everlasting inheritance. The inheritance is one of righteousness; and since faith means the reception of the life of Christ into the heart, together with God’s righteousness, it is evident that there is no other way in which the inheritance can be received. This is further made clear by a statement in the last section, which was not noted, namely, thatWOR 77.1

    “The Law Worketh Wrath.” -Therefore whoever thinks to get righteousness by the law is putting his trust in that which will destroy him. God has promised a grant of land to every one who will accept it on his conditions, namely, that he shall also accept the righteousness which goes with it, because righteousness is the characteristic of the land. Righteousness is to “dwell” in it. But this righteousness can be found only in the life of God, which is manifested in Christ. Now the man who thinks that he himself can get righteousness out of the law is in reality trying to substitute his own righteousness for God’s righteousness. In other words, he is trying to get the land by fraud. Therefore when he comes in the court to prove his claim to the land, it appears that there is a criminal charge against him; and he finds “wrath” instead of blessing. “Where no law is, there is no transgression;” but there is law everywhere, and therefore transgression. All have sinned, so that the inheritance can not be by the law.WOR 77.2

    “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. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb; he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:16-25.WOR 77.3

    Questioning the Text

    What have we already found the inheritance to be?WOR 78.1

    “The world.”WOR 78.2

    And how is it to be obtained?WOR 78.3

    “Through the righteousness of faith.”WOR 78.4

    If it were of works, what would be the result?WOR 78.5

    “Faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.”WOR 78.6

    Why?WOR 78.7

    “Because the law worketh wrath.”WOR 78.8

    Why is the inheritance of faith?WOR 78.9

    “That it might be by grace.”WOR 78.10

    To what end?WOR 78.11

    “To the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.”WOR 78.12

    Of whom is Abraham the father?WOR 78.13

    “The father of us all.”WOR 78.14

    Before whom?WOR 78.15

    “Before him whom he believed, even God.”WOR 78.16

    According to what scripture?WOR 78.17

    “As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations.”WOR 78.18

    How could God say to Abraham before he had any child, “I have made thee a father of many nations”?WOR 78.19

    He “quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things that be not as though they were.”WOR 78.20

    How did Abraham receive the promise of God?WOR 78.21

    “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.”WOR 78.22

    In what was he strong?WOR 78.23

    He “was strong in faith, giving glory to God.”WOR 78.24

    Of what was he persuaded?WOR 78.25

    “Fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”WOR 78.26

    What was the result?WOR 78.27

    “Therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”WOR 78.28

    For whose sake was this written?WOR 79.1

    “For us also.”WOR 79.2

    Why for our sakes?WOR 79.3

    “To whom it shall be imputed.”WOR 79.4

    What shall be imputed?WOR 79.5

    That which was imputed to Abraham, namely, righteousness.WOR 79.6

    On what condition will it be imputed to us also?WOR 79.7

    “If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”WOR 79.8

    Why was he delivered to death?WOR 79.9

    He “was delivered for our offenses.”WOR 79.10

    For what purpose was he raised again?WOR 79.11

    He “was raised again for our justification.WOR 79.12

    Sure to All.-Since the inheritance is through the righteousness of faith, it is equally sure to all the seed, and equally within the reach of all. Faith gives all an equal chance, because faith is just as easy for one person as for another. God has dealt to every man a measure of faith, and to all the same measure, for the measure of grace is the measure of faith, and “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7. Christ is given without reserve to every man. Hebrews 2:9. Therefore, as the same measure of faith and grace is given to all men, all have an equal opportunity to gain the inheritance.WOR 79.13

    Jesus Is the Surety.-Faith makes the promise sure to all the seed, because it has Christ alone for its object, and he is the surety of the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20. We read also of the oath of God, by which Jesus was made high priest, that “by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament,” or covenant. Hebrews 7:22. Now Jesus was not given for a certain class, but for all without distinction. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9. He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Christ dwells in the heart by faith. Ephesians 3:17. Therefore, since Christ is the surety of the promise, it must be sure to every one who believes.WOR 79.14

    The Oath of God.-It may seem to some a little far-fetched to say that the oath by which Jesus was made priest is the surety of the promise to Abraham. But a little consideration will enable any one to see that it can be no other way. In the sixth chapter of Hebrews we read: “When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee.... God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”WOR 80.1

    For Our Sakes.-Why did God confirm his promise to Abraham by an oath? That we might have a strong consolation. It was not for Abraham’s sake, because Abraham believed fully without the oath. His faith was shown to be perfect before the oath was given. It was altogether for our sakes. When does that oath give us strong consolation? When we flee for refuge to Christ as priest in the most holy place. Within the vail he ministers as high priest; and it is the oath of God that gives us courage to believe that his priesthood will save us. Then our consolation comes from Christ’s priesthood, and so from the oath which made him priest. Therefore the oath of God to Abraham was identical with the oath that made Christ high priest. This shows most plainly that the promise of God to Abraham is as wide as the gospel of Christ. And so our text, speaking of the righteousness that was imputed to Abraham, says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”WOR 80.2

    The Power of God’s Word.-God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Sometimes men do the same thing, but we soon lose confidence in them. When men speak of things that are not as though they were, there is only one proper name for it. It is a lie. But God calls those things that be not as though they were, and it is the truth. What makes the difference? Simply this: Man’s word has no power to make a thing exist when it does not exist. He may say that it does, but that does not make it so. But when God names a thing, the very thing itself is in the word that names it. He speaks, and it is. It was by this power of God that Abraham was made the father of many nations, even of us, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again.WOR 80.3

    Quickening the Dead.-It is by the power of God’s word which can speak of those things that be not as though they were and have it true, that the dead are raised. His word makes them live. It was Abraham’s faith in the resurrection of the dead that made him the father of many nations. God’s oath to Abraham was on the occasion of his offering Isaac. Genesis 22:15-18. And “by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” Hebrews 11:17-19.WOR 80.4

    Righteousness and Resurrection.-The righteousness which was imputed to Abraham will be imputed to us also if we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Therefore it follows that righteousness was imputed to Abraham because of his faith in the resurrection of the dead, which comes only through Jesus. Acts 4:2. That was what the apostles preached the promises to the fathers. The power by which a man is made righteous is the power of the resurrection. See Philippians 3:9-11. This power of the resurrection, which works righteousness in a man, is the surety of the final resurrection to immortality at the last day by which he enters upon his inheritance.WOR 81.1

    Not Weakened in Faith.-Some versions of Romans 4:19 give the idea, “Without being weakened in faith, he considered his own body now as good as dead.” That is to say, after God had made the promise to him, a full consciousness of his weakness and of all the difficulties and seeming impossibilities in the way did not have any effect in weakening his faith. Nothing is impossible with God, and there are no difficulties for him. Whenever a person is inclined to doubt the possibility of his salvation, let him stop and consider that God made the world by his word, and that he raises the dead, and that it is by that same power that God will save him if he is willing. To doubt God’s promise to deliver us from all evil is to doubt the fact that he created all things by his word, and that he is able to raise the dead. WOR 81.2

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