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DIRECT TESTIMONY RESPECTING THE NATURE OP SALTATION.
Luke iv. 16-22. "And Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day,
and stood up for to read And when he had
opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."'
In this public announcement of the objects of his advent on earth, and the character of the salvation he was sent to work out in the soul of man, there is no allusion to deliverance from the wrath of an angry God, or the penalties of the divine law, or the legitimate claims of divine justice, or the terrors and torments of an endless hell. And his entire silence on these points, in this his inaugural address on entering upon his ministry, is the most demonstrative and conclusive proof of the falsehood of these dogmas of the churches and schools.
It is plain enough, to the most indifferent reader, that the salvation which Jesus sets forth, in his prophetic testimony, as the work on which he was sent of the Father, is spiritual salvation, the enlightenment of the mind, the purification of the heart, and the peace and comfort of a perfect faith in God. It is good tidings to the poor and friendless, the forsaken and broken-hearted, good tidings of a Father's love and protection, the promise that he will cause all things to work together for their good, and, in the fulness of time, wipe away all tears from their eyes: liberty to those in captivity to sin; light and sight to those blinded by error; and healing and restoration to those that are bruised and wounded in the conflict with temptation and evil.
1 Why did Jesus stop in the middle of the sentence, and leave out the important declaration, "and the day of vengeance of our God?" doubly and trebly important if he came to save us from this. How do believers in this doctrine explain the omission! See the passage in Ixi. 1—3.
Other passages are to the same point, that the redemption of Christ is from sin.
Acts iii. 25. "God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Mm to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." This is testimony direct to the question. The inspired apostle informs us that Jesus was sent expressly to save us from iniquity, not from the punishment of iniquity. The salvation is moral, is within the soul, is present to us here the moment we believe in Jesus, and receive his spirit. Then sin has no more dominion over us as our master, but we follow after holiness; we are washed and made clean through the blood of Christ. Matt. i. 21. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Here the heavenly messenger, direct from the presence of God, declares that the very name of the wonderful child shall be descriptive of his work. He is to be called Jesus, the Saviour, b ^cause he is to save his people from their sins. Of course, his people are sinners, or they would need no salvation. Only sinners can be saved; only the sick can be healed. The salvation of the sinner, is the healing of the soul, the removal of the palsy of sin, and its restoration to righteous health and strength. What palsy is to the body, sin is to the soul. What healing is to the body, redemption is to the soul.
Titus ii. 11-14. "For the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."1
Nothing can be more explicit and conclusive than the entire phrasing of this passage. It not only affirms that Christ gave himself to redeem us from ini1 Paul did not say that " the grace of God had appeared to all men" at the time he wrote; for it had appeared to comparatively very few. It has not appeared to all men even now, after eighteen centuries. Wh:.t he did say was, " the grace of God that bringeth salvation toall men, hath appeared"—and the translators have put this in the margin, when they ought to have put it in the text. The Greek is 'ETM<lAni yiif ft %6p<s ~ov 0co<> it aurtpios -naaiv ... which literally translated is, "For there has appeared the grace of God, bringing salvation to all men." Bloomfield says, "rdoTM avOpuxois must be construed not with eimjih'ti, but with jJuurijjHoj." The Vulgate has, " apparuit enin gratia Dei salutaris omnibus hominibus." Beza has the same construction; and the French Protestant version of Paris renders it, " Car In grace de Dieu salutaire a tous les homm.es a ete manifestee." Dr. A. Clarke justly says: "Had our translators, who were excellent and learned men, leaned /ess (o their own peculiar creed in the present authorized version, the Church of Christ would not have been so agitated and torn as it has been with polemical divinity." Note on Heb. vi. 0.
quity, to save us from sin; but the whole connection is built upon the fact, that salvation is from ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and evil works.
The doctrine is, that Christ comes to redeem us from sin; and the precept consequent upon this doctrine is, that we should, therefore, deny all ungodliness, and wicked works, and live soberly and righteously, in this present world. This is the practical teaching of " the grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men;" and, as every one sees, from the nature of the salvation, the practice, or the morality enjoined, is the logical sequence or necessity of the doctrine. The injunction to " live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," brings us naturally to the next testimony.
Galatians i. 3—5. "Grace be unto you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Is not this a strange and inexplicable passage, if Christ came to save us from the torments of a future evil world? If the popular theory be correct, if this is what the Saviour delivers us from, is it not passing wonderful that the Holy Spirit should dictate to Paul to write " this present evil world," instead of "that future evil world?"
Is it not plain, then, from this witness of the inspired apostle, that the salvation which Christ comes to accomplish for the human race, is deliverance from the actual sin and moral corruption of the life that »>«w is, and not from threatened punishments in the life to come? Is it not proof indisputable that Christian salvation is inward and spiritual, and not outward and material; from disobedience itself, and not from the penalties of disobedience? It would seem impossible to imagine testimony more positive in language, or more direct to the point in review.
John i. 29. "John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Here, again, the witness is the same, " he taketh away the sin" not the punitive consequence of sin, not the penalties of that law of which sin is the transgression. And John the apostle is in perfect agreement on this point with John the Baptist, for he testifies that "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John i. 7. And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews has the same testimony: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge the conscience from dead works to serve the living God." ix. 14. From sin and dead works, the blood of Christ redeems us, purges the conscience, and restores us to the service of the living God.
There is a remarkable passage, on this point, in Paul's Epistle to Titus, chapter iii: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord."