BRETHREN, it is my desire to write a few lines, using Paul's language as recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." I cannot find one thing in myself to boast of, therefore all the goodness I have any hope in is that which Jesus accomplished while here on this earth. I believe that He fulfilled the law to a jot and tittle, and suffered the penalty for the many sins of God's chosen by shedding His precious blood on the cross of Calvary.
Feasting upon the thoughts of the crucifixion of Jesus, brings to mind the seven statements that He made while hanging on the cross. Matthew and Mark record the fourth statement, Luke records the first, second and seventh, while John gives the third, fifth and sixth. Seven signifies fulness and completeness, and I verily believe the full and complete doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is given in these grand utterances Jesus made while suffering the intense pain and agony being nailed to the cross.
Let us first notice the first statement Jesus made, which was a prayer to His Father, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 13:34). I verily believe this was a true prayer, inspired by the God part of the character that was hanging on Calvary's cross. I further believe that all true prayers are answered, therefore conclude that all whom Jesus was praying for were forgiven. He was praying for those who had nailed Him to the cross. We find that those who crucified Him consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. Those who naturally crucified Him were typical of those whose sins were laid upon His shoulder. Figuratively, God's chosen among both Jews and Gentiles nailed Jesus to the cross with their sins. "The wages of sin is death," and Jesus died in the stead of God's chosen. In fact, He died that God's people might live. In the death of Jesus justice was satisfied and the sins of God's people were forgiven. We, therefore, finally conclude that Jesus' prayer while hanging on the cross was answered.
His second utterance was, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). He was addressing these words to one of the malefactors crucified with Him. This one realized (as do all of God's children) that His crucifixion was just. He was also blessed to realize that Jesus was the Christ. Therefore he besought Christ to "Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Each time the penitent child of God realizes his own hopeless condition unless he be "remembered" by that Christ who is the sufficiency of God's chosen. The other malefactor spoke as the ridiculing sarcastic world, who have never been brought to repentance and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus said to that penitent one who was crucified with him, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." I believe it is a paradise for God's chosen who feel justly condemned to die to realize that Jesus had remembered them.
The third statement of Jesus was to his mother and the disciples He loved: "Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciples, Behold thy mother!" (John 19:26,27). The natural mother of Jesus represented Mother Wisdom, or the Holy Spirit. John, whom Jesus loved, represented those for whom He died. God's wisdom had designed the way by which justice must be satisfied. You will notice that John took the mother of Jesus unto his own house. Jesus told His disciples (John 14:18) that He would not leave them comfortless, but would pray the Father and He would send another comforter (John 16) which would guide them into the way of all truth. The mother of Jesus (Wisdom, the Spirit of truth) has abode in the city of God, the house of God's chosen, or in the hearts of His elect, the people for whom Jesus died. This Comforter is a grand Comforter, crying to Jerusalem, the city of God, that her warfare is accomplished; that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
His fourth cry was, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34.) You will notice that the Son of God did not realize His relationship, by noting the difference in address. He formerly addressed God as "Father," but after being forsaken He addressed Him as "My God." Jesus was forsaken that those He died for might be owned. He could not have died had He not been forsaken. Jesus was bearing the penalty for the sins of God's elect, the mercy could be extended to them and the grace doctrine be the truth. Jesus was as destitute of the wisdom as to why He was forsaken as any of God's children are when it pleases God to withdraw His Holy Spirit.
The fifth saying of Christ on the cross was, "I thirst" (John 19:28). The result of being forsaken after enjoying the sweet relationship was this thirst. When Jesus thirsted he was given vinegar to drink. He was given something bitter to drink so that when God's children thirst they might be given something sweet. Jesus said in His sermon on the mountain, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Jesus drank the bitter cup that the people of God might be blessed to drink of that fountain of life. Yes, He wore a crown of thorns that God's elect might wear a crown of glory. He was forsaken that we might be owned.
The sixth saying that Jesus made while nailed to the cross was, "If is finished" (John 19:30). He had fulfilled His mission upon earth. He had completely fulfilled law and prophecy. He had kept the law in behalf of God's children. He had suffered the agonizing pains of death as the penalty for the sins of God's people. Therefore, justice was satisfied and every one of God's elect was blameless and without blemish. "It is finished." Jesus said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, but of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:38,39). Again, in John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." There on the cross He said, "It is finished."
We notice in the seventh saying that He was in possession of this wonderful relationship again as he addressed Jehovah as "Father." This alone shows that God was well pleased with His Son's accomplishment. In this seventh and last statement He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 13:46). Then He gave up the ghost. This was a crowning work, worthy of acception with the Father. The voice which spoke out of the clouds to those on the mount of transfiguration proclaimed concerning Jesus, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. I believe He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Author and Finisher of our faith, therefore my determination among God's people is not to know anything save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
In conclusion, permit me to say the editors and contributors to the Signs have been blessed to stay closer to this determination than have the writers of any periodical I have been blessed to read. May God forbid that private opinions, personal differences and confessions ever be published in this good paper which would mar the harmony of its contents. God grant its continuance. This wonderful doctrine of grace and love is soothing and comforting to this poor, sinful, wretched mortal, who through sad tribulations and experience has lost all confidence in self and the arm of flesh. As Job, my earthly possessions and wealth have been taken away, to make me realize that even temporal and natural things are unmerited and blessings of God.
Dear readers, please write me when you can.
Elder E. J. Lambert
Signs of the Times, April, 1939
"Tried in the Furnace" pgs 49-53