(Concluded from page 268.)
Before the world began God who cannot lie promised to the elect eternal life. (Titus i. 2.) “This is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” – 1 John v. 11, 12. “Our life is hid with Christ in God.” It is being “chosen in him” that we are bound in the bundle of life with the Lord our God. How blessedly Christ speaks of the elect in John xvii. 1-3, “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said. Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” – Acts xiii. 48. In God’s act of election their names were written in the book of life. They shall never perish. Eternal life was the end to which God the Father chose us in Christ. As our Lord Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh, in his eternal Godhead he is by “nature” the Son of God. (Gal. iv. 8.) He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. (Phil. ii. 6.) The purpose of God in our election in him was to the adoption of children. Christ the Son of God being in the election the Head and Husband of the church, is the foundation of the relation of the adoption of children. The wife of the Son is the child of the Father. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” – Romans viii. 29. It surpasses all our thought, that our Creator should in the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ, bring us into such relationship. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” And then if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. As God hath appointed his Son heir of all things, (Heb. i. 2,) and as God hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, thus it is that in union with Christ in our eternal election, we are heirs of all things also. “All things are yours: whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
“In Christ, from everlasting loved,
The saints were chosen and approved;
Formed for himself, with him joint heirs,
All things in heaven and earth are theirs.”
Our relationship to Christ in our election in him, is our title to the predestined glory, for it is in Christ that we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. (Eph. i. 11.) Jesus, the Head of the church, prays to the Father, “O Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Again he speaks, this time of the elect whom the Father hath given him, “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them as thou has loved me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Christ, the Head of the election of grace, entered into his glory. (Luke xxiv. 26.) He was received up into glory, (1 Tim. iii. 16,) and all his members shall be glorified together with him. Eternal glory is the destiny of the people of God, and to this glory they were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The blessings in Christ Jesus, eternal life and glory, adoption and union to the Incarnate Deity, promised, given, predestinated, secured in Christ before the fall, according as God hath chosen us in him, were never lost unto the elect when they sinned in Adam.
“Chosen of old, of old approved,
In Christ the eternal Son beloved,
Adopted, too, and children made,
Ere sin its baneful poison spread.”
The above mentioned inheritance of the elect, the ultimate end of their election in Christ, was not possessed by them in their creation in Adam, therefore when they sinned in Adam they did not forfeit their inheritance; the above mentioned blessings were not lost, and therefore were not restored by Christ. They are distinct from those benefits which come upon the consideration of us as sinners. They do not depend upon the elect having first sinned. If then without respect to man being considered as a sinner, the elect of mankind in indissolvable union to Christ Jesus as their Head and Husband were chosen and predestinated to eternal glory, why were the elect suffered to fall into sin?
“When man was created what wisdom we see,
The whole he possessed was the image of thee;
But O, in his fall we are led to espy,
‘Twas all for the lifting of Jesus on high.
When Adam to eat of the fruit was inclined,
It answered the end which Jehovah designed;
No purpose of wisdom was altered thereby,
‘Twas all for the lifting of Jesus on high.”
God, prior to their having sinned, beheld all his creatures, all the seed of Adam, by his own sovereign act, after the counsel of his own will, elected his people unto himself, he left “the rest.” The elect and the rest fell and sinned in the transgression of Adam. Was this a disaster? Let us not entertain such a thought, for that would reflect upon the wisdom and power of the Creator. The angels which sinned, which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, be hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6; 2 Peter ii. 4.) The elect angels (1 Tim. v. 21,) God hath kept from sinning against him; they are repeatedly designated the “holy angels.” (Matt. xxv. 31; Rev. xiv. 10.) “Bless the Lord, ye his angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” – Psalm ciii. 20. Their eternal happiness around the throne of God, to which God hath chosen them, had no relation to sin, for they are holy, and have never sinned. Could not God have kept the creature man ever hearkening to the voice of his word? Could not he, the Lord God Omnipotent, who reigneth, have so kept and sustained the elect of his creatures, and the nonelect also of his creatures, that they had never transgressed his commandments? Then however inscrutable to us it may be that sin has existence at all, let us believe that our God, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity, has his own wise and righteous purposes to fulfill in the existence of sin in Satan, (he sinneth from the beginning, 1 John ii. 8,) in the existence of sin in the angels that sinned, and in the entrance of sin into the world. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” God, in Abraham, gave the land of Canaan to his seed. This was the promised inheritance of his chosen nation. It was to be theirs in actual possession at the predestinated time.. (Gen. xv. 13-16; Acts vii. 6-17. Might they not have remained in the land as strangers until the appointed time? No; because God had purposed it otherwise, as the Scriptures tell us in Genesis xv., “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed [not Abram, for in the type he was the head. It was the members of Christ’s body that sinned, not Christ. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.] Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” How much was to be fulfilled before the chosen seed attained unto the possession of their predestinated inheritance! “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” Sometimes brethren in presenting Adam as a type of Christ, have dwelt upon the love that he had for Eve his wife. She was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. How could he be severed from her? And because of his love for her, he partook of the fruit that she gave unto him, and did eat with her. But was this act of Adam’s commendable? Is it to be held up for our admiration, and thus glorified before our eyes? O, let us not think upon the subject in such a light. May we remember that all the types presented in the Scriptures come short of perfectly presenting Christ and the church. In the epistle to the Hebrews, we read that under the law the Lord gave to Israel “patterns of things in the heavens,” “figures of the true” “shadows of good things to come.” The tabernacle was a figure for the time then present. But Christ is come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building. So Adam in eating the forbidden fruit with Eve, is not to be viewed as the “very image” of Christ. Let us not overlook the exceeding sinfulness of Adam’s sin, and the supposed motives that we imagine to have actuated him in his act, should not be entertained in our thoughts for a moment as lessening or glossing over the enormity of his guilt in sinning against his Creator. Christ the Lamb of God was verily foreordained before the foundation, (1 Peter i. 20,) so I believe the entrance by one man of sin into the world, was no less certain. It was as certainly embraced in the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, as the crucifixion of the dear Savior. (Acts ii. 23; iv. 28.) Before our foreparents fell by transgression in Eden, “God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply;” but in the wisdom and purpose of God it was not until after they had sinned that Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and she again bare his brother Abel. The first a vessel of wrath, the other a vessel of mercy. Romans ix. 21-23, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” How is it that Cain is a vessel of wrath, and Abel a vessel of mercy? Were they not both alike sinners, of the same lump of clay? “In process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” – Gen. iv. 3-5. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” – Heb. xi. 4. Cain slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him! Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Abel is a sinner; by faith (that not of himself, it is the gift of God, Eph. ii. 8,) he offers unto God a more excellent sacrifice; his works are righteous; they are the works of faith, and by faith he obtains witness that he is righteous before his God. God has respect unto him. O Abel, surely thou art a vessel of mercy afore prepared unto glory! What maketh thee to differ from thy brother Cain? Why hath God respect unto thee, and not unto Cain? How hast thou faith, and good works, and mercy, and righteousness through the sacrifice of the Lamb? To what shall all this be traced? “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” – Romans xi. 7. All through the Scriptures, in the dealings of God with mankind, this is to be traced. “The Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel,” and the especial difference was the blood of the passover Lamb. “The election hath obtained it.” This is written upon all the forgiveness of sins, the mercy, the sanctification of the Spirit, justification in the sight of God, and all the fruit of the Spirit. “The election hath obtained it: the election of grace.” As it concerned the election of grace in Christ Jesus, the sin of Adam was the outlet wherein God designed to present the glory and grace of election in every view, in the strongest light, and more illustrously to bring the many sons unto glory. That the love and tender mercy, the justice and power, faithfulness and immutability, yea, all the attributes of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, should be displayed in their infinite glory. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Christ in his prayer to the Father says, “That they may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me; * * * thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Christ the Head or the church was in the bosom of the Father from eternity. When the elect, the members of Christ, sinned, did the Father pluck them from his bosom? Did the Son of God put away his bride! Did our Lord Jesus Christ dismember himself? Ah, never, O no! For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. Deep, yes, as in a bottomless abyss, their sins had plunged them, and had the head of the election of grace been man only, then their salvation had been impossible. (Matt. xix. 26; Psalm xlix. 7.) But O, the glory of electing love! Our Head is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. He will not cast away his people whom he foreknew. He will not disown, and turn adrift his wife. But in the riches of his mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved her, he will go to the ends of the earth after her, (Isaiah xli. 9,) and our heavenly Lover’s cry will be, Return, my darling, my only one, I am married unto thee. He will go into the depths of the sea after her, and though all the waves of affliction go over him, he will bring her up from thence. (Psalm lxviii. 22.) He goes forth saying, “I will ransom thee from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” He will descend to the lowest hell after her, (Psalm lxxxvi. 13,) and deliver his darling from the power of the dog. She shall ascend with him to glory, where before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy, he will present her to himself a glorious church, holy and without blemish, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
The elect sinned in Adam. The Lord was not nonplussed. He did not have to rearrange his purposes. The falling into sin of all the human race in Adam, “Answered the end that Jehovah designed.” The election and predestination of the elect unto salvation, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, their calling, their sanctification of the Spirit, belief of the truth, and justification freely by grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, their resurrection from the dead, in their bodies changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, spiritual, incorruptible, immortal, fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Head of the church, we shall be like him. All was in the eternal purpose of God; the means, the decreed pathway to the ultimate end, for which he hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
I have already intimated that the highest relationship of the church to Christ is that he is the Head and husband, and all others are relative relationships. Meditate upon the relationship of Savior and the saved. “Israel shall be saved in the Lord.” “I will save them by the Lord their God.” – Hosea i. 7. How are we in the Lord, and Jehovah our God and Savior? It is “In Christ in God,” by eternal election in Christ, and Christ is in God. “Thou Father art in me, and I in thee.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord made flesh, and in his divine and human natures he is “man to suffer, God to save.” And what is the Son of God unto the election of grace? He is the Head. “Christ is the Head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body.” – Eph. v. 23. Here we have a revelation of two distinct relationships: the Head, the Savior, and the relationship of Savior is relative to the relationship of Christ being the Head. So also with all the manifold relationships declared in the gospel, that subsist between Christ and the church. They stand not apart, they are not separate from, but are attributable to that first, that most exalted and dearest relationship, Christ the Husband, and therefore the Head of the church. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church; and he is the Savior of the body.” May we ever be found in our doctrine, “holding the head.” (Col. ii. 19.) Christ is the Head of all principality and power, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. The Father of glory hath put all things under his feet; he hath given him to be Head over all things to the church. (Col. ii. 10; 1 Peter ii. 22; Eph. i. 22.) If he our Head be taken away, all is in confusion and everlasting ruins. But he cannot be severed from us. O Zion!
“I feel at my heart all thy sighs and thy groans,
For thou art most near me, my flesh and my bones;
In all thy distresses thy head feels the pain,
Yet all are most needful, not one is in vain.”
“The foot can’t be crashed below,
And the head be unconscious above.”
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” The Scripture says, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” But here the language is of deeper signification, as, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth,” (Amos iii. 2,) as though all other families were strangers, with whom he had no intimacy. “I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” “I never knew you.” – Matt. vii. 23. This reaches back to eternity, and “whom he did foreknow,” is from eternity. It is that knowledge and intimacy arising from near relationship. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter i. 2. Again, “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” – 2 Thess. ii. 13. In both these Scriptures the elect are declared to be chosen unto salvation, and to all that is requisite to the knowledge of salvation. Does it stop short here? Is salvation the ultimate end of their election? No, “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefined, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” – 1 Peter i. 4. And in 2 Thess. ii. 14, “To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” John xvii. 22-24, Paul says, “I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” “Afore prepared unto glory, bringing many sons unto glory.” Eternal glory is the ultimate, eternal destiny of the chosen in Christ Jesus. Salvation, to which God hath chosen his people, is not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. (2 Tim. i. 9.) This brings to view that very blessed subject, the everlasting covenant. As Isaac was Abraham’s heir, so the saints are the children of promise, the heirs of the covenant, (Gal. iv. 22-31,) and in the covenant “heirs of salvation.” – Heb. i. 14. Heirship brings to view relationship, and in what relationship are we heirs of salvation! Here it is: “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body.” The sweet psalmist of Israel said, “Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”
“Twas made with Jesus for his bride,
Before the sinner fell;
‘Twas signed, and sealed, and ratified,
In all things ordered well.”
I cannot enlarge upon the blessed subject of the covenant, as my present intention is the presentation of the subject of election. We will therefore continue our contemplation of election in relation to the elect as sinners. Our dear Savior says, “I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine. * * * My Father gave them me. (Thine they were, thou gavest them me.” – John xvii. 6.) Was it as a flock of lost sheep that the Father presented them to his dear Son, saying, Go seek and find and save them, and they shall be thine? It is a mistake to think upon the subject in this light. The chosen flock were Christ’s own; he was their owner before they were lost in sin. Israel was loved and chosen of God; they were his people, his flock when they were in the loins of Abraham, when they were in the loins of Isaac, when they were in the loins of Jacob. How many was Jacob before he went down and suffered such bondage in Egypt? Three score and ten souls. (Deut. x. 22.) Was not Jacob his flock, his chosen, before going down into Egypt? Yes, indeed. Read the precious record in Psalm cv. 6-25. And when they came into Egypt, God did not disannul the covenant. He remembered his covenant, and their coming up out of Egypt as the purchased flock, (Exodus xv. 16,) and their possession of the promised land, was all of electing love. “Because thou hadst a favor unto them.”—Psalm xliv. 3. Because he would “perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” – Deut. ix. 5. The flock was seventy before they went into Egyptian bondage, and were then the portion, the inheritance of Jehovah their Shepherd. “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee; when the Most High divided to the earth their inheritance; [Acts xvii. 26,] when he separated the sons of Adam, [Gen. xi. 8,] he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” God gave the earth to the seventy nations. That is their portion, but the seventy souls of Jacob are the Lord’s. “For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” – Deut. xxxii. 9. And the Lord is the portion of his people. The sheep were Christ’s own, as the gift of the Father unto him before they went astray. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” “My people hath been lost sheep. * * * Israel is a scattered sheep. * * * But their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of Hosts is his uame: he shall thoroughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.” – Jer. 1. The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. Eternal justice required at the hand of the Shepherd satisfaction for the trespasses of the neck. Was Jesus an hireling, whose own the sheep were not? Was it a covenant that he should have them as his own, in his own fold, when he redeemed them? No; this is not the order. Let me repeat again, Christ stood in the relationship of Shepherd to his people before thy sinned. “What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.” – Luke xv. 4-5. “My sheep.” Mine before it was lost, mine when it was lost, (I had not lost it. I would not suffer the loss of it, it was precious to me. I went after it until I found it.) Mine when I found it, mine when carrying it home on my shoulders, mine now that it is home with me. Rejoice with me.
The good Shepherd would not disown, he refused not to redeem his sheep. The time set for the Shepherd to answer for the transgressions of the flock arrived. Did he then shrink back? Did he hesitate, so that he was a little behind the appointed “hour?” Glory to God! No! Never! O thy love my Savior! “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me, have I lost none. (John xviii. 4-9.) “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand upon the little ones.” – Zech. xiii. 7. He lay down his life for the sheep, and as the God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, so all the flock redeemed by the blood of the covenant shall be brought again from the dead. “This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believe on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
In many other aspects the Scriptures present to us the salvation of the church by Christ, who is the Head and the Savior of the body. One in particular, is very largely dwelt upon in the epistle to the Hebrews. That the Son of God, whom the Father hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. That he as the High Priest and sacrifice, Redeemer and intercessor is our brother. He speaks of his people as “my brethren.”
But I will not now lengthen out this long communication. Ponder over the first three chapters of this epistle wherein this relationship of our Savior is so gloriously revealed. I might present much more upon the subject of election, such as the evidences that we are the elect of God (1 Thess. i. 4), and the resurrection of the elect unto glory.
Could our eyes have seen the tabernacle in the wilderness, in our contemplation upon its structure, we should have seen that the middle bar overlaid with gold reached from end to end of the tabernacle. (Exod. xxvi. 28.) What is this golden bar that is the center, and reaches from end to end of election in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world? This is its name, “Only the Lord had a delight in thee to love thee.”
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 66., No. 10.
MAY 15, 1898.