DEAR ELDER: – I should like to know your mind on I Peter iv. 18. Do you think Peter means the righteous of the law, or the righteous of the faith of Jesus Christ?
Yours in hope of eternal life,
W. E. BUCK.
Dorchester, N. B., Sept. 1, 1880
REPLY. – We do not understand the apostle to be speaking of the salvation of God’s people from the curse of the law from which they are fully redeemed and forever perfected by the one offering of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in that there can be no scarcity. “For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption; for he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” – Ps. cxxx. 7,8. “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory.” “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. – Isa. xiv. 25 and liv. 19.
We understand the apostle Peter to be admonishing the saints to pursue a righteous course, and although all who adhere to his faithful admonitions and live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, still it is better for them, if the will of God be son, that in the sufferings from which the righteous are scarcely saved, that they should suffer for their strict obedience to Christ in a righteous course, than to suffer for ungodly conduct, as a thief, a murderer, or a busybody in other men’s matters. The judgment of which he speaks is in the house, or church of God; where they who are righteous, in their walk sometimes suffer for righteousness’ sake. He refers them in the next chapter to the example of their Lord and Master, who once suffered (though he was strictly righteous in all things,) the just for the unjust. “And who is he that shall harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing.
From the general terms of the apostle’s admonition it seems plain to us that the righteous who are scarcely saved from persecutions, and other sufferings while here in the flesh, are those who suffer for righteousness, sake, and the sinners and the ungodly are those who suffer for their faults, and ungodly conduct. “For what glory is it if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but, if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, that is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
Now if the righteous, who deny themselves all ungodliness and worldly lusts, are exposed to trials and persecutions; nay, if the immaculate Lamb of God endured great contradiction of sinners against himself, so that even he was not saved from suffering, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? The sinner who suffers as an evil doer, or transgressor of the laws of Christ, and the ungodly, who denies not himself of ungodliness and worldly lusts, where shall they appear? The sinner in Zion, who transgresses the law of Christ, and whose walk is not according to godliness, shall appear guilt-stricken and condemned under the chastising rod of him who shall judge both the quick and the dead.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 3.
February 1, 1881