“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
That saying which declares the advent of Christ Jesus, and the work which he came to perform, when made by holy men, who spake as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, must be faithfully and truly said, and worthy to be accepted and relied upon as the infallible truth of God.
First. The saying is an announcement of the advent of Christ Jesus, involving the consideration of his prior existence, and the place from whence he came, the definite and fixed purpose pursuant to which he came, as expressed clearly and faithfully in the declaration of the object of his coming, to save sinners, and from the consideration of his ability to execute the work, the certainty of his success, and this exemplified in the experience of Paul, who claimed to be the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints.
That Christ came into the world, is so evident that no arguments are required to establish the fact. The Jews who rejected him as the true and promised Messiah, did not dispute that he had come into the world, but they did dispute that he was the Son of God, and that he came from the bosom of the Father. They charged that in saying that he was the Son of God, he made himself equal with God, and in so doing, they charged him with blasphemy. But the declaration that Christ Jesus had come into the world, was in testimony that the Messiah had comes even the promised Messiah, whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, on whose shoulder the government should rest; and of the increase of whose government and peace, there should be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever. - Isa. ix. 6. The names and titles which he bears, express that he is the very Christ; the anointed Prince and Savior, of whom all the prophets have testified, and to whom all the types and ceremonies of the law pointed. The names applied by the apostle in our text, signify that he is the Anointed Savior; for the name Christ signifies that he is the anointed One. Even as he himself declared, when, after having read in the book of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings,” &c., he said to the people, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Isa. lxi. 1, compared with Luke iv. 16-21. When Peter and the disciples had declared their faith and knowledge of him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. - Matt. xvi. 16, 17. Thus by a direct revelation from the eternal God to the disciples, the important truth is settled forever, that he was, and is the Christ, the Son of God. Also at the baptismal waters of Jordan, God in audible words declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and also on the mount of Transfiguration. A special message from the throne of the eternal God was sent down to pronounce his name, “And thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Thus by special testimony, miraculously brought down from heaven, we are assured that he is Jesus, the Savior of sinners. Furthermore, we are informed that there is salvation in no other name given under heaven among men.
Thus it is established beyond all successful contradiction, that Christ, the Messiah, the Immanuel, has come into the world according to all the predictions of the Old Testament; and that the Father has given the most clear and positive demonstration of his identity as such. But, from whence came he into the world? If his coming into the world, and assumption of flesh, was that which constituted his Sonship, (in distinction from his absolute and eternal Godhead) and his mediatorial Headship of the church, how are we to understand the declarations with which the Scriptures abound, that his mediatorial goings forth, were from of old, even from everlasting? He has himself declared that, he proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. - John viii. 42. And Paul has testified thus, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” - Gal. iv. 4,5. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” - John i. 1-3, 14. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” - Heb. i. 14-16. We have thus briefly, but we trust effectually proven, by corroborating Scriptures, the faithfulness of the saying, that Christ came into the world; we will now endeavor to show by the same indisputable testimony, that his object in coming into the world was to save sinners.
We have already presented the testimony of the angel, that he shall save his people from their sins; and also that he took part of the same flesh and blood that his children are par-takers of, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, and deliver his children who were in bondage through fear of death. None but sinners stand in need of a Savior, and it is therefore evident that those who Christ came to save, were such, for he came, as we have seen, to save them from their sins; and in our text Paul presents his own case as a demonstration of the faithfulness of the saying; for he had received mercy through the salvation of Christ, though he was the chief of sinners. But in the consideration of this part of our subject, it may be proper that we attend to the question, Whether he came to save all sinners, or some particular class or portion of sinners? If he came into the world to save all sinners, he has either accomplished the work, or failed in the object of his mission. If he has accomplished the salvation of all sinners, then none will be lost; even devils are included; and the doctrine of universal salvation must be established. If he has not effected the salvation of all sinners, men and devils, then one of two positions must be true; either he did not intend to save all sinners, or he has failed to accomplish what he intended; and if he has failed, and there being salvation in no other name, all are left in their sins, and all must inevitably perish, and the doctrine of universal damnation of all sinners, must prevail.
It will not do to say that he came to bring all men into a state or condition in which they could save themselves, by performing certain conditions, or accepting certain overtures; for it would not be a faithful saying, that would say one thing and mean another. To say that Christ came to save sinners, when he only came to enable them to save themselves, would fall very far short of a faithful presentation of the subject; and the defect in the statement might be attended with the most fatal consequences, for sinners who supposed that God really meant what he said, and said what he meant, would fall naturally into the mistake of old Jonah, and suppose that salvation was really of the Lord, and so neglect to save themselves, and consequently be lost. But if we admit the saying of our text to be faithful and true; fairly expressing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we cannot resist the conclusion that Christ came to save sinners. The text also implies very clearly what kind of sinners he came to save, even the chief, just such as was Saul of Tarsus, when breathing out slaughter against the saints, and persecuting them in strange cities, up to the hour when he was arrested by a voice from heaven, which brought him prostrate to the ground. The heavenly messenger who announced the Savior’s name to Joseph, brought information down from the throne of God, that the sinners which Jesus came to save, were his people, and his mission to our guilty world, was to save them from their sins. The Holy Ghost has testified, that in this work he shall not fail nor be discouraged; that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them. We cannot doubt that he understood perfectly himself, the very object of his advent, for the prophet has said of him, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock, like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.” His work being before him, he must have understood it perfectly, and he says, that he came to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish the work. Therefore if we credit his own words, we must reject the notion that he has left the work of salvation to be finished by men, by compliance with terms, or performance of conditions. He came to do his Father’s will, and to finish the work. And this is the will of the Father, says Jesus, That of all that he has given me I should lose nothing. And this absolute, settled, eternal and immutable will of the unchanging God, Christ came to do, and to finish the work. This is also his own will, for he says, “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.” - John xvii. 24. In the commencement of this chapter he said to his Father, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do,” and in the same connection he acknowledges the Father has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as he had given him. If then we believe the Scriptures, the very words of Jesus himself, He came to save as many as the Father gave him; this he undertook to do, and this he has finished, completely and perfectly accomplished, and on the ground of his finished salvation he declares, “All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me, and he that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” While he also testifies, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” The conclusion is irresistible, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save a definite and exact number of sinners, and that he has succeeded in the work, and saved them with an everlasting salvation. He has given them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand. He has saved them, and they shall come unto him; and they shall in no case be cast out. They shall all be taught of the Father; they shall all come to Christ; they shall all behold his glory, and he will raise them all up at the last day. In this Bible view of the subject, we see that the saying of our text is faithful and true. But upon no Arminian ground could the saying of our text maintain the appearance of truth or faithfulness.
“And worthy of all acceptation.” The saying being true and faithful, is worthy to be accepted, regarded and relied on, as such. The reason why Arminians, and every other class of graceless infidels, reject this testimony, is not because of any defection in the testimony itself, but because the love of truth is not in them. It is taught only to the people of God, by the holy Comforter, whom Jesus said he would send to dwell with his people, and lead them into all truth, “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” The words of the text imply that this faithful saying is not accepted by all. Who are they that accept, and who are they that reject the saying? They who accept, are those who are taught of God, have come to Christ, have received his word, and do set to their seal that God is true. They who reject the faithful saying, are those who believe not what God has said; they are unbelievers, infidels; and this class includes the unbelieving Jews, who, though they profess to be the people of God, and to believe the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which testifies of Christ, rejected him. It also includes all those who dispute that Christ has effectually and forever saved, with an everlasting salvation, as many as the Father has given him.
Middletown, N. Y.
May 15, 1855.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 203 - 209