“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
REPLY TO BROTHER R. BLEVENS: The things which the apostle assures us are good and acceptable to God are the things named in his exhortation contained in the two preceding verses of this chapter. It is good and acceptable to God and, therefore, the inspired apostle exhorts first of all, as of very great importance, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. By the words, all men, we understand every description of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich or poor, noble or mean, friends or foes, bond or free, and especially kings, and all others who are in authority over us. This can not mean that it is pleasing to God that we should pray for the universal and everlasting salvation of all the human family, or for the destruction of any portion of our fellow beings. We can not pray in faith for anything the granting of which would involve the veracity or immutable counsel of Jehovah, and such a prayer, if granted, would involve both. The great end, or object, of the prayers of the saints is clearly stated, that we who are thus exhorted to pray may lead a peaceable and quiet life in honesty and godliness.
The spirit of Christianity is peace, it is the vital element of the heaven-born family of God. Among the works of the flesh are hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, and such like: “Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:19-23) The spirit of the gospel is, “Peace on earth and good will towards men.” Hence the corruptions of the flesh and the works and lusts thereof are to be put off, and the Christian is commanded to lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But the Eternal Judge hath most emphatically commanded his disciples differently: “I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:28,29,43,44) And in the same sermon on the mount he taught his disciples to pray, saying, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12,14,15) “Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not over come of evil; but over come evil with good.” (Romans 12:14-21) These are some of the lessons of peace enjoined on all the followers of the Prince of Peace, their strict adherence to which shall characterize them as the children of the living God. No Christian, while under the influence of the spirit of his Lord and Master, will ever be willing to disregard, or disobey, any of these instructions. But that they may live quietly and peaceably, it is desirable that the Lord may so control the elements around them that they may not be tempted beyond what they can bear. The soul of righteous Lot was perplexed and sorely vexed from day to day by his ungodly neighbors, and David prayed earnestly that he might be delivered from strange children. He said he was for peace, but when he spoke, they were for war. Our neighbors, and even our friends, like those of poor old Job, may be permitted to vex us some times, but God can control them, and give us grace to maintain our integrity.
Our enemies may scoff at us, they may persecute and despitefully use us, they may rob us of our substance, deprive us of our rights, or they may assail our characters, and falsely accuse us, to involve us in difficulties. But we are not to retaliate. They are in God’s hand and his sword for our chastisement; and we are commanded to pray even for them, and still treat them kindly, and leave the matter with our Heavenly Father; for he will avenge us in due time.
Perhaps the peace of the saints has been interrupted more by the kings and rulers of the earth than by any other class of men. Hence, we are exhorted in a special manner to pray for them. Our God can turn their hearts as the rivers of water are turned; and, as we are confident that he has this supreme power to control them, we are encouraged to pray for them, that their government may not conflict with our most sacred rights to worship God in spirit and in truth. The three Hebrew children were brought in conflict with their king, and they laid the matter before their God, and relied on his deliverance, which they realized in a most astonishing manner. Daniel also was compelled to disobey the decree of his king, and he prayed to his God and was delivered from the lions’ jaws. The wise men of the east, being warned of God, disregarded the commands of Herod. Peter and the other apostles were arraigned before the rulers of the people for disloyalty to their authority, boldly declared, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” It is very trying to the peace-loving disciples of the meek and lowly Lamb of God to be compelled to disregard the kings and rulers of the earth, yet they are liable to be so circumstanced that they can not avoid it, without disobedience to God. Yet, as all these circumstances are under the control of God, it becomes the saints to pray for them, that so far as is consistent with the pleasure of God, he may put it in their hearts to rule in the fear of God, and restrain them from despotism and oppression.
Prayers, intercessions and giving thanks are to be made for them. Our prayers should ascend to heaven that God may give us good and righteous kings, or other rulers, and our intercessions that he may preserve such righteous kings and rulers, and give them wisdom, and honesty, and keep them in his fear; so that our religious privileges may be secure to us, and we permitted to live as Christians are, by the laws of Christ, required to live in peace with God, and all mankind. And when God, in his providence, casts our lot under such civil institutions as respect our sacred rights, we are to give thanks to God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty.
This is what we understand the holy apostle to say is good and acceptable to God our Savior. Christians acknowledge no other Savior but God. They know that they have not, can not, save themselves, and they have no confidence in any other name under heaven given, and with one heart they ascribe their finished salvation to him who has said, “For I am God, and beside me there is no Savior.” “For therefore, we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” (I Tim. 4:10) The common salvation which is extended to all the children of men, providentially, is of God; and his special, gracious, complete and everlasting salvation of those that believe is most unquestionably of the living God. This God and Savior worketh all things after the counsel of his will. And he will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. The apostle confirms the truth of this declaration from the fact that there is but one God, and but one true and living God, who created, upholds, and governs all things. And there is one Mediator between God and men, and but one, consequently he is the Mediator for all his people, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, the subjects of whatever kingdom, or rulers of the whole earth. There being no other God, he is the God of the whole earth, and there being no other Savior, none of any of the tribes of mankind can be saved only in, through, and by him: He being the only Mediator between God and men, no man can come to the Father but by him. It is his sovereign will that all his people, of whatever land, nation, government, or tribe, shall be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. The salvation of all rests not on the will of man, but upon God’s will, and their knowledge of the truth rests on his will. “For he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:18)
An angel from heaven has brought down the intelligence from the throne of God that Jesus should save his people from their sins, and a man who came from God, whose name was John, has identified this same Jesus as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, while the Eternal Spirit, through prophets and apostles, declares that he saves them from their sins by bearing their sins in his own body on the tree - that he has put away their sins by the sacrifice of himself. He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. And all the ransomed of the Lord shall come to Zion with singing and everlasting joy, and all the ransomed family of God shall ultimately swell the notes of the immortal song, which no man could learn, but those who were redeemed from the earth. (Rev. 14:3) The expressive words of that song were recorded in Revelation 5:9, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nations and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on earth.”
December 15, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 434 – 438