Dear Brother: I address you tonight for the first time, for the purpose of asking your views on Matt. viii. 11, 12.
The Old Baptists here are well pleased with the Signs of the Times, so far as I have heard. May the Lord enable you to continue to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, is the prayer of your unworthy brother,
Paint Rock, Ark., April 3, 1861.
Reply: The text proposed reads thus: “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” These words appear to have been spoken by our Lord soon after he had come down from the mountain where he had preached the sermon on the mount. Having finished the instructions to his disciples, and descended from the mountain, a great multitude of people thronged around him, and in their presence he touched and healed a filthy leper. And when he was entered into Capernaum, an officer of the Roman army came and besought him in behalf of a servant of his who was sick of the palsy and grievously tormented, and Jesus also healed the centurion’s servant. This display of miracles very naturally excited the jealousy of the Jews, who regarded the touching of a leprous person as a violation of their laws, and the favoring of a Roman centurion as little if any less defiling. But when he had positively declared that he had not found so great faith in Israel, or among the Jews, as this centurion manifested, the surprise and astonishment of the self-conceited pharisees must have been raised to the highest degree. And yet he had something more to tell them, that many shall come from the east and west, even of publicans and harlots, as he had elsewhere declared, and shall sit down with the patriarchs and prophets, and these self-righteous pharisees be cast out. Publicans and harlots, redeemed and washed in Jesus’ blood, and clothed in his spotless righteousness, shall be qualified to participate in the spiritual privileges of the gospel kingdom, while children of the kingdom, or those who legally occupied that position, should be cast out. As the Canaanites were cast out of the promised land, to make room for the heirs of the promise which God had before made to Abraham, so the carnal Israelites should be severed from Abraham, the true olive tree, for the grafting in of the Gentiles. In the sermon on the mount, Christ had declared, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom. The kingdom in its gospel organization is spiritual, and human righteousness is insufficient to qualify any one to enter it, therefore Jesus has declared most positively that except a man be born again, born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter it. No legal righteousness can exceed the righteousness of scribes and pharisees; but the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of the Son of God, does exceed. And Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, (his people,) that we should be made the righteousness of God in him. This will do; with this even publicans and harlots are cleansed and made holy, and unto them is Christ made wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. And this is his name whereby he shall be called. The Lord our Righteousness. Men are fatally mistaken when they presume that their works of righteousness or obedience to the law will justify them before God, for, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God. Justifying righteousness is not of the law. If a law had been given that could give life, righteousness should be by the law, but that no man is justified by the deeds or works of the law is evident from the fact that, The just shall live by faith. Hence, Paul, who understood precisely the difference between the righteousness of men and the righteousness of God, could cheerfully forego everything else, that he might be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Christ could and did declare beforehand that many of those shall come from the east and west, and, as in another text he adds, and from the north and south, from every point of the compass, and as his members, clothed with the garment of his salvation, covered with the robe of his righteousness, they shall enter his kingdom, come with songs and everlasting joy to his Zion, and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. There in his kingdom shall they sit down with Abraham, having the faith, not the flesh, of Abraham. If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. The children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are recognized for the seed. These are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John the Baptist told the scribes and pharisees to think not to say they had Abraham to their father; that plea was sufficient to admit them to a standing with carnal Israelites under the law, but now the axe is laid at the root of the trees and every fruitless tree is cut down; and all the trees are barren until they are first made good trees, and then the fruit will be good, for a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. But God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
The carnal Israelites were in the kingdom, as it existed under the ceremonial law, in the types. But that dispensation is abolished, and they, as children of the kingdom, in that sense are cast out, as was the rich man in the parable, while Lazarus is now in the bosom of Abraham, and a great gulf is fixed between them. Gentile sinners redeemed from all the tribes of the earth are gathered into communion with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the carnal seed are cast out into outer darkness. The kingdom of Christ is illuminated internally, the Lord God and the Lamb are the light of it; but without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. With these the carnal workmongers are associated, and of their doom they shall partake. The light which is in them, of which they boast, is darkness, and it is outer darkness, and how great is that darkness. Darkness signifies death, the opposite of life. In the Word, which was made flesh, is life, and the life is the light of men. The opposite of that life and light is outer darkness, and in it shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Weeping, when it proceeds from contrition, shows a godly sorrow, working repentance which is unto life, and needeth not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death. The first shows the work and yields the fruits of the Spirit, but the latter is accompanied by wrath, violence and gnashing of teeth, unreconciliation to God, opposition to holiness, and implacable enmity to the truth and all who hold and love the truth.
As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; so we see the declaration not only bears upon the carnal Israelites, but extends to all who are of the works of the law or rather all who are seeking for justification by obedience to the precepts of the law, and to commend themselves to the divine favor by their own works; they are all of them in outer darkness, and have not light to see that salvation is by grace alone, not of works, lest any man should boast. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of his mercy he hath saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. But the very darkness which hides these things from the eyes of the wise and prudent, they call light, while all the things of the Spirit are unto them foolishness, and they call it darkness. Such was the wretched condition of all men by nature, and those who are now translated from the power of darkness into God’s marvelous light were by nature children of wrath even as others, but God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. It surely is no less than the works of God himself. “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
“Then give all the glory to his holy name;
To him all the glory belongs;
Be your the high joy still to sound forth his fame,
And crown him in each of your songs.”
May 15, 1861.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 495 - 499