DEAR BRETHREN EDITORS: – Reading in the first chapter of Colossians this afternoon I came upon a passage that I would like very much to have your opinion upon. It is in the twenty-third verse, and reads, “If ye continue in the faith ground and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven,” &c. In the two verses preceding Paul speaks of the reconciliation and cleansing (spiritually) of the Colossians through the sacrifice of Jesus. The “if” here seems to introduce a condition upon which they shall be presented holy, unblamable and unreprovable in his sight. Also I would like to know your opinion as to when it was that the gospel was preached to every creature, as is stated in the latter part of this verse in these words: “The hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” If you feel moved to write in the SIGNS on these questions I will be deeply grateful.
I am unworthily, your sister,
GRACE VEECH SMITH.
IT would be a pleasure to comply with the request of sister Smith, on page 328, could we but feel the guiding Spirit of the Lord inditing the matter. Many such requests come to the office, and some of them are not granted because of lack of understanding, never because of disregard for the wishes of those who make such requests. While it sometimes seems that an editor is expected to know all things, and ready at all times to expound the most difficult questions, we are frank to confess that there is much more we do not know than there is that we understand, and it is always with a feeling of fear that we approach any divine subject. We therefore trust that no one will feel that their request is wilfully ignored.
The Scripture, and its connections, suggested by our sister proves that the very thing all missionary systems are trying to do was accomplished by the apostles almost two thousand years ago. In this subject is also encouched the work of salvation wrought by the Redeemer of sinners two thousand years ago, but which is now supposed to be brought about by the combined efforts of the Arminian world. False prophets were numerous in days of old, and since the gospel dispensation was ushered in, the world has never been without false teachers. The word of God is the man of our counsel, and if men do not write, speak and think in harmony with it it is because they have no light in them, and it makes no difference whatever about their intellectual ability. Some of the apostles were not reckoned as being very intellectual, but they had the truth of God, and testified to it, which no mortal could except he had been with Jesus and learned of him. Such testimony was better then than all the wisdom of the world, and the same is true to-day. Coming more directly to the subject, we will say that Paul, having heard of the faith in God, and love to the brethren of those at Colosse, wrote this wonderful letter that they might know of his love for and joy in them, and to confirm them in the faith and exhort them to faithfulness and steadfastness in the gospel of Christ, which gospel he clearly defined as the power of God, and the message of salvation to both Jew and Gentile. He told them of the wonderful mystery and secret of God in the redemption of all nations, that while all were enemies to him by wicked works, he had mercy upon all, that then salvation might be reckoned of grace rather than of debt. This secret was made known in the gift of Christ, the anointed of God, who blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was contrary to them, and spoiled principalities and powers, triumphing over them, that the dead might live unto God, justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law. Having therefore been quickened together with Him they had become subjects of grace, and subjects, therefore, for gospel preaching, the message of salvation, which they joyously received and believed. In the body of his flesh, through death, Christ had reconciled them to present them holy and unblamable and unreprovable in the sight of God the Father. This means “without fault before him in love.” The word “if” referred to by our sister, does not, in our understanding, present a condition upon their part as to whether or not they could be presented in His sight holy and unblamable and unreprovable, but rather, like all his exhortations, and those also of the other apostles, he warned them against those who would subvert the gospel of Christ and carry them away in their minds, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, in whom dwells the fullnes of the Godhead bodily, and in whom they were complete. The Galatians after being manifested as the children of God, and had received Paul as an angel of God, even as the Lord Jesus, and had it been possible would have plucked out their eyes and given them to him, became bewitched by false teachers who preached to them that except they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses they could not be saved. Paul, therefore, knowing the weakness of babes in Christ, and the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive, impressed upon them the importance of steadfastness in the faith, that they might grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The work of God in regeneration and justification was as complete when Christ rose from the dead as it will be when worlds are no more; if his children are not pure and holy in his sight now they never can be. The efficacy of the blood of the Lamb was so wonderful that not a shadow of guilt remains upon one for whom he died, but the lives of men and women are not always spotless here in the eyes of the world, nor in the eyes of the law of his church. In those days many by their walk denied the Lord that bought them, while on the other hand many were steadfast, and commended for it. This will be seen by reading the messages to the churches of Asia. It is a wonderful thing to be grounded and settled in the faith of God and to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. The apostle told those brethren that the same gospel which they heard had been preached to every creature under heaven. Our sister asks, When was that done? It will be remembered that when Christ came he came unto his own, the Jews, of which nation he was, being of the house of David. When he preached it was to the Jews, when he sent his disciples out to preach they were restricted to the Jewish nation; his manner of life was that of a Jew, and the manner of his burial was that of the Jews. His choice of apostles was of the Jews, the church was established among the Jews, but just before his ascension to the Father he commanded his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It should be remembered that this commission was given to the apostles, and it is natural to suppose that they obeyed the Lord; at any rate, Paul said they did. First, on the day of Pentecost we find Jews, devout men of every nation, kindred and tongue under heaven there, and when the apostles preached in the power of the Holy Ghost every man heard in his own tongue, wherein he was born, “the wonderful works of God” meaning the salvation of sinners, wrought through his Son, Jesus Christ. While on that day all were Jews, they represented every nation under heaven. Inasmuch as the middle wall of partition that separated between Jew and Gentile had been removed, the mystery of God that he had a people among all nations was revealed in the command to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven. The preaching of the gospel is simply delivering the message of salvation. All nations being included in God’s plan and purpose, all embraced in his love and mercy, it was necessary that the message of salvation be sent to all nations, or, in other words, to every creature. That work, therefore, was done by the apostles, they went everywhere, preaching to the Gentiles as well as the Jews the unsearchable riches of Christ. Preaching the gospel to every creature means nothing more or less than preaching to both Jew and Gentile. May we all who love his name be grounded and settled in the faith, growing in grace and knowledge until “the hope of the gospel” be swallowed up in fruition. K.
Elder H.C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Volume 87, No. 21
November 1, 1919