CLAREMORE, Okla., Nov. 21, 1918.
DEAR BRETHREN:– Having been requested by brother C. M. Turner, of Roanoke, Va., to write my views on Romans 5. 6-9, I shall now try to comply with his request. He is desirous especially to know the real meaning of the seventh verse, which reads: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” This verse seems to be used as the logic of the world of reason, which the apostle is now contrasting with the wonderful and unreasonable fact recorded in verse six, which reads: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” I understand that the word “we” are the ungodly spoken of in this verse; that we in a state of death are the ungodly– unlike God. Notwithstanding our ungodly state the Lord loved us with a great love, even when we were dead in sins. Being dead in sins, we certainly were the “ungodly” spoken of in the text. The human mind cannot conceive the right, the justice nor the wisdom of God in doing such (to the mind of man) foolishness, but the world by wisdom knows not God, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men. It is a settled fact that God does not judge according to man’s wisdom, nor work according to man’s rule, nor give rewards for doings as man does. The apostle having this in view, and to show the almost impossibility for man to do anything like it in an opposite direction, he wrote as he did in the seventh verse: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” The word “scarcely” signifies that it would be an unusual event for any one to die for a righteous man even, to say nothing about offering to die for a sinner. “Scarcely” in this connection may, and perhaps does, mean that it would be the greatest difficulty on earth to find one to die even for a righteous man. To make his illustration clear to our minds he continues by saying: “Peradventure,” which means by chance, or in great doubt of being that way. So we may say that the apostle in using the word “peradventure” would mean like this: yet it is very doubtful for a good man that some one would even dare to die. Summed up, we conclude that we could not find one person, when it came to the trial point of execution, that would risk dying even for a good man, to say nothing about dying for a sinner. The argument might go further, that it would be horrible, to the natural mind, to die even for a good man, and no words in our language can express the shock to our feelings to think about dying in the stead of a bad man, or transgressor. A few months ago, while I was waiting for a train in Weston, W. Va., two men were talking about Jesus dying instead of or for sinners. One who ridiculed the teaching of the Scriptures tried to show the inconsistency of the Scriptures by illustrating it this way: “Now if a judge of our court here would allow another man to die on the gallows instead of the criminal who was pronounced guilty of murder, that judge would be mobbed in less than twenty-four hours. Away with such nonsense, Christ dying for sinners.” We know that the true message of the gospel is not according to human reason, but it is mysterious, and to the unlearned a “hidden mystery.” It has worried the natural mind of man for centuries when reading the letter of the Scriptures, setting forth the truth of God, as not according to the way man would have it. Man would have the intrinsic value of virtue manufactured by himself, then God could easily make choice of the good and severely pass by the bad. Man’s thought is that God looks on things just as he himself does. Man by nature does not want to entertain a single thought in conformity to the way of salvation, while the letter of the word plainly reads that God does justify the ungodly without works, and that he that believeth it that way, that man’s faith is counted to him for righteousness. This to natural reason is stunning, so much unlike the things of the earth. If I see a man who is a transgressor, sinner, ungodly, not like God the least bit as far as I can see, who will not read the Scriptures nor talk about the mortality of man or the power and wisdom of God, and as. a fellow-creature what we call bad, could I justify him in any way? Not at all. God can justify such an one. By what law? The law of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. How wonderful! It is all done for him in the “role” of mercy, and this mercy is older than the sinner himself. O what wonders mercy has done before the sinner called for it! Mercy is granted to the sinner without his call. Coming to the eighth verse: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” So while we were sinners God loved us, and Christ died for us while we were sinners– ungodly. In due time (at the right time) Christ died for the ungodly. Surely if they had been godly it would not have been necessary for Christ to have died. To accomplish the purpose of the Father mercy must show the power of God and be an important part in the work of redemption which it was, for, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.” So in the ninth verse of the text it is well said by the same writer: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” The phrase, “we shall be saved from wrath,” has to me great meaning. We talk much about salvation, being saved, &c. I often ask myself the question, What is salvation, or what are we saved from? Here is one of the best answers to the question: “Saved from wrath through him” (Jesus). Saved from what wrath? The wrath of God that hangs over all transgressors– the sentence of death. Do the saints die like other people? No, they simply fall asleep in Jesus, their Lord and Savior, because the sting of death (sin) is taken away from them; hence they escape the consequences of death, saved from it– the wrath of God.
If this is published I hope it may be some comfort to my dear brother Turner and the readers of the SIGNS.
All yours, in hope of immortality,
J. F. BEEMAN.
Signs of the Times
Volume 87, No. 1
January 1, 1919