When the cry, “It is finished!” was uttered by the dying Lord of life and glory, that declaration included all that was written in the law and in the inspired testimony of the prophets, and proclaimed the fulfillment of the eternal counsel of God in which he was chosen to be the Savior of his people from their sins. There was no further need that he should be manifest in the flesh as the perfect Servant whom God upheld by his own omnipotence. He had honored every demand of the holy law, and infinite justice could ask no more.
It is important that the saints should ever remember that there is no revelation given in the Scriptures for any other purpose but to testify of Jesus. While there is incidental reference to the affairs of time, as the setting up of empires and their overthrow, ti is only as such incidents are used in showing the glory of our Lord in his control of all events for the manifestation of his eternal purpose in the preservation of his elect, spiritual people unto that great salvation to which there were ordained in Christ before the worlds were made. To those carnal Jews who disputed his doctrine he said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and THEY ARE THEY WHICH TESTIFY OF ME.” - John v.39. So, when John would have worshiped the angel by whom he was shown the things of Jesus, the angel said unto him, “See thou do it not; I am thy fellow servant, and of they brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God; for THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.” - Rev. xix. 10. While believers are settled in this truth there is little occasion for them to be troubled by the devices of the adversary, who is ever ready to rob them of their rest in the assurance of faith by ingeniously wresting the words of inspiration. The natural mind esteems the strife of nations as of far more importance than the mourning of a conscious sinner; but in the judgment of God there is not an unuttered groan but that is gathered in the golden vials wherein are preserved before his throne in the prayers of all saints. - Rev. v. 8; viii. 3. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. He brings princes to nothing, and makes the judges of the earth as vanity. He turns man to destruction, and says, Return, ye children of men. Thus, those things which are highly esteemed among men are accounted nought by our God; and those whom men consider the offscouring of all things are precious in the sight of the Lord, even as his peculiar treasure, and as the jewels of a crown unto him. As he gave the wealth, honor and power of Egypt for the ransom of national Israel, so he has accounted all that is valued among men as vanity in comparison with that grace which he has bestowed upon his spiritual Israel.
Not even the natural reason of the saints can comprehend this divine mystery of electing love. Constantly they seek in themselves some attraction by which this choice of God was drawn to embrace them; and their wily adversary finds an easy way to annoy them by referring to their conscious destitution of merit as evidence of their delusion in hoping in the grace of God for deliverance from the bondage of corruption. They can never overcome this temptation by reason. In this contest, as in all their experience, they must always confess that it is alone by grace that they are saved. Boasting is excluded by the grace of God which is revealed only through that faith which is the fruit of the Spirit freely given to them by the same eternal love which chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world. By that divine choice it was determined that they should be holy and without blame before God in love. If they were in themselves blameless before the holy law of God there would be nothing more than simple justice in this appointment. They could ascribe no praise to the riches of grace for that which would thus be their just judgment. But the glorious mystery of this divine appointment consists in the fact that it pleased the Lord to choose guilty and condemned sinners in whom was no merit, that they by the blood of Jesus should be cleansed from all sin, and that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. It must not be forgotten that this complete justification of the justly condemned sinners thus chosen, is infinitely more than the pardon of their sins. By this inconceivable grace the demand of justice is not less fully satisfied than the mercy and love of God. Not only are the subjects of this election freed from the penalty of their sins, they are also fully delivered from the sins by which they were polluted. Now, no more guilt can be found in them than in their sinless Redeemer. In view of this great grace which is revealed in Christ Jesus it is not difficult to understand that he is the first cause and embodiment of all the revelation which God has given in the Scriptures, as well as the Beginning of the creation of God, and the center and object for which all things are and were created.
From the consideration of the infinite character of this salvation which is in Christ, it is not strange that in all the law and the prophets Jesus is the sum of what is recorded. Because it pleased God to hide these things from the wise and prudent, the efforts of men to find out God by searching have always proved vain. Many very learned and elaborate theories have been devised, in which human wisdom has sought to find the fulfillment of prophecy in events which men consider important among the nations of this world; but it is not for the instruction of men in natural things that God has given the guidance of his Spirit to prophets and apostles. Not only the written words of prophecy but all the history of the dealings of God with his people under the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, must be seen as the testimony of Jesus, or their essential significance is not understood. Hence, all those labored dissertations in which men have claimed to find by study the interpretation of Scripture prophecy, however consistent they may seem to reason, have only served to expose the folly of those who have devised them. It is a common result of these scientific devices to find the whole significance of the prophecies which they study fulfilled in the natural history of the children of Abraham. It is almost universally taught by them that there is yet to be a restoration of the Jews to the land of Palestine, and they are to be established there in the observance of those privileges and ordinances which were given them by Moses. Without attempting to discuss this conclusion, it is sufficient for those who look to Jesus for salvation to consider that this exposition directly controverts the declarations of the Lord himself and his inspired apostle. Jesus says, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” - Matt. xi. 13. Peter says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” - Acts x. 43. Hence, if all that was witnessed by the legal and prophetic dispensations was in Jesus fulfilled, it is evident that the establishing of those prophetic observances again would signify that another Messiah must come in their fulfillment. This is certainly a denial that Jesus is the end of the law, and that the salvation which he wrought is perfected in his obedience and offering of himself once for all.
Certainly none who trust in the grace which was revealed in Jesus can look for another Mediator to come from God. Unless that righteousness of God which dwelt in Jesus is sufficient for the justification of those for whom he laid down his life, there can be no hope for any sinner. But the same failure by which his people were forbidden to hope, would also hold the Captain of our salvation under the condemnation of divine justice. Surely this blasphemous suggestion cannot for a moment deceive the tempted believer.
Since man became a transgressor of the holy commandment of his Creator, the enemy of righteousness his ever sought to pervert the truth which God declared in the law as given to man in his primitive innocence. To this end proud reason is directed to search the heights and depths of human wisdom for some understanding of the things which are made, which is different from that given by divine inspiration. Carnal enmity against God is ever ready to bow down to any idol in which it finds the sinner exalted as holding his destiny in his own power, and in which there is nothing of the humiliating doctrine of salvation exclusively by the grace of God. Man does not object to rendering adoration to such gods as are found in his own imagination; but he has never devised an idol superior to himself. The pride of his heart is flattered by the imagination that his god is altogether such a being as himself, and in worshiping that god he is only ascribing honor and glory to himself. Thus self is the ultimate object of all natural worship, whether it be called, Heathenism, or Catholic, or Protestant Christianity. Man is prone to worship some object, and his pride forbids that he should yield his own conception of that object so long as he is guided by his natural mind. Hence, every thought of God even in the imagination of an enlightened sinner, is entirely out of the way. None can know him but as he is revealed in the heart by his own holy Spirit. Certainly those from whom it has pleased God to hide this knowledge can never attain to it by their own researches.
Since rational men commonly accept the truth that they are practically sinners, and confess that they must be changed in order to be made holy, they are not disposed to reject any doctrine which represents them as having power to avail themselves of the chance to secure that change at their own will. Thus, in the recent gathering of teachers of all the religions of the world at Chicago, when they compared their doctrines, they found that there was no essential difference between Pagan idolatry and the popular christianity of America. All agreed that the good works of the creature were the essential price to be rendered in securing the favor of God. The professed teachers of christianity were as far as the avowed heathen from the understanding that sinners are saved by the blood of Jesus from all sin. Yet they could not perceive the folly of seeking to convert those from whose heathen religion they confessed inability to discover that their own doctrines materially differed. Even sound natural reason should suffice to detect such absurdity.
In the light o the testimony of inspiration, all the teachings which are consistent with the perverted notions of the depraved mind of man are thereby manifested as utterly false. There could be no occasion for the gift of inspiration to teach that which is within the power of the mind of creatures to attain by study. Not even by the most diligent examination of the inspired Scriptures can man acquire the ability to know that there is salvation in the name of Jesus. Paul says, “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led; wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” - 1 Cor. xii. 2, 3. In calling upon him for deliverance from sin every believer does say that Jesus is the Lord. In this confession the witness is given that the Spirit of truth dwells in the helpless suppliant. “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Thus, it is conclusive assurance that a sinner is led by the Spirit of God when he knows that there is salvation nowhere else but in the gracious name of Jesus. His very prayer ascribes omnipotent sovereignty to Jesus as the one Lord of life and glory.
When the pride of man prompts him to seek for knowledge of future events in the record which is given in the Scriptures, there is likely to be more anxiety for selfish honors and the praise of men than desire to see Jesus exalted as the glorious One to whom all the prophets give witness. There have doubtless been cases since John was on the isle that is called Patmos, when the saints have manifested a disposition to worship the messengers by whom they have received the testimony of Jesus. And when walking according to their natural minds the ministers of Christ are not offended by receiving such worship. Certainly their transgression will in every such case bring upon them the rod of sore chastening; yet the fleshly ambition of men constantly aspires to have the highest place in the estimation of their fellows. When the saints are governed by this carnal mind they cannot see that Jesus is the Sun in the gospel heaven, from whom the whole light of revelation shines in the illumination of prophets and apostles, and he is the great embodiment of all revealed truth, as he is “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” There is no liability of the saints looking for any other fulfillment of any prophecy when they see Jesus. All earthly considerations are forgotten in his heavenly glory, as the light of a dim candle is lost in the full blaze of the noonday sunshine. Jesus is then revealed in his own divine radiance, and from his face the created earth and heaven are fled away; and there is found no place for them. As “He is before all things, and by him all things consist,” so he is the one source of all assurance and comfort to his ransomed people. The saints can never be deprived of the spiritual blessings which are treasured in him so long as they can see Jesus in whom all fullness dwells.
Elder William L. Beebe
Signs of the Times Editorial
July 18, 1894
Signs of the Times
Vol. 133, No.12 - December, 1965