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Not Ashamed Of The Gospel Of Christ
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” (Rom. 1:16)
Those who have studied the masterful writings of the Apostle Paul, constituting so large a portion of the New Testament, must surely have been impressed with the reasonableness and logic of his mental positions as therein stated. While it is true that not many understand the Bible at all, yet even those who do not grasp the full import of the Apostle’s words can see enough therein to convince them of his soundness of logic; and the comparatively few, begotten of the holy Spirit, who really understand the depths of his writings, unanimously accord his epistles the first place amongst the writings of the Bible as well as in general literature. And now we ask of all who recognize his ability at all and his sterling honesty of expression, Is it possible to suppose that when the Apostle wrote the words of our text he had in mind anything akin to the gross travesty upon justice and love which in the “dark ages” was branded the Gospel of Christ and has been handed down to us? Could we suppose that he had in mind a race not only born in sin and shapen in iniquity but condemned by its Creator to an eternity of torture since the time of Adam’s disobedience; could we suppose that he had in mind for such a race a message that Christ had died and that the net result of his sacrifice for sin and all of the results of that sacrifice would effect only about one in a thousand or one in ten thousand of earth’s teaming millions—to open their eyes of understanding and to lead them from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness, from enmity to God to loving obedience as saints with a reward of heavenly glory
Even in the Apostle’s day he noted the tendency of the Adversary to bring in false doctrines and to put another Gospel instead of the true one. He was not only ashamed of the false Gospel but denounced it and forewarned the Church to be on guard against the wiles of the Adversary, telling us that he would attempt to present himself as an angel of light on purpose to deceive the followers of Christ.
To what extent he has been successful as a theologist and teacher in the Church, let all the creeds of the “dark ages” and since bear witness! Do not think for one moment that I am stating anything new. For years, especially within the last forty years, thinking people and particularly ministers of the Gospel. have been perplexed and fretted in soul in respect to the creeds. Both heart and head told them that they were wrong; that such a plan, so far from being a heavenly one, is earthly, sensual, devilish, far beneath the standard of moral honesty and decency amongst men—not to speak of love for our neighbor as for ourselves, which should do for others as we would that they should do for us. This false Gospel contradicts entirely the Lord’s statement, that as the heavens are higher than the earth so are his ways higher than man s ways.
There are many of our fallen race, alas, who are very mean and moved by very wicked and malicious influences at times, but we have yet to find a man or woman so wretchedly degraded, so unjust, so unsympathetic, unloving, so fierce, so venomous, so deficient that he or she would purposely, knowingly, intentionally, bring into being any creature, human or brute, and then take continual pleasure, century after century, in torturing those creatures, in witnessing their sufferings, their groans and their agonizing cries. What awful things have we done? By following Satan’s delusion, foisted upon us as a race during the “dark ages,” we have unwittingly, stupidly ascribed to the God of wisdom, justice, love and power a plan which in proportion as we really believe it slanders him and makes him more detestable to the eyes of our understanding than any of his creatures in the universe.
Alas! For such a slander our heavenly Father, for such blasphemy of his holy name, we might well mourn in sackcloth and ashes for the remainder of our earthly life. But he is gracious unto us, not imputing our transgressions to us. He remembers that we are dust, fallen dust, and that as a race we have come largely under the deceptive influence of our Adversary, who has blinded us with ignorance and superstition. It is high time that we all awake, that we learn to use our God-given reasoning faculties on religious matters as well as upon the affairs of our natural lives.
“LET US WALK CIRCUMSPECTLY”
To awaken as a race from our long sleep, from our stupid, dreamy condition as respects religious matters— yea, to awaken from our nightmare and “nocturnal hallucinations,” it is surely high time! But let us remember that our first steps upon awakening are apt to be more or less uncertain and our course of reasoning more or less faulty. Added to this let us remember that our Adversary, Satan, still anxious to hold us in the chains of ignorance and to prevent us from seeing the Lord in his true character and from coming into close touch with him, is very apt to appear as an angel of light and to guide our footsteps, if possible, still farther away from the right path, our heads and hearts still further away from their proper relationship to God and his Word.
We have a prominent illustration of this matter in the course of one of the brightest ministers in this great metropolis. Awakening from his troubled sleep, he has discovered that the doctrine of eternal torment was but a nightmare which he properly rejected and of which he was glad to be rid. But in the excitement of the moment he has rejected the Bible and its many precious instructions as being part and parcel of his nightmare. He has leaped over the traces and become one of the shining lights of the so-called “New Theology,” which so far as the Bible and its teachings are concerned, might more truthfully be termed the new infidelity. Alas, that a blinded mind should be turned to another Gospel! And the end is not yet; there are hundreds, yea, thousands in this and in other lands who wait for a leader and who are now committing themselves in opposition to the Bible and its true message— the Gospel of Christ, of which the Apostle Paul was not ashamed. Moreover, as these men cry out thousands of slumbering Christians are awakened, and in their bewilderment they are as apt not to follow the pernicious ways of this pseudo Gospel, this “New Theology,” this new infidelity.
“A TRUMPET IN ZION”
Thank God not all of his people are asleep! And not all of those who have awakened from the nocturnal hallucinations have followed the lead of the Adversary, searching for new light, with their faces toward nature and the west and their backs toward God and his Word! God has not left himself without witnesses at any time, although at no time have these been a majority either in numbers or in influence. But it is these who are now called upon, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion! Sound an alarm in my holy mountain!” But the Lord through the prophet forewarns us that we must not expect that many will have the hearing ear as respects the truth; the declaration is, “None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) Neither is the term wicked here used in respect to murderers and thieves and the world in general, but in respect to the Lord’s professed people who have made a covenant with him and who are esteemed wicked, wrong, in comparison as they fail to live in harmony with that covenant. The wise toward God who shall understand in this time are the faithful ones who hearken to the Word of the Lord and who may hope to be of his jewels in the gathering time near at hand. It is respecting these that we read, “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” and again “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him and he will show them his covenant”—his purposes. (Psa. 25:9, 14) The Apostle declares that “Ye, brethren, are not left in darkness,” in ignorance with the remainder of the world, and our Lord pointing down to our day declared that the Adversary would deceive, “if it were possible, the very Elect.” (1 Thess. 5:4; Matt. 24:24) This implies the widespread and deceitful character of the delusions which already prevail and which, we understand the Scriptures to teach, will increase until “a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand,” implying a great falling away from the Truth from the Bible and from the Lord himself. The Apostle Paul, pointing down to our day, implies that the Lord will permit Satan to have special power now for the purpose of sifting and separating and approving the faithful and the unfaithful in the Nominal Church. He puts it strongly, saying that God will send strong delusions that they may believe a lie, that they all may be condemned who had not pleasure in the truth but in untruth. Let us, then, be very firm, very courageous to stand for the truth, to stand for the Lord, to stand for his Word, whatever the course of others may be.
MERELY A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
We are aware that many will be inclined to say that the difference between those who hold to the Bible and those who hold to the New Theology and reject the Bible are merely differences of opinion which are not vital as respects the Christian life of our relationship to God. We dispute this and call attention to the Scriptural presentation that our salvation must be recognized as of either faith or works. If it be of faith there must be a vital point to the faith, something in particular that is necessary to be believed; but if it be of works, then of course faith is ignored and the heathen, without any faith in Christ and an unfounded faith in God and his plan, would have the same opportunity of salvation by works as the Christian who has heard the Gospel of the Son of God and the only name given under heaven and amongst men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The battle on this question has waged ever since the days of the Apostle, but there is no question as to what was their stand. It is plainly declared that no man can be saved by works of the law, works of righteousness, and that our justification and salvation are through faith in the blood of Christ. If then the old theology of Jesus and the apostles shall stand the teachers of the New Theology are convicted out of their own mouths with being false apostles, false teachers, not Christian, not only in their tendencies leading away from the Word of God, but in all their theories denying salvation through faith, which is the only salvation the Bible proclaims to mankind this side of the Millennium, the only terms on which any can be accepted of the Lord to the present high calling to membership in the “Little Flock,” the Bride of Christ, the Very Elect.
Let the fight be squarely drawn and clearly seen. If the New Theology is right the Bible is entirely wrong; if man’s existence on earth began on a plane one removed from a monkey, and he has been gradually evolving to his present condition and position, and if he is to save himself by his own works without a redemption and without divine interposition, then the Bible is wholly wrong, for it teaches the reverse of this in every particular. The Bible teaches that man was created in God’s image, upright, and that he fell into sin and that, as the Apostle declares, the degradation of the heathen was because they were not willing, not desirous of retaining God in their mind, and that God gave them over to a reprobate mind and to doing evil things which have intensified the degradation of the race, some more and some less.
The Gospel of which the Apostle was not ashamed represents that the penalty of all this sin and degradation is extinction; but that God in mercy provided Jesus as our Redeemer. It shows us that no member of the race could redeem it because each member himself was under the divine sentence of death. It shows us that Christ’s death was the offset or redemption price to Father Adam’s sentence, and that as the whole race suffered through Adam’s disobedience and sentence so likewise God could with equal justice permit that the redemptive work of Christ should apply not only to Adam but to all of his race. This Gospel of which St. Paul was not ashamed he clearly sets forth in Romans 5:12-19.
He does not say that the penalty upon Adam was eternal torment, but that it was death. He does not say that our penalty is eternal torment, but death. He does not say that Christ went to eternal torment to pay our penalty but that he died for our sins. He does not say that we are to be recovered from eternal torment, but that we are to be justified and delivered from our condemnation from sin and from the death penalty which was upon all, and that, therefore, there is to be a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust.
Delineating further the Gospel of which he was not ashamed the Apostle Paul explains to us that during this Gospel Age God is gathering out of the world of mankind a special Elect class to be the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, to suffer with him that they may also reign with him, to die with him that we may also live with him. (Rom. 8:17) He declares that there is a mystery connected with the matter which is not generally discerned and only intended of God to be understood by the Spirit-begotten ones, the faithful. He tells us that this mystery was hidden from us previously and that it consists in the fact that the heavenly Father fore-knew and predestinated that the great Messiah, the Seed of Abraham through whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, would be composed not only of our Lord Jesus but also of the Elect Church, which symbolically he calls his Body, saying, “God gave Christ to be the Head over the Church, which is his Body (Eph. 1:22,23); and again he declares we are members in particular of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), and again that “Jesus, the Redeemer, the Lord and Head of the Church and the Seed of Abraham per se, shall have associated with himself the Church as members of the Seed of Abraham through whom the world is to be blessed. (Gal. 3:29)
The false doctrine of the “dark ages,” of which we are ashamed, declares that when the Elect Church shall have been gathered all the families of the earth shall forever be condemned and eternally tormented, but the Gospel which the Apostle Paul preached declares to the contrary, that when the Church is complete as the Seed of Abraham its mission as the glorified Kingdom of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom under the whole heavens, shall be to bless all the families of the earth, to convert them, to lift them up out of sin and death conditions and to give so many as will a full opportunity to return to divine favor as Adam first enjoyed it and the blessing of an earthly Paradise restored.
CROSS AND CROWN—SHAME AND GLORY
The Gospel which the Apostle preached and of which he was not ashamed invited those who have the hearing ears to consecrate their lives that they might be of the Elect Church. It gave assurance that the cross of the present time would end in bringing not only everlasting life in the future but also glory, honor and immortality, a share with Christ in his Kingdom and in its glorious work. In view of this believers were urged to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God through Christ, and to suffer with him now, be sharers of his ignominy and death that they might in due time be sharers with him in his Kingdom and honor and work of blessing all the families of the earth. In all of his teachings the Lord kept before the minds of the Church that the cross and the crown were inseparably united in the divine program—”If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him,” is his plea. The faithful were at the second advent of Christ to receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away. (1 Pet. 5:4) In their glorified condition they were to be the exalted Seed of Abraham with the glorious mission of blessing Israel after the flesh and all the families of the earth. (Rom. 11:25-32) Even the casting away of Natural Israel from divine favor upon the rejection of Messiah, the Apostle assures us, will be overruled eventually, so that Natural Israel will receive mercy at the hands of the spiritual Seed of Abraham.
In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle indicates that the glories of the Church are not to be expected in the present time, which is a time of sacrifice and suffering with Christ. The glory is to follow and is to last not only during the thousand years in which the world will receive a blessing, but during the ages to come, through all eternity, the Elect Church, proved and tested by present disciplines, will be forever blessed of the Lord and sharers with their Redeemer and Head in the grace of God. Of this the apostle specifically says, “In the ages to come he (God) will show the exceeding riches of his grace and loving kindness toward us in Chris Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7) He also urges us not to cast away our confidence, our trust in God’s promises, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not. He calls to our mind the fact that during this present time of suffering and trial, the oath-bound promise made to Abraham is to be to us who believe God’s Word and oath an anchor to our souls sure and steadfast entering into that which is beyond the vail, whither our forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, who has already been glorified as the great High Priest, who during the Millennial Age shall exercise his office for the blessing of the world, and in line with this is the assurance that all the faithful of the Church of Christ, the “Little Flock,” shall be in due time members of the Royal Priesthood, who as enthroned priests and associated with their enthroned High Priest Jesus shall share with him the blessed privilege of both ruling and instructing and assisting the world of mankind.
Who, we ask, needs to be ashamed of such a Gospel? This is not the Gospel of the “dark ages,” but it is, we see, the Gospel of the Apostles, and the only Gospel which fits and dovetails with their various expressions on the subject.
The Apostle Peter also has much to say respecting these same matters—the blessing of the world at the second coming of Christ and intermediately the trials and testings of the Church—that the overcomers thereof may be proven and made ready for a share with their Redeemer in the glorious work of the Millennium. Hearken to his words when preaching under the influence of the holy Spirit at Pentecost. He declared, pointing down to the future and the blessings that would come to mankind in general at the second coming of Christ, “Times of refreshing (literally in the Greek, springtime) shall come from the presence of the Lord: and he shall send Jesus Christ (his second advent), whom the heavens must retain until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy Prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21) How could the Apostle emphasize the glorious outcome of the divine plan more distinctly than he has done? How could he more particularly tell us that at the second advent of Christ, instead of the destruction of the world, as all our creeds teach, there shall be indeed restitution times, times of refreshing, times of returning things back to a pristine glory and dignity and beauty! And the grandest of all restitution will be the raising of mankind to the perfection enjoyed originally by father Adam before he fell into sin, degradation and death. St. Peter not only declares this matter, but he calls us to witness that every prophet who could properly be called a holy prophet has directly or indirectly declared respecting this coming time of the world’s blessing. In harmony also with this and with the Apostle Paul’s declaration are St. Peter’s appeals to the Church that they make preparation, that they add to the graces and fruits of the Spirit continually, that they make progress in the good way of Christ-likeness, which the Apostle Paul denominates “putting on the whole armor of God.” (Eph. 6:11) St. Peter says, “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) No one will claim that the Apostle in these words was referring to any Kingdom established in his day. Undoubtedly he was pointing our hearts and minds forward to the Millennial Kingdom and to the promise of our dear Redeemer that his faithful would sit with him in his throne and share his glories and honors and work. (Rev. 3:2 1) Undoubtedly his words are and were intended to be in full accord with those of our dear Master, who assured us of his willingness to bless the faithful at the end of this age saying, “Fear not, Little Flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” The same Kingdom for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven.” Let us then, dear friends, cast away our fear and shame when we cast away the creeds of the “dark ages,” but let us hold fast to the Bible and its exceeding great and precious promises, the like of which are to be found in no other religion and, when rightly appreciated and understood, are nobler, better far than any human creed or condition ever penned! Let God be true though it make every creed a lie, as the Apostle would say! And believing in the living and true God, whose character is shown by this his wonderful plan for man’s salvation, let us render him the homage of our lips, confessing him in all our ways, not only with our tongues but with our lives and so far as possible, also exalting him in the very thoughts of our minds! Let us bow before him, and let the joyful recognition of his goodness sanctify our hearts more and more for him and his service!
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