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Forensic Justifcation

Forensic_Justification

Forensic Justification

A Synopsis of Basic Misunderstandings

 

(This short paper was prepared in the fall of 2007 for an audioverse.org listener who wrote to ask me what I thought about this doctrine.)

What was accomplished by the death of Christ? Almost any true answer that could be given would be an understatement. An article by Ellen White with this question as the title was published.

Yet, in terms of exposure, the article is comparatively obscure.

One organization that has worked diligently to promote the value of the cross is the 1888 Message Study Committee. Two of its founders, Robert Wieland and Donald Short, proposed a special doctrine of “Forensic Justification.”

The phrase literally means “legal justification” and perhaps this term is preferable for its ease of understanding. Its proponents believe a number of ideas that, combined, make up the doctrine. Let me try to enumerate these components.

  1. God is agape love.
  2. God’s love takes the initiate in our salvation.
  3. Jesus died bearing the sins of all men – both of the eventually lost and of the finally saved.
  4. When men understand the love of God and of His Christ, their hearts will be melted.
  5. When they understand that God has already justified them many will turn to Him.
  6. All men are born into the doomed family of Adam, and so are doomed through his sin.
  7. All men are “dead.”
    1. Their doom has been reversed by the death of Jesus.
    2. They died with Him.
  8. When we accept the fact that we are already saved, we are changed.
    1. Our faith turns the theory into an experience.
    2. We are now “Justified by faith.”
  9. It is difficult to refuse the facts that are urged on us by our Loving Father, and so, difficult to be lost. This is the “good news” of the gospel.

Items 1, 2, 3 and 4 are so true that they deserve an ever increasing exposure. Hearts are changed and lives renewed by the emphasis on the power of Christ’s cross.

But items 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are all a mixture of truth and error. The truths in these statements could be worded as follows.

  1. When men understand the sacrifice of Jesus in their behalf many will turn to Him.
  2.  All men would be born hopeless, as a result of Adam’s sin, had not Christ interposed. Adam forfeited the probation that was granted him in the garden.
  3. See item 6. All men are doomed through their connection with Adam.
    1. But Jesus paid their sin and restored to them probation.
    2. All will be raised from death to receive judgment for their use of their purchased probationary time.
  4. When we are moved by the truths of redemption to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God we are changed.
    1. Our faith is counted as righteousness.
    2. Christ’s life is credit to our account and we are justified.
    3. It is difficult to refuse the pleadings of the Spirit. But it is also perfectly natural to do so. Our natures recoil from “death to self” and it is a continual struggle to keep the “body under” and so not to be a “cast away.”

The 1888 Message and Forensic Justification

One of the most interesting conversations of my life was held in the living room of Robert Wieland, Central California, about the year 2000. I visited him to receive clarification regarding his teaching and was received by him and his wife most graciously.

I had heard a rumor from one of my students that Elder Wieland did not believe in a future judgment for such sins as theft, murder or adultery. The argument placed in Wieland’s mouth by the rumor ran like this: Jesus paid for those sins on the cross. Once paid there is no more debt. There can be no justice in paying for them again. The only sin Jesus didn’t pay for on the cross is [ultimate?] unbelief. This is what men pay for.

Elder Wieland confirmed the rumor with an illustration from a human legal system. A man may not be tried for the same crime twice if he is exonerated originally.

While there are several problems with this doctrine, the most notable is that it runs contrary to the most plain statements of scripture.

Ec 11:9  Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Ec 12:14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Mt 12:36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Mt 25:41-43  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

2Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Re 20:12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Re 20:13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. {hell: or, the grave}

2Co 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Yet Wieland’s confirmation of this point was not the most interesting part of the conversation.

The Elder explained that neither Jones nor Waggoner seems to have understood the doctrine of forensic justification until the mid 1890’s. Their copious writings and sermon transcripts from 1888-1991 contain no such ideas.

While this is no argument for or against the truthfulness of legal justification, it most certainly is an argument regarding the connection of the doctrine with 1888.

The In-Christ Motif

And there are other issues worthy of addressing. One is the mistake of literalizing a metaphor. In Hebrews the ministry of Jesus is contrasted with that of the Levites. Christ’s ministry is compared to that of Melchisedec. The Bible argues that Christ’s ministry is greater than the Levitical in as much as Melch’s was greater than Levi’s. And to illustrate a contrast between Melch’s and Levi’s, the book makes the following statement:

Heb 7:9-10  And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.  For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

The phrase “and as I may so say” alerts the reader to an upcoming metaphor. Not that Levi literally paid tithes in an event that happened to his great-grandfather, but that his ancestor, one greater than him, paid tithes to Melchisedec.

The illustration says simply that Christ’s ministry excels Levi’s. But when literalized it begins to teach some incomprehensible ideas.  Suddenly I am culpable or praiseworthy for things that I did before I was born. And this idea, extracted from a literal reading of a metaphor, is made the basis for an idea that is just too abstract for human reasoning:

We were “in Jesus” at the cross, so were killed there. We were “in Christ” during his life, so lived a perfect one. “In Christ” our sins our paid for and our righteousness is established. And this is no “vicarious substitution.” This is literal reality.

Now I would hasten to add that if a prophet taught such a thing we ought to believe it. The fact that an idea is abstract or beyond our comprehension may be no argument against its truthfulness. We are weak-minded.

But prophets teach no such thing and it is often true that Satan introduces ideas that are somewhat mind-boggling so as to encourage the average hearer/reader to skip over the logic of the thing and to accept it uncritically.

Section 2

Justification and Romans 5

The first uses of the word “justify” in scripture refer to the judicial clearing of accused, yet innocent, persons. Ex 23:7; De 25:1; 1Ki 8:32; 2Ch 6:23; Pr 17:15; Is 5:23.

To Job’s friends, self-justification was the root of Job’s problems. This Job denied early saying “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.” Job 9:20. See Job 11:2; 13:18; 25:4; 27:5; 32:2; 33:32.

Israel did try to justify “herself” while practicing idolatry. But God’s people, by their sins, rather tended to justify the wicked. That is, the comparatively evil habits of the chosen people tended to wrongly excuse the wicked habits of other nations. Jer. 3:11; Ez. 16:51-52.

David’s first (of two) use of the word, in Psalm 51:4, is quoted by Paul in Romans 3. It makes apparent reference to a judicial clearing of God himself, but while God is acting still as Judge. In other words, God’s judgment is evaluated and ratified and David’s confession of sin contributes to the process. The confession of sinners in Christ’s day also “justified God.” Perhaps 1 Ti 3:16 also alludes to God’s justification, but by the spiritual life of Jesus.

Ps 51:4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Ro 3:4  God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Lu 7:29  And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.

No man will be justified in God’s sight while daring to second guess God’s judgments. Ps. 143:2.

If nations could accurately describe the past and tell the future it would be judicial evidence that they have the truth. If individuals had rational answers with which to meet their accusations they should use them and be justified. But they have them not. Is. 43:9, 26.

The first use of the word “justify” in a sense similar to “forgive” is half way through the Bible in Isaiah 45:25. (See Is 45:22-25.)

Isa 45:25  In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

Similar is Isaiah 50:7-9. This seems to be the passage alluded to in Romans 8.

Isa 50:7  For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. 8  He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. 9  Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.

And a direct connection of the word Justify with the gospel is found in Isaiah 53.

Isa 53:11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

This concludes the Old Testament use of the words derived from “justify.”

The first New Testament use, by Jesus, indicates that truth is attacked by the masses but is justified by “her children.” Mt 11:19. (See also Lu 7:35.)

In Matthew 12 Jesus indicates that men will be evaluated in the judgment on the basis of their “words.” It appears that we are judged by our words and, following, the Judge is vindicated for His execution of justice.

Mt 12:37  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

As confession of sin tends to “justify God” (see Lu 7:29 quoted earlier), an unwillingness to confess translates into a willingness to justify one’s self.  When Pharisees made light of Jesus’ plain teaching he accused them of self-justification. Lu 10:29; 16:15.

A short time later Jesus delivered a parable that showed what kind of words lead to justification and which kind of self-justifying words do not.

Lu 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Outside of the controverted text, Romans 5:9-20, there are 25 other verses that use forms of the verb “justify.” 100% of these are given below.

And all of these teach a straight forward doctrine. Men that truly believe, and no others, are justified. Men whose belief is sufficient to lead them to works of obedience are justified, and no others. Men whose works do not proceed from faith are not justified. Emphatically, in the passages, justification is by faith.

Ac 13:39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. [Note: Who are justified? “all that believe”]

Ro 2:13  (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.  [Note: Who are justified? “the doers of the law”]

Ro 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  [Note: By what means are the doers of the law justified? Not by virtue of the lawful “deeds”.]

Ro 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  [Note: By what means are men justified? By God’s grace made available through Christ.]

Ro 3:26  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [Note: Who are justified? “him which believeth in Jesus”]

Ro 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Note: In conclusion, who are justified and how? Those having faith, but without any merit from their obedience.]

Ro 3:30  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [Note: Which Jews are justified? Which Gentiles? Those having “faith.”]

Ro 4:2  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

Ro 4:5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Note: Who are justified? Ungodly persons who have faith that God justifies ungodly persons. ]

Ro 4:25  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. [Note: Why was Jesus raised? “For our justification.” Then were we justified at the cross? No. Our justification is connected with his meditorial work.]

Ro 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Note: Who has peace with God? Those who are “being justified by faith.”]

Ro 8:30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. [Note: The chosen (ie, predestined), the justified, and the glorified are all the same class.]

Ro 8:33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. [Note: Who are justified? “God’s elect.”]

1Co 4:4  For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. [Note: Paul’s justification is connected with his judgment by the Lord Jesus.]

1Co 6:11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. [Note: Who are justified? Those who are “washed” and “sanctified” in submission to “the Lord Jesus.”]

Ga 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Note: Who are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ? “we [who] have believed in Jesus Christ.” Our belief in Jesus was chosen so “that” it might be that way.]

Ga 2:17  But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. [Note: Is being justified by Christ something to seek for? Apparently yes.]

Ga 3:8  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Ga 3:11  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Ga 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [Note: Who are justified? Those brought to Christ by the law, those living “by faith.”]

Ga 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Tit 3:7  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Jas 2:21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Jas 2:24  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Jas 2:25  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? [Note: Rahab and Abraham were justified by a faith that operated successfully in their lives. Their lives showed that those who “believe” in Romans 3 are the same as those who are “doers of the law” in Romans 2.]

Summary:

We have observed, in this paper, 57 of the 60 verses using “justify” or its derivates in scripture.

These we have found to teach that both men and God are seeking justification. Most men seek it either by works or by stubborn refusal to confess their sins. Some seek it humbly by faith – and these are faithfully obedient.

Those that seek justification by faith freely confess their sins and thus justify God’s verdicts. Those who are professed servants of the king but whose lives ill-accord with their profession rather negate the validity of God’s judgments. Their lives tend to justify the wicked by way of comparison. Who can condemn a wicked man for doing wrong if even God’s people are living that way?

Those who by faith seek to be justified are dependant on Christ’s intercession. They were not justified at His death, though His death was the sacrifice that paid for their sins. They were purchased by His death and are justified by His mediatory work.

Ro 4:25  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

They are the “elect” that Jesus is justifying and to accuse them of wrong-doing is to second the work of Satan. See Romans 8:30, 33 above.

This is a fair summary of the Bible Doctrine of Justification. Three verses remain to be noticed. If they are obscure or difficult to comprehend, we should not be surprised. Peter warned us (2 Pe 3) that Paul wrote things of that nature. If they use the word “justification” or “justified” we should be predisposed to understand those words in harmony with the testimony of the rest of scripture.

This many persons do not do. And by giving to the idea of “justification” found in these verses an alternate definition they fall into some doctrinal pit holes.

Here is the passage with the three verses, and with commentary relevant to the doctrine of justification:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Note: Here we launch into a beautiful truth. God takes the initiative in wooing us to Himself. Our sins were placed on Christ before we even desired it to be. Provision[1] has been made for our justification.]

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement[2]. [Note: Who is justified “now”? Is it all men? Or the presumed Christians of Rome? Very apparently the latter. The status of “enemies” is a past status for the “we” in this passage. And the “we” in this passage “joy in God.” And the mid portion, “saved by his life” reminds us strongly of the truth found in the previous chapter of Romans, that Jesus was “raised for our Justification.” It leads to the conclusion that Justification by Faith does not mark the end of our need of Christ’s ministration.]

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [Note: Following this sentence Paul introduces quite a long parenthetical passage. This sentence, for this reason, helps us understand the next verse after the parenthetical passage. Sin came into the world by Lucifer, by his angels, by Eve. But not until Adam ate the forbidden fruit did the entire human race succumb to rebellion. Adam’s sin brought death. But why did death pass to his posterity? “For that all have sinned.” That is a simple idea explained several times earlier in the book of Romans. “And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” is the way James says it. Sin “reigns unto death” is the way this chapter says it a few verses later. The wages of “sin is death” is the most familiar way to say it. Adam’s posterity have each followed his path of sinning. And so each has merited death.]

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  [Paul carefully proves that the Law existed prior to Sinai. The fact that men were held accountable for sin, the fact that men died between Adam and Moses, proves that Law existed. And the Law had an existence outside of the consciences of men. Some men broke it without ever choosing to break it. They, too, had to die. In this category would fall many infants and many heathen. And those that died were locked in their graves. The grave reigned over them showing their accountability to the universal Law of God. Moses was the first being ever to be resurrected from the grave. He is the first man in the Bible that we witness receiving the Law of God. His resurrection (See Jude, Matthew 17) interrupted the reign of death without threatening to undermine the reign of Law. This the life and death and resurrection of Jesus also did, making Moses a type of his Savior. The gift of Jesus differs from the effect of Adam’s sin. How? It is larger in power and in significance. How many are dead now through Adam’s transgression? Most. Not Moses. Not Enoch. Not Elijah. Not “many others” raised with Christ. Not all reside under the captivity of the grave, but “many be dead.” And how many have been blessed by the abundance of grace? “they which receive” that grace and who also, “reign in life” by Christ’s power. The other contrast in this passage relates to judgment and justification. One man “having sinned” [YLT] is sufficient to bring judgment. Adam’s one sin did so. One sin of mine is sufficient to condemn me. But the gift is so much larger that it covers, not one offence of mine, but all my offences.]

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. [How did Adam’s sin lead to the judgment coming upon all men? The verse before the parenthesis answered “all have sinned.” It was by a change in the people that Adam’s sin led to their loss. “Many were made sinners.” What about the “free gift”? Does it change persons? Yes, “by the obedience of one [past] shall many be made righteous [future].” This is manifestly parallel in thought to the “justification of life.” And it is manifestly in harmony with the 69 other references to justification that we have examined up to this point. The weight of all these witnesses points to one conclusion: The free gift of Justification was made available by Jesus to all men. It “came” their way. It recommends itself to them and promises life.

But to gather from this phrase that all men have been justified is to reason backwards. It is to force the obscure to interpret to the clear, to twist straight-forward statements into fitting a faulty reading of this one. Does Paul anywhere else speak about the gift being “unto all” yet being restricted in its justifying effect to believers? That is the main idea of Romans 3:20-26 where the “righteousness of God” is “unto all and upon all them that believe.” There is no difference between believers in that passage. They have all sinned. They all depend on Christ’s righteousness, whether they died before or after the cross. And Christ’s death, in that passage, allows God to be “just” and the “justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Section Three – Hebrews 7 and being “in Christ”

One of the most common phrases in the New Testament is “in Christ.”  In that precise form it appears 77 times in scripture. That number could be expanded by including references to “in Jesus” and “in Him.” What does this phrase mean? In Greek, as in English, prepositions are very flexible in usage and meaning. And several different prepositions are used in phrases translated as “in Christ.” More than that, the dative case of the word “Christ” may be translated “in Christ.”

So what does this mean? It means that you need a larger framework than the phrase “in Christ” to know what that phrase means in a certain passage. It could mean “inside of Christ”, “in relation to Christ,” “in regard to Christ,” “by means of Christ,” “because of Christ,” or “leaning towards Christ.” And, in fact, all of these except the first are obvious meanings of the phrase in various places in the New Testament. “In relation to Christ,” being the most flexible and most generic of the series, could accurately be substituted for “in Christ” in most cases.

But that is not how many persons see it.

Before progressing to the reason they see it differently I must pause. Jesus is my Savior. Christ is His Holy Title as Messiah. My soul is repelled from entering into an argument about a preposition (a very small thing) that is so tightly united to my Prince (a unfathomably mighty Person.)

And, in fact, this may be the root of Satan’s desire to cause argument about this phrase. It may be simply a sly way to cause us to break the Third Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord thy God in Vain.”

Then, with reverence, let us consider a few of the glorious truths that stand in relation to our Lord Jesus Christ.

We may have “faith in Christ”

Ac 24:24; Ga 3:26; Eph 1:12; Col 1:4; Col 2:5. In the last of these Paul commends men for the steadfastness of their “faith in Christ.” This would not be a sensible thing to do with the faith was actually the faith of Jesus during his earthly life.

We are “justified freely” by the “redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” – Ro 3:24

Persons freed by the Spirit have “life in Christ Jesus.” – Ro 8:2

The “love of God . . . is in Christ Jesus.” Ro 8:39.

We make speak the “truth in Christ” – Ro 9:1

Christians are “one body in Christ.” – Ro 12:5

Our fellow workers are “helpers in Christ Jesus.” – Ro 16:7.

While in our spiritual infanthood, we are “babes in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Co 3:1[3]

We have many “instructors in Christ Jesus,” and perhaps one spiritual father – 1Co 4:15.

Our way of acting, our visible behavior, may be “in Christ.” – 1Co 4:17.

The righteous dead are “asleep in Christ.” – 1Co 15:18.

The righteous living have “hope in Christ.” – 1Co 15:19.

We may have rejoicing “in Christ Jesus.” – 1Co 15:31.

The church is established together “in Christ.” – 2Co 1:21.

We may speak, in the sight of God, “in Christ.” – 2Co 2:17.

The simplicity of the gospel is “in Christ.” – 2Co 11:3.

Our liberty is possessed “in Christ Jesus.” – Gal 2:4.

God’s covenant with Abraham was confirmed “In Christ.” – Gal 3:17.

Races, genders, and economic statuses are all united “in Christ Jesus.” – Eph 1:1

We are blessed with heavenly and spiritual blessings “in Christ.” – Eph 1:3.

All beings will eventually be gathered together “in Christ.” – Eph. 1:10

There is comfort, fellowship, and consolation “in Christ.” – Php. 2:1

We “may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2Ti 2:10.

Peter prayed “peace be with all that are in Christ Jesus.” – 1Pe 5:14.

Most of these passages are clearly referring to the relation a believer has to Jesus. It is in our connection to Him experientially that we experience so many blessings.

But do we have any corporate relation to Jesus outside of our personal experience? Surely we do. Many refer to this fact as the “objective truth of the gospel.”

In fact, it is the objective truth of the gospel that gives force to the judgment. The fact that Jesus has died for all men has placed all men under immense obligation to live a holy life. The greatness of the gift demands accountability for how it is received and handled. If Christ had not died for men it would have been sufficient for them to have died natural deaths and to have received either the natural results of their wickedness or God’s judgments here. There would have been no need for a resurrection or future judgment.

But the facts of the gospel, that Jesus died for all, that all have been under Spirit-prompted pressure to repent, make a natural death insufficient to meet the demands of Justice. In our relation to Adam we inherited a corruptible body that can not live forever. In our relation to Jesus we have been granted an obligation to face judgement. And so it is that:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. – I Cor 15:22-25.[4]

One time when the phrase takes on a very literal meaning is in reference to God being “in Christ.” Our probation is an evidence of the objective facts of the gospel. Because of Christ’s payment for sins men have not, generally, been the objects of Divine wrath while on earth. They have been granted sun and rain and access to grace, all undeservingly. An empty cup of probation has been given to them and until it has been filled, charges have not been accepted against them by the Divine Judge.

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. – 2Co 5:19 

But while these passages demonstrate well that the phrase “in Christ” may be used to describe Christ’s relation to the race, they can not negate the fact that the term, as generally used, refers to believers. For example:

Persons “in Christ Jesus” are not condemned. On this all parties agree. But Romans 8:1 adds that they are the ones who “walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

Persons “in Christ Jesus” are not born that way. Paul’s relatives, Adronicus and Junia, were “in Christ” before He was. Ro 16:10.

Persons “in Christ” are always being caused to “triumph” and to make God’s knowledge attractive in “every place.” 2Co 2:14.

Persons “in Christ” can understand the Old Testament symbols pointing to Jesus. 2Co 3:14.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2Co 5:17.

Persons who are now close to God and are now “in Christ” were once “far off.” Eph 2:13.

The introduction of this paper spoke about Hebrews 7 and Levi’s tithe payment to Melchizedec. If you read that section again you will see how a literalizing of a metaphor combined with a literalizing of a preposition has turned an illustration into a sermon of its own.

In Summary

My relation to Jesus means everything to me. In relation to Him I have peace, hope, love and joy. My faith in relation to him leads to my forgiveness and my participation in the grace that comes through His sacrifice. This is what is meant, generally, by the phrase “in Christ.”

It is neither a reference to my metaphysical presence in Christ’s body long ago, nor is it a reference to the quality of my interpersonal communication with Him. Rather, it is a reference to the boundless gifts that are available to me through Him.

My metaphysical presence in Christ, what does it mean? There is no true answer to this question. The idea, it seems, springs from a desire to seek out something new or strange that will reignite the power that the gospel had in yesteryear.

But the power of the gospel in the past derived from its simplicity, not from its cunning. It will enliven souls today as before when presented in clear and distinct lines. The beauties of Jesus, of holiness, of faith and forgiveness, of repentance and confession, of the cross and the glory that follows – these are sources of power.

Section Four – Common Misunderstandings that Follow Forensic Justification.

The average audience is intelligent yet mentally undisciplined. This places a burden on teachers of the truth to teach in such a way as to be well understood.

Forensic Justification is poorly understood by many that are most attracted to its presenters. The burden rest on the presenters of the doctrine to make it very clear to struggling men that:

  1. They are not saved in their sins.
  2. That confession and repentance are conditions of being accepted with God.
  3. That a life of faith is most obedient, is most holy, is always feeling unworthy.

I do not mean to create a straw man. The primary teachers of forensic justification could ascribe to these three statements, or at least to the first and third. But the use of the word “justification” in ways that contrasts sharply with 68 of 70 Biblical uses does, not surprisingly, give way to many simple minded persons supposing that all is well between them and their Lord while they have yet to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”

That error is one that follows the less careful persons.

Another error clings to many that are more prominent.

They distinguish between “vicarious” substitutionary atonement (the idea that Jesus paid for my sins as a third party taking my place) and the truth (as they see it, that Jesus involved me in his death so that I died there in reality.) By their understanding there is no justice in one dying for the sins of another. And so they impugn the wisdom and justice of the central idea of the atonement.

Yet the atonement is just and wise on a scale men can not fathom. As Creator of agents with free will Jesus stands in a unique place among the inhabitants of the universe. He can justly take their sins on Himself. While not responsible for their decisions, and thus being innocent, He may gracefully volunteer to take the horrible weight of guilt men incurred by the use they made of their gift of free will. Justice permits the infinite immensity of His Life to bear all the sin of his personal possessions.

By owning them twice

And having much life

And having one death that still pays

He graciously claims

Not by legal games

To justly atone for men’s ways

 

Yet I will be quick to confess that I understand it not. I have faint ideas that match all that I have been able to gleam from inspiration. These point me in a direction that makes the cross seem as just as it does seem merciful. Still, not because of these ideas do I believe that Christ can rightly take my sins on Himself.

I believe it because God has said it. God is Wise. I bow my intellect before the Judge and confess that whatever He does is justice.

Man, with his human, finite judgment, cannot safely question the wisdom of God. Hence it is unbecoming for him to criticize the plan of salvation. Before the theme of redemption, let man lay his wisdom in the dust, and accept the plans of Him whose wisdom is infinite.  God grants men a probation in this world, that their principles may become firmly established in the right, thus precluding the possibility of sin in the future life, and so assuring the happiness and security of all. Through the atonement of the Son of God alone could power be given to man to establish him in righteousness, and make him a fit subject for heaven. The blood of Christ is the eternal antidote for sin. The offensive character of sin is seen in what it cost the Son of God in humiliation, in suffering and death. All the worlds behold in him a living testimony to the malignity of sin, for in his divine form he bears the marks of the curse. He is in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that hath been slain. The redeemed will ever be vividly impressed with the hateful character of sin, as they behold Him who died for their transgressions. The preciousness of the Offering will be more fully realized as the blood-washed throng more fully comprehend how God has made a new and living way for the salvation of men, through the union of the human and the divine in Christ.  – ST, December 30, 1889 [5]

 

Those who understand this matter in its true bearing will more fully comprehend the glorious, wondrous plan of salvation. They will not desire to argue just what is meant by Christ being our righteousness, nor will they desire to try to explain questions that do not in any way make more plain the terms of salvation.— WB, September 9, 1902

 

Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. We can make no atonement for ourselves; but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” No man of earth, no angel of heaven, could have paid the penalty for sin. Jesus was the only one who could save rebellious man. In Him divinity and humanity are combined, and this was what gave efficacy to the offering on Calvary’s cross. At the cross, mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. As the sinner looks upon the Saviour dying on Calvary, and realizes that the Sufferer is divine, he asks why, this great sacrifice was made; and the cross points to the holy law of God, which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument to the immutability and righteousness of the law. In prophesying of Christ, Isaiah says, “He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” The law has no power to pardon the evil-doer. Its office is to point out his defects, that he may realize his need of One who is mighty to save, realize his need of One who will become his substitute, his surety, his righteousness. Jesus meets the need of the sinner; for He has taken upon Him the sins of the transgressor. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with his stripes we are healed.” The Lord could have cut off the sinner, and utterly destroyed him; but the more costly plan was chosen. In his great love He provides hope for the hopeless, giving his only begotten Son to bear the sins of the world. And since He has poured out all heaven in that one rich gift, He will withhold from man no needed aid that he may take the cup of salvation, and become an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ.  BEcho, March 15, 1893

 

All legalism, all the sorrow and woe by which you may encompass yourself, will not give you one moment of relief. You cannot rightly estimate sin. You must accept God’s estimate, and it is heavy indeed. If you bore the guilt of your sin, it would crush you; but the sinless One has taken your place, and though undeserving, He has borne your guilt. By accepting the provision God has made, you may stand free before Him in the merit and virtue of your Substitute.  BEcho, July 2, 1894

 

1Pe 3:18  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

1Pe 2:24  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

1Pe 4:1  Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

Isa 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Ro 3:25-26  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the jus Re 15:3  And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.tifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

These and many texts like them establish the facts that God is both Just and merciful is His granting to us of a Substitute.

In summary, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement remains the glorious center gem of righteousness by faith. There is sad irony in the efforts of men who promote faith (“living by every word…”) when they rise above the Word and second the demonic arguments that the doctrine, as plainly stated by many prophets, is unjust.

And we can not be greatly surprised that the followers of such often become confused in regard to the personal terms of justification by faith. This confusion, on such a vital theme, threatens to destroy a man’s eternal life. This error always tends to do – even when held most sincerely by the kindest of men.

Section Five – The Converting Power of Truth with a Twisted Ankle

Truth has power. Those familiar with the Bible know that Jesus credits truth with setting men free. Through it they are sanctified. By the Word of truth they are born again into a life that can endure.

Truth has such power that a man preaching it need not be exactly accurate to benefit his hearers. If a man preaches that the death of Jesus can save a poor sinner from burning in hell forever, that preacher may benefit someone indeed. The truths in the verses he shares retain their potency despite his misunderstanding.

Truth can do wonders when sprinting by God’s power. When lurching forward on crutches its muscles still bulge and its back still ripples with strength. That is the preciousness of truth.

Error shares the same characteristics, but in the negative. As it confuses the mind, misdirects the affections, palliates the still-burdened conscience, error destroys a man. It weakens his faith, dampens his zeal for holiness, his earnestness to please God.

And almost always truth and error are preached together in such a complex mesh of ideas that it is difficult to ascertain the net effect.

Not so with many of the preachers of forensic justification. Their love for Ellen White, their respect for God’s messengers, their devotion to the cross, their adherence to the present truths for this time, their exaltation of the truth regarding “beholding”, and their teaching of kindred precious truths – these are tremendous forces for good.

Truth when preached along with “forensic justification” charges forward on a twisted ankle. Its courage atones some for its injuries. Its efforts excel those of another ideas, they being more healthy but less mighty.

In summary, the gospel has a power that can survive the misunderstandings of its teachers. Great good has been done by the teachers of forensic justification. More good would be done by them if they would drop the error in favor of a more homogenous mixture of truth.

Section Six – The Historical Teaching of Forensic Justification

What did A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner believe about “justification of life” in Romans 5:18? Perhaps surprisingly to some, they believed much the same regarding this phrase as did Storres, Andrews, and Loughborough before them.

The articles of Jones and Waggoner discuss the entire passage of Romans 5:12-21. They emphasize the following points:

  1. Everyone was made a sinner by Adam, but only when they confirmed their inherited weakness by a personal choice to sin.
  2. Everyone has been redeemed from Adam’s fall, but they are only
  3. They constantly make reference to the “provision” made for men at Calvary.
  4. They repeatedly stress that being “in Him” is a characteristic of believers only.
  5. Jones indicates that the contrast between Adam and Christ was that one sin of Adam did damage and many sins in Christ were healed.
  6. What Jesus did, Jones explains, gives resurrection to all men just as what Adam did gives death to all. But those resurrected include the “unjust.”
  7. What Jesus has given to every man is “freedom” to chose. No one “is compelled to be righteous.”
  8. When any man asks for “forgiveness” he is asking that God “give for” his sin Christ’s “righteousness.” God does, as promised in Romans 5:18.

The following section is copied and edited from the Adventist Pioneer Library. Initials represent first the author (ATJ = A. T. Jones). Then follows an abbreviation representing the title of the document (GCB95ATJ14 = General Conference Bulletin, 1895, Jones Sermon # 14.) Emphasis is supplied.

 

ATJ  GCB95ATJ14  pp 267-270      O, He is a complete Saviour.  He is a Saviour from sins committed and the Conqueror of the tendencies to commit sins.  In Him we have the victory.  We are no more responsible for these tendencies being in us that we are responsible for the sun shining, but every man on earth is responsible for these things appearing in open action in Him, because Jesus Christ has made provision against their ever appearing in open action.  Before we learned of Christ, many of them had appeared in open action.  The Lord hath laid upon Him all these and He has taken them away.  Since we learned of Christ, these tendencies which have not appeared He condemned as sin in the flesh.  And shall He who believes in Jesus allow that which Christ condemned in the flesh to rule over Him in the flesh?  This is the victory that belongs to the believer in Jesus.

It is true that, although a man may have all this in Jesus, He cannot profit by it without himself being a believer in Jesus. Take the man who does not believe in Jesus at all tonight.  has not Christ made all the provision for him that He has for Elijah, who is in heaven tonight?  And if this man wants to have Christ for his Saviour, if he wants provision made for all his sins and salvation from all of them, does Christ have to do anything now in order to provide for this man’s sins or to save him from them?  No.  That is all done.  He made all that provision for every man when He was in the flesh and every man who believes in Him receives this without there being any need of any part of it being done over again.  He “made one sacrifice for sins forever.”  And having by Himself purged us from our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Thus it is all in Him and every believer in Him possesses it all in Him and in Him is complete.  It is in Him and that is the blessedness of it.  “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.”  And God gives His eternal Spirit and us eternal life–eternity in which to live–in order that that eternal Spirit may reveal to us and make known to us the eternal depths of the salvation that we have in Him whose goings forth have been from the days of eternity.

Now let us look at it in another way.  Turn to Romans 5:12:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Now, leaving out the verses in parenthesis for the moment and reading them afterward, read the eighteenth verse:

Therefore, as by the offense of one [that man that sinned] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [that Man that did not sin] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience [that man that sinned] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [that Man that did not sin] shall many be made righteous.

For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Adam, then, was the figure of Him that was to come.  That one to come is Christ.  Adam was the figure of Him.  Wherein was Adam the figure of Him?  In his righteousness?  No.  For he did not keep it.  In his sin?  No.  For Christ did not sin.  Wherein, then, was Adam the figure of Christ?  In this:  That all that were in the world were included in Adam, and all that are in the world are included in Christ.  In other words:  Adam in his sin reached all the world; Jesus Christ, the second Adam, in His righteousness touches all humanity.  That is where Adam is the figure of Him that was to come.  So read on:

But not as the offense, so also is the free gift: for if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

There are two men, then, whom we are studying:  That one man by whom sin entered; that one man by whom righteousness entered.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.  For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one [that is, by the first Adam]; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ [the second Adam].

Read another text in connection with this before we touch the particular study of it.  1 Cor. 15:45–49:

So it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”

The first Adam touched all of us; what he did included all of us.  If he had remained true to God, that would have included all of us.  And when he fell away from God, that included us and took us also.  Whatever he should have done embraced us, and what he did made us what we are.

Now here is another Adam.  Does He touch as many as the first Adam did?  That is the question.  That is what we are studying now.  Does the second Adam touch as many as did the first Adam?  And the answer is that it is certainly true that what the second Adam did embraces all that were embraced in what the first Adam did.  What he should have done, what he could have done, would embrace all.

Suppose Christ had yielded to temptation and had sinned.  Would that have meant anything to us?  It would have meant everything to us.  The first Adam’s sin meant all this to us; sin on the part of the second Adam would have meant all this to us.  The first Adam’s righteousness would have meant all to us and the second Adam’s righteousness means all to as many as believe.  That is correct in a certain sense, but not in the sense in which we are studying it now.  We are now studying from the side of the Adams.  We will look at it from our side presently.

The question is, Does the second Adam’s righteousness embrace as many as does the first Adam’s sin?  Look closely.  Without our consent at all, without our having anything to do with it, we were all included in the first Adam; we were there.  All the human race were in the first Adam.  What that first Adam–what that first man, did meant us; it involved us.  That which the first Adam did brought us into sin, and the end of sin is death, and that touches every one of us and involves every one of us.

Jesus Christ, the second man, took our sinful nature.  He touched us “in all points.”  He became we and died the death.  And so in Him and by that every man that has ever lived upon the earth and was involved in the first Adam is involve in this and will live again.  There will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.  Every soul shall live again by the second Adam from the death that came by the first Adam.

“Well,” says one, “we are involved in other sins besides that one.”  Not without our choice.  When God said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed,” He set every man free to choose which master he would serve, and since that, every man that has sinned in this world has done it because he chose to.  “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”–not them who had no chance to believe; the god of this world blinds no man until he has shut his eyes of faith.  When he shuts his eyes of faith, then Satan will see that they are kept shut as long as possible.  I read the text again:  “If our gospel,”–the everlasting gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ which is Christ in you the hope of glory, from the days of the first Adam’s sin until now–“if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”  It is hid to them “in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds.”  And why did he blind the minds?  Because they “believe not.”

Abraham, a heathen, born a heathen, as all the rest of us are, and raised a heathen, grew up in a family of heathens, worshiping idols and the heavenly hosts.  He turned from it all unto God and opened his eyes of faith and used them, and Satan never had a chance to blind his eyes.  And Abraham, a heathen, thus turning from among heathens unto God and finding God in Jesus Christ in the fullness of hope–that is one reason why God has set him before all the world.  He is an example of what every heathen on this earth may find.  He is a God-set-forth example of how every heathen is without excuse if he does not find God in Jesus Christ, by the everlasting gospel.  Abraham is set before all nations in witness of the fact that every heathen is responsible in his own way if he does not find what Abraham found.

Therefore, just as far as the first Adam reaches man, so far the second Adam reaches man.  The first Adam brought man under the condemnation of sin, even unto death; the second Adam’s righteousness undoes that and makes every man live again.  As soon as Adam sinned, God gave him a second chance and set him free to choose which master he would have.  Since that time every man is free to choose which way he will go; therefore he is responsible for his own individual sins.  And when Jesus Christ has set us all free from the sin and the death which came upon us from the first Adam, that freedom is for every man,  and every man can have it for the choosing.

The Lord will not compel any one to take it.  He compels no one to sin and He compels no one to be righteous.  Everyone sins upon his own choice.  The Scriptures demonstrate it.  And every one can be made perfectly righteous at his choice.  And the Scriptures demonstrate this.  No man will die the second death who has not chosen sin rather than righteousness, death rather than life.  In Jesus Christ there is furnished in completeness all that man needs or ever can have in righteousness, and all there is for any man to do is to choose Christ and then it is his.

So then as the first Adam was We, the second Adam is We.  In all points He is as weak as are we.  Read two texts:  He says of us, “Without me ye can do nothing.”  Of Himself He says:  “Of mine own self I can do nothing.”

These two texts are all we want now.  They tell the whole story.  To be without Christ is to be without God, and there the man can do nothing.  He is utterly helpless of himself and in himself.  That is where the man is who is without God.  Jesus Christ says:  “Of mine own self I can do nothing.”  Then that shows that the Lord Jesus put Himself in this world, in the flesh, in His human nature, precisely where the man is in this world who is without God.  He put Himself precisely where lost man is.  He left out His divine self and became we.  And there, helpless as we are without God, He ran the risk of getting back to where God is and bringing us with him.  It was a fearful risk, but, glory to God, He won.  The thing was accomplished, and in Him we are saved.

When He stood where we are, He said, “I will put my trust in Him” and that trust was never disappointed.  In response to that trust the Father dwelt in Him and with Him and kept Him from sinning.  Who was He?  We.  And thus the Lord Jesus has brought to every man in this world divine faith.  That is the faith of the Lord Jesus.  That is saving faith.  Faith is not something that comes from ourselves with which we believe upon Him, but it is that something with which He believed–the faith which He exercised, which He brings to us, and which becomes ours and works in us–the gift of God.  That is what the word means, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”  They keep the faith of Jesus because it is that divine faith which Jesus exercised Himself.

He being we brought to us that divine faith which saves the soul–that divine faith by which we can say with Him, “I will put my trust in Him.”  And in so putting our trust in Him, that trust today will never be disappointed anymore than it was then.  God responded then to the trust and dwelt with Him.  God will respond today to that trust in us and will dwell with us.

God dwelt with Him and He was ourselves.  Therefore His name is Emmanuel, God with us.  Not God with Him.  God was with Him before the world was;  He could have remained there and not come here at all and still God could have remained with Him and His name could have been God with Him.  He could have come into this world as He was in heaven and His name could still have been God with Him.  But that never could have been God with us.  But what we needed was God with us.  God with Him does not help us, unless He is we.  But that is the blessedness of it.  He who was one of God became one of us; He who was God became we, in order that God with Him should be God with us.  O, that is His name!  That is His name!  Rejoice in that name forevermore–God with us!

 

AT JONES, Lessons on Faith, RH 1899

The righteousness of God is revealed to faith.  Rom. 1:17.

Faith is complete dependence upon the word of God, expecting that word to do what the word itself says.

Is there, then, righteousness spoken by the word of God, so that people can depend completely upon that word, that the word shall accomplish what the word says?

There is.  Indeed, that is the very object of the gift of Christ. For him “God hath set forth . . . to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”  Rom. 3:25.

Seeing then that God hath set forth Christ expressly to declare, to speak, the righteousness of God, it is certain that the word of God has been spoken, upon which there can be complete dependence, expecting that word to do what that word says.  In other words, there is righteousness that can be received by faith.

Wherein is this word spoken?  It is spoken in the word “forgiveness.”  “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”; “there is forgiveness with thee.”

Now what is the meaning of forgive”?  The word “forgive” is composed of “for” and “give,” which otherwise is give for.  To forgive, therefore, is simply to give for.  For the Lord to forgive sin is to give for sin.  But what does the Lord give for sin?  He declares “his righteousness for the remission of sins.”

Therefore when the Lord forgives–gives for–sin, He gives righteousness for sin.  And as the only righteousness that the Lord has is his own, it follows that the only righteousness that God gives, or can give, for sin is the righteousness of God.

This is the righteousness of God as a gift.  As all men have only sinned and if they are ever clear must have forgiveness entirely free, and as the forgiveness of sin–the righteousness of God given for sin–is entirely free–this is the righteousness of God as a free gift “upon all men unto justification of life.”  Rom. 5:18.

Every soul, therefore, who ever asks God for forgiveness of sin, in that very thing asks God to give him righteousness for sin.  Every soul who asks God for forgiveness asks it solely upon the word of God, which speaks forgiveness.  And faith is entire dependence upon the word for what the word speaks.  Thus righteousness is altogether of faith.

“Every one that asketh receiveth.”  You have asked the Lord many a time to forgive your sins; that is, you have asked him to give for your sin.  But when you ask the Lord to give for your sin, in that you ask him to give the only thing that He does or can give for sin, which is righteousness.  That is what it is to ask forgiveness of the Lord.

And He does forgive–He does give for–your sins when you ask Him. He says He does, and He does.  “He is faithful”–that is, He will never fail–“and just to forgive us our sins.”  And the only thing He gives for sins is His righteousness.

Then why not thank Him for the righteousness that He freely gives for your sins when you ask Him to?

Do you not see that righteousness by faith is just as plain and simple as the asking God for forgiveness of sin?  Indeed, it is just that.

To believe that righteousness is given for your sin, when you ask forgiveness, and thankfully to receive that righteousness as the gift of God–this is what it is to exercise faith.

Yet how true it is that “we suffer much trouble and grief because of our unbelief and of our ignorance of how to exercise faith.”

Hast thou faith?”  Have the faith of God.  “Here are they that keep . . . the faith of Jesus.”                                               Review and Herald, 3/14/1899

The Gift of Christ.

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0015 paragraph 2           This grace and peace come from Christ, “who gave Himself for our sins.”  “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”  Eph.4:7.  But this grace is “the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”  2Tim.2:1.  Therefore we know that Christ Himself is given to every one of us.  The fact that men live is an evidence that Christ has been given to them, for Christ is “the life,” and the life is the light of men, and this life-light “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0016 paragraph 1           John 1:4,9; 14:6.  In Christ all things consist (Col.1:17), and thus it is that since God “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” He can not do otherwise than, with Him, freely “give us all things.”  Rom.8:32.  “His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”  2Pet.1:3.  The whole universe is given to us in Christ, and the fullness of the power that is in it is ours for the overcoming of sin.  God counts each soul of as much value as all creation.  Christ has, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man (Heb.2:9), so that every man in the world has received the “unspeakable gift” (2Cor.9:15).  “The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many,” even to all; for “as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  Rom.5:15,18.

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0016 paragraph 2           The question is asked, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you?”  (1Cor.1:13), the answer obviously being in the negative.  In that Christ is given to every man, each person gets the whole of Him.  The love of God embraces the whole world, but it also singles out each individual.  A mother’s love is not divided up among her children, so that each one receives only a third, a fourth, or a fifth of it; each one is the object of all her affection.  How much more so with the God whose love is more perfect than any mother’s, and who Himself is love!

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0017 paragraph 1           Is.49:15.  Christ is the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness.  But light is not divided among a crowd of people.  If a room full of people be brilliantly lighted, each individual gets the benefit of all the light, just as much as though he were alone in the room.  So the life of Christ lights every man that comes into the world, and in every believing heart Christ dwells in all His fullness.  Sow a seed in the ground, and you get many seeds, each one having as much life as the one sown.  So Christ, the true Seed, whence everything of worth comes, gives to all the whole of His life.

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0017 paragraph 2           Christ “gave Himself for our sins.”  That is to say, He bought them, and paid the price for them.  This is a simple statement of fact; the language used is that commonly employed in referring to purchases.  “How much did you give for it?” or, “How much do you want for it?” are frequent questions.  When we hear a man say that he gave so much for a certain thing, what do we at once know?–We know that that thing belongs to him, because he has bought it.  So when the Holy Spirit tells us that Christ gave Himself for our sins, of what should we be equally sure?–That He has bought our sins, and that they belong to Him, and not to us.  They are ours no longer, and we have no right to them.  Every time we sin we are robbing the Lord, for we must remember that Christ has purchased not merely the specific acts of sin that we have committed, and that are in the past, but the sins that are in us, and which break forth.  In this faith there is righteousness.

EJW GTO 01 THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, THE REAL GOSPEL. page 0018 paragraph 1            This follows from the fact that He has purchased our sins, to deliver us from ourselves.  Our sins are part of ourselves; nay, they are the whole of us, for our natural lives are nothing but sin.  Therefore, Christ could not buy our sins without buying us also.  Of this fact we have many plain statements.  He “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity.”  Titus 2:14.  “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.”  1Cor.6:19.  “Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.”  1Pet.1:18,19, R.V.

EJW GTO 03 REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE, TO THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM. page 0123 paragraph 1          Christ bore the curse, in order that the blessing might come to us.  He bears the curse now, being crucified before us, and in us, and we with Him, that we may continually experience the blessing.  Death to Him is life to us.  If we willingly bear about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, the life also of Jesus will be manifested in our mortal flesh.  2Cor.4:10,11.  He was made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  2Cor.5:21.  What is the blessing that we receive through the curse that He bears?  It is the blessing of salvation from sin; for as the curse is the transgression of the law (Gal.3:10), the blessing consists in turning away every one of us from our iniquities (Acts 3:26).  Christ suffered the curse, even sin and death, “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.”  And what is the blessing of Abraham?  The writer of this Epistle, having stated that Abraham was made righteous by faith, adds:  “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”  Rom.4:6-8.  And then he shows that this blessing comes on the Gentiles as well as on the Jews who believe, because Abraham received it when he was uncircumcised, “that he might be the father of all them that believe.”  The blessing is freedom from sin, even as the curse is the doing of sin; and as the curse reveals the cross, so we find that the very curse is by the Lord made to proclaim the blessing.  The fact that we live, although we are sinners, is the assurance that deliverance from the sin is ours.  “While there’s life there’s hope,” says the adage.  Yes, because the Life is our hope.  Thank God for the blessed hope!  The blessing has come upon all men; for “as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  Rom.5:18.  If any one has not this blessing, it is because he has not recognized the gift, or has deliberately thrown it away.

Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 1           “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”  Romans 5:10, 11.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 2           The eleventh verse states one of the fruits that must follow from a knowledge that we are “saved by his life.”  When men have a well-grounded assurance that they are saved by the life of Jesus Christ, when they realize it is so till it becomes a part of their very being, they will joy in God through Jesus Christ their Lord.  There can be nothing but joy in the heart of an individual when he knows that he is saved by the life of Christ.  That is the secret of joying in tribulation.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 3           “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 4           This verse contains a partially stated proposition.  You will notice that commencing with the thirteenth verse and continuing down to the end of the seventeenth, there is a parenthesis.  Then in the eighteenth verse, the proposition is taken up again and completed.  The first part of the eighteenth verse is merely an equivalent to the first part of the twelfth; it is the same truth expressed in other words–“Therefore as by  the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”  Then the closing portion of the verse completed the proposition:  “Even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 5           We can notice but briefly the intervening verses. They contain rich truths, but the time allotted for this subject is so limited that our remarks must be confined to the major points of the chapter.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 6           In the fourteenth verse we have reference to the “reign of death.”  What is the reign of death?  What was this passage of death upon all men?  The apostle says that “death reigned from Adam to Moses.”  He does not mean by this that it did not reign at any other time and that it does not reign at the present time.  The part of the verse referring to Adam and Moses is a part of a great argument, which has its starting point back in chapter four.  It is a part of his argument on Abraham.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 7           The argument in a nutshell is, that the entering in of the law did not in any way interfere with the promise to Abraham.  In Romans 4:13, 14 we are told that the promise “that he should be heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.”  In these verses the apostle is proving in a practical manner that the law does not enter into man’s justification at all; that justification is solely by faith and not by works.  Why is it that the law does not enter into the justification of man?  “Because the law worketh wrath.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 8           If Abraham had been left to be justified by the works of the law, there would have been nothing to be placed to his account but wrath, for that is all that the law can work.  But on the other hand, when he is not justified by the law, which could only be the means of imputing wrath to him and is justified by faith, then there is life placed to his account.  And life is what is wanted, not wrath.  Life is what all men desire, not wrath.  Whoever seeks to be justified by his works will reap only wrath. Abraham will receive the inheritance only by the virtue of the promise and he will receive his righteousness only by the faith that he had.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 9           Some think that there are two ways of being saved, because the Lord gave the law at Sinai and death had reigned till that time, so of course that means that the law brought life.  It is true that the Lord gave the law at Sinai, but the law was in the world long before its giving at Sinai.  Abraham had the law,  and through the righteousness of faith he was able to keep that law.  So the entering  in of the law at Sinai did not militate against the promise of God to Abraham.  There was no different phase of the plan of salvation introduced at Mount Sinai or at the time of the Exodus.  There was no more law after that time than there was before it.  Abraham kept the law.  If there had not been any law there, Abraham could never have been justified, but he kept the law by his faith.  Death reigned through sin before the time of Moses, but righteousness was imputed unto life.  This shows that the law was there already, although they did not have it in that written, open form, that they had it afterwards.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 10        In regard to the reign of death, I am persuaded that we lose much of the good and the encouragement that there is in this fifth chapter simply by the misapplying of these words–“death reigned,” and also the expression “death passed upon all men, for that all had sinned.”  Why did death pass upon all men?  Because that all had sinned!  By one man sin came into the world.  There are many who will stop at this point and philosophize and question as to how this could be and try to figure out for themselves the justice of it.  They will query why it is that we are here in this sinful condition without having had any choice or say in the matter ourselves.  Now we know that there was one man in the beginning, and he fell.  We are his children, and it is impossible for us to be born in any higher condition than he was.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 11        Some will shut themselves out of eternal life because they cannot figure that thing out to a nicety and see the justice of it.  The finite mind of man cannot do this, so it is better for him to leave it alone and devote himself to seeking for the proffered salvation.  That is the important point for all to consider.  We know that we are in a sinful condition, and that this sinful condition is a lost condition.  Seeing then that we are in a lost condition, is it not best for us to devote our energies to seeking to attain to that state whereby we may be in a saved condition.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 12        What would you think of a man drowning in the ocean who, when someone throws him a rope, looks at it and then says, “I know that I am drowning and that the only hope I have lies in my getting hold of that rope, but I will not take hold of it unless I know that it has really been my own fault that I fell into the water.  If it was my own fault, then I will take it, because I am the only one who is to blame for my being in this condition.  But if, on the other hand, someone pushed me into the water and I could not help myself, then I will have nothing to do with that rope.”  Such a man would be considered devoid of common sense.  Then, acknowledging that we are sinners and in a lost condition, let us take hold of the salvation that is offered to us.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 13        “Death reigned,” it “passed upon all men.”  The twelfth and eighteenth verses tell us what this death is.  Why did it pass?  Because that “all have sinned.”  “Judgement came upon all!”  What for?  What to?  Condemnation.  We are familiar with death; we see people being placed in their graves every day.  But is that the death referred to?  Good men die, with only two exceptions, all the good men that have ever lived upon the earth have died.  Do they die under condemnation?  No, certainly not.  Do they die because they are sinners?  No, if they were sinners, they were not good men.  There has been no man in this world upon whom the death sentence has not passed, for there never was a man in this world that was not a sinner, and if he became a good man so that he walked with God as Enoch did, it was by faith.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 14        If we say that the death which comes to all men–good and bad, old and young alike–is the carrying out of that judgment which “came upon all men to condemnation,” then we take the position that there is no hope for anyone who has died.  For there is no such thing as probation after death [this is the hole is Waggoner’s argument in these paragraphs. There is no probation after death. But there is a judgment after death. It is “appointed unto men to die, and after that, the judgment.” “As in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all men be made alive.” The first death, from Adam, is the one that has passed on all men and it would have been final had not Jesus died.] and therefore the man who dies in sin can never be accounted righteous.  If it is said that the good do not die in sin, but only because of sins previously committed, the justice of God is impugned, and His imputed righteousness denied.  For when God declares His righteousness upon the one who believes, that man stands as clear as though he had never sinned, and cannot be punished as a sinner, unless he denies the faith.  Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.”  John 5:24.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 15        When Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, the Lord told him, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  That does not mean “dying thou shalt die,” as the marginal reading has it.  That expression is neither Hebrew nor English.  It means just what it says, that in the day that Adam ate of the fruit of the true of knowledge of good and evil, in that day he died.  In the very day that Adam ate of the fruit, he fell, and the death sentence was passed upon him, and he was a dead man.  Sentence was not executed at that moment, and for that matter we know that Adam was a good man and that the sentence never was executed upon him.  Christ died for him.  But he was in the same condition, after he had eaten of the fruit of the tree that Pharaoh was in after the first-born of all the Egyptians had been killed, when he arose by night and said, “We be all dead men.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 16                                                                                                                                            When sentence has been passed upon a murderer, he is to all intents and purposes a dead man.  But it was more than that in the case of Adam.  He When sentence has been passed upon a murderer, he is to all intents and purposes a dead man.  But it was more than that in the case of Adam.  He was dead, and the Son of God was to make him alive.  It was only a matter of time till he should be blotted out of existence.  But Christ comes in to give man a probation and to lift him up.  All that Christ has to give to man is summed up in that one word–life.  Everything is comprised in that.  This fact shows that without Him men have no life.  Said Christ to the unbelieving Jews, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”  Probably they replied, “we do not need to come, because we have life already.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 17                                                                                                                                 In Ezekiel 13:22 we read, “Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.”  There is no life to the wicked.  They have no life.  They are dead.  Said Christ, “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  Christ came to give life to the dead.  He gives life only to those who conscientiously lay hold of that life, who bring His life into their lives, so that it takes the place of their forfeited lives.  He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.  He is dead.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 18                                                                                                                                 So Adam died, and because of that, every man born into the world is a sinner, and the sentence of death is passed upon him.  Judgment has passed upon all men to condemnation, and there is not a man in this world but has been under the condemnation of death.  The only way that he can get free from that condemnation and that death is through Christ, who died for him and who, in His own body, bore our sins upon the cross.  He bore the penalty of the law, and suffered the condemnation of the law for us, not for Himself, for He was sinless.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 19                                                                                                                                 “As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin . . . even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  What is the free gift?  It is the free gift by grace and it “As “As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin . . . even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  What is the free gift?  It is the free gift by grace and it appertaineth unto many.  The work of Adam plunged man into sin; the work of Christ brings men out of sin.  One man’s single offense plunged many into many offenses, but the one man’s obedience gathers the many offenses of many men and brings them out from beneath the condemnation of those offenses.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 20                                                                                                                                 Then the free gift is the righteousness of Christ.  How do we get the righteousness of Christ?  We cannot separate the righteousness of Christ from Christ Himself.  Therefore in order for men to get the righteousness Then the free gift is the righteousness of Christ.  How do we get the righteousness of Christ?  We cannot separate the righteousness of Christ from Christ Himself.  Therefore in order for men to get the righteousness of Christ, they must have the life of Christ.  So the free gift comes upon all men who are justified by the life of Christ.  Justification is life.  It is the life of Christ.  “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.”  These are simple and positive statements.  No good can come to man by questioning them.  He only reaps barrenness to his soul.  Let us accept them and believe them.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 21                                                                                                                                 “The free gift came upon all men to justification of life.”  Are all men going to be justified?  All men might if they would, but says Christ, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”  All are dead in trespasses and “The free gift came upon all men to justification of life.”  Are all men going to be justified?  All men might if they would, but says Christ, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”  All are dead in trespasses and sins.  The grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared unto all men.  It comes right within the reach of all men, and those who do not get it are those who do not want it.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 22  “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.”  That settles the whole question, as to whether you and I can do works that will make us righteous.  It is by the obedience of one man.  Now which man shall that be?  Can I do righteousness that will do you any good?  No.  Can you do righteousness that will do me any good?  No.  Suppose that one man could do righteous works that would be set to his account as making him righteous–who shall he be?  I cannot do it for you and you cannot do it for me.  Then who is the man?  Jesus Christ of Nazareth!

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 23                                                                                                                                 This settles the question as to whether justification by faith comes by the law.  By the obedience of Christ are many made righteous or obedient.  Righteousness is obedience to the law.  Did you ever read or hear of This settles the question as to whether justification by faith comes by the law.  By the obedience of Christ are many made righteous or obedient.  Righteousness is obedience to the law.  Did you ever read or hear of any human being who kept the law perfectly?  Or did you ever hear of anyone, however high his standard was set, who did not find something beyond, that he had not attained to?  Even worldly men often have an ideal of their own, but the nearer they can come to that ideal, the greater lack they see in themselves.  Anyone who is sincere in trying to reach a high standard, when he gets there, will see something beyond it.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 24                                                                                                                                 There is one spotless life.  There is one man, the man Christ Jesus, who resisted successfully all the powers of sin when He was here upon earth. He was the Word made flesh.  God in  Christ reconciled the world to There is one spotless life.  There is one man, the man Christ Jesus, who resisted successfully all the powers of sin when He was here upon earth. He was the Word made flesh.  God in  Christ reconciled the world to Himself.  He could stand before the world and challenge any to convict Him of sin.  No guile was found in His mouth.  He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” and by His obedience shall many be made righteous.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 25                                                                                                                                 Then comes the question, how can this be?  It is the same question that the Jews propounded to Christ, when He said, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you.”  Said they, “How can this Then comes the question, how can this be?  It is the same question that the Jews propounded to Christ, when He said, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you.”  Said they, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  There are many today who may be found asking the same question when they say how can I have His life or His righteousness?  Could Jesus explain to them how He could give them His flesh?  He could not do it except by the words He spake unto them–they are spirit and they are life.  The plan of salvation cannot be explained to man.  It was made by an infinite being, and we cannot understand it.  As to how it takes place we are ignorant.  Through all eternity we will not understand how it was done.  It is only infinite power that can or could do it.  It is only infinite wisdom that can understand it.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 26

If we will eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, we will have the life of Christ.  If we have His life, we have a righteous life; His obedience works in us and that makes us righteous.  This does not leave any room for the statement that Christ obeyed for us and that therefore we can do as we please, and His righteousness will be accounted unto us just the same.  His obedience must be manifested in us day by day.  It is not our obedience, but the obedience of Christ working in us.  By those “exceeding great and precious promises,” we take the divine life into us.  The life we live is the life of the Son of God.  He died for us, and loved us with a love that we cannot fathom.  The righteousness that we have is His.  Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift.  He lets us get all the benefit of that obedience, because we have shown our intense desire for obedience.  That is why He gives it to us.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 27  When you go to God, take these Scriptures on your lips, “We shall be saved by His life.”  “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  Take them to God in prayer.  They are true, for the Lord Himself has said so.  How can these blessings be obtained?  By faith!  Take it by faith, and it is yours, and no one can take it from you.  Then you will have it, although you do not understand how it can be done.  When you have it, you have life.  What life?  The divine life.  Then when you come up to the time of temptation, the time when you have usually fallen, you can tell Satan that he has no power to make you fall beneath that temptation, for it is not you, but Christ that dwelleth in you.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 9: Romans 5:10-21 page  paragraph 28  There never was a time in the life of any man when of himself he had power to resist temptation.  We cannot do it.  That proves that we must have a life different from our natural life in order to resist sin at all.  That must be a life that sin has never touched and can never touch.  Repeat the glorious words over and over again, “His life is mine, I cannot be touched by sin.  His strength is my strength; His obedience is my obedience, and His life is my life.  That was a sinless life, and by faith I have it, I hold to it, because it is mine, and sin cannot touch it.”  That is the only way to resist them, and that will be successful every time.

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 13: Romans 8:17-31 page  paragraph 22   Now we are “called” and “elected.”  Sometimes we get wonderfully afraid of that word, “elected.”  Is there any need to be afraid of that term?  No.  For every individual can be a candidate and every candidate can be elected.  Here is something that everybody can have, and the fact that one is elected does not debar everyone else from being elected.  In 2 Timothy 1:9 we read, “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  Mark you, His own purpose is a purpose of grace, and the free gift by grace comes upon all unto justification of life.  Now note what the election is:

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 13: Romans 8:17-31 page  paragraph 23   “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

EJW  EJWSR Study No. 13: Romans 8:17-31 page  paragraph 24  “He hath blessed us in all spiritual blessings!”  In what?  In Christ; therefore just the moment you give up self and take Christ instead, you have everything that Christ has to give.  Why have all these blessings been lodged in Christ?  Because He is able to bless you, “in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”  Acts 3:26.  So since we have given to us by God Himself all the blessings that can be given to deliver us from sin and to turn us from our iniquities, we can have joy and peace in Him.  Peter says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”  Everything that is necessary for life and godliness is given unto us.  In whom?  In Christ.  Therefore the soul that stands in Christ may stand and does stand as firm and secure as the Rock of ages.

[Much of the following material is duplicate with the article “The Free Gift” given later and in its entirety]

There is probably no passage in Romans [considered] more difficult to understand than verses 12-19. The reason is that there is so long a parenthesis in the midst of the main statement, and there is so much repetition of the same form of expression. There is really no greatly involved argument. In this study we shall not attempt to deal with every particular, but will note the main thought running through the whole, so that the reader can read and study it more satisfactorily for himself.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0098 paragraph 3 First Principles.  It will be seen from verse 12 that the apostle goes back to the very beginning. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” There can never be any presentation of the gospel, if these facts are ignored.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0099 paragraph 1 Death by Sin.  Death came by sin, because sin is death. Sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death. See James 1:15. “To be carnally minded is death.” Rom. 8:6. “The sting of death is sin.” 1 Cor. 15:56. There could be no death if there were no sin. Sin carries death in its bosom. So it was not an arbitrary act on the part of God that death came upon men because of sin. It could not possibly be otherwise.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0099 paragraph 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Righteousness and Life.  “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom. 8:6. “There is none good but one, that is, God.” Matt. 19:17. He is goodness itself. Goodness is his life. Righteousness is simply God’s way. Therefore righteousness is life. It is not merely a conception of what is right, but it is the right thing itself. Righteousness is active. As sin and death are inseparable, so are righteousness and life. “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Deut. 30:15.

Death Passed upon All Men.  Note the justice here. Death passed upon all men, “for that all have sinned.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Eze. 18:20. And this is also a necessary consequence of the fact that sin contains death in it, and that death can not come in any other way than by sin.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0099 paragraph 4 The Conclusion.  It will be noticed that the twelfth verse begins a proposition that is not completed. Verses 13-17 are parenthetical; we must pass on to the eighteenth verse to find the conclusion. But as the mind would naturally lose the first part of the statement on account of the long parenthesis, the apostle repeats the substance of it, so that we may perceive the force of the conclusion. So the first part of verse 18 is parallel to verse 12. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men to condemnation.” The conclusion is, “Even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0099 paragraph 5 The Reign of Death.  “Death reigned from Adam to Moses.” That does not imply that death did not reign just as much afterwards. But the point is that Moses stands for the giving of the law; “for the law was given by Moses.” John 1:17. Now since death reigns through sin, and sin is not imputed when there is no law, it is evident from the statement that “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” that the law was in the world just as much before Sinai as it was afterwards. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” 1 Cor. 15:56.

There can be no sin imputed when there is no law; but wherever there is sin, there death reigns.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0100 paragraph 2 Adam a Figure.  “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” How is Adam a figure of Him that was to come, namely, Christ? Just as the following verses indicate, that is, Adam was a figure of Christ in that his action involved many besides himself. It is evident that Adam could not give his descendants any higher nature than he had himself, so Adam’s sin made it inevitable that all his descendants should be born with sinful natures. Sentence of death, however, does not pass on them for that, but because they have sinned.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0100 paragraph 3 A Figure by Contrast.  Adam is a figure of Christ, but only by contrast. “Not as the offense, so also is the free gift.” Through the offense of one many are dead; but through the righteousness of One, many receive life. “The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.” There is contrast all the way through. Everything that came through Adam’s fall is undone in Christ; or, better still, all that was lost in Adam is restored in Christ.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0100 paragraph 4 “Much More.”  This might be taken as the key-note of this chapter. Not only is everything that is lost in Adam restored in Christ, but “much more.” “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

And there is no chance of finding fault with the inevitable fact that we are inheritors of a sinful nature through Adam. We can not complain that we are unjustly dealt with. It is true that we are not to blame for having a sinful nature, and the Lord recognizes the fact. So he provides that just as in Adam we were made partakers of a sinful nature, even so in Christ we shall be made partakers of the divine nature.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0100 paragraph 6 But “much more.” “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.” That is, the life of which we are made partakers in Christ is much stronger for righteousness than the life which we received from Adam is for unrighteousness. God does not do things by halves. He gives “abundance of grace.”

The Condemnation.  “Death passed upon all men;” or, as stated later, “judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23. All have sinned, and, therefore, all are in condemnation. There has not a man lived on earth over whom death has not reigned, nor will there be until the end of the world. Enoch and Elijah, as well as those who shall be translated when the Lord comes, are no exceptions.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0101 paragraph 2 There are no exceptions, for the Scripture says that “death passed upon all men.” For the reign of death is simply the reign of sin. “Elias was a man of like passions with us.” Enoch was righteous only by faith; his nature was as sinful as that of any other man. So that death reigned over them as well as over any others. For be it remembered that this present going into the grave, which we so often see, is not the punishment of sin. It is simply the evidence of our mortality. Good and bad alike die. This is not the condemnation, because men die rejoicing in the Lord, and even singing songs of triumph.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0101 paragraph 3 “Justification of Life.”  “By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift.

It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it. So many spurn the gift offered so freely.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0101 paragraph 5 “The Obedience of One.”  By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Men are not saved through their own obedience, but through the obedience of Christ. Here is where the skeptic cavils, and says that it is not just that one man’s obedience should be counted as another’s. But the man who rejects the counsel of the Lord does not know anything about justice, and is not qualified to speak in the case.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0101 paragraph 6 The Bible does not teach us that God calls us righteous simply because Jesus of Nazareth was righteous eighteen hundred years ago. It says that by his obedience we are made righteous. Notice that it is present, actual righteousness. The trouble with those who object to the righteousness of Christ being imputed

to believers is that they do not take into consideration the fact that Jesus lives. He is alive today, as much as when he was in Judea. “He ever liveth,” and he is “the same yesterday and to-day, and forever.” His life is as perfectly in harmony with the law now as it was then. And he lives in the hearts of those who believe on him.

Therefore it is Christ’s present obedience in believers that makes them righteous. They can of themselves do nothing, and so God in His love does it in them. Here is the whole story: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0102 paragraph 2 Why Not All?  The text says that “by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Some one may ask, “Why are not all made righteous by the obedience of One?” The reason is that they do not wish to be. If men were counted righteous simply because One was righteous eighteen hundred years ago, then all would have to be righteous by the same obedience. There would be no justice in counting righteousness to one and not to all, if it were in that way. But we have seen that it is not so.

EJW  EJWOR GRACE WHICH MUCH MORE ABOUNDS page 0102 paragraph 3 People are not simply counted righteous, but actually made righteous, by the obedience of Christ, who is as righteous as he ever was, and who lives today in those who yield to him. His ability to live in any human being is shown in the fact that he took human flesh eighteen hundred years ago. What God did in the person of the Carpenter of Nazareth, he is willing and anxious to do for every man that believes. The free gift comes upon all, but all will not accept it, and therefore all are not made righteous by it. Nevertheless, “many” will be made righteous by his obedience.

The Free Gift

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 1 In the [first] portion of the fifth chapter [of Romans], we learned of the wonderful love of God, so great that He gave Himself for His enemies, in order that they might be reconciled to Him; and that, as in the death of Christ we receive the life of God, and are thereby one with Him, so by the continuation of that life in us we are saved from sin.  Without any further review, we may proceed with the following verses, which present

A Series of Contrasts.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 2 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; (for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.  But not as the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.  And as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.  For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinner, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  Romans 5:12-19.

 

Questioning the Text.

 

Joy in God!–The eleventh verse should have been included in last week’s lesson, as the thought is the same as in the preceding verses.  By the same life by which we receive the reconciliation and salvation, “we also joy in God.”  Christ’s life is a joyous life.  When David had fallen, he prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit.”  Ps. 51:12.  The brightness of the heavens, the beauty of the infinite variety of flowers with which God clothes the earth, and the glad songs of the birds, all indicate that God delights in joy and beauty.  Brightness and song are but the natural expressions of his life.  “Let them also that love by name be joyful in thee.”  Ps. 5:11.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         There is probably no passage in Romans more difficult to understand than verses 12-19 of this fifth chapter.  The reason is that there is so long a parenthesis in the midst of the main statement, and there is so much repetition of the same form of expression.  There is really no greatly involved argument.  We shall not in this study attempt to deal with every particular, but will note the main thought running through the whole, so that the reader can read and study it more satisfactorily for himself.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 21                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         First Principles.–It will be seen from verse 12 that the apostle goes back to the very beginning.  “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned.”  There can never be any presentation of the Gospel, if these facts are ignored.  The story of the fall of man must be as literally true as the story of the cross; for the latter depends entirely upon the former.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Death by Sin.–Death came by sin, because sin is death.  Sin, when it is full grown, bringeth forth death.  See James 1:15.  “To be carnally minded is death.”   Romans 8:6.  “The sting of death is sin.”  1 Cor. 15:56.  There could be no death if there were no sin.  Sin carries death in its bosom.  So it was not an arbitrary act on the part of God that death came upon men because of sin.  It could not possibly be otherwise.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 23                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Righteousness and Life.–“To be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  Rom. 8:6.  “There is none good but one, that is, God.”  Matt. 19:17.  He is goodness itself.  Goodness is His life. Righteousness is simply God’s way.  Therefore righteousness is life.  It is not merely a conception of what is right, but it is the right thing itself.  Righteousness is active.  As sin and death are inseparable, so are righteousness and life.  “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.”  Deut. 30:15.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 24                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Death Passed upon All Men.–Note the justice here.  Death passed upon all men, “for that all have sinned.”  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”  Eze. 18:20.  And this is also a necessary consequence of the fact that sin contains death in it, and that death can not come in any other way than by sin.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 25                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Conclusion.–It will be noticed that the twelfth verse begins a proposition that is not completed.  Verses 13-17 are parenthetical; we must pass on to the eighteenth verse to find the conclusion.  But as the mind would naturally lose the first part of the statement, on account of the long parenthesis, the apostle repeats the substance of it, so that we may perceive the force of the conclusion.  So the first part of verse  13 is parallel to verse 12.  “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” is paralleled by, “As by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”  The conclusion is, “Even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 26                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Reign of Death.–“Death reigned from Adam to Moses.”  That does not imply that it did not reign just as much afterwards.  But the point is that Moses stands for the giving of the law; “for the law was given by Moses.”  John 1:17.  Now since death reigns through sin, and sin is not imputed when there is no law; but wherever there is sin, there death reigns.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 27                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Adam a Figure.–“Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.”  How is Adam a figure of Him that was to come, namely, Christ?–Just as the following verses indicate.  That is, Adam was a figure of Christ in that his action involved many besides himself.  So Adam’s sin made it inevitable that all his descendants should be born with sinful natures.  Sentence  of death, however, does not pass on them for that, but because they have sinned.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 28                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A Figure by Contrast.–Adam is a figure of Christ, but only by contrast.  “Not as the offense, so also is the free gift.”  Through the offense of one many are dead; but through the righteousness of One, many receive life.  “The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift if??? of many offenses unto justification.”  “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.”  It will be seen that there is contrast all the way through.  Everything that came through Adam’s fall is undone in Christ; or, better still, all that was lost in Adam’s restored in Christ.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 29                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Much More.”–This might be taken as the key-note of this chapter.  Not only everything that is lost in Adam restored is Christ, but “much more.”  “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”  And there is no chance of finding fault with the inevitable fact that we are inheritors of a sinful nature through Adam.  We can not complain that we are unjustly dealt with.  It is true that we are not blame for having a sinful nature, and the Lord recognizes the fact.  So He provides that just as in Adam we were made partakers of a sinful nature, even so in Christ we shall be made partakers of the divine nature.  But “much more.”  “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.”  That is, the life of which we are made partakers in Christ is much stronger for righteousness than the life of which we are made partakers in Christ is much stronger for righteousness than the life which we received from Adam is for unrighteousness.  God does not do things by halves.  He gives “abundance of grace.”

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Condemnation.–“Death passed upon all men;” or, as stated later, “judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”  “The wages of sin is death.”  Rom 6:23.  All have sinned, and, therefore, all are in condemnation.  There has not a man lived on earth over which death has not reigned, nor will there be until the end of the world.  Enoch and Elijah, as well as those who shall be translated when the Lord comes, are no exceptions.  There are no exceptions, for the Scripture says that “death passed upon all men.”  For the reign of death is simply the reign of sin.  “Elias was a man of like passions with us.”  Enoch was righteous only by faith; his nature was as sinful as that of any other man.  So that death reigned over them as well as over any others.  For be it remembered that this present going into the grave, which we so often see, is not the punishment of sin.  It is simply the evidence of our mortality.  Good and bad alike die.  This is not the condemnation, because men die rejoicing in the Lord, and even singing songs of triumph.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 31                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Justification of Life.”–“By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  There is no exception here.  As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all.  Christ has tasted death for every man.  He has given Himself for all.  Nay, He has given Himself to every man.  The free gift has come upon all.  The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception.  If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift.  It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth.  There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it.  So many spurn the gift offered so freely.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 32                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “The Obedience of One.”–By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.  Men are not saved through their own obedience, but through the obedience of  Christ.  Here is where the skeptic cavils and says that it is not just that one man’s obedience should be counted for another.  But the man who rejects the counsel of the Lord does not know anything about justice, and is not qualified to speak in the case.  The Bible does not teach us that God calls us righteous simply because Jesus of Nazareth was righteous eighteen hundred years ago.  It says that by His obedience we are made righteous.  Notice that is present, actual righteousness.  The trouble with those who object to the righteousness of Christ being imputed to believers, is that they do not take into consideration the fact that Jesus lives.  He is alive to-day, as much as when He was in Judea.  “He ever liveth,” and He is “the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.”  His life is as perfectly in harmony with law now as it was then.  And He lives in the hearts of those who believe on Him.  Therefore it is Christ’s present obedience in believers that makes them righteous.  They can of themselves do nothing, and so God in His love does it in them.  Here is the whole story:  “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  Gal. 2:20.

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 33                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Why Not All?–The text says that “by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.”  Some one may ask, “Why are not all made righteous by the obedience of One?”  The reason is that they do not wish to be.  If men were counted righteous simply because One was righteous eighteen hundred years ago, then all would have to be righteous by the same obedience.  There would be no justice in counting righteousness to one and not to all, if it were in that way.  But we have seen that it is not so.  Men are not simply counted righteous, but actually made righteous, by the obedience of Christ, who is as righteous as He ever was, and who lives to-day in those who yield to him.  His ability to live in any human being is shown by the fact that He took human flesh eighteen hundred years ago.   What God did in the person of the Carpenter of Nazareth, He is willing and anxious to do for every man that now lives.  The free gift comes upon all, but all will not accept it, and therefore all are not made righteous by it.  Nevertheless, many will be made righteous by His obedience.  Who will be one of the many?

EJW EJWAG 19 The Free Gift page 0019 paragraph 34                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         –Signs of the Times, March 12, 1896

 

The decision of the judgment has, therefore, been rendered before even the separation of the two classes described in Matt.25:32; for the gift of immortality is a part of the righteous judgment of God in rendering to every man according to his deeds.  Rom.1:5-8.  And in particular, the resurrection which makes a part of mankind equal to the angels (Luke 20:35,36), which makes them immortal (1Cor.15:51-54), which shows them to be blessed and holy, and incapable of the second death (Rev.20:6), and which shows that they were that part of the dead which belonged to Christ (1Cor.15:23; 1Thess.4:16), this resurrection which our Lord terms the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14), is, in the expressive language of Paul, declared to be the “justification of life.”  Rom.5:18.  This free gift of God, which is open to all men, like the gift of grace and righteousness in the previous verse, will be shared by those only who accept the grace and righteousness offered in the gospel, and will only be conferred on them after they have been pronounced just in the judgment; for the change to immortality, which precedes the act of the angels who are sent by Christ to separate the two classes, is demonstrative of the fact that those changed in this manner have already been pronounced just in the decision of the judgment.  The resurrection to immortality is, therefore, the “justification of life.”  Our Lord does not pronounce the decision of that judgment which he thus begins to execute, until he has conferred upon his saints the gift of immortality.  And when he does it, it is in words which imply that the Father has already rendered decision in favor of the saints.  Matt.25:34. JNA  JUDGEMENT CHAPTER 8 THE GATHERING OF THE NATIONS. page 0109 paragraph 1

Andrews, WHY THE LAW, WHEN IT ENTERED, CAME ONLY TO THE HEBREWS. page 0039

Rom.5:15,17-19: “The gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” “They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. By the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. By the obedience of one [Christ] shall be made righteous.”

Such is the wonderful series of antitheses between Adam and Christ, presented in Rom.5.  The first Adam, by his transgression, brought sin and death upon all his race.  The second Adam, by his obedience and his death, brings righteousness and life to all who obey him.  Heb.5:9.

 

Loughborough, AN EXAMINATION OF THE SCRIPTURE  page 0134-137     We understand that Christ’s death, to a certain extent, affects every man. He by the grace of God tasted “death for every man.” He proffers to all men life again. As they have passed into the grave, as a consequent on Adam’s transgression, and not as a reward for their own sin, he will give them all a resurrection from that death. See the testimony of Paul on this subject. Rom. v, 18. “Therefore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” This life is not eternal life; for as we have already shown, that is to be obtained by believing in Christ…. Paul’s testimony is, in 1 Cor. xv, 22, 23,  “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s, at his coming.” But you inquire, What is the order of the resurrection of the wicked? I answer, according to Rev. xx, 5, They live not again until a thousand years after the resurrection of the saints. We understand the saints will reign with Christ until the last enemy is destroyed. John says they will reign a thousand years. The destruction of the wicked cannot take place until after they are raised; so these testimonies would seem to give the order of the resurrection of the wicked, as in the close of the thousand years after Christ’s second coming. . . . .But we will present Scripture testimony on the subject. We have already referred to Paul’s statement in Acts xxiv, 15, that he had “hope toward God, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Also 1 Cor. xv, 22, that, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And, that “the free giftshould come upon all men unto justification of life.” We will now show that Christ taught the same sentiment. See John v, 25. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” It was but a short time after this (as we see by chapter xi) that he raised Lazarus. In verses 28, 29, Christ adds, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Storres   Soul Sleep VI. page 0135-136     Also, Rom.5:17 – “If by one man’s offence, death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ; therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, [i.e. unto death;] even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men, [i.e. in its offer,] unto justification of life.  That as sin hath reigned unto death, [i.e. unto condemnation to death,] even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”…..              That the death spoken of, here, is a literal death the context clearly shows; it was that death that came into the world by one man’s sin (verse 12,) and which “reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression:” (verse 14.)  If then the death is literal so is the life offered, and promised; and that life is only to be obtained “through righteousness,” or becoming righteous, and “by Jesus Christ.”

Prescott   The Head of the Human Family.  [This is the only article, of all appearing in the APL Library, that bears a significant similarity in thought to the views of the current proponents of Forensic Justification.]

Now what does it mean to us that Jesus Christ became the second head of this human family?  It means this: Just as, when Adam was created, all the members of the human family were created in him, so also when the second man was created “according to God in righteousness and true holiness,” all the members of that family were created in him.  It means that, as God saw in Adam all the members of the human family, so he saw in Christ, the second father of the family, all the members of the divine human family; so he saw in him all his sons, all his daughters, all his descendants; all that belong to the family.  No matter whether they were born into the family or not.  Before Jacob and Esau were born, God saw two nations there.  No matter whether born into the divine-human family or not, yet God createdin Christ Jesus, the new man, all the members of the divine-human family that should afterward be born into that family.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 1 Now the fact that Christ took our flesh, and that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, means a great deal more than that there was a good man who lived then, and set us a good example.  He was the second father, he was the representative of humanity; and it was when Jesus Christ took our human nature and was born of a woman, that humanity and divinity were joined.  It was then that Jesus Christ gave himself, not simply for the human family but to the human family.  That is to say, Jesus Christ joined himself to humanity and gave himself to humanity, and identified himself with humanity and became humanity; and he became we, and we were there in him.  It means that Jesus Christ in himself joined humanity and divinity to all eternity to take our human nature and retain it to all eternity, and is to-day our representative in heaven, still bearing our human nature, and there is a divine-human man in heaven to-day, – Jesus Christ.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 2 Read it in Heb.10:11,12: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever sat down on the right hand of God.”  There is a man sitting on the right hand of God, and we sit there in him.  That is what this scripture in the seventh of Hebrews, to which we have referred, has illustrated, how it is that God saw in Adam all the human family, and how that when he created Adam he created all the human family.  This Scripture means a great deal more than that.  Read again Heb.7:9,10: “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.  For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him.”  When Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, Levi paid tithes in him, for he was in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him.  All that Abraham did, Levi did in him.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 3 Read further in the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, verses 21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”  You may stop a moment to think that they both came by a tree; death came by a tree, life came by a tree.  Adam ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree, so death came upon the human family.  Christ bore all our sins upon a tree, and by that means brought life to the human family.  “By man came death; by man came also the resurrection of the dead, for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  Adam is the man through whom death came; Christ is the man through whom comes the resurrection from the dead.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 4 Read also Romans 5:12 and onward.  As we read this scripture, bear these principles in mind, and this parallel between the first Adam and the second Adam, and what we gained through the first Adam and what we gained through the second Adam.  From the first Adam, sin, transitory life, death; from the second Adam, righteousness, life, – eternal life.  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  Revised Version, “for that all sinned.”  Just one act in a point of time wholly past.  For that all sinned; for all did sin.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 5 “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure (or type) of him that was to come.  But not as the offense, so also is the free gift; for if through the offense of one many be dead (Revised Version, many died) much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.  And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification,” or righteousness.  So the contrast is between condemnation and justification, or righteousness.  Death came by sin.  “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [or `became,’ or Dr. Young’s translation, `many were constituted’] sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made [or constituted] righteous.”

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 6 Now see the contrast between the first Adam and the second Adam; the first father of the family and the second father of the family.  From one, judgment to condemnation; the other, justification of life.  Through the disobedience of one, many were constituted sinners; through the obedience of one, many were constituted sinners; through the obedience of one, many were constituted righteous in him.

GCBQ95 page 0010 paragraph 7 And the idea further that jesus Christ gave himself to us.  Think of that for a moment.  It is not that Jesus Christ, as some one apart from us, as it were entirely outside of our connection in any way, just simply came forward and said, “I will die for man.”  No, he became man, and divinity was given to the human family in Jesus Christ.  But divinitywas joined to humanity by birth, and Jesus Christ became flesh and blood relation, – near of kin to every one of us.

GCBQ95 page 0011 paragraph 1 Read the foreshadowing of that in Lev.55:47-49: “And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself upon the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family, after that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him, either his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.”  Now that is where humanity is.  Humanity is sold under sin.  Now if humanity is able, it may redeem itself.  Is it able?  Is humanity able to redeem itself?  No.  Well, then, some one that is nigh of kin may redeem it.  But who is nigh of kin that is able to redeem it?  He who took part of our same flesh and blood.  So that, as is expressed in Eph.5:30, “We are members of his body and of his flesh, and of his bones.”  And he is nigh of kin.

GCBQ95 page 0011 paragraph 2 Now read again in Heb.2:11, and see how this relation is recognized.  “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren.”  You remember in his last prayer, just at the close of his work (John 17:26), he says, “And I have declared unto them thy name.”  “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.”  And he did it; and one of his last words was, “I have declared unto them thy name.”  They were his brethren.  “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”  And again, “I will put my trust in him.”  And again, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  Second father of the family.  Behold the children.

GCBQ95 page 0011 paragraph 3 Mark 3:31: “There came then his brethren and his mother [Now these were those that were actually related to him by the ties of the natural flesh], and standing without, sent unto him, calling him.  And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.  And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?  And he looked round about on them that sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”  That is, whoever is born into this family of God is as closely related to Jesus Christ, and that by flesh and blood, as is a mother to her own son.

GCBQ95 page 0011 paragraph 4 Read in Luke 11:27,28, and it is a touching thought: “And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.” As this woman looked upon Jesus Christ and heard his teachings, there arose in that mother’s heart a feeling of what a wonderfully blessed thing it must be to be so closely united to that man as is a mother to her child.  What did he reply?  Oh, he said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”  Because they are united every one of them to him just as is a mother to her own child.  That is, by the very closest ties possible in this world is every son of God united to Jesus Christ, his Brother, his Father, his Saviour, his Redeemer…..

GCBQ95 page 0043 paragraph 2 Let us read that scripture in the second chapter of Col., beginning with the sixth verse: “As ye have therefore received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and builded up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.  Beware lest any man spoil you,” rob you, make a spoil of you, make you naked, strip you.  You see we are to be in Christ Jesus; we are to be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Now you beware lest any man strip off that wedding garment of the righteousness of God which we have in him.  “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” not in a lump, but “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,” in a body, corporeally; because a body was prepared for him.  “Thou hast clothed me with a body.”  Now in that body, that is, in the flesh, “dwelleth all the fullness of the God head,” and all the fullness of the Godhead was in the body, dwelt there bodily.  You see the force of that, – bodily, in the body, not in a lump, but because he was clothed with a body.  “And ye are complete in him.”  Better, as the Revised Version reads, “Ye are made full in him.”  What are we without him?  Nothing, nothing.  If we try to be anything, we can simply be the form of something.  That is formalism.  You remember that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth, – or as the Syriac Version reads, “Grace and the reality came by Jesus Christ.”  Now it is true that in the law we have the form of truth, but the reality is in Jesus Christ.  Now any man who attempts to make himself better, who attempts to meet the requirements of God’s law without Christ, is simply a formalist.  He has the form merely.  It is nothing but a dead form.  It is all right to have the form, but the form must be filled.  Now “in him ye are made full.”  The same form is there, the law is there just the same, but instead of being simply as a dead form, a kind of skeleton of the law, it is something alive, and “we are made full in him.” GCBQ95 page 0043 paragraph 4        Take the parallel again between the first and the second Adam.  By the offense of one, by the disobedience of one, many were constituted sinners, – that is, Adam by disobedience permitted sin to come into the flesh, and every descendant of Adam,

as a consequence of that one act, had a tendency to sin, and if he would not struggle against it, he would commit sin himself, but no moral guilt would attach to any descendant of Adam unless he himself yielded to that tendency.  But if he does not struggle against it, he will yield and sin will appear in him.

GCBQ95 page 0044 paragraph 1 Now by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous; or by one man’s obedience the free gift came upon all men to justification of life.  That is, by this union of the divine with the human in Christ, and by this meeting of our humanity in Jesus Christ, and from the fact that the punishment met upon him for all men, “he has caused the punishment of all to meet upon him.”  Because of that, every human being receives a tendency or feels a drawing toward righteousness; and if he does not resist, he will be drawn to righteousness, but he will receive for himself no consideration because of that righteousness or of that drawing to righteousness unless he, himself, yields to that tendency.  He will be drawn to Christ, he will be in Christ, and then he will personally receive the benefits of justification of life which cam upon all men, just as in the other case when he yields to the tendency to sin he receives the condemnation personally which came upon all men in Adam.

GCBQ95 page 0043 paragraph 3 These thoughts can be carried much further, as you perceive, because this idea runs all through the Scriptures.  It is everything in him.  And these thoughts throw very much light upon the subject of justification and sanctification.  They have cleared up in my mind much that was dim, that was indistinct, about this matter of justification and sanctification.  Let us read again in the fifth chapter of Romans.  It would be well to read considerable of the chapter, but we will turn directly to the 17th, 18, and 19th verses.  “For if by one man’s offense, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.  Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” were constituted sinners, “so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” or be constituted righteous.  Now is it not perfectly clear from the 18th verse that as condemnation came upon all men, so justification of life came upon all men?  Perfectly clear.  The thought seems to me to be this, – that in Jesus Christ all men were justified.  8th verse: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”  Did he die for all?  “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”  Now if all human beings should decide at once to repent and turn to God this very hour, would it be necessary for God to make any change in his plan?  Do you not see he has done it all, for all men?

 



[1] This is a word that many persons do not like to associate with Calvary. They feel that “provision” belittles the effectiveness of the gift. Yet for all their quibbling, it is the right word. A gift of provision is a gift indeed, a gift of hope and of possibilities that banishes doom. And “provision” is a word that the English-speaking prophet used freely in this connection. “God has made every provision for our justification and sanctification. He has given Christ to us, that through him we may be made complete. Christ gave his life for sinners. By his death he opened a fountain in which all may wash their robes of character, and make them white. He died on the cross, but he rose from the tomb, proclaiming, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life.’ He made his followers joint heirs with him in his glory. In his name they were to go forth to carry out his purpose of bringing many souls to a knowledge of the truth.”  {RH, February 18, 1904 par. 7} 

[2] The Greek, katallagay, is the noun form of the verb translated “reconcile” twice in the previous verse. Only here, in the Bible, is it rendered “atonement.” Properly, it means “an exchange” or “change” in relationship, a “reconciliation.”

[3] I have left 1Co 4:10 out of this list. Why? Because I can not ascertain whether the “wisdom” is meant to be taken sarcastically or not in the passage.

[4] “In consequence of Adam’s sin, death passed upon the whole human race. All alike go down into the grave. And through the provisions of the plan of salvation, all are to be brought forth from their graves. “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust;” “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22. But a distinction is made between the two classes that are brought forth. “All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.” – GC 544.

[5] This is from the article “What was Secured by the Death of Christ” referred to earlier in this paper.

(4) Comments

  1. Brother Eugene, if you ever rewrite this article in the future, maybe it would be helpful to include a section on EGW’s use of the term “second probation.” That is the phrase she uses for what all men have been given because of the cross. In your conversation with Wieland, did he ever bring up her use of this term? I feel that if those who uphold terms such as “universal justification,” or “justification of life,” or “forensic justification,” were to drop those in favor of the term, “second probation,” they would free themselves of the entaglements associated with the word justification and instead present truth in a proper light.

  2. It is hard for me to take seriously a paper which makes a whopper misstatement at the very beginning. In the fourth sentence you write “…Robert Wieland and Donald Short, proposed a special doctrine of “Forensic Justification.” I guess you intend to say this was something new in theology. You should know that the doctrine of forensic justification is a firmly established tenet of Protestant theology going way way back. One of the better presentations is by Charles Hodge, a leading systematic theologian of the 19th century, accessible online at: http://www.apuritansmind.com/justification/justification-is-a-forensic-act-by-dr-charles-hodge/

    The heading of the article reads: “Justification by Faith Alone.” Subheadings read: “How is justification forensic and what does that mean?” and “Justification Is a Forensic Act.”

    So Wieland and Short were not “proposing” anything new. They were firmly embedded in the best tradition of Protestant thought. Earlier editions of the Fundamental Beliefs stated explicitly that Adventist teachings must be understood within the framework of Protestant theology. So those who oppose this doctrine are the aberrant ones.

    There is an old saw — never buy anything from anyone who lies to get your attention. Seeing this whopper at the very beginning of your article makes it very difficult for me to stomach the idea of reading the whole thing.

    • Hi Ben,

      Thank you for taking the time to read the first few sentences and for responding. Let me say at the outset that I probably agree with you. But alas, you also misunderstood me.

      Now let me clarify. Protestants have believed, since Protestantism began, that Jesus paid the debt for sin on the cross legally. And Protestants have believed, consequently, that Justification is a legal act by God. Indeed, these precious truths are nothing new under the sun.

      But what Weiland and Short introduced to the Adventist audience was something more and different than these things. I do not mean that what they introduced to us Adventists was new. I do not pretend to be widely read in evangelical articles. And though I love Puritan writings, I have only likely read complete works by Bunyan, Flavel and Baxter.

      But what I do mean is that their idea was new in the Adventist context in which they operated. That idea, that the word “justification to life” refers to what Christ did for us at the cross, was new in this respect. Adventists had used the word “justification” as being equivalent to “forgiveness” and as occurring originally at the “new birth.” These two men, by contrast, used the word “justification” to refer to what was done prior to personal forgiveness and to personal regeneration.

      I hope these clarifications help.

      Be faithful,

      Eugene

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