Three Reading on the Purpose of God

at Oakland, California, USA, Sept. 1920

1. Romans 9:1-13.
2. Romans 9:14-33.
3. Romans 10.

1. Romans 9:1-13 was read.

C.A. — What special reason is there for the strong statement that begins the chapter, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not” — What special need is there for that?

C.C. — In a certain sense it is like an oath, is it not? It is a strong affirmation.

H.A.I. — I suppose that Jews reading this treatise on God’s salvation, as set forth in the early part of the epistle, would be ready to charge Paul with favoring the Gentiles as against his own people, would they not?

C.C. — Yes, I think so; and so he gives the strongest assurance that he is speaking in Christ, testifying to the truth. If he was testifying to the truth of the new revelation, introducing Christianity into the world, it was a solemn thing for Israel, as they were rejecting it and persecuting him.

C.A. — We have heard it said that the conscience is not a trustworthy witness. Here the apostle says, “My conscience also bearing me witness.” Is it mentioned because of its connection with the Holy Spirit — conscience so guided? Or why is the conscience brought in here, when we know it is not absolutely trustworthy?

C.C. — He would have us realize that his conscience was before God. He was not speaking flippantly, but soberly, as realizing the presence of God. He was speaking from conviction of the truth, not from sentimentality.

A.W.P. — Would it not help to compare Romans 1 with Ephesians 4:21? We have there, “As the truth is in Jesus,” but in Romans 9:1 we have, “I say the truth in Christ.” Has not the Holy Spirit some definite purpose in varying these two terms, or titles? “The truth in Christ” (the Anointed) being more a reference to the Jewish people than the “truth in Jesus.”

H.A.I. — “The truth in Jesus” was that which was manifest in the Man, Jesus, as He walked through these scenes. The truth was manifested in all of His ways. “Christ” means the anointed, and while He was that on earth, He has been given that place by God in resurrection. “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, to be both Lord and Christ.” And so Paul here speaks “the truth in Christ” — as in the presence of the resurrected One. As to verse 3 there is considerable diversity of judgment as to exactly what the apostle meant when he spoke of wishing himself accursed from Christ. As it depends largely on the original’s meaning, we would like to have your judgment, that we might consider it.

C.C. — Well, I believe the clause, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ,” to be a parenthesis; and I would read it, too, according to the Revised Version, “I was wishing myself accursed from Christ.” It was in the past. So that the sentence would read: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” This entire paragraph shows that he fully understood them. He understood the mind and feeling of Israel, as himself at one time having had that mind. He was then with them in their rejection of Christ. He at that time was wishing himself accursed from Christ.

H.A.I. — That is altogether a different thought to what I have had. I have thought of Paul here taking the same ground as Moses (that is, if possible to save Israel by blotting him out of God’s book, he would be willing to be blotted out), and that here the apostle meant to say that his love of Israel was such that he would be willing to do this — willing thus to be destroyed, that they might be saved; not that he intended it fully, for he knew that they could not thus be saved, but that his love for them was so intense, that if he could save them by being accursed from Christ, he felt at times he would be willing to suffer this.

C.C. — That is what many think; but I merely give what is my judgment after considerable thought. I am well aware of eminent students of the Word looking at it differently, but by weighing it very carefully I have come to the judgment which I have expressed. As to the view you have mentioned, my difficulty is, I cannot conceive of a Spirit-filled man, even for a moment, wishing himself accursed from Christ.

H.A.I. — I suppose not; even to save others.

C.C. — It seems to me, then, that the apostle in this way shows that he understands the attitude and mind of Israel in their refusal and rejection of Christianity which was being established in the world.

E.A.B. — In Acts 22:20-21 it speaks of Paul being sent to the Gentiles. We can realize what a hard thing it must have been for the Jews to take in the thought that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs in God’s mercy; and Paul realizing this, puts himself in that place, and undertakes to face things from their standpoint.

H.A.I. — We know the force of that today. It is one of the first principles in helping souls to put ourselves as far as possible in their position. If a Roman Catholic is saved, it has great force when he turns to another Roman Catholic and says, “I realize your feelings; I understand your prejudice; I felt the same once. Now the Lord has opened mine eyes, and I wish you to weigh what I put before you.”

C.A. — You say then, Mr. C. that this is a parenthesis. What about the punctuation?,

C.C. — Well, in the first place, there are no punctuation marks at all in the early manuscripts. They have all been put in by later editors, and it is a question of spiritual understanding as to what and where punctuation should be placed. It largely depends on the spiritual understanding of the translator.

E.A.B. — Some persons have said to me when I mentioned things like this, “Why do you change the Bible?” It is a question between the original and what we have in the translation, that we have to consider.

C.A. — I hope no one can say,“The brethren are changing the Bible.”

H.A.I. — That question always arises with persons who are not familiar with translations and versions. They need to remember that the New Testament Scriptures were not written in English, but in Greek, and the Old Testament in Hebrew. We therefore should avail ourselves of all possible help in the way of scholarly exposition, and various translations, to get as nearly as possible to the exact thought of the original.

E.A.B. — What about all this advantage that Israel had, from verse 4 on? — Israel, “to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law. . . . and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God, blessed forever.” — What was their advantage over the Gentiles?

C.C. — Here Paul recognizes that the Old Testament Scriptures belong to Israel. God had taken them up. They were His people; He had made promises to them entered into covenant relationship with them; and the apostle is not ignoring all this.

H.A.I. — Naturally, the question in the Jew’s mind was, “What are you going to do with all these things?” He recognizes it all belongs to Israel, but God has something different for the Gentiles.

A.W.P. — Is it not true that in verses 4 and 5 we have the answer to the question asked in Romans 2? First the question is answered very briefly. It seems to be a principle that a question raised is first answered briefly and later answered in detail. In Romans 3 the question, “Do we then make void the law through faith” is later answered in detail. Again, in the 6th chapter: the question is raised: “What shall we say then — shall we continue in sin?” Briefly it is answered — “God forbid;” later, it is answered in detail. In chapter 3 the question asked is answered briefly, but in verses 4 and 5 of Romans 9 it is answered in detail.

E.A.B. — Is not that a wonderful statement at the end of verse: “Who is over all, God, blessed forever.” It is Christ, is it not?

H.A.I. — I understand there should be a comma after God. It is a strong affirmation of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ — whom the nation of Israel was rejecting. He is here proclaimed as God over all, blessed forever.

C.A. — There are seven things pertaining to Israel, and then Paul speaks of Christ as the 8th; would that suggest a new order of things — the old being in the seven spoken of? Whom is Paul addressing in this 9th chapter? Is he addressing Jews professedly saved by Christ, or are they unconverted Jews under the law?

C.C. — The apostle is primarily addressing saints at Rome, whether Jews or Gentiles — yet characteristically Gentile. Having developed the gospel in the previous section of the epistle, the apostle now goes on to explain to them, and for us all, the connection and relation between the ways of God in the previous dispensation, and His ways in the present one — that there is no inconsistency.

H.A.I. — In other words, you would say that the epistle to the Romans is the Holy Spirit’s treatise through the apostle on the subject of salvation. He enabled the apostle point by point to meet every objection that might be raised — not, as addressing either Jew or Gentile directly, but as presenting the whole theme. Every question that can be raised is answered by inspiration of the Spirit. So Romans is the profound unfoldings of the grace of God. It raises questions and answers them as people might ask them.

QUESTION: — Is the work of God different in this dispensation from the former ones in saving men?

C.C. — This epistle shows that God, in saving men in Old Testament times, acted on the same basis that He does in saving us. See Romans 3:25.

REMARK: — The great thing in the present dispensation is that the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost, and since that day dwells in the believer; which He did not in the old dispensation.

C.C. — In Romans 3:24-25 we have, “Christ set forth a propitiation through faith,” which now, explains the forbearance of God in Old Testament times, when as yet the work of redemption was not accomplished; but God’s eyes were on that work, and it was the ground of His forbearance then. I might put it in this way: God forgave, i.e., pretermitted their sins, on the ground of the redemption to be accomplished.

H.A.I. — This manifested His righteousness in passing over sins committed then, having the work of Christ in view. He had been saving them while that work was not yet accomplished; but when it was actually performed, it showed He was righteous in what He did.

C.C. — I might ask, “How can God consistently, in accordance with His nature, forgive me my sins?” It is answered by, “It is Christ who died, and was raised again.” And how was God consistent in His ways of mercy with man before the Cross? The answer is the same.

QUESTION. — Was not the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world?

H.A.I. — No. The Authorized Version speaks of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” but, evidently, that is not what the passage means. Though in the purpose of God the Lamb was given before the foundation of the world, He was not slain then. I think a more correct rendering of the passage in Revelation 13 is, “All that dwell on the earth shall worship him [the Beast] — all whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of the Lamb slain.”*

{*It is so rendered in J.N.D.’s and F.W.Grant’s translations, and the Revised Version. — [Ed.]}

A.W.P. — The passage in Romans 5 refers not to past sins of believing sinners, does it? but to past ages from Abel down. I think that needs to be made clear.

C.C. — Yes; it refers to past dispensations.

H.A.I. — In the next verse it speaks of dealing with man now (Rom. 3:26).

E.A.B. — In that sense, God does not forgive sins in installments, but having forgiven the repentant sinner, he is adopted into God’s family as a child. Failures then make him subject to the Father’s discipline, but not casting out of His house.

W.J.H. — It now comes to light how God could and did forgive in the Old Testament times.

C.C. — We get help if we remind ourselves that God was working out a certain problem in the past dispensation — a problem for man — a demonstration for man’s benefit of what God knew. He was demonstrating man’s inability to deliver himself out of the pit into which he had fallen.

QUESTION. — Was it usual for Jews to know that they were in favor with God — as we know it now, through faith in Christ? Upon what were they relying to give them confidence? I have no doubt God gave them something in which to rest.

C.C. — I judge that when a true believer came with his offering, he could see in that which he brought a picture of that which saves. Faith understood even then that the true offering was yet to be accomplished.

H.A.I. — So, in answer to our brother’s question, there is no difference in the salvation, but different ways of administering it. A dispensation is a period in which God is ministering truth to man in a special way.

QUESTION. — Why is the thought of verse 6 (ch. 9) brought in now? It seems abrupt after verses 4 and 5.

C.C. — Well, a Jew in unbelief listening to the apostle (the apostle admitting in verses 4 and 5 what he mentions as belonging to Israel) would say, “You make God to nullify His word.” He might raise the objection that God is not carrying out His promises to Israel.

H.A.I. — When David says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,” he shows he is looking beyond any ordinary sacrifice.

QUESTION. — Romans 3:24 would show, would it not, that in past dispensations they had to look forward; we look back. But there was no other way than by grace. They were not saved then by works of law any more than we are.

A.E.B. — It is the ground, and the justification of God’s forgiveness. A poor family was obtaining help from the county once; and a man, noticing they went to a small corner-store frequently, said to the grocer, “Be careful, for they don’t pay well.” He just answered, “I have an order from the county to meet their responsibilities.” So Christ had undertaken to meet all the responsibilities of Old Testament believers.

A.W.P. — What particular scriptures have we as to Israel’s privileges mentioned in chapter 9:4? Are they God’s promises to Abraham, possibly?

C.C. — I think so. “The fathers,” refers to those to whom the promises were given. God made promises to Abraham. He made covenants with the fathers, and with David. He gave the institution of circumcision. But in the New Testament we find that the children according to the flesh are not the children of Abraham; it is the children of promise who are his children.

H.A.I. — In other words, in all dispensations since Abraham a spiritual relationship to God was necessary to make people inheritors of the Abrahamic promises; and Israel, failing to see that, boasted, “We are the circumcised,” at the very time they were really “uncircumcised in heart.”

C.C. — A significant distinction is made in John 8:37 and 39. The Lord speaking of their claim as Abraham’s seed, says, “If ye were Abraham’s children.”

H.A.I. — It is the difference between the natural and the spiritual, is it not?

C.C. — Yes.

QUESTION. — Those are the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus; but all are children of God by creation, are they not?

H.A.I. — Yes, in a certain sense; but we must be careful to guard it. “We are also His offspring,” is said in Acts 17:28; but we must be careful in these days when men make so much of what they call “the Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.”

C.C. — In Luke 3 we have the expression, “Which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Adam indeed was son of God by creation. But man has lost that position through sin, through disobedience, through failure, and we find already in the Old Testament the race divided. When Enos was born, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord;” a class became distinguished from those who were represented by Cain; he represents man according to the flesh. Abel and Seth represent the man according to faith. Now man, as I have said, through sin has forfeited the place of son; it is the family of faith that are the sons of God.

H.A.I. — Were there not a difference, there would be no meaning to that expression in verse 4, “Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption,” etc. If all were looked at as sons of God since sin came in, why should God bring out a special people and give them the place of adoption? — though they did not rise to the truth of that. The fact that they were naturally of the seed of Adam could not give them adoption. God, in Hosea, calls them, “Lo-ammi” (not my people); by and by, after the present dispensation is past, He will take them up again, and call them “the sons of the living God.” The apostle shows in verses 7-13 that the promise does not run in the line of natural birth. Abraham had two sons, but Ishmael was set aside; while Isaac, the child according to promise, was the inheritor of the promise. This was election; and the Jews would find no fault, since they were of Isaac’s line. But, again, Isaac was the father of two sons — Esau and Jacob; but Esau is set aside, and Jacob is the inheritor of the promise. God changed his natural name, Jacob, to Israel, and his descendants are an elect nation. With this the Jews were satisfied; but if God were to pass them by, and take up the Gentiles, it excited their wrath. Yet that is what God is doing, and He justifies it from Israel’s own history.

C.C. — And so the apostle had already declared at the end of Romans 2 (verses 28-29), “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew,which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” It is the spiritual relationship that avails in God’s sight — not the natural.

E.A.B. — In John 8, mere natural claims are brushed aside. God can from the very stones raise up children to Abraham.

C.C. — We see from Galatians 4:28-29 that when God promised Abraham a seed, He had us Gentiles in mind, as well as those that sprang from Abraham by natural birth. It is not the natural man that is the seed of Abraham, but those that are of faith.

E.J.S. — It was not the natural man even in the old dispensation.

C.C. — No; it never was the natural man that God owned. This principle applies everywhere. In setting aside Esau and taking up Jacob, God was acting according to His purpose; not according to what Esau was in himself, nor according to what Jacob was in himself. God’s purpose was expressed before they were born. It is very important to see that if God has a purpose, He will carry it out, and nothing can swerve Him from it.

H.A.I. — Do we ever read in Scripture of the purposes of God? Is it not always in the singular?

C.C. — I think it is always in the singular; yet when we look at things in detail, might we not use the plural?

H.A.I. — Well, I believe God has one purpose, with varied counsels. Before the universe came into being, God had one complete, perfect purpose in mind, and nothing will turn Him aside from that purpose. There are varied counsels with respect to earth and heaven. Before these two children were born; it was said, “The older shall serve the younger.” God saw beforehand that the elder would serve the younger. But whether Esau sold his birthright or not, it was God’s counsel to make Jacob the inheritor of the promise. It was not a question of eternal salvation, but as to natural blessings upon earth. It was part of a wonderful plan which sets aside the first man, and puts the second first.

QUESTION. — But the purpose of God is according to righteousness?

H.A.I. — Surely; God is absolutely righteous, and works all things according to the purpose of His will.

QUESTION. — Comparing the purpose mentioned in Romans 8:28 with the one in Romans 9:11, and the one in Ephesians 1:9-11, would they show any connection with the point you made?

H.A.I. — God has only one purpose, one plan, when the universe was brought into existence. Whenever you read of purpose it is that one great plan which, looking down through the ages, He is going to carry out.

C.C. — I think in order to have our feet on good, solid ground, we must say that God was acting sovereignly in selecting Jacob and in refusing Esau. What is the basis of this sovereignty? Well, the nature and character of God is the basis of it. We cannot think of God ever without a purpose, nor without resources in Himself for the accomplishment of it. Again; not only has He a purpose from everlasting, and resources in Himself to accomplish it, but in carrying it out He acts consistently with His nature and character. He does not violate His holiness or His righteousness. God’s nature and character are the basis of everything He does.

REMARK. — It is spelled in four letters — L-O-V-E.

C.C. — If God has a purpose, it must be a holy purpose. In a certain sense, we may say there are no limitations with God. His sovereignty is not a delegated sovereignty, it is intrinsically His. With men, in kings and rulers, it is a delegated sovereignty, with limitations. Not so with God, except by the exigencies of His own nature and character.

H.A.I. — And it is a great thing for the soul to have absolute confidence in God! Some people seem to shrink from the thought that God can do absolutely as He will, lest He do something that is not for the good of man. We must have absolute confidence. God will always justify Himself.

A.W.P. — What we need is to believe what He says, instead of reasoning.

QUESTION. — Would you bring in the thought of foreknowledge?

C.C. — I would base His foreknowledge on His nature and character.

C.A. — Would you base His foreknowledge on His purpose?

C.C. — Yes. Being what He is, God could not be without a purpose, and His purpose determines what shall be.

QUESTION — Can one sell his birthright now? Can a Christian fall away?

H.A.I. — How many Christians have sold many of their birthright privileges for messes of the world’s pottage! But a Christian cannot sell his birthright title to glory.

E.A.B. — Since Christ has died, all have title to the work of the Cross. Esau bartered his birthright. Let none do like him.

H.A.I. — The 13th verse comes in now. It is quoted here by the apostle, not from Genesis but from Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, after centuries had passed: “I have loved Jacob and hated Esau.”

C.C. — And in saying “I have loved Jacob,” God appeals to His ways with man all along down through the ages. He had not done for Esau what He had done for Jacob.

2. Romans 9:14-33 was read.

C.C. — I think we should refresh our minds as to the verses which immediately precede where our brother began to read, so I will direct attention again to the 15th verse: “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth.” As we were saying yesterday, God had a purpose from everlasting, and His election is in view of that purpose. He is absolutely sovereign; it is His prerogative therefore to have a purpose and to carry it out. The matter of election is just simply God making choice in view of His purpose; and, as the apostle states it here, God’s purpose stands. Now this purpose of God was formed before ever we existed; He had, therefore, in view those who were to be the objects of His blessing. That is what some might call in question as being unrighteous. For instance, in the cases specified here, before Jacob and Esau were born, and before they had done either good or evil, it is manifest that God had His eye on Jacob for a certain blessing. His choice of Jacob did not depend on what Jacob would be. He did not choose Esau — He chose Jacob. Was God righteous in that? That is a question often raised. Is there unrighteousness with God? The apostle resents the thought. It is really an impudent question, which we have no right to raise. We have no right to question God’s sovereignty. It is His right to have a purpose and to carry it out.

H.A.I. — And could you not say that, so far as Israel is concerned, it surely was not for them to object to this? — for, had it not been for God’s purpose, they would have been blotted out when they made and worshiped the calf in the wilderness. Is not that involved in the 15th verse?

C.C. — Yes. Think of that! God had entered into covenant relationship with them, with certain terms attached to it. The condition under which the children of Israel were to be His people was obedience; and there was no provision for mercy in that covenant. Therefore it was God’s right to blot out the nation when they broke that covenant. And if God was to spare the people, or part of the people, He must retreat into His sovereignty to do it. If He shows mercy to them, or to any part of them, the only ground upon which He can do that is His sovereignty — to exercise His sovereign right to show mercy.

E.A.B. — If that is for good, in man’s favour, surely man should not criticize God for it.

C.C. — Surely not; and that is what God’s purpose is — for blessing, for mercy. It is not God’s purpose to damn certain individuals. It is His purpose to bless.

QUESTION. — Does it not say in 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” — come to repentance?

C.C. — Yes; but how can God consistently save anybody? The answer is, Through grace. He has a righteous way to do this. Some things God cannot do — it is impossible for Him to lie; it is imposible for Him to violate His holiness; He cannot infringe on His righteousness. In everything that He does His own character and nature must be maintained.

QUESTION. — Then, if God says He would have all men to be saved, and it is His goodness that leads to repentance, if He comes in and hardens, may we not conclude that the time for repentance is past?

C.C. — God acts according to His sovereignty. Take Esau as an example: Esau did not value his birthright. Well then, says God, you shall not have it.

QUESTION: — Does not the life of Esau, as recorded, justify the sovereignty of God? — that is, there was no repentance in Esau.

C.C. — It is said of him that, while he sought blessing, he did not repent.

REMARK. — So then, God’s sovereignty in choosing Jacob, is demonstrated by Esau’s life; that is, God was just in choosing Jacob.

C.C. — I don’t think that is the point.

H.A.I. — Might not Esau have looked at Jacob and said, “How could God choose such a rascal as my brother?” — for it was only at the end of Jacob’s life that he becomes a true pilgrim and occupies the place of a worshipper.

C.C. — If Jacob was chosen of God, it was not on the basis of what he was or would be in himself.

A.W.P. — Do you mean, Mr. Crain, that the ground of God’s choice is nothing in the creature, either actual or foreseen, but it is solely in His own sovereign will?

C.C. — Yes; certainly.

QUESTION. — Still the creature reaches the state which God in sovereign grace chose for him?

C.C. — But it is God in His sovereign grace carrying out His purpose and bringing him there.

REMARK. — I do not in any way wish to call in question the sovereignty of God, but merely call attention to the fact that the one God chooses reaches ultimately that which is according to the mind of God.

C.C. — I think it is well to see that, for our souls to be settled and at rest. If I inquire why all this favour is bestowed upon me for a certain destiny. I have but one answer, He has chosen to do it.

H.A.I. — You have that in the 16th verse.

N.T. — That is the reason I arrive there, because God has chosen to put me there; otherwise I would not have arrived. Esau did not arrive. God, in His sovereignty, left him.

C.A. — Is the one who “wills” (ver. 16) Isaac? and the one who “runs” Esau?

H.A.I. — You mean that Isaac willed to give it to Esau, and that Esau “ran,” or wished, to get the blessing, but God had chosen Jacob. When it comes to hardening, that is on the part of man’s attitude toward God, is it not? — as in Pharaoh’s case.

C.C. — Yes; Pharaoh resisted God, and in resisting he hardened himself. That is one side. On the other hand, knowing him perfectly — his disposition, his character, his will, and all that — mercy was shown even to him. But the effect of showing him mercy, was to bring out antagonism, resistance, and in that way God hardened his heart. When Pharaoh saw God’s hand was removed, His mercy was only an occasion for further hardening.

C.A. — The words, “For this purpose have I raised thee up,” do not mean to bring into the world, but to exalt Pharaoh to the throne of Egypt, do they not?

C.C. — Yes; God raised him up to a place of power.

N.T. — God raised him up that he might show His power in him as it was shown at the end of his life, wasn’t it?

C.C. — Well, the point is that it was God’s will to show His power; and there was a man on the throne of Egypt in whom He did show His power. If Pharaoh said, “Who is Jehovah that I should let this people go?” God’s reply is, “You will find out who He is.” Think of it — a man challenging God! God takes up the challenge, though still giving opportunity for repentance, showing mercy again and again to lead to it.

H.A.I. — Even the heathen had an expression, “Whom the gods will destroy they first make mad.” We may change this to, “Whom God will destroy He first makes mad.” God let Pharaoh go on in open opposition to Himself before He destroyed him. It was simply madness on Pharaoh’s part.

X. — And God did this that His name might be known in the nations around. As in Rahab’s case it was said, “Did not we hear what God did for you? and our heart melted within us.”

C.C. — Let us remind ourselves again of the nature and character of God — that is, His eternal unchangeableness. He is the same from everlasting to everlasting. Everlastingly, therefore, sin is repulsive to Him; and God is willing to manifest how repulsive it is to Him.

X. — The attributes of God are never added to, nor taken from. He is eternally the same — no increase or decrease; no change, but complete, and eternally the same, is He not?

C.C. — Certainly. In connection with this I will make a statement for myself. I believe that in eternity God determined that man should manifest himself; and man did so in delivering the Son of Man to the death of the cross.

A.W.P. — How far would you carry this — God allowing man to manifest himself? — in the details of man’s history, as well as his history as a whole?

C.C. — I believe so.

QUESTION. — Would you make the same statement with regard to Satan and his angels? — that God intended evil should come out through Satan, that He might deal with evil, that this was in God’s counsels?

C.C. — Yes; evil had its origin in Satan. The way I would put it is this: God determined that the question of the creature’s ability to stand or be unable to stand by himself should be demonstrated; and He gave angels, as well as Adam, the opportunity to show whether they could stand on the ground of their responsibility.

N.T. — That is a marvellous thought. It shows how much we are indebted to God. We have nothing but what we have received, and are entirely kept by God.

C.C. — The angels who have not fallen are absolutely indebted to God for their preservation.

QUESTION. — Is that why they are called “the elect angels?”

C.C. — Yes.

H.A.I. — If a creature is brought into existence, and has a will, his will is sure to work in opposition to God, unless He restrains it.

QUESTION. — What, then, is the responsibility of man to God?

C.C. — Man’s responsibility is to abide in the estate in which God set him. Of course, now that men are fallen, other responsibilities come in; but speaking of the creature as created, the responsibility of the creature was to abide in the estate in which God had placed him. That is true of the angels, as well as of man.

QUESTION. — Have you any thought as to why iniquity was conceived in Satan, when he was created a perfect being?

C.C. — Yes. I believe that, in some way, God made it known among the angels that He would associate one from among His creatures with Himself on the throne; and Satan, as the most exalted of all angelic intelligences, took the thought to himself, with the conclusion, “I am the one for that place,” and so aspired to the throne of God.

QUESTION. — Would you connect the lie, spoken of in John 8:44, with this thought then — Satan contesting this place?

C.C. — Yes.

W.T.B. — Is that why Satan’s coverings are so much like the coverings of the high priest in Ezekiel — showing many of the qualities found in Christ?

C.C. — I think so. He was the most beautiful of all the angelic beings. You have that in Ezekiel 28:11-17.

W.T.B. — I have often marvelled over the close resemblance of the coverings of Satan to the breastplate of the high priest, and the foundations of the New Jerusalem.

H.A.I. — In that chapter in Ezekiel the Spirit of God is addressing a man, the prince of Tyre. Beginning with verse 12, He is addressing one who cannot be a mere man, because he had walked in Eden, the garden of God. He calls him a “king,” and he controlled the prince of Tyre. I believe it carries us farther back as to Satan than any other scripture — not the first information as to Satan that we have in the Word of God, but it carries us farthest back. What brother B refers to, is in verses 12 and 13: “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering — the sardius, topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” Also, in verse 15, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” And “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” (ver. 17).

C.C. — That shows what an exalted creature he was — a creature remember. He is not omniscient; he is not omnipresent; he is a creature, and originally was the most exalted creature. I believe he was the archangel. Another has been promoted to his place after his fall, but he was then the chief angel.

H.A.I. — Men speak sometimes of archangels. But “archangel” means supreme angel; there is only one archangel at one time.

W.T.B. — Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light, so, sometimes, it is difficult to know whether it is Satan or whether it is Christ.

C.C. — He does this to deceive. The test is the Word of God.

W.T.B. — Having these coverings he is able to do it. He has not been stripped of them, has he?

C.C. — He continues to be a creature, and what God made him, in that respect.

W.T.B. — I mean that he has not been stripped of his coverings, his greatness, any more than man has been stripped of his endowments.

C.C. — He has lost his place.

W.T.B. — But he still has the coverings? It is awfully solemn to realize that Satan is able to assume the form of an angel of light.

C.C. — He had wisdom before his fall. He has wisdom still.

W.T.B. — Does God allow the devil to use his power over the saints?

C.C. — I would say that God has so furnished us that we need not be deceived by him.

N.T. — “We are not ignorant of his devices.”

X. — Satan “transforms himself into an angel of light.” He does things which to the mind of men look beautiful, agreeable, and right. He transforms himself into an angel of light, as we read in Scripture.

W.T.B. — He is covered with beautiful things — sapphire, sardius, topaz, etc. — and calling attention to those things he gets people away from Christ.

C.C. — I think it would simplify matters if we think of these stones as symbolizing creature perfections.

C.A. — Let us keep to Romans 9, brethren!

A.W.P. — What do you think “thus” (the last word of verse 20) looks back to?

C.C. — Well, take Pharaoh for instance. If God hardened his heart, imagine Pharaoh saying, “Why have you done it?”

A.W.P. — The apostle then answers this impertinent question of the creature, does he not?

C.C. — The question is an insult to God. Man resisting God becomes hardened; his conscience becomes seared; then he insults God by saying, “Why did you do it?”

H.A.I. — It was Adam’s sin in the beginning, saying to God, “The woman Thou gavest me.” In other words it laid the blame upon God. That is what man is doing today.

QUESTION. — How would you meet the objection here inferred, that God is the originator of evil? How would you answer it?

C.C. — There is a certain sense in which that is true. Understand me: I do not mean that God is the author of evil, but that He could have prevented it.

H.A.I. — By making men without wills — that would be the only way, would it not?

C.C. — Now ask this question: Was it wisdom on God’s part to allow the question of good and evil to be raised?

H.A.I. — We need to see that it was in view of the eternal purpose. A question has been raised on earth, in time, that will be settled for all the ages to come. That question will never have to be raised again. It is raised and settled here on earth.

E.A.B. — When we isolate a certain circumstance in our lives, we might say: “What good is there in this?” Yet it all works together for good (Rom. 8:28).

X. — If man had not known sin, how could he appreciate the great things that God has done in grace?

H.A.I. — I think what we need is to get this thought, that God is infinitely wise, and everything He does is for His glory (i.e., revealing Himself to His creatures), and we need not be afraid of this for it is the manifestation of His love and perfections. “God is light” and “God is love.”

C.C. — God has the sovereign right to manifest Himself. How could He manifest His absolute sovereignty over evil unless He allowed evil to come?

X. — Would it not have been easier, if man never had sinned?

C.C. — He would never have known the glory of Christ and redemption.

X. — We could not have known Him as Saviour if sin had not been allowed to come in.

N.T. — Which would you rather be: Saved for ever through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and accepted in Him, or be with Adam in the garden of Eden?

A BROTHER: — Is not that justifying sin?

C.C. — After all, there is the existence of sin, and we must justify God in permitting sin to come in.

W.T.B. — That is different from justifying sin. I think it would be more correct to say that it would have been better if Adam had never sinned; or that Satan had stood the test, and remained an obedient creature under God.

N.T. — The 18th verse: “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth” — does not that press the point of His sovereign right to do that?

A.W.P. — Can this purpose of God, spoken of, embrace the eternal destiny of every creature?

C.C. — I think so. God’s act in choosing the objects of His mercy necessarily leaves the rest to the doom they have responsibly incurred. God did not decree that men should be sinners, but reprobated sinners to death, and the judgment after death; it is a righteous reprobation from which His elect are saved. But it is a righteous salvation.

H.A.I. — While the examples given in Romans have to do with election as to things on earth, yet the purpose has to do with eternity. In verses 22 and 23 it speaks of “vessels of mercy afore prepared.” There would not have been any vessels of mercy had it not been for God’s purpose; while men become vessels of wrath by fitting themselves for destruction.

N.T. — I don’t see the force of the passage if men fit themselves for destruction.

H.A.I. — Was not Pharaoh a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction? The mercy of God shown him only served to harden him the more. He was manifestly a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction by his own behaviour. The purpose of God has to do with mercy.

3. Romans 10 was read.

C.C. — If God has a purpose, as we have seen, He is carrying it out in spite of everything antagonistic to it; but He does so consistently with His own nature and-character — not arbitrarily, as we say. He acts sovereignly, but not capriciously. In this chapter we have God’s way of carrying out His purpose towards us, and how He brings us into it. It is on the principle of faith.

X. — That principle was determined by God in His eternal purpose, was it not?

C.C. — Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, that is, ignorant of how righteous He is, and they went about to establish their own righteousness.

H.A.I. — This question of righteousness is what the apostle had in view in the closing verses of the 9th chapter (30-32). It links up with what you were saying.

C.C. — Seeking a righteousness by works of law, they were not subject to the righteousness of, or from, God.

X. — What is the righteousness of God?

C.C. — Well, we must first insist that God is absolutely consistent with Himself in everything that He does; yet through the Cross, this attribute of His character is on our side though we have no righteousness of our own; “all our righteousness” being, as the prophet says, as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. But He provides a righteousness for us. To this way of righteousness the Jews did not submit themselves. They sought a righteousness by works according to the law. They misinterpreted God’s purpose in giving the law, which was to convict man of his sinfulness — for “by the law is the knowledge of sin;” but Israel used the law as a means of working out a righteousness of their own.

The sacrificial system illustrates this way of approach to God. Bringing sacrifices was confessing that they were sinners, with nothing in themselves for which God could accept them. Their sacrifice, like Abel’s, pointed to the provision which God would make for them. Where there was genuine faith, in bringing their sacrifice they did not claim any merit in themselves, but rather confessed, “We have no righteousness of our own; our resource is in what God has indicated by putting these sacrifices in our hands.” The mass may have satisfied themselves with a duty performed, but those taught of God apprehended, in a greater or less degree, the real purpose of the law, and of the sacrificial system connected with it.

Men today are still seeking acceptance with God on the ground of their own merit, not on the principle of faith. They are not submitting to the righteousness which, in pure grace, God Himself has provided. In the end of the 4th verse the apostle says: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Faith is the principle on which God makes us partakers in it.

QUESTION. — But has not the believer an intrinsic righteousness of his own through Christ?

C.C. — No. It is not intrinsically his own. It is his by grace.

QUESTION. — Is there not an individual righteousness which we get by Christ?

C.C. — I do not quite like the expression. The point is this — Christ is given to us for righteousness. That is not my righteousness, except in the sense that I have it as a gift.

REMARK. — That is what I mean — it is a gift to each individual that believes.

QUESTION. — The question arises, whether that individual gift can be developed by any faculty of our own, with the assistance of the Almighty.

C.C. — By no means.

QUESTION. — In that sense it becomes more our individual righteousness by the power of God; does it not?

C.C. — You have not a bit more righteousness than I have. I may have a great deal more unrighteousness than you have, but you have no more righteousness than I have. It is Christ, God’s gift to faith.

QUESTION. — Are we not to develop along that line?

C.C. — Can Christ develop? Some years ago, in preaching to a company, I was quoting the passage in Colossians, “Made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” I felt that the truth I was seeking to emphasize was not being taken in, and said, “Assuming that you are believers, you are as fit for heaven now as you will be after you have been there millions of years — because Christ is our fitness.”

A.P. — Would you please, for us who are younger, enlarge on that a little — the extent to which Christ is our fitness before God? In what sense is Christ our fitness for heaven? — is it Christ alone, or with the development of anything in us?

C.C. — It is Christ alone; Christ only. It is a fitness to which we cannot add anything. We cannot make Christ any more fit than He is, or less than He is. Of course, Christ should become increasingly precious to us; but the point is this: God has accepted Christ, the Man Christ. I think that is important also to consider: He has accepted the Man Christ. The risen Christ is a new Head; the Head of a new humanity, the Head of a new race. God has accepted man in Christ, and His purpose is to conform this race of which the risen Christ is the Head. Already we are in Him, connected with Him, and as such we have, not in us, not in ourselves, but upon us, all the value of Christ with God, and the infinite value of His precious sacrifice. God has appropriated Him to us.

H.A.I. — This links with the word in 1 John — “As He is so are we in this world.”

C.C. — Yes.

H.A.I. — What a monstrous thing that would be if a man were to say, “I claim by faith that I am all that Christ was experimentally.” It is our perfect standing — “the best robe” of Luke 15.

C.C. — By righteousness. I understand the entire absence of defect, in perfect accord with the throne of God. This we have in Christ, not in ourselves.

X. — But then, in addition to that, is there not something of a progressive nature of righteousness, which leads to fruition or increase in the hereafter — something that demands co-operation by the power of God?

C.C. — I would say there is growth in the knowledge of it, in the enjoyment of it. We grow in Him who is unchangeably the same.

H.A.I. — We are not speaking now of the believer’s walk, but of what a believer is made before God in Christ. The question of righteousness has to do with the throne of God, the demands of His throne.

C.C. — We are in Christ now, and for ever in Christ; and He is “the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”

A.W.P. — In the sense of what we are, would you say that at the close of his ministry for Christ, Paul had no more title, or fitness for heaven, than the thief when he believed?

C.C. — No more title than he had the moment he believed. No work of ours as saints — no matter how devoted we may be, or what fruits we may bear, or what work may be wrought in us by the power of the Holy Spirit — can add anything to what Christ is.

V.S. — What is the significance of Paul’s statement to Timothy, at the closing of his life when he says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness?” What was the crown of righteousness which God would give him in that day?

C.C. — Righteousness gives a crowns. But that is not the righteousness in which we stand before God.

V.S. — If it is true that Paul, with his devotedness, had no better place in God’s presence than the dying thief, then where does the reward come in? I understand certain rewards are to be meted out for faithfulness — now where does that come in?

C.C. — Many years ago, in England, as Mr. Darby was failing and his decease was expected, I heard a sister make this remark, “He will be so near to Christ that I never expect to see him.” That was a total mistake. One will be as near to Christ as another.

H.A.I. — Is it not correct to say that all rewards have to do with the kingdom? It is in the coming kingdom that differences will be manifested. Some are given authority over five cities, some over ten; but no difference in the Father’s house, all have the same title to the Father’s house, and one is as near the Father as another.

C.C. — Yes, all are in the same favour.

H.A.I. — For the sake of young believers I would give an illustration from the Old Testament; “Thou shalt not wear a garment of diverse sorts, as of woolen and linen together” (Deut. 22:11). Why? In Leviticus 7:8, we read, “The priest, that offereth any man’s burnt-offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt-offering which he hath offered.” I link this with Isaiah 53, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.” And what did the priest get? The skin of the burnt-offering — which represents what Christ is to me — my covering. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” I am not to mix one thread of my own righteousness in that. The woolen garment must be unmixed. NOW read Revelation 19:8, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” — the righteousnesses, as the correct translation is; “for, the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” It is a robe of fine linen — a holy life, for which we are responsible. Don’t get fine linen threads mixed with woolen. We are talking of woolen garments this morning — let us keep to that.

X. — Would you not say that we should be conformed to the righteousness of God practically — that it must be manifested in our lives?

C.C. — We have no part in the righteousness which is of God, except as receiving it through faith.

H.A.I. — We are not speaking of a believer’s development, but what God has done for the believer who is “in Christ.”

A.W.P. — How does 2 Corinthians 5:21 link with the subject we are discussing?

C.C. — The question might be asked: On what basis can God consistently make us an expression of His righteousness? What I mean is this: If one asks for a manifestation or example of God’s righteousness, He may point to the saints who are “in Christ,” and say, “These are a display of my righteousness,” that is, it is on a righteous, basis that God has received us, for “He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us,” that it might be made manifest how righteous God is in receiving us. If, in thought we carry ourselves into the future, in eternity, we can see how we shall be not only clothed with “the best robe (in Christ before God) but shall be an expression of the righteousness of God in bringing us there.

H.A.I. — The whole redeemed company will be the manifestation of what righteousness has wrought. Everyone seated in heaven around the Lord Jesus Christ will be there righteously, and God shall be glorified in it all. None shall be able to say, “You are not there righteously;” is that your thought?

C.C. — Yes.

H.A.I. — I was thinking this links with John 16, where we read, “When the Comforter is come He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit is witnessing here that men lack righteousness and are going to the judgment. The Holy Spirit brings this truth home, and that He who is now seated upon the throne is there because righteousness demanded that He be put there; and He is the One whom God now presents to them as Saviour.

C.C. — The very presence of the Holy Spirit here on earth, sent by the ascended Christ, is a demonstration of where righteousness is; it is not with man — not with the world. The Spirit’s presence here is proof that the world is in sin and righteousness is with God.

H.A.I. — That is, sin thrust Christ out of this world. Why? Because man refused Him.

X. — Was it not a proof of His own righteousness? — that when man condemned Him God judged Him righteous?

H.A.I. — In verse 4 of our chapter we read, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;” How is that?

C.C. — Christ is the best robe. God has given Christ to be accepted by faith as our righteousness, thus Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth — a righteousness which the law demanded, but could not get, we now have in receiving Christ.

Question. — Is Christ working out our righteotsness?

H.A.I. — It was all accomplished by Him, for us.

C.C. — It is important to emphasize the fact that the righteousness that is imputed to us is Christ Himself. God has put Christ upon us, so that He sees us in Him. Let this Bible represent Christ, and this little hymn-book represent myself putting the hymn-book in the Bible); you cannot see the hymn-book, can you? Nothing but Christ. So are we in Christ, the accepted Man. Let us emphasize also that faith is the principle, on which God brings us there. Now, this way of salvation was determined upon in God’s eternal purpose. He did not purpose to bring men before Him accepted on the ground of anything in themselves, or anything they could do, but to bring them before Him in Christ, and He had His way of accomplishing that. The question now is, Will man submit to God’s way?

Question. — 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Christ is made unto us four things; in submitting to that, is that what you mean?

H.A.I. — Christ being made unto us wisdom, includes righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. God has brought us to the end of human wisdom and brought us to Christ — He is the answer to every need of the soul.

A.W.P. — Is that parallel with Ephesians 3:10; “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God?” “The manifold wisdom of God” — has that the same meaning?

H.A.I. — I believe so. And that wisdom is expressive of the divine purpose manifested in Christ and the church.

C.C. — Now read verse 6. We are considering what righteousness, on the principle of faith, is. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise. Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above.) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” That is not the language of faith — where is righteousness to be obtained? Where is it to be found? Where provided? Faith says, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart” — i.e., the word of the gospel preached, which faith receives.

C.A. — Before Christ came these questions were natural, were they not? — “Who shall bring Christ down from above — who shall bring Him up?” But now that He has come down and died and risen we need no longer ask such questions.

H.A.I. — In quoting from Deuteronomy 30:14, the apostle leaves off the words, “That thou mayest do it.”

C.A. — Is it not a demonstration of our utter helplessness to do anything of ourselves?

C.C. — We have here what gives us confidence to proclaim the gospel. The apostle here assures us that if one confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus, and believes in his heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, he is saved. The gospel presents Christ as God’s righteousness for men. Now whoever submits to this, acknowledges Christ as his righteousness.

C.A. — Some, I notice, change the position of the comma, in verse 8: “That is the word of faith which we preach.” Is there any warrant for that?

C.C. — I don’t think so. The apostle is explaining what is nigh thee — even in thy heart and in thy mouth — the gospel preached for faith to receive.

H.A.I. — I never observed that; but if the comma is put there, it simply shows that the word preached is that of faith in Christ. It would not, however, be particularly contrary to what has been set forth. Another translation puts it — “This is the word from faith which we preach.”

A.P. — What do you understand by the words, “From the heart man believeth?” What is the simple force of it?

C.C. — I take the heart as representing the inner man. Believing with the heart is not believing on what might be called logical evidence. “Many believed on Him when they saw the miracles which He did;” that is, they believed on Him with the mind in contrast with the heart.

H.A.I. — And it stopped there with no lasting result.

C.C. — Yes.

H.A.I. — Thomas had evidence, but it did not stop there. The Lord said to him, “Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed,” etc.

C.C. — If we realize that these things of which we are speaking are things beyond the human mind, then they are not truly received by the mind merely. The mere human mind is not capable of taking them in. We take them in through the heart. The heart is laid hold of by the report. If God’s way of bringing us into blessing is on the principle of faith, plainly He must engage the heart. How does He do that? He engages our hearts by presenting Christ to us. He is set forth before us in the Gospels in His personal perfections. They are a record of His life — supernatural life, with an effect upon man’s heart. We go to the cross, and there we see the sinless One made sin. Was that His due? He was sinless. If He was sinless, it was not His due, but He endured what is due to others — what is due to me. That is God’s way of reaching my heart; and it results in my freely, willingly, submitting to Christ, prostrating myself at His feet.

H.A.I. — All this is just to carry out the wonderful purpose of God: “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:1) The whole thing is from Him. He prepares the heart; He convicts of sin; He leads to faith in Christ, and then He gives the answer of the tongue. All else is from God. If He did not prepare our hearts we would not have believed, not have come to Christ.

C.C. — He who confesses Christ in this way, is saved. He has received the salvation of his soul. Of course we have to keep in mind that our redemption is not complete. Our salvation has not been brought to maturity, but if we have received the salvation of our souls, the rest is guaranteed.

Ques. — I wish to ask: Does not the Word distinctly teach that our salvation is not complete until we make the confession?

C.C. — How can we separate them? We are not saved in any sense until we submit to Christ.

H.A.I. — Perhaps the difficulty of some is in thinking that the confession here is the same as in the Gospel: “Whosoever shall confess Me before men.” Whereas real confession here is the voice lifted up to God, is not? A man might be saved in his bedroom, and cannot confess Christ before men there. He may do this later.

C.C. — We are “born of water and of the Spirit.” The Word of God is applied by the Spirit of God; it convicts us, convinces us of our need, and brings us in submission to Christ. The water and the Spirit are different, but go together. Believing and confessing go together.

X. — The Ethiopian eunuch believed, and he confessed; that makes it simple for me.

H.A.I. — Would it not be better to say that the moment a person trusts in Christ, he is saved? There may not be a very clear knowledge of that great truth — the work of Christ, which will come later.

C.C. — The moment a man believes the gospel, in God’s sight he is saved. He may not yet know it. The Word of God will assure him of that. The apostle does not hesitate to say of believers, “Ye are complete in Christ.” We have everything in Christ, yet need to have them ministered to us all through our life here.

X. — I would like to ask as to the 18th verse: Does it not answer the teaching of the day, that all men must hear the gospel before Christ’s coming?

C.C. — All men have a testimony from God. They may not have heard the gospel preached, but they are not without a testimony from God. In the darkness of heathenism, a man who bows to that testimony he has, will not God hear that man?

W.J.H. — He says so “Look unto Me and be ye saved. . . . for I am God and there is none else.”