Baptised into Christ — Romans 6:3 etc.
Was sin-bearing only on the cross? — Hebrews 2
The baptism of fire — Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16
Day dawning and day-star arising — 2 Peter 1:19
Carcases — Isaiah 66:24
A succession of creatures — Genesis 1:11, 12, 21-25
Degrees of punishment — Revelation 20:12, 13 etc.
Various terms for our evil — Psalm 32:1, 2
Bible Treasury Volume 18, p.224. February 1891.
Q. The expression "baptised into Christ" is found in Romans 6:3; also in Galatians 3:27. See also 1 Corinthians 12:13, where the agency of the Holy Spirit in Baptism is clearly indicated. Is it not so? CLERICUS.
A. The premises are unsound and the conclusion an error. The Greek preposition means "unto" (or "to") as often as "into": which depends on the context or on the nature of the case. Now baptism with water is clearly indicated in 1 Corinthians 10:2 as a warning to the baptised at Corinth. Impossible to think that the Israelites were baptised into Moses; and here therefore the A. and R. Vv. rightly say "unto". The marginal note of the R.V. is a delusion, for the Greek means "to" no less than "into". So in Acts 19:3 it is as in the A.V. "unto," not "into" as in the Revised. Baptism is the symbol of profession. Reality depends on faith; which might, or might not, be true of the baptised, as is certain from out Lord's words in Mark 16:16. To say "into" therefore goes beyond God's word and implies vital efficacy without and against scriptural warrant. This falls in with the self-importance of a caste (on which the truth frowns), and takes away efficacy from living faith in Christ (on which scripture insists). All have not faith. "He that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (the same sense as "damned" in the A.V.). Baptism will no more save him than dead faith. Baptism is "unto" or "to" only, not "into", even in Matthew 28:19. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:13, 15.
But the Spirit's baptism is wholly distinct. It is the peculiar privilege of the church of God, and consequently never was till Pentecost and only is after men believe. See Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 1:13. Hence on the church's birthday the apostle Peter told the convicted Jews to "Repent and be baptised", and the "should receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". It was a consequence for genuine faith, never a necessary accompaniment of the water. Indeed in Acts 10:44 we see the believers received the gift, attested by outward powers, before they were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ (ver. 48). So false is the ignorant and dangerous tradition which identifies the baptism of water and that of the Spirit. John 3:3-8 means no baptism at all.
Further, even the import of the sign in baptism with water is misunderstood generally. It is a sign not of life-giving, still less of the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God, but of death with Christ, as Romans 6 and Colossians 2 make plain. "We who died to sin, shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptised unto Christ Jesus were baptised unto His death?" Baptism by or in virtue of the Spirit, as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is into (not "unto") one body, Christ's body; because His work efficaciously unites. Water baptism does not go beyond profession, as in Galatians 3:27 and elsewhere, though we are responsible to be true. No one is true save he who believing has Christ as his life. But the baptism of the Spirit unites the believer to Christ as a member of His body, the church, in the truest and abiding sense.
He who is baptised thereby says he died with Christ to sin and put on Christ. Yet it is only "to" Christ he was baptised, as it may turn out to be without life and only an outward confession, however important it may be, and whatever the privilege. Baptism is to the objective truth of Christ dead and risen, to the remission of sins therein, to sin judged; and not the sign of our subjective state.
Bible Treasury Volume 18, p. 240. March 1891.
Q. Was sin-bearing only on the cross, when the Lord said "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Yet when Christ expired, God was not then hiding His face from Him; for He said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit;" still, atonement is in the blood. How would you reconcile this? Did Christ pass through death to undergo God's judgment on man, (namely, "the wages of sin is death,") and to conquer him who had the power of death, even Satan (Hebrews 2)? Then how would this be reconciled with "He died for me and He shed His blood for me?" Would it be right to say Christ died for us under the chastening hand of God? would it not do away with atonement if Christ died under the chastening hand of God? It would almost be saying that God had accepted the work, would it not? The hiding of God's face was removed before death. W.
A. It is an all-important principle for a Christian that his responsibility as well as privilege and joy to believe, without pretending to "reconcile". This is always a question of his spiritual capacity, which we may not always discern to be small. It is often enough for his own satisfaction, without expecting to silence gainsayers, or even to meet the difficulties of other minds. Many a thing passes human comprehension. But in all cases a saint is called to accept cordially and without question on the warrant of God's word.
Now as to the subject-matter raised, it is equally certain that in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark our Lord is seen on the cross suffering for sin and our sins, and uttering that cry of deepest anguish under the sense of God's face, then first, then only, hidden from Him: "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Here then is the true Sin Offering; but Luke presents Him subsequently saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." This is rather the Burnt Offering and the expression of conscious acceptance; not His soul realising His holy horror and infinite suffering in bearing the divine judgment, but the outpouring of His confidence and unclouded enjoyment of His relationship. John lets us know His calm and divine satisfaction in His dying words: "It is finished"; and He dismissed His spirit, for He had title, He alone, to lay down His life and to take it again. Some of these inspired declarations unbelief stumbles at, if not all. The believer receives them all adoringly as suited to the fulness of Christ.
Negative judgments in these questions are dangerous, for before we deny we ought to know all that God has revealed. Do we flatter ourselves thus? To say that Christ's death was not judicial is to oppose many scriptures ignorantly: as Romans 4:25, Romans 5:6-10, Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 2:9, 10, 14, 17, Hebrews 9:12, 14, 16, 23-28, Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14, 19, 20; 1 Peter 1:19, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18. This surely suffices. His death was much, very much more, but it was in the profoundest way the Sin Offering, and what in the Holy One can be judicial if this be not? The notion is a rash one-sided expression of such as are jealous of Christ's glory; but one truth must not be sacrificed to another. All that is revealed has supreme claims on our souls, and all is perfectly harmonious in Him Who is the Truth, and in the written word, which perfectly reveals all to us, whose simple place is to believe, and then in due time to understand. "Chastening" is an un-meet and unscriptural word for Christ, and especially for His death. Analysing His word is almost as perilous as dissecting His person. "The right faith is that we believe and confess — that we worship."
Bible Treasury Volume 18, p. 256. April 1891.
Q. What is the baptism of fire, spoken of in Matthew 3:11, and Luke 3:16? L.R.
A. I understand it to be that unsparing divine judgment which the Lord at His appearing is to execute on all evil, from which the righteous are for ever separated. John the Baptist presented the work of Messiah as a whole. The cross severed the two baptisms: that which followed His first advent when He ascended on high, baptising in the power of the Spirit; and that which awaits His second advent, detailed in the verse that follows in both Gospels. The Gospels of Mark and John speak only of that power which in virtue of the cross severs the Christian from the evil condemned therein. So in the Acts, we hear nothing of baptism in fire: this is to be when the Lord comes.
Bible Treasury Volume 18, p. 286. June 1891.
Q. Does "day dawning and day-star arising" (2 Peter 1:19) refer not to the second advent but to the hope of Christ "in the heart" now? In other words is it meant that we do well to take heed to the more sure word of prophecy; but that we may do better by having the heavenly hope in the heart? I have understood the words to contain a parenthetic insertion, as follows:- "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed (as a light that shineth in a dark place until the light dawn and the day star arise) in your hearts."
When this passage is taken with the context I fail to see how it can teach anything short of, or more than, the fact that the "word of prophecy" is our guide in the midst of the darkness which so rapidly thickens "until the day dawn." The transfiguration referred to in ver. 16-18 was intended to place before the disciples the future Kingdom of Christ. The vision was no cunningly devised fable, although but transitory: what then must the surer word of prophecy be to us? Theirs was only a transient witness placed before the eye; ours is a more abiding testimony which we are called upon to take heed "in our hearts".
If I have misunderstood, I shall be pleased to be corrected; and if what is here expressed is not the teaching of the passage, I shall be thankful to have it expounded more perfectly. R.H.
A. This Epistle is characteristically practical. As a final message to the faithful of the circumcision (1 Peter 1:1, and 2 Peter 3:1), the apostle is earnest that the heart be in unison with the truth. Many were backward, content with elements and not going on fully into grace. So they adhered to old expectations of Messiah, though on fuller ground. This gives occasion to what is in question. "And we have the prophetic word surer [i.e. confirmed by the transfiguration just recounted], to which ye do well that ye take heed, as to a lamp shining in a squalid place, until day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts, knowing this first" etc. He could not but approve of their heeding that prophetic word which was God's gift to His people: no Christian would slight it if guided of Him. Less the apostle does not say, more he would not; for the danger is not slight of misusing the old to leave no room for the still more precious new revelation of Christ already come, and the true light already shining in Him risen, glorified, and about to come in a way special to the heavenly saints as their Bridegroom. All this whether in present communion or in living hope is peculiar to Christianity and might easily be overlooked or neglected unconsciously perhaps, by those he was addressing, occupied as they would naturally be with that enhanced meaning, force, and beauty of the O.T. which the gospel gave it. Here Peter is doing in His last words what Paul habitually and pre-eminently did — seeking to urge on the saints to lay hold of our "better thing" than the promise. For that heavenly hope was not revealed till Christ spoke of the Father's house, and of His personally coming to take us there.
Hence we may notice that the prophetic word, confirmed as it is by the vision of the divine kingdom on the holy mount, is compared to a lamp shining in a murky place. To this the Jewish or any saints did well to attend; but the fall of Babylon (past or future), the destruction of Edom, the judgment of the nations, or even the deliverance and blessing of Israel, could hardly command the hearts of those who have a rejected Christ as life and righteousness and draw near to Him where He is, yea, who are one with Him on high. Therefore the apostle adds (whatever the value of the lamp in a place dark, sad, and evil) until day (i.e. not the day, but daylight, as descriptive of the superior brightness of christian truth) dawn, and day-star (Christ in His quality of Day-star, the personal heavenly hope of the Christian) arise in your hearts. This might have been practically most feeble or nil in many believing Jews then, such as the apostle was writing to. Alas! it is now largely the need of crowds of Gentile saints; though they have had the New Testament as a whole before them all their days: so naturally do saints slip back into Jewish things which they blend with Christian privileges so as to lose all the distinctive power of their own proper blessings. Accordingly the force of "day" as contrasted with "lamp" comes out plainly, as of day-star likewise. Compare Revelation 2:28, and Revelation 22:16. On the one hand the day-star of the prophetic word is the king of Babylon, typical of his final representative in the last days; on the other hand, Christ is its sun of righteousness bringing in the day of Jehovah in power and glory and judgment. The day-light of the gospel ought to shine through in hearts now, as also the blessed hope of His coming arise therein now. It is not unbelievers getting converted, but saints truly converted going on from an Old Testament measure to enjoy that light of heaven which shines from Him Who is in glory and coming to bring us there. For the proper place of a Christian is to walk in the light (1 John 1:7), as he is already a son of light and of day; and his hope is just as peculiar. This scripture has nothing to say of the day coming on the world, in which case the day-star arising could not follow.
It is true that the opinions of commentators on the passage are vague and often erroneous. Still only two men ever dared, as far as my remembrance goes, to tamper with the passage by the aid of punctuation, and both violently through ignorance of the truth conveyed. One of the two ventured on the parenthesis which has misled "R.H." The other equally erred by severing "in your hearts" from the only context that suits them (immediately foregoing), and by joining the clause in a union which suits not. Either result is nugatory, instead of real power and propriety. The aim of the enemy in such expedients is plainly to oppose the apostle's (i.e. the Spirit's) object — the hearts of the saints embracing their proper portion in enlightenment and hope. The lamp is good; but there is a better light now in the gospel, and a brighter hope in Christ than any expectation of old, however glorious. These are for the heart's joy rather than prophecy, grand, solemn, and true as it surely is.
Q. J.H. (Blundellsands) questions the correctness of the BIBLE TREASURY, No. 415 (December 1890), p188; as the Lord's words quoted from Isaiah 66:24 refer to "carcases", i.e., (as hell also refers) to the intermediate state between death and resurrection. "Their worm" ceases to be theirs when the victim is consumed or destroyed, and its death then would in no wise weaken the true force of the words. The fire is everlasting and not quenched as was that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It consumes all and is everlasting, inasmuch as there is no recovery or restoration from it.
When the Lamb has literally taken away the sin of the world, every creature, everywhere (then) will ascribe praise to the Lamb as sh0wn in Revelation 5, which depicts the full eternal results of the redemption work of the Lamb, as Revelation 4 the millennial glory of the Creator.
The apostle John (as Moses on the mount) is shown as picture of God's purposes, in time and eternity respectively; then the succeeding chapters show how it is all going to be accomplished.
A. Our Lord in Mark 9 carefully rises above the letter of the Jewish prophet and gives nothing but eternal consequences for the lost.
Hence He expressly leaves out "carcases", however important in adding to the horrors which the prophet unveils for those in Jerusalem at that future day. In neither is there a thought that their worm will ever cease to gnaw, or the fire to lack its object. The solemn warning is lost if we imagine the annihilation of the punished. For how is it "their" worm, or why the fire perpetual? We ought not to trifle with God's word and man's doom.
Again, Revelation 5 is wholly misunderstood. The vision of Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 is after the heavenly redeemed are seen above and before they issue thence (Revelation 19), when the Lord appears for the execution of judgment on the quick and dead. The ascriptions of praise in Revelation 5 are when the Lamb takes the book before a seal is opened, a trumpet blown, or a vial poured out. The removal of the saints to heaven evidently furnishes the occasion, and the Lamb's taking in hand then to reveal the providential preparations to enforce the power of the kingdom. Verse 13 is therefore necessarily anticipative; just as our Lord, when the seventy reported demons subject to them in His name, could say, "I beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:17, 18). Actually it is not accomplished yet, but it is to be before the millennium. (Revelation 12.) If St. Paul heard in spirit the groans of creation (Romans 8) longing for its coming deliverance, here similarly St. John heard its joy when the liberated sons of God were translated. "And every creature which is in the heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them, heard I saying, To Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb [be] the blessing, and the honour, and the glory, unto the ages of ages." Demonstrably this is not eternity either that is anticipated, for then will be no sea (Revelation 21); and what a wretchedly low and false assumption that eternity will have such creatures, distinct from angels or the redeemed! Not even men will then be in unchanged bodies, but incorruptible and glorious; whereas the verse in question contemplates the creatures of a lower kind, and all such, birds, beasts, animals that burrow under the earth, as well as marine, all delivered from the bondage of corruption, as assuredly must be in the millennial day and only then as a fact.
On the other hand, the overwhelming fact is that Revelation 21 beyond dispute reveals as part of the eternal scene (1-8), that "for the cowardly and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers; and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolators, their part [shall be] in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." Nothing more solemn or sure. The lost wicked are devoted to a punishment without end, if we believe scripture.
This is the fullest picture god gives of eternity which knows no change: and the condemned are then in the lake of fire, as certainly as we see the blessed by grace in a new heaven and a new earth in the most absolute sense. To hope or believe otherwise is rebellion against god and His word. The second death is no more extinction of being than the first. It is the full wages of sin; it is perdition everlasting. Either annihilation or universalism is the foul dishonour of god and the cruellest deception of guilty man. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. And He employed some of the words of Isaiah66 in the unlimited sense of eternity, dropping terms which are to be literally accomplished in the kingdom that precedes, as we see in other N.T. applications of O.T. language. Both are accurately true.
Q. The following sentence occurs in "The Bible Treasury" for February, p.210. "There is nothing in scripture to exclude a succession of creatures rising to higher organisation from lower, as the rule with a striking exception here and there, from the Eozoon in the Laurentian rocks of Canada to the mammalia which most nearly resemble those of the earth as it is."
1. What reasons are there for supposing that creatures thus rose without a creative act?
2. Would not such an idea be out of analogy with the present creation, where God has made each after its kind? Genesis 1:11, 12, 21-25. C.O.A.
A. There is and can be no good reason for the notion that creatures rose from the lower forms as the rule to the higher ones without God's creative act. The very word "creatures" implies as much. Scripture is most explicit that all things came into being through Him, and that apart from Him not one thing received being which has received being. All such unbelieving theories of development are therefore in rebellion against the word of God. A creative act introduced each new species.
2. The answer to the second query follows as a matter of course. Even the most unprejudiced cannot fail to recognise that creation, vegetable and animal, is ordered on grand typical principles, and that species hold throughout, though admitting of large variation within fixed limits, an immense accession for use and beauty.
Bible Treasury Volume 18, p. 320. August 1891.
Q. Believing that the rejectors of God and His Son and salvation by grace will be everlastingly punished in hell, I ask will it be varied in intensity? We know that there will be degrees of reward in God's kingdom. Does this principle apply equally to punishment? W.F.U.
A. It is revealed distinctly that men will be judged according to their works. Old and New Testaments are equally clear. "For all these things God will bring thee into judgment" (Ecclesiastes 11:9). "For God shall bring every work into judgment with every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). "God shall judge the secrets of men according to my gospel by Jesus Christ" (Romans 2:16). "The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books according to their works . . . They were judged every man [each] according to their works" (Revelation 20:12, 13). Such is man's portion, death, and after this judgment; for he is sinful and lost. But grace has intervened after the sin and before the judgment. God has sent His son to save all who believing receive life in Him Who died and bore their judgment on the cross, and who manifest life in a fruit-bearing course here below. Hence the Lord Who is to judge has Himself ruled that the believer comes not into judgment. Even while here he has passed out of death into life. But none the less must we all, the whole of us absolutely, be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] by the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). This will be true of all, saint or sinner, not all at the same time, but each at the time and in the way and with the aim as well as result laid down in other scriptures. The careful reader will note "manifested" is the word where the faithful are included, "judged" is confined to those who refusing divine mercy in Christ must own judgment to be righteous.
But along with this, scripture speaks of "reward" for work done (1 Corinthians 3) and declares in many forms and occasions that God will not forget work and love shown toward His name. Similarly, as saints will differ, not as to salvation or heavenly glory, but in special recognition of fidelity, so surely (judgment being according to works) the Lord will mark His unerring sense of special iniquity, though all the lost be forever in the lake of fire. He is righteous altogether, always and everywhere. Cf. Luke 12:45-48. But every spiritual mind will appreciate the comparative silence of scripture in a matter so harrowing to the affections, and so appropriately left in His hands, Whose judgment unbelief must solemnly prove, as we have mercifully proved His grace by faith.
Q. What is the distinctive force of the various terms for our evil mentioned in Psalm 32:1, 2, and translated "transgression," "sin," "iniquity," and guile" in both the A. and the R.Vv.? I.C.
A. The English versions seem to me more exact than the Greek Septuagint or the Latin Vulgate, so that it would be vain to look for a closer reproduction of the Hebrew original.
"Transgression" (not sin) is the violation of a known and imposed law. With this the psalmist begins. It is what would first act on the conscience of a Jew, and blessed indeed to know it "forgiven." Where no law is, as the apostle teaches us in Romans 4, there is no transgression. It works wrath. It is the power of sin, forcing out into manifestation what otherwise was latent, that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful. "Sin" is then the evil root which is uncovered to the conscience, that it might be "covered" of God by the blood of atonement, as here. Verse 2 brings forward a great accession of blessing: not only the past evils effaced and gone, but the consequent present state of absolute non-imputation of iniquity by Jehovah. This at once opens the heart, and takes away all "guile" from the spirit. There is no desire to hide the least evil. Because He imputes no iniquity, no guilt, there is no guile in one's spirit, no wish to extenuate or deny. The psalmist then shows how far from this he had been. God had wrought to bring the Israelite to acknowledge his sin, and not to cover his iniquity. When he confessed his transgressions to Jehovah, Jehovah forgave the iniquity of his sins. The psalm itself is a fine comment on the words. How a learned and pious scholar could say that ἀνομία, lawlessness, is never in the N.T. the condition of one living without law, but always the condition or deed of one who acts contrary to law, is marvellous. Romans 2:12 should have corrected the error. It is just the word to describe the lawlessness of a Gentile ignorant of law, no doubt sin, and iniquity, but most precisely "lawlessness."
Etymologically the Hebrew words mean respectively, desertion or revolt, missing a mark or error, perversion, and deceit or fraud. But the usage sanctioned by the Spirit is the true criterion.