Scripture Notes.

p. 162.


Romans 7:1-8.

Our first husband, in the application the apostle makes of his illustration concerning the wife and the husband (vv. 1-3), is undoubtedly the law. The confusion has arisen from not noticing the change in the application of the figure. The woman is free to be married to another after her husband dies. In our case it is not the husband - the law - that dies; but we ourselves who die. "Wherefore, my brethren," as the apostle says, "ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ" (v. 4); and, again, as it should be rendered, "But now we are delivered from the law, having died to that wherein we were held." (v. 6.)

The truth then is that we have been emancipated from the law (the first husband) through death - death with Christ; and we are thus free to be "to" another, Christ as raised from the dead; that we should bring forth fruit unto God. The law, therefore, has no further claim upon us; it has, so to speak, exacted all that it was entitled to in the death of Christ, in our death with Him (see Gal. 2:19), though we are not without law to God, but under law, legitimately subject to, Christ. (1 Cor. 9:21.) To Him we owe everything, to Him we belong; and only as this is recognized in the power of the Holy Ghost shall we bring forth fruit to God. How blessed to know and to own the absolute claims of Christ!


Hebrews 10:22.

Two things are contained in this scripture  -  the qualification, and the condition for "drawing near;" that is, for entering the holiest for worship. In the order of the passage the qualification comes last, but we may take it first. Our hearts then, in the first place, must be sprinkled from an evil conscience, an evident allusion to the efficacy of the blood of Christ as giving, for the believer, no more conscience of sins (v. 2), inasmuch as He, by His one offering, has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (v. 14.) Then, also, our bodies must have been washed with pure water, a reference as plainly to the washing of the priests at their consecration (Exodus 29), and which, figuratively, set forth the new birth. It is interesting to notice, in this connection, that, in John 13, when the Lord says to Peter, "He that is washed [or bathed] needeth not save to wash his feet," the same word is used, and doubtless for the reason that He also alludes to the washing at the priestly consecration; for the washing of their bodies was never repeated; only their hands and their feet at the layer. The essential qualification then for entering the holiest is to have been born again, and to be under the cleansing efficacy, as to the conscience, of the precious blood of Christ. Together with this there must be a corresponding state of soul. First, "a true heart," a heart that has no reserves from God, but has exposed its inmost secrets in the light of His presence; a heart, therefore, that does not condemn us (1 John 3:21), because all has been judged according to the holiness of the sanctuary. Then, also, there is to be the full assurance of faith, confidence in the grace and love of Him to whom we "draw near." The reader may remark that confidence is conjoined also in 1 John with a heart that does not condemn. The lesson then of the scripture is that, while the qualification gives an indefeasible title to enter the holiest, there must be at the same tune an answering spiritual condition to enable us to enjoy the privilege.


Genesis 26.

Isaac has to be regarded in two aspects. He is a type in Genesis 22 and Genesis 24 of Christ in resurrection, though in relation to the earth; and, secondly, he is presented in his own individual walk and conduct as a believer. In this chapter he "replaces Abraham as heir upon the earth," and down to verse 5 we have his position; and thence, to the end of the chapter, the character of his walk. It corresponds, therefore, with Genesis 12 as to Abraham, and the reader will find the comparison, observing characteristic differences, a profitable study. Two things only will occupy us in this "note." First, Isaac's difficulties with the Philistines; and secondly, his spiritual energy, notwithstanding his failures. He dwelt in Gerar. (v. 6.) He had been driven there by the famine. (v. 1.) Abraham, under similar pressure, went down into Egypt, seeking help from the world. Isaac goes unto the king of the Philistines, where he was still within the boundaries of the land; and there the Lord appeared to him, and, forbidding him to go "down into Egypt," charged him to "sojourn in this land," promising at the same time to be with him, and to bless him, while He renews to him the promises made to Abraham.

The Philistines are those who occupy the place, and here the territory, of the people of God - without the title to do so; and who, enemies at heart, ever seek to oppress and to bring them into bondage. They constitute, therefore, in one aspect, a greater danger than Egypt itself. Isaac fails before the Philistines, as Abraham had done in Egypt, in denying his true relationship to Rebekah, spiritually interpreted, his relationship to Christ. The Lord, however, was with him, and blessed him both in store and cattle, "and the Philistines envied him." The manifest blessing of God upon those who are His excited, as it ever does, the ill-will of those who, without being His, intrude into their privileges. Their envy was exhibited in stopping up all the wells which Abraham's servants had digged; and, at length, in driving Isaac out of their midst. How often does the Lord secure the richer blessing of His people by compelling them, through the enmity of professors, to have recourse to the path of separation?

Though not yet out of the land, where the Philistines dwelt, the moment Isaac has removed to a distance, he displays spiritual power. He "digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father … and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them." (v. 18.) Wells are ever in Scripture, specially in Genesis, sources of life and blessing, and, as such, the enemy naturally seeks to "fill them with earth:" (v. 15.) The opening up of the truths of Scripture in the time of the Reformation, and still more strikingly, some sixty years ago, though indeed these had been previously stopped, corresponds with the wells which Abraham's servants had dug, and which Satan ever since, acting through the Philistines, has been endeavouring to choke. But Isaac cleared and called them by their old names, an example, in this respect, for men of faith and energy in every age. Take for instance the doctrine of justification by faith, or the truth of the one body of Christ, the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth, or the coming of the Lord for His people. Who are they who have sought to "stop up" these blessed wells of water? They have been in every case the "Philistines;" and hence the continued need of the Isaacs to re-dig them, and to call them by their old, that is, by their scriptural names.

Remark, also, that every new well dug evoked the further enmity of the Philistines. (vv. 19-21.) Driven thus farther and farther away, he dug another, "and for that they strove not;" and he named it Rehoboth, for the Lord had made room for him, and he added, "we shall be fruitful in the land." There is always room, together with blessing, for the people of God in the place of separation. Thence he removes to Beersheba, reminiscent of blessing in the days of Abraham (Genesis 21); and there the Lord immediately ("the same night") appears to him, and confirms His promises. The consequence is Isaac becomes a worshipper (he builds an altar), and then a pilgrim (he pitches his tent); and there also his servants dig a well, significant of the fact that blessing is ever in proportion to our acceptance of the truth of our calling. Then, moreover, the Philistines come and submit themselves unto him; for they feared the man who was walking apart, and enjoying the favour of God. Thereon another well is dug, and in the very place where Abraham his father had both found blessing, and worshipped "the Lord, the everlasting God." (Chapter 21.)


John 12:42-43.

Whether these chief rulers who believed on Christ possessed a divinely-given faith is impossible to say with certainty. It is evident that they loved their public position better than Christ, and the praise of men more than the praise of God. We have, moreover, in this gospel frequent mention of believers who are afterwards seen, or from the context itself, to be only professors, or rather those whose minds bowed to the evidence proffered that Jesus was the Christ, while their hearts and consciences were untouched. As an example of the latter, we read in John 2 that "many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did." And then it is immediately added, as showing that it was only intellectual conviction, that "Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men." In chapter 6 also we find that many of the Lord's disciples stumbled at His teaching, "went back, and walked no more with Him." Moreover in John 8, following upon the statement that "as He spake these words, many believed on Him," we read, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed." Perseverance in the truth professed would be the outward sign of their reality. All that the Father gave to the Son were drawn to Him; and He received, kept them, and would raise them up again at the last day; for it was the Father's will that all such who saw the Son, and believed on Him, should have everlasting life. (John 6:37-40.) But whether the chief rulers of John 12 were amongst this number eternity alone will declare, though their conduct may well raise the gravest doubts in our minds. E. D.

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If God has commended His love towards us, it is when we were sinners, but I learn it all in joy in God. He loved me when there was nothing in me to love; and the grand testimony of absolutely divine love is that God loved sinners. So the grace of Christ to me is not my highest place; but it is the highest place of Christ. It makes me little and Christ great. To be put into Christ makes me great; to find Christ going the same path as myself, that He may understand every feeling I have, makes His grace great.

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The great secret is to have entire confidence in the love of God, in the certainty that He is the doer of all  - not looking at circumstances or at second causes, but seeing the hand of the Lord in all, that all is for the trial of our faith, and that it is only on the way. The evil, the sin, the ill-will of others, all the things that are in the world, He uses simply as an instrument to break down and exercise our heart, so that our obedience may be simple, and that our faith may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearance of Jesus.