Scripture Notes.


Hebrews 9:28.

Two things have to be borne in mind in considering this passage; first, that it applies to Christians; and, secondly, that it is the appearing, as indeed is plainly stated, and not the coming of Christ, as for example in 1 Thess, 4, to which the apostle refers. Both of these points demand a few words of explanation. As to the application of the scripture, it is very evident that those - the "many" - whose sins Christ was once offered to bear, are those who are described as looking for Him. The question put is, Whether they might not be the Jewish remnant after the rapture of the church? The answer is, That while the saints of a coming age may not be wholly excluded, the appearing of Christ the second time without sin unto salvation could not, in the connection of these words, apply to any but Christians. When Christ first appeared He had to do with sin (v. 26), and in His death He was the Substitute for His people, bearing their sins; when He appears the second time it will be "apart" from sin, having nothing more to do with it, because every question concerning it was taken up and settled once and for ever on the cross. He will therefore appear the second time "without sin" for the salvation of His people - "salvation" being here used in its full and complete sense, as including all that has been secured for us by the death and resurrection of Christ. If it be thought, however, that all Christians are not looking for Christ, the answer is, that it is a characteristic description. Many believers may have lost the expectation of the appearing; but they are on the ground of waiting for His return, and the Spirit of God thus speaks of all as in this attitude. Concerning the second point, it should be always remembered that the appearing of Christ is the goal of the Christian whenever he is looked at as under responsibility, or indeed as a pilgrim journeying on through the wilderness to his eternal rest, as in this epistle. The hope of the church is the corning of Christ to receive His people (1 Thess. 4); but whenever believers are seen in any aspect of responsibility the appearing of Christ in glory with His saints is the "blessed hope," for then the full issue of our course through this world will be displayed, when the Lord "shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." (2 Thess. 1:10; see also Colossians 3:4, 1 Tim. 6:14, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 1:7, etc., etc.)


Ezekiel 36:25-27.

In the interpretation of scriptures referring to the millennial period, it has sometimes been hastily assumed that the condition and status of saints then will be the same as in the case of the Old Testament believers. That the saints of the church period differ from those who went before and those who follow after is clearly taught in the word of God; but it by no means follows that those who will enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of Christ on earth will be exactly in the same position as Abraham, Moses, Samuel, or David. There are two things which characterise saints now, which will not be known, as far as revealed, in the future, even as they were not known in the past, namely, heavenly relationship and union with Christ. At the same time, while they will be both alike in this respect, in not sharing in these special privileges of the day of grace, they may yet differ, the one from the other, in their special characteristics. It is needful to bear this in mind in reading the scripture at the head of this "note." The question then is, What is the force of the words, "I will put My Spirit within you"? Let it be remembered, first of all, that our Lord most probably referred to this scripture in His conversation with Nicodemus. "Water" and "the Spirit" are used in it, and in the same order as in this passage. Thus: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." We are justified therefore in concluding that Ezekiel prophesies that when Israel are gathered and restored to their land (v. 24) they will be born again through the Word (the water) and by the Spirit, and will consequently possess a new nature. This may well be included in the words, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (v. 26.) The question however is, whether the new birth includes all that is here promised. The words are certainly very strong, and it has been thought by some that the change wrought is so great that the flesh is altogether eliminated. It must not be overlooked, in considering this point, that Ezekiel is not speaking of all the millennial saints, nor of all Israel throughout the whole period of the millennial kingdom, but only of the remnant brought back at the period of the introduction of Messiah's reign. Doubtless the remnant in the land before the regathering of Israel will share in this blessing (see Isa. 54:13; Isa. 60:21); but nothing of the kind is said of the descendants, whether of the former or of the latter. Confining our attention then to those we have specified, and admitting to the full the strength of the language employed, we doubt whether the thought alluded to has a sufficient foundation in this prophecy. At the most, without further evidence from scripture, it can only be a conjecture. It may be that Isaiah 65:17-25 has a bearing on the subject; if so, it is not a little remarkable that there should be mention, in the midst of a wonderful description of the blessedness of that day, of a sinner of a hundred years old being accursed. Be this as it may, the magnitude of the change wrought in restored Israel cannot be for one moment doubted, and in addition to this, all the influences of the scene, the heavens and the earth being morally new (Isaiah 65:17), and Christ reigning in person, will be altogether in favour of His people. The wind will be no longer contrary, as when His disciples were toiling in rowing across Gennesaret, and hence they will have every possible incitement and encouragement to tread with constant steps in the path of holy subjection and obedience to the laws and statutes of their God. Moreover, Jehovah will put His law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts. He will be their God, and they will be His people. (Jer. 31:33.) Lastly, as before indicated, God will put His Spirit "within them." That this does not go so far as the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, seems clear from the fact that the revelation of the Father is confined to the present period, and that consequently the Spirit of adoption will not be possessed, still it would seem to teach that the Spirit will then work more mightily in the hearts of God's people than in any dispensation previous to the church, and that He will be their all-sufficient power to enable them to walk in God's statutes, to keep His judgments and to do them. (v. 27.) More than this could scarcely be said; but the whole subject may be commended to the careful study of the reader.