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The „World’s Hope” is at hand, and complains that we misstated its teachings. It finds it easier to cry „unfair” than to answer a few pointed questions regarding the very fundamental principles of Christianity, which we presented as a test of its faith or unbelief in the death of Jesus as the ransom for our guilt and penalty. Our contemporary, if it still belongs to the household of faith, seems to have forgotten the exhortation of the Apostle to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in it, with meekness. Whether it has forgotten this injunction, or had no reasons to give, or was not able to give them, we are yet in doubt; for instead of offering even now an answer to the questions, which would have set at rest all „mis-representation,” and what it terms „unfair” statement, it raises a dust of mixed and confusing statements, some of which we quote below.
We are sincerely glad to note, however, that even though it be under great pressure, yet it seems to be getting nearer the truth on the subject of ransom, bought, etc., and seems reluctantly to admit now that Jesus was man’s representative IN DEATH, which is just what we claim in the fullest sense. It says: „Let the full light of His representative relation to the race be seen, and it all becomes plain. If He STOOD FOR—or was reckoned to be the world of mankind—then the sin, all the sin of the world, must have been on Him.” And again, „That Christ was thus made the sin-bearer is shown by many Scriptures; and, in order to bear the sins of the world, he had to become the world—the man.”
We are glad to note this approach toward a full confession of truth, and pray that it may go on. At the same time we must criticize a little, and say that the expression relative to Jesus becoming the world is certainly very ambiguous. We, and doubtless most of its readers, will understand this to mean that Jesus was a representative, substitute, or ransom for all the world. But if our contemporary meant this, why did it not state itself plainly? We wonder if it has anything to hide under this ambiguous expression, or, if it did not like to use words so nearly the expression of the TOWER, which it seems to regard as an enemy, which it is not. Like Paul, when such momentous questions are in dispute, we must, for the good and safety of each other, and all the flock, use great „plainness of speech.” Let us remember, that without a childlike and humble spirit we are not well pleasing to our Father, and that the spirit of truth is to acknowledge an error if we find that we had fallen into one.
Again, it says: „A most clear prophecy of this sin-bearing relation of Christ to us, is given in Isa. 53. „Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: … He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we (sinners, ‚every man,’ Heb. 2:9) like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” This Scripture is surely in fullest harmony with the thought of Jesus being our ransom, substitute or representative, in receiving for us the wages of our sins—death.
But, stop! we read further: Some „may think because we believe he is the World’s Sin-bearer, that we are virtually maintaining the doctrine of Substitution—the punishing of the innocent instead of the guilty.” Why, of course, we would—who could think otherwise? Does it fear that its readers will draw this legitimate conclusion? It seems so, for it continues: „But nothing is further from our thought if we understand the meaning of words or have any idea of justice. We place Representation AGAINST Substitution.”
We must confess that we are puzzled. Our contemporary has evidently some private meaning for words.
In the above quotations, we hoped we were getting at agreement, supposing it used the word representative the way other people use it; but now we are entirely lost as to its meaning, for, by its Dictionary, representation and substitution are opposites—or against each other in meaning.
If every writer should adopt a special meaning for his words, it would be useless to read at all, for the reader would never know what the writer meant. It is for this reason that people adopt some general standard by which to determine the meaning of words. We suggest Webster’s Dictionary as a standard, and here give its definition of the words our contemporary understands to be opposites, or against each other in meaning, that all may see how very closely the words are related in meaning, and how far from opposites.
REPRESENTATIVE—An agent, deputy or substitute, who supplies the place of another.
SUBSTITUTE—One who, or that which is substituted, or put in the place of another.
SUBSTITUTION—The act of substituting or putting one person or thing in the place of another; as the substitution of an agent, attorney or representative.
Now, we ask, what two words in the English language could more nearly mean the same thing? If our contemporary is so astray on this point, may it not be equally in error as to what constitutes a proper idea of Justice? Who can show that God was unjust in permitting Jesus to become man’s substitute, ransom or representative, or that, in laying upon Jesus—the willing Ransom—the iniquity of us all, there was anything cruel, unkind or contrary to Justice or Love.
Again, arguing against Substitution, it says: „If the premises were correct, Christ, being the substitute for man, should not have been raised at all.” We answer, that it is important to keep in mind the distinction between the man Christ Jesus who died, and the new creature Christ Jesus who was raised and ever lives. It was the man that was substituted for mankind, as Paul tells it: „Through a man (Adam) there is death, through a man also (Jesus) there is a resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:21—Diaglott.)
Again, our contemporary says: „We admit that Jesus was not raised in the same, but in a much higher condition than that in which he lived before; but, to say that he was a substitute for man because he laid down a condition, and was then raised to a higher, is to make the condition and not Christ himself the substitute for man.” We reply that this is just exactly the Scripture teaching and our claim, viz: That the pre-existent one who was in a spiritual—mighty—form, took upon him the form or CONDITION of a man—became a man—that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. (Phil. 2:7,8.) In due time he gave that human condition (with all its rights) a RANSOM for all—as the price for all—and thus a right to perfect human conditions, was bought for every man. Now, did he in the resurrection take back again the human condition—human nature?
We answer, no. He was „put to death in the flesh—quickened in Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18.) „Sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:44—Diaglott.) Hence our contemporary admits our position exactly, if the expression last quoted conveys its real meaning. We do not claim, and never have claimed, that Christ Jesus the new creature, the spiritual being, was our substitute, but the reverse; it was the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, and who, because of this work, was highly exalted by the Father to his present divine nature and excellent glory. (Phil. 2:8,9—Diaglott.)
Does any one suggest that our last position, being true, proves that the leaving of the spiritual condition for the human condition was a death or a sacrifice also? We answer that Paul shows that the leaving of the previous condition and becoming a man was a part of the „humbling” connected with the sacrifice. But remember, that life was not given up or lost there, or „laid down” even for a moment, but was transferred to the Babe of Bethlehem; hence, that was not the sacrifice or death, but only an incidental preparation for death as a man. On the contrary, when he died—at Calvary—life was given up, lost, laid down completely, for he was dead three days—all existence was at an end—He gave „all that he had” (Matt. 13:44). After three days he received life as a new creature, as a „gift of God,” as a reward of obedience; but he took it not again under human nature or CONDITION, and never can do so. For if he were to take that back, it would be taking back the price, with which he bought us.
From some of the foregoing quotations it will be seen that our contemporary is either really, or seemingly, again approaching the truth on this very important doctrine, and we would not, in the slightest, hinder the work of reformation, but rather bid it God-speed, and welcome back again to the sure foundation him who, in times past, was a true „yoke-fellow.” But, true reformation should be accompanied by repentance and a very plain, correct restatement of things misstated.
Lest some should think that we were, as it claims, unfair, and misstated its teachings, on the subject of the ransom, in our last issue, we will below give some quotations, showing that we were not.
It will be seen by the following quotations from our contemporary’s January issue, page 59, that, referring to the sacrifice which atones for our sins and reconciles to God, it teaches that by the destruction of sin by each individual in himself, each thus RECONCILES himself to God by the destruction of the enmity [sin, or curse] in himself. Each sinner thus reaching a condition of at-one-ment with God, instead of, as Paul states it: We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son—while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:10.) We quote:
„The shedding of the blood of the beast represented the killing of the life principle of the lower nature—the enmity, the carnal mind, the will of the flesh—and was required, because nothing but the complete RECONCILIATION, which the destruction of the enmity involves, could satisfy law or justice and yet save the man.” Again: „As the carnal mind cannot be subject to God’s law, (Rom. 8:7), ITS destruction is a necessity to man’s salvation, so this killing sacrifice is the RECONCILING ACT.” If this does not directly deny, it does entirely ignore the reconciling act mentioned in Scripture, viz.: „While we were sinners, we were reconciled to God by the DEATH OF HIS SON.” Again, it says: „What the Law could not do,—set man right—the GOSPEL of Christ accomplishes.”
Here is just the point. It claims that man’s salvation is a moral reformation, hence, whatever leads men to reform, saves. We claim, on the contrary, that before reformation could be of any value to men, they must be redeemed, ransomed, bought. The Adamic sin must be canceled, and the condemnation too, and death must be lifted by the sacrifice of man’s ransom, substitute, or representative—the man Christ Jesus. Then comes the gospel—the good news—that man is ransomed, and it is the love of God thus manifested in our redemption which leadeth men to repentance and reformation. Yea, the gospel is that which Paul preached, saying: „I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3.)
These quotations, we think, can be construed only as we did construe them in our article—”WE ANSWER FOR THEM.” However, we will say this: If our contemporary does attach a proper weight to the death of Jesus as our ransom, it is not well expressed in the above quotations from its columns; and we further suggest, that it can set at rest the entire question by clear and straightforward answers to the six questions. Let the truth be known.
The boldness of this form of INFIDELITY (which we consider more dangerous to the saints than that of Ingersol) is strikingly shown by the following paragraph, which we clip from an exchange:
MESSRS. PUTNAM’S SONS, of New York, have published „The Sacred Scriptures of the World,” in which the author omits what he calls „objectionable” and „unnecessary” parts of the Bible, retaining such as are worthy of use for devotional and practical purposes. His alterations are bold enough. Thus, instead of „A man is not justified by the works of the law,” he puts, „A man is not justified by formalistic piety.” „Without shedding of blood there is no remission,” gives place to „Without the life completely consecrated there is no remission.” The expurgated Bible is said to be „designed for common use in pulpits and Sunday schools and homes,” but it is not likely to be accepted. The author is the Rev. M. K. Schermerhorn.
— July, 1884 —