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QUESTIONS ON THE RANSOM
One who has been somewhat confused by the growingly prevalent no-ransom views, which darken counsel and pervert the Scriptures by stringing together disconnected portions of Scripture and by using such words as ransom and restitution regardless of the meaning of the words, suggests the following questions, which, for the benefit of all, we answer publicly. Ques. Could not Christ be our ransom and yet not be our substitute?
No; the word ransom means all that substitute and redeem mean, and more. The word ransom not only signifies a price put instead of, or as a substitute for, something, but it means a corresponding price, a corresponding thing substituted.
Ques. Do you not misstate the case when you declare that Christ as our ransom is the Rock upon which all should build, the foundation of all true faith? Do not the Scriptures declare that “That Rock was Christ,” without mentioning the ransom?
No, we do not misstate the matter. While acknowledging all of the features of Christ’s work, we claim, and have repeatedly shown, that the work of Christ as our ransom is the foundation Rock upon which all other parts of his work for man’s salvation are built, and that faith in his work as our ransom price is the solid rock-foundation, and the only foundation for all our hopes, present and future, through him. What is it to believe in Christ? Surely not the mere belief that such a person lived and died. No; many infidels believe this, and yet, rejecting the work which he accomplished as our Redeemer, our ransom-price, they have no foundation for faith in him. Besides, in the very case you cite (1 Cor. 10:4), the rock which typified Christ was the one from which the water flowed out as the result of its being smitten. That smiting represented Christ’s crucifixion as our ransom. As the direct result of that ransom the water of everlasting life flows to the otherwise perishing. The source of life, the foundation of all faith and hope, then, is the smitten Rock, Christ as our ransom.
Ques. You have pointed out repeatedly the many texts which mention the value of Christ’s death, the efficacy of the precious blood as the one and only propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, which effects for us a release from sin and its penalty, death; will you permit me to inquire—How comes it, then, that the Apostle, while agreeing with you that “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” declares that “we shall be saved by his life?” He even declares that if Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins. If Christ’s death was our ransom-price, and effected our reconciliation with God, as you and the Apostles declare, how could it be true that if Christ had not risen, our guilt would have been unforgiven and we would have been without hope of a resurrection?
A careful study of the typical sin-offering (See next issue of the TOWER,) will show clearly the answer to this question. When the typical high-priest made atonement for sin, he first slew the bullock, which represented the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom (a corresponding price), putting it on the altar of sacrifice, where it was fully consumed. Then he, as the representative of Christ, the “new creature,” partaker of the divine nature, took the blood of the bullock into the Most Holy and sprinkled it upon the Mercy-seat and before the Mercy-seat, thus representing a work done by our Lord Jesus after his resurrection, when he, as our great High Priest, “entered into heaven itself (the true Holy of Holies), there to appear in the presence of God for us”—there to present before the Father, as the payment of our sins, the merit or value of his own sacrifice at Calvary.
Just as in the type the slaying of the bullock and the consuming of it as a sacrifice did not effect the typical atonement nor typically take away the sin, just so in the antitype. Our Lord’s sacrifice of himself did not take away our sins, nor in any way effect a reconciliation, nor justify us from our sins, nor secure to us resurrection life, until presented to God, after his resurrection and ascension. As in the type the death of the bullock became the means or price by which reconciliation and atonement for sin was afterward effected in the Most Holy, so in the antitype
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the death of Christ became the means, the merit, the price by which reconciliation and atonement for sins was afterward effected, when Christ our Lord arose, ascended, and presented before the Father the merit of his obedience, as the offset to the penalty against Adam and all his race—as substitutionary payment of the penalty against Adam, as his ransom price (a corresponding price).
When you have earned the money for the purchase of an article, that alone does not make the article yours. The money may lie in your purse and the desired thing will never be yours unless you present the money for it. So, our Lord’s death, which corresponded to man’s penalty, became in his hand a merit, a valuable thing, available for man’s purchase or ransom, sufficient as a propitiation to settle or cancel the debt of the sinner. But the presenting of that price for us was not done at Calvary, but after our Lord was risen and ascended up on high. The presentation of that merit before the Father and its acceptance as our ransom price was typically shown in the type of the atonement, by the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock (blood of propitiation or satisfaction) upon the Mercy-seat or Propitiatory.
Did God then accept the merit of Christ’s sacrifice as the full offset, ransom or purchase price for the world of mankind? Yes; God not only indicated that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was an acceptable one in his sight, but he in a special manner granted an acknowledgment that when presented to him as the payment, the price, the propitiation of our sins, he thus accepted of it.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead was the proof or evidence that in him God was well pleased, that his life and sacrifice were acceptable before God; and this became an assurance or evidence to men that he is the one through whom God intended to judge the world—to try or test men under full knowledge and opportunity, and reward all who will choose righteousness with lasting life.—Acts 17:31.
The descent of the holy Spirit at Pentecost was the evidence or proof that the sacrifice of Christ had been applied on our behalf as the price of our sins and that God had accepted it as such. It was ten days after our Lord ascended up on high before any forgiveness of sins or other advantage from his death accrued to men. What was our Lord doing in heaven during those ten days, while the disciples waited for the promised blessing? He was doing what was typified in the act of the typical high priest sprinkling the blood of the already offered and consumed sacrifice, as an atonement or propitiation upon the Mercy-seat or Propitiatory. He was presenting the merit of his human life given up as the price of our forfeited life, that he might, by thus meeting our penalty, have the right to offer lasting life, by a resurrection, to all.
Thus seen, the resurrection of our Lord was all-important. Had he not risen, he would have been proved a sinner, one not worthy of life and unfit to be our ransom price. Had he not risen, he could not have gone into the Holy of Holies, even heaven itself, there to appear on our behalf, to present to God the merit of the sacrifice he had made; and therefore we would have remained unbenefited. Remember, too, how he declared after his resurrection, “It is expedient for you that I go away.” Had he not entered the true Holy of Holies and presented his sacrifice as our ransom, we would have remained in our sins, and the holy Spirit and the privilege of God’s call to joint-heirship with Christ would not have been granted—for this favor comes not to sinners, but to the justified. And had Christ not risen, he could never do the great work of restitution for mankind. For be it remembered, only believers in his ransom-sacrifice are yet justified, freed from sins, or in any way forgiven. Of others it is written, “ye are yet in your sins.” Only believers have escaped from the condemnation that is still upon the world (John 3:18). And these believers are such as not only believe that such a person as Jesus lived and died, but that his death was accepted of God as their ransom price. Others will be brought to a knowledge of this great foundation truth in the times of restitution, and when they accept of it, their sins will be blotted out.—Acts 3:19.
So then, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, but not at the time of the death, nor until it was presented and accepted as our ransom price. And we were justified freely by his blood [his sacrificed life], not when he died, nor when he presented it to the Father as the price of Adam and his race, but when we individually accepted of the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation—through his blood.
— July, 1890 —