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The Slain Lamb
The Slain Lamb;
A LECTURE DELIVERED BY R. ROBERTS IN THE TEMPERANCE HALL,
In reply to one given in the
THIS meeting is necessitated by that which took place last night. As to some things which took place at the close having an untoward appearance, I would say, judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Paul turned upon Elymas the sorcerer, with an emphasis apparently inconsistent with that meek and quiet spirit recommended under ordinary circumstances. We read also of Jesus being frequently stirred to anger by the perversity of subtle and hypocritical foes. Little wonder, then, if in our own weak days, under the goading presence of many evil circumstances, there should be a departure from that perfect equanimity which it is desirable at all times to observe. (Further references to the personal frictions of over thirty years ago are now omitted.)
The question, as a whole, is a difficult question, for one reason: it has to do with God's view of the case; that is, God's objects, God's intentions, God's principles in the manifestation of Himself through the seed of Abraham; and it is testified through Isaiah that God's ways are not as our ways; that "As the heaven is high above the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways." It is difficult for the mind of the flesh to enter into the Divine methods of working, and to realise Divine views and principles of action. It is only after a prolonged spiritual education that we come at this. Paul expresses the idea in a form of words that are unintelligible on the theory propounded last night (1 Cor. 2:12-14): "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the
things that are freely given to us of God, which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for THEY ARE FOOLISHNESS UNTO HIM, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Now, one thing that distinguishes this disturbing heresy more than another is that it cannot express itself in the words which the Holy Spirit teacheth, but is obliged continually to employ invented phrases, and those invented phrases, I will shew, contain invented fallacies. I will to-night, place the theory of the truth side by side with the theory of this error, and I will explain the theory of the truth in the language of the Spirit; and I will show wherein the language of the Spirit is destructive of the language -- the artificial and carnal language --which this Renunciationist heresy is incessantly compelled to employ in defining its principles.
I employ the aid of a chart to do it, not because I think a chart proves anything; it is good to illustrate; it cannot demonstrate; but because a chart has been made use of to dazzle your eyes, so to speak, and to sorcerise your imagination, and to implant heresy in your minds -- I thought it well, by the same means to try and undo these mischievous effects; and, today, with the assistance of Brother Shuttleworth, I have sketched out this diagram, in which you will perceive the one submitted to you last night and one not then submitted, but which represents the truth, which I will endeavor to unfold tonight.
I will begin with that part of the diagram setting forth the truth. I call attention especially and prominently, to the central sun at the top of the diagram. That sun, as I daresay you will be aware, is intended to represent the Father -- God, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; and, this matter more particularly, for this is the contrivance of His wisdom, and not to be judged by carnal rules, such as the mind of the flesh may devise. I seek more particularly to impress God upon the mind to begin with, as the centre and focus and essence of the matter, for God is too much left out of modern theorisings and definitions of the plan of salvation. We want to get back to the apostolic method of expressing these things, and you will find that through the whole of the epistles, and in all the discourses of Christ, the Father is brought forward as the great initiator and operator in the case.
Paul speaks (Eph. 1:5) of the Father "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ TO HIMSELF, according to the good pleasure of His will." Again he says (Rom. 3:23-24),
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And again, in the 11th chapter of the same epistle, at the 32nd verse: "GOD hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." Again, in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:18,19), he tells us that God hath reconciled us unto HIMSELF by Jesus Christ; and that God was in Christ, reconciling the world UNTO HIMSELF. And again, in his letter to Titus (3:4-5): "The kindness and love of GOD our SAVIOUR toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to HIS MERCY, he saved us." And in chap. 2:11: "FOR THE GRACE OF GOD that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."
You also know that Jesus never disconnected himself from the Father in all his discourses. He always set forth the Father as the Instigator and Operator in all his proceedings. This is his style of language: "I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38). "I am not come of myself" (John 7:28). "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works" (John 14:10). "I am come in my Father's name" (John 5:43). "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). "He that sent me is with me" (John 8:29). "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. How sayest thou, then, Shew us the Father" (John 14:9).
And, therefore, the first idea which I seek, in those words of the Spirit, to impress upon your minds is, that the Source, Origin, and Mover in this whole matter of the appearance, life, and sacrifice of Christ is to be found in that which is represented by the central figure at the top of the diagram, and that we have simply to ask, What has been His way and object in the devising of it, and finding it out -- to believe it.
Let us go back to the beginning. We find God creating Adam, but not manifesting Himself in Adam, and therefore, the line from the Central Sun, in the diagram, proceeding towards Adam, is a broken line. The first man was of the earth earthy; the second was different from the first. Paul defines them in contrast. While he says the first is of the earth earthy, he says the second man, who will come into our consideration more particularly, when we come into this part of the chart, is "the Lord from heaven," by the manifestation of God in the flesh through the Spirit, as we learn from other portions of the testimony. The first Adam was merely a mechanism of "natural" life produced as the beginning or the basis of a plan which God had in His mind from the beginning with regard to this earth which we inhabit. Nothing is of chance. All things are foreknown of the Father, for all things are the work of His hands, and made to work out His ultimate designs. The rule in the working out of His plan on earth is "first that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:46). Adam is the beginning of the natural, Jesus is the beginning of the spiritual. He is God manifest in the
flesh, and not a mere Adam. The Renunciationist heresy makes him a mere man. God-manifestation is denied, though in words professed. We shall see this more clearly as we proceed.
Looking back at the first Adam, we see him for a while in a state of innocence. An attempt was made, last night, to draw a parallel between this period of Adam's career and the probation of the Lord Jesus. But look, brethren, at the great difference. Adam suffered no evil, no pain, no weakness, no grief. His state was a "very good" state. He was no man of sorrows, had no acquaintance of grief, inherited no evil of any kind. But look at the Lord Jesus. From the very beginning he experienced in himself those results that came by Adamic disobedience. This is sufficiently manifest in the apostolic testimony that he was the subject of "crying and tears" (Heb. 5:7), "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3), "made in all things like to his brethren of Adam's fallen stock" (Heb. 2:16,17), and finally crucified THROUGH WEAKNESS (2 Cor. 13:4).
But I propose to strengthen this testimony beyond the power of resistance, by reading to you the words of the Spirit in the Psalms, describing the personal experiences of the Messiah in the days of his flesh. That there may be no doubt as to the applicability to the Messiah of what I shall read, I will use only those Psalms which are quoted by the Spirit in the apostles, as applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ and belonging to him. I cannot read all that I have chosen out; it would take too much time. I will give you one or two extracts, and I will give you the references to the other places, with the parts where they are referred to in the New Testament, in order that you may see that Jesus, in the days of his flesh, inherited and experienced the results and feelings that have come by Adam's transgression; from which I will argue, and prove otherwise my argument, that this inheritance extended to mortality itself, and that "free life," so-called, is a myth.
First, I will take Heb. 10:4-10. Here Paul applies the 40th Psalm to Christ. Let us be quite sure. I wish to establish, link by link, all my evidence, as I will undertake to destroy, link by link, the whole chain of sophistry by the which the minds of the brethren are being bewitched and turned aside from the truth Heb. 10:5. "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou would'st not, but a body hast thou prepared me." Thus the Spirit in Paul says, Christ, in the 40th Psalm, speaks. Now let us go to the 40th Psalm: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." At the 6th verse, we have the words quoted by Paul; and then, at the 11th and 12th verses: "Withhold not now thy tender mercies from me, O Lord; let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils compassed me about; mine iniquities (the iniquities of his brethren laid on him in their effects) have TAKEN HOLD UPON ME, so that I am not able to look; they
are more than the hairs of my head; therefore, my heart faileth me." 17th verse: "But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: Thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God." Adam, in his probation, had not to ask to be delivered, and could not say that innumerable evils had compassed him about.
But you will find something more striking in other cases. In the 1st chapter of Hebrews, Paul quotes, as you perceive, at the 8th verse: "Unto the Son he saith" certain things; again, in the 10th verse: "And thou, Lord," and so forth. The things that the Spirit, in Paul, here applies to the Messiah you will find in the 102nd Psalm, from the 1st to the 11th verse:
I quote that to shew that Jesus, in the days of his flesh (as Paul says in the 5th chapter of Heb. at the 7th verse) with strong crying and tears made supplication unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared, and not because he had "free life." I will show you before I am done, that he had not a free life, but bore our condemnation in his own person, as much as any of us, necessitating his death before he could be purified from the curse. This "free life" is a thing you do not read of in the Scriptures; it is a mere invention; a plausible thing, but a gratuitous thing; an unproved assumption, which is made the starting point of the train of reasoning by which it is attempted to establish this heresy. If the initial fallacy is taken for granted, the false conclusion comes with all the appearance of irresistible logic. But let the initial fallacy be perceived, and the whole argument falls to pieces like a rope of sand.
The fallacy is two-fold. First, it is a fallacy to speak of "life" as distinct from "nature." "Life" is used by the Lord and by the apostles in a way to cover the whole idea of existence; and not as an element of existence to be considered abstractly by itself. Thus the sacrifice of Christ is expressed variously, as the "laying down of his life," "the giving of his body" (Luke 22:19), "the pouring out of his soul" (Isa. 53:12), or "the offering up of HIMSELF" (Heb. 9:25), as the case requires. All these literally mean his submission to death, and not the disentanglement of a so-called "life" from his body for
presentation to the Eternal Throne. It was "a body" that was prepared for sacrifice, and not a "life." It was death and not life that was required for the putting-away of sin. But by the incessant iteration of the word "life," as if it were an element separate from being, the Renunciationists bewilder the perceptions of inexperienced minds, and throw them into confusion, from which time itself will, doubtless, enable them to recover, where they are given to reading and thought.
We are not unacquainted ourselves with this elliptical use of the word life -- I mean in ordinary talk. When we say a man's "life" is not worth a week's purchase, we do not mean that the vital energy in his body, considered as an element, is not worth purchase, but the body's possession of vitality is uncertain. So when we say a long life, we do not mean any peculiarity in the vital energy, but that the possessor holds it for a long time. Also, when we say a man's life is in danger, we do not mean that the invisible energy by which God preserves us in being is in danger; for that can never be in danger, because God is the fountain thereof, in Whom we live and move and have our being, and to Him it returns. We mean that the living man's continuance in being is imperilled. It is an elliptical way of expression. There are many other instances. How absurd it would be to construct a theory out of these elliptical expressions, which should assume, in every case, that the "life" was an entity, sustaining relations to length, danger, safety, etc. This is what is done with a few passages of Scripture, in the present case, with results vastly more mischievous, in a spiritual sense, than those led captive by the glamour are aware of.
But returning to the testimony of the Psalms, which Jesus, by his own lips, said were "concerning him" (Luke 24:44), I will, without further quotation, give you a list of them and the New Testament reference, in each case, where the Psalm is by the Spirit applied to Jesus. You can put them down in pencil and compare them at your leisure: Matt. 21:42 (Psalm 118); Matt. 27:35 (Psalm 22); Heb. 2:12 (the same Psalm); Luke 4:10 (Psalm 91); Luke 23:46 (Psalm 31); John 2:17 (Psalm 69); Acts 1:20 (Psalm 109); Acts 2:25 (Psalm 16).
And please remember that Jesus, in conversation with his disciples after his resurrection, reasoned with them and expounded unto them the things that were written in Moses, and the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning himself. These very words were spoken by him in proof of the fact that he was appointed to suffer. In these things there is Scriptural evidence of the entire dissimilarity between the position of Adam and the probation of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the difference arises from the difference of the position of the two, which I will proceed to illustrate.
Adam's innocence ended with the fall; and here a little dazzle is thrown into the eyes. Instead of taking the simple testimony of the Word that death came, you have it that your life was forfeited -- that your life came under pledge -- that a debt was incurred which the
theorists describe as "eternal death" -- and you are asked to look at the third upright line in the Renunciationist diagram, as the "debt" which had to be paid. And by much more of such artificial unscriptural jargon, you are argued into a conviction the very opposite of truth. Has it never occurred to these Renunciationists, that if "eternal death," so called, was the debt to be paid, as they say, and Jesus paid that debt, that the resurrection of Jesus was impossible? I will show before I have done that our inheritance in Adam is not eternal death; that that which stands in the way of our resurrection by nature, is not our hereditary mortality in Adam, but our personal offences; and that what has brought resurrection is not "free life," but the personal righteousness of God's own anointed, specially provided in our mortal nature that he might open a way [out] of mortality by obedience, death, and resurrection.
Adam was condemned, and we have the testimony of the Spirit that his condemnation hath passed upon all men. Now what is that condemnation? Is it a condemnation against the nature or against the life in the nature? Which? It cannot be a condemnation against the life in the nature: that is what immortal-soulism says; and, in this respect, the new theory makes an advance towards immortal-soulism. The abstract life in all nature is the same. Men and animals have all one breath. With God is the fountain of life. God is the life of all; and He giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things; and when death happens, the dust returns unto the dust, and the spirit or the life returns to God who gave it. It is not the life that is condemned, for it is not the life that is the sinner. It is the person, the individual, the nature that is condemned, because it was the person, Adam, who was the sinner. Condemnation in Adam means, therefore, that we are mortal in Adam: mortal in the physical constitution -- the organisation. Look at any of us when we are just newly born. Why are we mortal at that moment? We have not sinned. "Oh, but we sinned in Adam," says this same theory. Did we sin in the individual sense in him? How could we sin individually when we did not exist? Paul says No! He says death reigned over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Why is it we are mortal, then? In what sense is the sentence of Adam upon us when we are born? Well, we are Adam's organisation. It is in the organisation that the law of mortality resides. It is in the physical substance that the principle of death is at work. Hence the phrase, "this corruptible." If the substance were not corruptible, "life" would be ours for ever.
Here suggests itself the question with regard to sin in the flesh, which I will enter fully at a subsequent part of the lecture. I will endeavour to make manifest the most unscriptural, the most carnal, and the most untrue and mischievous character of the new philosophy, with which it is now attempted to inoculate the brethren, on the subject of "the flesh." Enough on that point when we come to the cross in the diagram.
"Death reigned from Adam to Moses." This fact is represented by the perpendicular line from the angle where you see the word "fall." The line stands for the posterity of Adam, between these two epochs, without taking cognizance of the flood, because posterity was continued through Noah: therefore, there was no break; death reigned in them all, though not without the light of hope through faith.
Coming down to the time of Moses, we note particularly the fact that God had chosen the "seed of Abraham," according to the flesh, as a nation for Himself, as the basis of the development of the purpose He had conceived in Himself from the beginning, which Paul styles "a purpose of grace," according to the good pleasure of His own will, "not of works lest any man should boast."
What do we find in connection with Moses? A law is given to the chosen nation. This law condemned to death all who disobeyed it in the meanest particular. Those to whom the law was given were, of course, under the Adamic curse; that is, they inherited Adam's mortal nature, because in him when he sinned. This Adamic curse is represented by the horizontal band between "Death reigns," and the cross; the Mosaic curse (for none kept the law in all particulars) is represented by the corresponding band below; the nation of Israel, "the seed of Abraham," between the two. The seed of Abraham, whose nature Paul testifies (Heb. 2:16), Jesus took, are here represented as enclosed between two curses, the curse in Adam and the curse by Moses.
But before we consider how these two curses converge upon the Messiah (represented by the cross) that he might bear them away, let me ask what the law was given for. It was "added (to the promises) because of transgression" truly; but suppose the Jews had been able to keep it, what would have been the result to them? Now here let special attention be given to the testimony of the Word. Paul says, in the 7th chapter of Rom., 10th verse: "The commandment (speaking of the law) was ordained to life." Does that mean eternal life? Yes. This is shown by what we read at Luke 10:25: "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him saying, Master, What shall I do to inherit ETERNAL LIFE? He said unto him, What is written IN THE LAW? How readest thou? And he answering said so and so (recapitulating the chief points of the law). And he (Jesus) said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, AND THOU SHALT LIVE." Now there is the word of the Master himself confirming the statement of Paul, that the law given was unto life, if they kept it.
But then how about the Adamic condemnation in such a case? Well, if there had been a Jew who had kept the law in all things, having done the will of the Father from the very beginning of life to the end of his life, he would have been in the very position of the Lord Jesus himself; it would then have been in his power, by dying, to cleanse himself from the Adamic condemnation, and his righteousness would have caused his resurrection from the dead. It is by the righteousness of one that resurrection has come (Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 15:21); it is not by the "free life" of one. "Free life" is a myth; an invention of the new heresy. Adamic mortality would not be to our "eternal death," if we were ourselves "without spot" of disobedience. God will keep no man in the grave because of Adam's sin, if he himself be individually righteous. How came it, then, that life could not come by the law, as Paul says, in the 3rd chapter of Gal., at the 21st verse: "Is the law, then, against
the promises of God? God forbid; for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law." Let me give the Spirit's answer, Rom. 8:3: "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God" has done in the way which we shall consider when we come to that point. Here, then, is the Spirit's teaching that the weakness of the law, in relation to the bestowing of life eternal, lay in the incapability of the flesh to keep it; as Jesus said to his disciples: "The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." This is the teaching of the Word, and the teaching of God's Word is decisive in such matters.
We next come to the question, Why was the flesh weak? Could not God have made human nature after such a pattern or constitution that it would have been able to keep the law? Doubtless He could. Why did He not? He had His own reason, and our wisdom lies in simply seeing and accepting it. I will give it you in the words of the Spirit: Gal. 3:22: "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given TO THEM THAT BELIEVE." But this suggests another question: why was it devised that the promise should come in that way? The Spirit's answer is: "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19). But again, we ask why? The final answer of the Spirit is, "That He may have mercy on all (Rom. 11:32); that no flesh should glory in His sight (1 Cor. 1:29); not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:9).
This answer is symbolized on the chart by the lines proceeding from the sun toward the cross and the resurrection point, and by the concluding motto to the right. The Spirit and essence of the plan of God's redemption by Christ is that the praise and the glory may be to Him, and that no flesh should glory in His presence, in which we see at once the profoundest philosophy when we remember that God only exists inherently; that all things exist by His permission only; and that the highest delight of created beings is the recognition and adoration of the eternal prerogative of the Creator. In the proofs, I quote, I use the words of the Father Himself. I give you the Father's own declaration of the Father's mind, instead of condescending, like the lecturer of last night, to quote heathen poets and the Doctors of the apostasy. I will read further testimony. Rom. 3:9: "What then, are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved that Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin" (19th verse). The reason of which you will find in the 1st chapter of 1 Cor. 1:29: "That no flesh should glory in His presence;" "Mine honour I will not give to another;" "Unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess" (Isa. 45:23). As Paul otherwise expresses it, the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of the Father, not of mere man (2 Cor. 4:6). He is the central point of our adoration and the source of our indebtedness, upon a principle I will now proceed to illustrate.
Paul says, "But now is the righteousness of God without the law manifested." Does that mean that God set aside the law which was ordained unto life? No, for Christ (who is to us "the righteousness of God without the law") came to fulfil the law, and did fulfil it, entirely and absolutely, during the whole of his life. But, observe, to do this, it was necessary he should be under the law. Let me show that point. Paul says, "God sent forth His Son, made under the law" (Gal.4:4). Now how was that done? By the mode of his introduction into the world. His mother was a Jewess of the house of David, under the law. Consequently, he was a Jew, as much under the law as any other Jew. He was no new Adam, such as the Renunciationist theory makes him. He was the seed of Abraham, and the seed of David, and, therefore, stood in all the constitutional relations of David as to the law, both Edenic and Mosaic.
The object of Jesus being made under the law was that he might die under its curse; but how could the curse of the law lay hold of him so that he might endure it in his own person, seeing he kept the law spotless? Here comes that beautiful point set forth in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, about which a joke was attempted last night; but which shows the beautiful contrivance of God in working out the scheme of His redemption, without setting aside a jot or tittle of His requirements of those who were to be redeemed. It is written in the law, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law." Here let us realise what the curse of the law means, as regards its effect on the subject of the curse. Paul says, and I quote his words, because I wish to make my ground Scripturally sure upon every point -- that your faith may stand in the wisdom of God, and not in my speculation or reasoning; he says, in the second epistle of Cor. 3:7, "If the MINISTRATION OF DEATH, written and graven in stones, was glorious," etc. Here he styles the law "the ministration of death." Again (6th verse), "the letter," he says "killeth" (speaking of the law); "but the Spirit" (that is the work of the Spirit of God in Christ) "giveth life."
"Cursed is he that hangeth on a tree." Jesus is represented by that cross in the diagram. He hung on a tree, and by that fact the law cursed him. Thus he was made a curse for us in so far as hanging on the tree brought the curse of the law on him. Now what was the argument which the other vainly attempted to upset? Brother Andrew argues thus in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, that it was necessary for Jesus to keep the law in all things, and yet that he should be cursed in this particular of hanging on a tree. But why? Why did Jesus incur its curse in that particular in submitting to be hung on a tree? Because the Father required it of him, which I will prove. "This commandment I have received of my Father." What commandment? To lay down his life. How? He says "The Son of Man goeth up to Jerusalem, and he shall be mocked and spit upon, and shall be crucified, and rise again the third day." Therefore continued
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