Ransom and Restitution, Part 2

Ransom and Restitution, Part 2

“One difference between the experiences of the world under trial and the experiences of the Church during her trial will be that the obedient of the world will begin at once to receive the blessings of restitution by a gradual removal of their weaknesses–mental and physical; whereas the Gospel Church, consecrated to the Lord’s service even unto death, goes down into death and gets her perfection instantaneously in the first resurrection. Another difference between the two trials is in the more favorable surroundings of the next age as compared with this, in that then society, government, etc., will be favorable to righteousness, rewarding faith and obedience, and punishing sin; whereas now, under the prince of this world, the Church’s trial is under circumstances unfavorable to righteousness, faith, etc. But this, we have seen, is to be compensated for in the prize of the glory and honor of the divine nature offered to the Church, in addition to the gift of everlasting life.

Adam’s death was sure, though it was reached by nine hundred and thirty years of dying. Since he was himself dying, all his children were born in the same dying condition and without right to life; and, like their parents, they all die after a more or less lingering process. It should be remembered, however, that it is not the pain and suffering in dying, but death–the extinction of life–in which the dying culminates, that is the penalty of sin. The suffering is only incidental to it, and the penalty falls on many with but little or no suffering. It should further be remembered that when Adam forfeited life, he forfeited it forever; and not one of his posterity has ever been able to expiate his guilt or to regain the lost inheritance. All the race are either dead or dying. And if they could not expiate their guilt before death, they certainly could not do it when dead–when not in existence. The penalty of sin was not simply to die, with the privilege and right thereafter of returning to life. In the penalty pronounced there was no intimation of release. (Gen. 2:17) The restitution, therefore, is an act of free grace or favor on God’s part. And as soon as the penalty had been incurred, even while it was being pronounced, the free favor of God was intimated, which, when realized, will so fully declare his love.

Had it not been for the gleam of hope, afforded by the statement that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, the race would have been in utter despair; but this promise indicated that God had some plan for their benefit. When to Abraham God swore that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, it implied a resurrection or restitution of all; for many were then dead, and others have since died, unblessed. Nevertheless, the promise is still sure: all shall be blessed when the times of restitution or refreshing shall come. (Acts 3:19) Moreover, since blessing indicates favor, and since God’s favor was withdrawn and his curse came instead because of sin, this promise of a future blessing implied the removal of the curse, and consequently a return of his favor. It also implied either that God would relent, change his decree and clear the guilty race, or else that he had some plan by which it could be redeemed, by having man’s penalty paid by another.

God did not leave Abraham in doubt as to which was his plan, but showed, by various typical sacrifices which all who approached him had to bring, that he could not and did not relent, nor excuse the sin; and that the only way to blot it out and abolish its penalty would be by a sufficiency of sacrifice to meet that penalty. This was shown to Abraham in a very significant type: Abraham’s son, in whom the promised blessing centered, had first to be a sacrifice before he could bless, and Abraham received him from the dead in a figure. (Heb. 11:19) In that figure Isaac typified the true seed, Christ Jesus, who died to redeem men, in order that the redeemed might all receive the promised blessing. Had Abraham thought that the Lord would excuse and clear the guilty, he would have felt that God was changeable, and therefore could not have had full confidence in the promise made to him. He might have reasoned, If God has changed his mind once, why may he not change it again? If he relents concerning the curse of death, may he not again relent concerning the promised favor and blessing? But God leaves us in no such uncertainty. He gives us ample assurance of both his justice and his un-changeableness. He could not clear the guilty, even though he loved them so much that “he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up [to death] for us all.”

As the entire race was in Adam when he was condemned, and lost life through him, so when Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all” his death involved the possibility of an unborn race in his loins. A full satisfaction, or corresponding price, for all men was thus put into the hands of Justice–to be applied “in due time,” and he who thus bought all has full authority to restore all who come unto God by him.

“As by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:18,19) The proposition is a plain one: As many as have shared death on account of Adam’s sin will have life-privileges offered to them by our Lord Jesus, who died for them and sacrificially became Adam’s substitute before the broken law, and thus “gave himself a ransom for all.” He died, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) It should never be overlooked, however, that all of God’s provisions for our race recognize the human will as a factor in the securing of the divine favors so abundantly provided. Some have overlooked this feature in examining the text just quoted–Rom. 5:18,19. The Apostle’s statement, however, is that, as the sentence of condemnation extended to all the seed of Adam, even so, through the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Father’s plan, by the sacrifice of himself on our behalf, a free gift is extended to all–a gift of forgiveness, which, if accepted, will constitute a justification or basis for life everlasting. And “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be [not were] made righteous.” If the ransom alone, without our acceptance of it, made us righteous, then it would have read, by the obedience of one many were made righteous.

But though the ransom-price has been given by the Redeemer only a few during the Gospel age have been made righteous–justified–“through faith in his blood.” But since Christ is the propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of the whole world, all men may on this account be absolved and released from the penalty of Adam’s sin by him–under the New Covenant.

There is no unrighteousness with God; hence “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) As he would have been unjust to have allowed us to escape the pronounced penalty before satisfaction was rendered, so also he here gives us to understand that it would be unjust were he to forbid our restitution, since by his own arrangement our penalty has been paid for us. The same unswerving justice that once condemned man to death now stands pledged for the release of all who, confessing their sins, apply for life through Christ. “It is God that justifieth–who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Rom. 8:33,34

The completeness of the ransom is the very strongest possible argument for the restitution of all mankind who will accept it on the proffered terms. (Rev. 22:17) The very character of God for justice and honor stands pledged to it; every promise which he has made implies it; and every typical sacrifice pointed to the great and sufficient sacrifice– “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the SIN OF THE WORLD“–who is “the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins [the Church’s], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) Since death is the penalty or wages of sin, when the sin is canceled the wages must in due time cease. Any other view would be both unreasonable and unjust. The fact that no recovery from the Adamic loss is yet accomplished, though nearly two thousand years have elapsed since our Lord died, is no more an argument against restitution than is the fact that four thousand years elapsed before his death a proof that God had not planned the redemption before the foundation of the world. Both the two thousand years since and the four thousand years before the death of Christ were appointed times for other parts of the work, preparatory to “the times of restitution of all things.”

Let no one hastily suppose that there is in this view anything in conflict with the teaching of the Scriptures that faith toward God, repentance for sin and reformation of character are indispensable to salvation. This feature will be treated more at length hereafter, but we now suggest that only the few have ever had a sufficiency of light to produce full faith, repentance and reformation. Some have been blinded in part, and some completely, by the god of this world, and they must be recovered from blindness as well as from death, that they, each for himself, may have a full chance to prove, by obedience or disobedience, their worthiness or unworthiness of life everlasting. Then those who prove themselves unworthy of life will die again–the second death–from which there will be no redemption, and consequently no resurrection. The death which comes on account of Adam’s sin, and all the imperfections which follow in its wake, will be removed because of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; but the death which comes as a result of individual, wilful apostasy is final. This sin hath never forgiveness, and its penalty, the second death, will be everlasting–not everlasting dying, but everlasting death–a death unbroken by a resurrection.” (A153-158)

Continued with next post.