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WORTHY OF ALL ACCEPTATION
From quotations given in another column from a contemporary, it will be seen that it boldly advances the teaching that the New Testament will not compare with the Old Testament as an authority; that if it be received as sacred Scripture at all, it is to be completely subordinated to the Old Testament, and that any doctrine or statement of the New Testament not supported by a similar statement in the Old Testament is unworthy of acceptance and belief.
The basis upon which these conclusions are built is, that the Apostles were not inspired as were the Prophets, and hence they could judge of truth and error only as we do.
If this be true, if this be new light, then we have all along been in darkness, and the poor Jew which Paul says was blinded was really in the light all the time, and the Christian Church, instead of walking in the path of light, has been in darkness from the Apostles down. Why, this is the exact teaching of Judaism. From such new light (?) we pray to be delivered.
We wish to reply to the above, and to show that the basis is false, and the deductions consequently erroneous. First, however, let us remark, that if the above be true, if we are to believe only what is taught in the Old Testament, then our faith is vain, for in the Old Testament we find nothing concerning our HEAVENLY hopes. There is not in it a promise of a heavenly crown, not a promise of a spiritual body, not a promise to the “Royal Priesthood,” not a mention of the “new creature.” No, its choicest promises are all earthly, like that given to Abraham—”Lift up now thine eyes and look … for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee.” (Gen. 13:14,15.)
No, nothing was seen of the spiritual blessings in reservation for you (the gospel Church) until “our Saviour Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10.) These are not found in the Law nor in the Prophets’ writings, but only in the New Testament. No, the very most we can say of the teaching of the Old Testament relative to “our high calling,” is that it gave fleshly shadows of some of our blessed hopes. And these we should never have been able to understand any more than did they, but for the keys furnished by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.
Paul tells us that he had special revelations from the Lord (2 Cor. 12:1-7; Gal. 1:12, and 2:2; Eph. 3:3), and claims for his writings that they are specially inspired. (1 Cor. 14:37.) He even mentions those items of his teachings which were not “by commandment of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:6.)
The book of Revelation opens with the statement, that it is a revelation which God gave, not to the Prophets, but “to Jesus Christ.” Such a revelation would have been superfluous if the Old Testament contained all needful information. Peter also claims special inspiration, power and knowledge as an Apostle over and above the Prophets. (See Acts 5:2-5; 1 Pet. 1:10-12.)
We claim, furthermore, that the operation of God’s power—Spirit—on the Prophets was so different from the operation of the same Spirit upon the Gospel Church, that the humblest Christian may know more of God’s plan than could the greatest prophet. Though there had not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist, yet the “least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11.) The prophets belonged to the fleshly house, we to the spiritual. “Moses (a prophet) verily was faithful as a servant over all his house (of servants), but Christ as a Son over his own house (of sons), whose house are ye—if, etc.” (Heb. 3:5,6.) Jesus tells us of our special privileges over the prophets and others, saying, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven,” and “Verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matt. 13:11,17.)
Paul tells the same story of how God had revealed to the Gospel Church that which had not been known previously. He says: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets (teachers) by the Spirit.” (See Eph. 3:2-10.) Peter adds his testimony, saying: “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace (favor, knowledge) that should come unto you. Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom (the prophets) it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.” (1 Pet. 1:10-12.)
If we reject the foregoing testimony of the apostles regarding the special revelation made to them, whereby they were able to give us a knowledge of the mystery hid from other ages, we should reject all of their teachings on every subject, since men who will lie are not to be trusted at all.
Furthermore, we claim that though this favor of greater knowledge and revelation is to the humblest member of the Church, yet it came to us directly through the Apostles; and their writings are the basis of proper Christian faith to-day. We read that God hath set in his Church various members with various gifts for the edifying of the body of Christ, but first (chiefly) Apostles. (1 Cor. 12:28.)
The Spirit has raised up in the Church evangelists, pastors, teachers, for the edifying of itself; but it never gave more than one head—Jesus—nor more than the original twelve Apostles. These are enough, they are still with us; we have their words of reproof, correction and instruction to-day, even better understood now than by those whom they more directly addressed.
True, Paul was not of the original twelve, neither was he the one the eleven mistakenly appointed to Judas’ place (They did it before the Pentecostal blessing); yet he not only informs us that he was specially appointed to be an apostle, but his teachings prove it.
Paul, who had more abundant revelations than all the apostles, knew more about the “mystery” of the Gospel than he was permitted plainly to express to the Church then living—it being meat not then in due season. This he himself expresses, saying that he had learned “things not lawful to be uttered.” But though he was not permitted to utter all of “the deep things of God,” nevertheless the fact of his possessing a knowledge of those deep things cast such a reflection upon all that he did write, that his words have been the basis of almost all the “meat in due season” furnished to the Church since. He himself tells us that an affliction was permitted (a thorn in the flesh) lest he should be exalted above measure by God’s revelations to him. (2 Cor. 12:7.)
As it has been affirmed that the Apostles evidently made mistakes of quotation, and misapplied prophetic statements, we want to consider that feature of the subject. For this purpose let us have a careful
We want to refer you to a number of prophetic statements, and have you note the connections closely and see that the statements which met a fulfillment in Jesus were so mixed up with other statements not specially applicable to him, that you or I or the Jew might have readily stumbled over them and never have thought of applying them to Messiah, had not the Holy Spirit brought these things to the attention of the Apostles. In fact, we know that the disciples understood not these things and saw not their true application until after Jesus was risen. (See John 12:16.)
Turn to Micah 5:2, and see how obscurely the birthplace (Bethlehem) is mentioned. The birthplace is mentioned, and the humiliation, yet in so
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disconnected a manner that though the Scribes and Chief Priests understood of his birthplace (Matt. 2:4-6), yet they could not see that as the Judge of Israel he would be smitten “with a rod upon the cheek.” (Matt. 27:30.)
Take another. Turn to Hosea 11:1 and find the record: “I have called my Son out of Egypt.” Nothing about the context would ever lead you to suppose this to apply to Jesus. It altogether seems to relate to Israel as an infant nation brought from Egypt. But when our attention is once called to it, we can see how the name Israel (prevailer) applied well to Jesus; and not only so, but that the coming of the nation Israel out of literal Egypt and the coming of Jesus out of literal Egypt (Matt. 2:20) are types of the coming of the entire Israel (the Church) out of the antitype of Egypt, viz., the world.
Jer. 31:15 introduces Rachel weeping for her children in an entirely disconnected manner, and it could not be understood until fulfilled (Matt. 2:17). Rachel was the mother of two of the tribes—Joseph and Benjamin. Bethlehem was in the country apportioned to Benjamin, which tribe, with Judah, occupied Palestine at the time of the first advent.
Look at Psalm 22. Any one might read that Psalm throughout and not doubt but that David was speaking of himself. And we doubt not that David thought the same; but Jehovah guided his utterance and made him thus to represent Messiah.
Read Psalm 118:22,23,26, about the stone which the builders rejected, etc., which our Lord applied to himself (Matt. 21:42); yet these prophetic statements of Messiah evidently stand mixed up with David’s own experiences.
Look, also, at Isaiah 61. Here the prophet personates Christ, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach,” etc. To all appearance the prophet was the person meant, yet when Jesus points out its fulfillment in himself (Luke 4:18) we see that in him its conditions were fully met.
See Zech. 11:12. Here Zechariah was sold for thirty pieces of silver, and nothing in the connection indicates that he was a type or representative of Jesus, who was afterward sold for thirty pieces.
But we must notice one Scripture which has been cited as specially misapplied by Matthew in chap. 1:23, viz., Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The objection is made that because this promise had a typical fulfillment at that time, as mentioned in chap. 8:3, therefore it could not have a reference to Mary and her son Jesus. We reply that its partial fulfillment at the time is no argument against its application to Mary as made by the Apostle. It would be equally consistent to argue that because thirty pieces were actually weighed out for Zechariah, therefore that prophecy could have no reference to Judas’ sale of Jesus.
On the contrary, it was not uncommon for Jehovah to deal in this very way—causing a typical fulfillment of a prophecy to transpire, and thus attract attention for a time away from the actual fulfillment. In this case of typical fulfillment we suggest that the prophet represented Jehovah, the prophetess represented the Virgin Mary, and their child represented Jesus. But is it objected that Mary’s son was called Jesus, and not Immanuel? We reply that such shortsighted reasoning would make nonsense of both Old and New Testaments. How about the names given in Isaiah 9:6? “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Must we set aside this prophecy also, because the child was called Jesus, or shall we recognize the fact that many names, as well as many offices, are his? In answer we would say—his name has been called Immanuel. We
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call him Immanuel (God with us), and the Church in general has recognized him by that name for eighteen hundred years. And in the incoming Millennial Age, when the knowledge of him shall fill the earth, all shall recognize him by his various and significant titles.
In closing, we want to give one more illustration of a prophecy which has had one literal fulfillment, and is about to have its second or higher fulfillment—just as Isaiah’s prophecy, above referred to, had one fulfillment in his day and another hundreds of years after at the birth of Jesus. Our illustration is Babylon. It was the chief empire of earth in Jeremiah’s day, and his prophecy records in strong language its overthrow. It has been overthrown as foretold; but were it not that we see that there is a mystical, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots,” for whom the severest language applied to literal Babylon is intended, we should wonder indeed.
Those who saw the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in the fall of the city of Babylon, doubtless concluded that a very strong description had been given of so commonplace an event as the overthrow of a nation; and having seen that one fulfillment, few realize that the real force of the prophecy is to mystic Babylon.
We refer you to but one chapter out of many, in which statements once fulfilled are to have a second and larger fulfillment, just as Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel had a second and complete fulfillment in Jesus’ birth. Compare the following:
Jeremiah 51:6 with Rev. 18:4.
Verse 7 with Rev. 17:4 and 14:8.
Verse 8 with Rev. 14:8 and 18:2,9,11,19.
Verse 9 with Rev. 18:5.
Verse 13 with Rev. 17:1,15.
Verses 48,63,64 with Rev. 18:20,21.
We conclude, then, that the New as well as the Old Testament—the writing of the apostles as well as that of the prophets—is worthy of all acceptation as divinely inspired.
— January, 1883 —