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WE ANSWER FOR THEM
It will be remembered, that in discussing the erroneous teachings of two contemporaries—”Zion’s Day Star” and “The World’s Hope”—we called attention to the fact that they used the scriptural terms “Ransom,” “Redeem,” “Bought with a Price,” etc., dishonestly. We proposed to test them before their readers by putting a few straight forward questions, which, in answering, we had hoped their true position would have been manifested.
Both Journals have had abundant opportunity, and neither has attempted an answer. We, therefore, propose to answer them for them—no, not for them, but for their reader’s benefit. This we could have done before, but preferred to give them first an opportunity to state themselves, lest some should think we misjudged or misunderstood them. It must now be manifest to all, that, as we claimed, they have been practicing a deception upon their readers—putting their own private interpretation upon the words and ideas referred to, when they quoted them. Is not this deception? and is not a religious deception the worst species of fraud?
To bring the question before you, we quote from our February issue as follows:
“If this contemporary plainly stated itself as numbers of others do, we should have no special need to single it out among others for criticism. But it does not. It covertly attempts to steal the hearts of God’s children and engraft this “damnable heresy” (2 Pet. 2:1) upon their minds, by quoting freely enough of the passages which contain
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the words “bought with a price,” “redeemed,” “ransom,” etc., disclaiming, without attempting to disprove their meaning, or deny their genuineness.
It insinuates and argues in such a way as to rob these words of their correct import in the mind of those who possess no English Dictionary, or are too careless to use it; or who presume that the English words may have a different significance from the Greek ones which the Apostles used, but which they do not understand.
We have heretofore shown that the Greek words rendered “bought,” “ransom,” “redeem,” etc., in referring to the work of Jesus for men, are no less pointed, but, if possible, more so than their English equivalents. So far, then, from being an exponent of the world’s hope, or the church’s either, our contemporary is being used by the adversary in a covert, and therefore all the more dangerous way, to undermine the only hope held out for the world in Scripture—the ransom.
To put this matter fairly before its readers, (to most of whom we send a copy of this issue) we shall propose to it the same questions which in our last we propounded to the Day Star, and which it has not answered—probably because it did not wish so plainly to show its real belief. We are well aware that neither of these contemporaries will relish these questions.
We have tried to so state them that any attempt to dodge the real issue will, we hope, be so apparent as to attract the attention of any who might be inclined to think our criticisms too severe.
The questions are as follows:—
(1) Why did Jesus die?
(2) How does it effect our sins?
(3) How did he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself?
(4) In what way did he give “himself a ransom (Greek, antilutron—an equivalent price) for all?”
(5) In what way was he a “propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins?”
(6) In what sense were we “bought with a price?”
Now, fair warning; if our contemporaries do not answer these queries fully and squarely, it can only be construed as moral cowardice, and certainly will substantiate our claim that they are dealing underhandedly with their readers, and “handling the Word of God deceitfully” (2 Cor. 4:2). The questions at issue are not trivial—not such as brethren might honestly differ on; for they are the very foundation of Christianity, without which the whole doctrinal structure, reared by the Apostles, falls.
But, let it be remembered, that we have nothing but kindly personal feelings toward the Editors of these two papers; with both of whom we are on intimate and friendly terms. It is error and falsity which we oppose, not men. This is true of Mr. Ingersoll also. Personally, we esteem him a polished gentleman, while we cannot but gainsay his infidel teachings. We take the side of inspired record as against every phase of infidelity; but we cannot but admire most, those opponents who honestly differ, and honestly state their differences, instead of using a Scriptural form of words and denying the power and meaning thereof.
To answer these queries, let us take them in order. We state the import of the teachings of these papers which are in harmony on this question, whatever difference there may be between them on other less vital points.
(1) Why did Jesus die?
Their answer: Because he was an imperfect man, and hence as liable to death as any other member of the Adamic race, and “death passed upon all.” (See Rom. 5:12.)
We object and answer, “that no cause of death was in him”—”in him was life” and not death. In him was no sin, hence on him the punishment of sin—death—could have no power. His death was a free-will sacrifice as our redemption price. He could have sustained life as a perfect and sinless man forever, but he “gave his life a ransom for many.”
Paul substantiates our position, saying: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3.)
(2) How does Jesus’ death affect our sins?
Their answer: It has no direct effect upon our sins. We die for our own sins and thus pay our own penalty. Jesus died for himself and thus paid for his imperfection (which they do not care to openly call sin). The indirect effect of his death was, that he furnished us an example, or illustration of fortitude and endurance, etc., and thus his death was valuable to us only as an example of how we should suffer and die for truth and right.
We object and answer, that while it is true that Jesus’ life and death were valuable examples, yet they were more—much more than this, or else scores of Scriptures are meaningless and false. The prophets, who, because of their witness for and loyalty to truth, were sawn asunder, stoned to death, etc., and the Apostles, who were crucified and beheaded, etc., these all were valiant for truth, and full of faith, and are all good examples, and are so recognized in Scripture (Phil. 3:17). But where is it claimed that by their examples they
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redeemed or ransomed or bought us with their blood?
The penalty of our sin was death, and we could never have been freed from that great prison-house—we could never have had a resurrection to life had not some one done more than set us an example. The question would still be, “Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And the answer points out only the one able to deliver from the condemnation of death. “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “For to this end Christ both died, rose, and revived that he might be Lord [Master—or have authority over:: the living and the dead” (1 Cor. 15:57 and Rom. 14:9). We answer this question then: “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).
(3) How did Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of himself?
Their answer:—By his example and teaching he taught men to put away sin for themselves, and thus, in a sense, it might be said that he put the sin away.
We object, that Moses and the prophets had taught men to abstain from sin; hence, if Jesus put away sin only by precept and example, he did no more than others. And, if it is true, that “In him was no sin,” how could he be an example of how to put away what he did not have? But note, the question is a quotation from Paul (Heb. 9:26), and it reads that he put away sin, not by precept and example of his life, but “by the sacrifice of himself.” Read the connections, and try to view the matter from the Apostle’s inspired standpoint, and unless you think, as one of these contemporaries does, that Paul often made mistakes and misquotations, you should be convinced of his meaning when penning these words.
Remember, too, that when Moses, as a type of Jesus, taught men to abstain from sin, he, too, did more—he typically made a sin offering—a sacrifice for sin. And the antitype not only taught purity, but did more—made himself a sacrifice for sin—the true sacrifice. “The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”
(4) In what way did he give “himself a ransom (Gr. antilutron—an equivalent or corresponding price) for all?”
To this question they can give no answer except by denying the meaning of the word, which any one may see by reference to Young’s Concordance. The significance of the original is very pointed. Jesus not only gave a price for the ransom of the Adamic race, but Paul says he gave an equivalent price. A perfect man had sinned and forfeited all right to life: Jesus, another perfect man, bought back those forfeited rights by giving his unforfeited human existence a ransom—an equivalent price. Read now Paul’s argument (Rom. 5:18,19): “Therefore, as by the offence 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.”
(5) In what way was he “a propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins?”
This is another question which they cannot answer. They would like to declare that he was not a satisfaction in this sense, or not a satisfaction in that sense, or not a satisfaction in some other sense; but the question, In what sense was he a “satisfaction for our sins?” they cannot answer.
We answer, that this text is in perfect harmony with all Scripture. The Law of life (obedience) was broken by Adam, and both he and his posterity were condemned as unfit for life. Jesus became our ransom by paying our death penalty, and thus justifying us to life, which in due time comes to all, to be again either accepted or rejected. Yes, we are glad that the claims of the Law upon our race were fully satisfied by our Redeemer.
(6) In what sense were we “bought with a price?”
Their answer: Bought is not a good word; it conveys too much of the “commercial idea”; they would say, rather, ye were taken, etc.
We object; by such false reasonings the Word of God would be robbed of all its meaning. Words are useless unless they carry some idea. What other meaning is there in the word “bought” than the “commercial idea”? It has no other meaning or idea to it. But Paul was a lawyer, and his teachings, more than any other Apostles’, are hard to twist; and in this instance he guards well his statement, by saying, not only that we were “bought,” but he says it was with “a price;” and then, lest some one should claim that the price was the ministry and teachings of Jesus, Peter is caused to guard it by adding—”With the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:19).
In conclusion, let us say in a few words, what they do think of the value and preciousness of the death of Christ. They believe and have privately expressed, and it is the covered import of their public teachings, which they do not yet wish to state boldly—not until they get false premises and conclusions engrafted first, as a basis on which to place it,—that Jesus’ death no more paid your ransom price than did Paul’s or than my death would; nay, put it stronger, that his death was of no value in redeeming us.
As before pointed out, this denial of the ransom we believe to be the great rock upon which the nominal Church is even to-day being dashed.
The doctrine of the substitution of Jesus, in settlement of the sinner’s guilt and punishment, is being scoffed at among the “great preachers“; and the doctrine, so plainly taught by the apostles, that the death of Jesus was the price of our release from death, is falling into discredit and disrepute among the “worldly great,” and hence also among some who would like to be of that class.
The reason of this is evident: it is the story of the two extremes over again. Satan had engrafted on the Church the doctrine of eternal torment, and, to be consistent, led on to the thought that Jesus bore eternal torment for every man. This involved eternity of suffering by Jesus. This evidently was untrue; so it was explained, that when in Gethsemane and at Calvary, Jesus suffered as much agony in a few hours as all humanity would have suffered in an eternity of torture. Now, it does not take a very smart man to see that something is surely wrong in such a view of Jesus’ substitution. It seems to be Satan’s policy now to lead to the opposite extreme and deny substitution entirely. Instead of casting away Satan’s libel on our Heavenly Father’s government—the doctrine of eternal torment—most men seem to hold on to it and roll it as a sweet morsel under their tongues, and discard the teachings of the Apostles relative to Jesus’ death being our ransom price—the price or substitute for our forfeited lives.
Would that all might see the beauties and harmonies of God’s Word. Man condemned to death—extinction; Jesus, man’s substitute or ransom, died for our sins and thus redeemed or bought us back to life, which redemption will be accomplished by a resurrection to life. Jesus, as a man, is dead eternally; his humanity stayed in death as our ransom, and he arose a new creature—a spiritual instead of a human being—put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) in spirit. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him (so) no more.”
Beloved, let us stand firm on the foundation of all hope—the ransom—and now, when the enemy comes in like a flood, be not afraid to act and speak for truth boldly if you would be recognized by him who lifts up a standard for the people (Isa. 59:19).
— April, 1883 —