AT THE END of the quarter a review is in order. We begin at the Mount of Beatitudes and close with the Mount of Transfiguration, and on the way in the Master's words and conduct find illustrations of the wonderful teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and how faithful obedience to the instructions there given will mean to us eventually a place in the Kingdom, pictured in the Transfiguration scene. The blessings of the meek, the merciful, the persecuted for righteousness' sake, etc., etc., all will find their fulfilment when, by the grace of God, we shall eventually be changed, transfigured, by the power of the First Resurrection, and made like to our great Redeemer and Lord—"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."—Matt. 13:43.
How wonderful are the Lord's dealings with us and yet how reasonable. His appeal is, "Come let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool." (Isa. 1:18.) He shows us how he has prepared for this: that he himself was provided, the sacrifice for sins; that our Lord has already died the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God, and that God can be just when he receives us, just in his dealings with us, because the justice element of his Law has been fully met on our behalf. He gives us a glimpse of the blessings he proposes to bring to the world of mankind, points us to the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice takes away the sin of the world, and invites all those who have love and sympathy and appreciation to come now and accept not only life eternal but favor upon favor—joint-heirship with his Son in the glorious Kingdom which is to bless the world in the great uplift of "restitution, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."—Acts 3:19-23.
This message comes to us through the Son of God, of whom our Golden Text declares, "Never man spake like this man." No wonder the apostles said to him when some were forsaking him, "Lord, to whom should we go? Thou hast the words [the message] of eternal life." Others may indeed think that they have eternal life in themselves—they may persuade themselves that by some inherent, immortal principle they will live forever, and that when they die it will merely be the appearance of dying, and actually they will become in that moment more alive than ever. At best that is a very difficult thought, and few are able to so hypnotize their own judgments as to believe it. We on the contrary, hearkening to the voice that spoke as never man spoke, hear his declaration that our hope is in him as the "resurrection and the life." (John 11:25.) We hear him telling us that the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth. (John 5:28, 29.) It is reasonable.
We can reason together with God when we take the voice of his Son and reject the voices of the "dark ages." From this standpoint—that a resurrection has been provided through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus—the whole matter of death and eternal life is clarified before our mental view. We see the condemnation through Adam, and how death is justly reigning throughout the whole world of mankind ever since. We see the death of Christ, the Just for the unjust; that he has bought us with his precious blood, that he has paid our ransom price, and that as a result, in God's due time, all shall come forth from the power of the tomb. We see the keys of death and of the grave in the hands of the one who has purchased all; we rejoice in the proclamation of the coming blessing to all the families of the earth, through a release from this power of sin and Satan and death.
We hearken still more intently to the voice of him that speaketh as never man spake, and hear him assure us that there are two resurrections—one a life resurrection, the other a judgment resurrection. We hear him tell us that only those who through faith and obedience attain a standing with God under the cover of the precious sacrifice will be counted the good, the justified, and only they will share in the life resurrection, because only they will have passed their trial and be counted worthy of life. All others will come forth to the judgment resurrection to be disciplined under the Kingdom, to receive stripes in proportion to the wilfulness in which they have cooperated in their own downfall into mental, moral and physical degradation, but to be helped by the stripes, to be corrected in righteousness, if they will, and to be brought step by step out of the sin-and-death conditions, up, up, up, by resurrection power of Jesus, to the full perfection, to all that was lost in Adam.
Well may we rejoice in this one who spake as never man spake, in him who has the words of eternal life. Respecting those words the Apostle Peter says, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4.) Ah, yes! wonderful words of life, tell them over again, think them over again, rejoice in them more and more—let them fill our hearts and be in our mouths a new song of the loving-kindness of our God, whose tender mercies are over all his works.
Of these words, which the Master spake as never man spake, the Apostle further declares that he spake of our salvation. He says, "Which salvation began to be spoken by our Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." Not only was there no eternal life in our race, and no hope for attaining any except through Jesus, but all of the promises of the past would have been powerless without his work of atonement, and not until he came was it known how our redemption was to be accomplished. True, the Lord had provided various types and shadows in the numerous sacrifices of the past which illustrated the fact that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin; but they could not be understood until the antitype had come. Then he brought life to light and immortality to light—life for the world, eternal life to be conferred during the Millennial age—immortality for his Church, his Bride, his little flock, his joint-heirs. These were never brought to light before; they were faintly seen and vaguely described, but it remained for the great teacher to set forth before us the salvation which God had proffered through him. Thank God that our hearts have made our lips more and more tell forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Through faith in him we are already reckoned risen to walk in newness of life, and through him by and by the Father will raise us up by his own power, that we shall be like him and share his glory, honor and immortality.