Old Paths

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14

Vol. 11, No. 2    Straight and Narrow    February 2002

Death of Christ Vicarious

By J. H. Waggoner

(For some time I have felt the need to reprint at least three chapters from J. H. Waggoner’s book, The Atonement in the Light of Nature and Revelation. These chapters (4-6) deal with the death of Christ and how our view of the Godhead directly affects our understanding and appreciation of the atonement. Waggoner was an evangelist, author, and editor. He accepted the Seventh-day Adventist message in 1852. In 1881 he succeeded James White as editor of Signs of the Times. The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia states that “Waggoner was an eloquent speaker, a good editor, and a most industrious worker. He wrote with clarity and precision.” (p. 1564) A reading of this article will clearly attest to the last statement. The February issue of Old Paths begins this reprint. Lord willing, the March and April issues will carry chapters five and six.    Editor)

The question, Was the death of Christ vicarious? has received much attention in the theological world, and apparently troubled many minds. It is a question of great importance, as the subject of the efficacy of the Atonement is involved in it. Perhaps we might more correctly say, it involves the possibility of there being any atonement. We think the nature of an atonement is such that it must be effected by vicarious death; vicariousness is an essential element of such a transaction. That which is done for another is vicarious; and as Christ died for us, his death was vicarious. He who suffers for his own sins makes no atonement. True, he satisfies the demand of the law, but he is lost. Had all the world been left to perish, the penalty would have been inflicted and justice honored, but there would have been no atonement. An atonement can only be made by one who suffers for another, or others; and this shows the remark to be just, that there can be no atonement where there is no vicariousness.

Those who deny a vicarious death generally reason thus: Justice would not admit of the penalty being inflicted twice for the same offense; therefore if Christ suffered vicariously, or in our stead, we must be released as a matter of justice, and not of pardon or favor; for where the law takes its course there is no pardon.

But this reasoning is defective in every respect. It might apply if mercy were the sole object; but where justice and mercy unite there must be conditions, whereby we avail ourselves of the benefits of his death. But his death was voluntary, and unconditional; a free-will offering to justice in our behalf. He honors the law whether we will honor it or not; and if we will not accept him we must bear the consequences. He has made an offering to the divine law. We did not make it, nor will it avail for us unless we accept it, and by faith appropriate the benefits thereof to ourselves.

Again, in such reasoning the true nature of substitution is not considered. If a man commits a crime worthy of death, and another dies in his stead, he does not necessarily remove the guilt of the criminal thereby. So the death of Christ makes salvation possible by vindicating the law in man’s behalf, and opening the way for pardon without infringing on justice. But his death does not make the salvation of any man necessary, as will be seen from the fact that pardon is offered through faith in him. But if his death was in the nature of the payment of a debt which could not be collected a second time, or of suffering a penalty in such sense that they for whom he died could not justly suffer it, even if they persisted in rejecting him, then there would be no room for pardon. All men might then demand their release on grounds of justice! But that is not the system of the gospel. That would amount to an indiscriminate and unconditional pardon which, as we have seen, is subversive of justice and of Government.

But if Christ did not suffer in our stead, how is justice vindicated in case we are pardoned? If he did not suffer the penalty in our behalf, and we do not suffer it because he sets us free, then the penalty is never suffered, and the law is not honored, for justice is robbed of its due. Some affect to think that this is the gospel plan; but only because they lose sight of the great gospel truth that Christ is set forth as a propitiation, that through faith in his blood we may receive the remission of sins that are past, that God may be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Rom. 3:23-26. No one can imagine that Christ bore our sins on the tree except in the sense of suffering in his death the desert of our sins, for death is that desert. “He hath made him to be sin for us”—not that he was a sinner, for he “knew no sin,” but he was counted a sinner—sin was imputed to him, if you please, for our sake, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor. 5:21. We cannot imagine how he was made sin for us, except by his bearing our sins, which he did, and standing in our stead before the violated law.

The sacrifices of the Levitical law typified the offering of Christ; and what their death was in type his must surely be in fact. The forms prescribed in that law show plainly their intent. The requirement to lay their hands upon the heads of their offerings, was peculiarly significant. “If any man of you bring an offering to the Lord, . . . he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Lev. 1:2-4. See also 3:2, 8, 13. If the priest sinned, he was required to bring a bullock for a sin offering; “and he shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head.” Chap. 4:4. If the whole congregation sinned, then “the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock.” Verse 15. Also verse 24; chap. 8:14, 22.

The object of this action is made clear in chap. 16:21, where the same thing is done over the scape-goat. The high priest was there acting in behalf of all the people. “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat.” This could be the only object in all like transactions. Thus the sin was transferred from the sinner to the object or offering upon which his hands were laid. And this opens to us the full sense of Lev. 1:4, and parallel passages. “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering,”—thereby transferring his sin to the offering, so that it bore the sin of the man—“and it shall be accepted for him.” Of course it was accepted as an offering to the broken law, in his stead, for it had his sin.

While the action of the priest in Lev. 16:21 is conclusive as to the object of laying one’s hand upon the head of his offering, to put his sins upon the head of the sacrifice, it does not confound the scape-goat with the sin offering, as some have imagined. Of this we shall speak at length in another place.

The same is fully shown by the following: Although the sinner was required to lay his hand on the head of the offering, the priest made the atonement for him; Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and others. The atonement was made with the blood of the offering. It was early revealed to man that the blood was the life. “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” Gen. 9:4. “Be sure that thou eat not the blood; for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.” Deut. 12:23. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” “For it is the life of all flesh.” “For the life of all flesh is the blood thereof.” Lev. 17:11, 14. Therefore when the Lord said, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” it was equivalent to saying, Whoso taketh man’s life, by man shall his life be taken; for he said again, “Your blood of your lives will I require.” Gen. 9:5.

Now “the wages of sin is death,” and “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:22. That is to say, the sinner has forfeited his life, and the law dishonored cannot be satisfied or vindicated without the shedding of blood, or taking life, for life is its due. This plainly shows that the penalty of the law is executed by shedding blood, or taking life; and also that the remission of sin, or its penalty, to the sinner, does not relax the claims of the law; for when his sin was transferred to the offering, that was accepted for him, and its blood or life taken for his. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Lev. 17:11. So the sin was remitted or forgiven the sinner, and laid upon another, who suffered its penalty. With these facts before us, we notice that all those scriptures which speak of Christ’s blood being shed, are a confirmation of the fact that he died, or suffered the penalty of the law. The wages of sin is death—the life is in the blood; he shed his blood—he died for sin. How plain the truth; how reasonable the plan appears when freed from the perversions and “doctrines of men.”

That which is done for another is vicarious. Death suffered for another is vicarious death; but in the preceding cases brought from the Scriptures, the sin offerings never were slain or offered for themselves, or for their own wrongs, but always for the sins of others. Their blood was shed in the stead of that of others; their deaths were truly vicarious. And if we take away from them all ideas of substitution or vicariousness, we take away the sole reason of their being slain, and all possibility of an atonement consistent with justice.

It needs no more than a mere reference to the Scriptures to show the relation those transactions bore to the gospel of Christ, and that the death of Christ was in truth substitutionary and vicarious. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:6. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” 1 Pet. 2:24. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Heb. 9:28. Thus he bore our sins—they were laid on him—he was made sin for us; standing in that relation to the law in our stead. And the wages of sin being death, because our sin was laid on him, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” “His soul” was made “an offering for sin.” Isa. 53:5, 8, 10. He that doeth not all the words of the law is cursed; but Christ is made a curse for us to redeem us from the curse of the law. Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10-13. “Christ died for the ungodly.” Rom. 5:6. “Was delivered for our offenses.” Chap. 4:25. “Christ died for our sins.” 1 Cor. 15:3. He died for all, for all were dead, or condemned to death, for all had sinned. 2 Cor. 5:14. He “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.” 1 Pet. 3:18. “Christ hath suffered for us.” Chap. 4:1. In all these expressions the idea of substitution is prominent, as it was in the type.

Again, the same truth is taught in all those scriptures which speak of Christ having purchased us. He gave “his life a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:28. To ransom, says Webster, is to redeem from captivity by paying an equivalent. “Who gave himself a ransom for all.” 1 Tim. 2:6. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.” 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 7:23. “Denying the Lord that bought them.” 2 Pet. 2:1. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. “Hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” Rev. 5:9. “Which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28. Now the sole idea of redeeming, purchasing, or buying, with a price, is that of substitution by equivalent, or receiving one instead of another.

George Storrs, of New York, in a small work on the Atonement, rejected the idea of Christ dying in the stead of the sinner; and his views ought to be noticed, especially as he represented a class. He said the atonement must correspond to man’s nature, and to the demand of the law, for “it is such a satisfaction as justice rightfully demands.” The best satisfaction to law is obedience; an atonement is satisfaction rendered for disobedience. It is indeed such a satisfaction as justice demands. But it would be difficult for any one to explain why the Atonement must correspond to man’s nature, and to the claim that justice has on man, if the death of the atoner be not substitutionary. How otherwise could it meet the claim? Again he said that “by dying, though death had no claim on him, justice was vindicated.” Now if “death had no claim on him,” how could justice be vindicated in his death? And is justice ever vindicated in the death of one on whom it has no claim? No; it is rather a perversion of justice. But all admit that death had no claim on Christ, so far as his own actions were concerned; therefore if justice was upheld or vindicated in his death, it was because he died “in the room and stead” of those on whom death had a claim. That there was a transfer of sin all will admit; our sins were laid on him. But death has a claim on the sinner, for the wages of sin is death. And if the sin was transferred, of course the claim of death must also have been transferred. So death had a claim on him; but only as he stood in our stead. He was made sin for us; therefore he was made a curse for us. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:14. The idea of vicariousness, or complete substitution, is as plainly taught as language can teach it; and the wonder is that the question was ever raised by Bible-readers, or that the possibility of the negative being true was ever admitted.

We must further notice the objection that if a complete substitute is accepted, justice is satisfied, and the release of the accused is of justice, not of mercy. Many respectable speakers and authors seem to have become strangely confused on this subject. The objection seems, at first glance, to have force; but it is really founded on a very partial and superficial view of the gospel plan. It is mercy to the criminal for the Government to accept a substitute; and mercy to him also for the substitute to offer or consent to stand in his stead. It is nothing but mercy, pardon, free gift, to the sinner, in every part of the transaction. And it would be so if he had himself procured a substitute; much more when the Governor provides the substitute, and this even the Son of his delight, and invites the sinner to return to his allegiance and obedience, that he may receive pardon and life through his blood. It has been noticed that justice and mercy must unite in order to both honor the Government and spare the sinner. Paul shows that they do unite in the gospel, for therein God can be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. His justice is shown by maintaining the dignity and honor of his law, even at the expense of the life of his Son; his mercy is shown by justifying us through his blood. But inasmuch as Christ was not a sinner, it would be very difficult to show wherein God was just in the death of his Son, unless he died to meet the just desert of our sin in our stead.

Burge on the Atonement, a work which reflects a somewhat popular view, says:—

“If a man engage to perform a certain piece of work, for a reward which is proposed, it makes no difference whether he do the work himself, or procure another to do it for him. Let the work be done according to agreement, and he is entitled to the reward. So, if Christ has done for believers the work which the law required them to do, God is now bound, on the principle of strict justice, to bestow the promised reward, eternal life. There is no grace, but stern, unbending justice here.” Pp. 202, 203.

Barnes takes substantially the same view, and both aver that Christ did not suffer the penalty of the law, but something substituted for the penalty. Did this illustration merely go to show the insufficiency of Christ’s obedience to moral law to make an atonement, without the suffering of death, there could be no objection raised against it. But it goes far beyond this. In order for an illustration to be worth anything, there must be some analogy between its main points and the thing illustrated. In this case there is none whatever.

Man is a rebel, condemned to death; the law can only be satisfied with the taking of life. Now in regard to rendering satisfaction to a broken law there cannot possibly be anything existing between sinful man and his Creator, answering to the nature of a contract, as this illustration supposes. But its defect is most plainly seen in this, that man does not, and cannot, procure a substitute. If man by his own efforts had procured the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, the Atonement would rest on an entirely different footing from what it now does. Any illustration based on such an utter impossibility, which is so contrary to evident truths, and to the whole revealed plan of the Atonement, cannot aid in a correct understanding of it. God has set forth his Son to be a propitiation—to suffer death, the penalty of the law, for us; so that his substitutionary sacrifice is the gift of God, even as Christ himself was the gift of God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” If we take for granted that the death of Christ meets every demand of the law, yet so long as he is the gift of God, there is mercy in the transaction. But Dr. Barnes thinks there was no mercy if it met the requirement of the law. He remarks:—

“If it should be said that there was mercy in the gift of the Saviour, and that so far as that is concerned the transaction is one of mercy, though so far as the law is concerned the transaction is one of justice, it may be replied that this is not the representation of the Bible. The idea of mercy pervades it throughout. It is not only mercy in providing an atonement; it is mercy to the sinner. There is mercy in the case. There is love. There is more than a mere exaction of the penalty. There is more than a transfer. There is a lessening of suffering,” &c. Pp. 232, 233.

No one doubts that in the Atonement there is mercy to the sinner; but we are not prepared to admit that the transaction (death of Christ) is not one of justice so far as the law is concerned. We think this is the representation of the Bible. The death of Christ either met the demand of law and justice, or it did not. If it did, then it was, so far, a legal transaction; then “stern, unbending justice” was honored in his death. But if it did not, then we fail to see how divine justice is vindicated in granting pardon through him; how God can be just in justifying the believer any more than he could have been in justifying an unbeliever, seeing that justice had no part in the transaction. We have been accustomed to regard this declaration of the apostle (Rom. 3:24-26) as positive proof that justice was satisfied in his death, in order that pardon might be granted to the believer without slighting the claims of the law; and it does not seem to be possible to vindicate the system on any other principle than this. And if we only admit that Christ suffered the penalty of the law, which was death, as the Scriptures abundantly show, then there is no difficulty whatever in this view.

And we can only decide that “there is a lessening of suffering” by being able to measure the extent or severity of the sufferings of Christ, which no finite mind can do. Dr. Barnes’ statement is made on the supposition that the sufferings of the lost will be eternal. But we have seen that the idea of “eternal punishment” does not embrace eternal suffering, but rather eternal death; “everlasting destruction,” as the apostle says. It is possible, and the thought is not at all unreasonable, that the sufferings of Christ, the Son of God, as far exceeded the sufferings of a human being, as he is high in his nature above man, or as his blood is more precious and of more worth than that of man. It is safe to say that that remark of Dr. Barnes was made without due consideration.

The following words of Maclaurin are at once so suggestive and impressive that we are pleased to present them to the reader:—

“Men may paint Christ’s outward sufferings, but not that inward excellence from whence their virtue flowed, namely, his glory in himself, and his goodness to us. Men may paint one crucified; but how can that distinguish the Saviour from the criminals? On each side of him we may paint his hands and his feet fixed to the cross; but who can paint how these hands used always to be stretched forth for relieving the afflicted and curing the diseased; or how these feet went always about doing good; and how they cure more diseases and do more good now than ever? We may paint the outward appearance of his sufferings, but not the inward bitterness or invisible causes of them. Men can paint the cursed tree, but not the curse of the law that made it so. Men can paint Christ bearing the cross to Calvary, but not Christ bearing the sins of many. We may describe the nails piercing his sacred flesh; but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit? We may describe the soldier’s spear, but not the arrow of the Almighty; the cup of vinegar which he but tasted, but not the cup of wrath which he drank out to the lowest dregs; the derision of the Jews, but not the desertion of the Almighty forsaking his Son, that he might never forsake us who were his enemies.”

But let us further examine the facts of the gospel and see if they will justify the statement of Dr. Barnes that there was only mercy in the offering of Jesus Christ for man, as a sacrifice for sin. We do not see how any one can carefully consider the sacrifice, and the reason of its being made, and yet say there was no manifestation of divine justice in the transaction.

Man is a sinner, condemned to death. Justice demands his life. But God loves the world, and gives his Son to die for man. The Son volunteers to die; the plan is fixed and determined. After years of toil, privation, suffering, and scorn, he sees the hour of his death approaching. Alone with his Father he pleads, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Not once only does he cry. His soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Great drops of sweat, as it were blood, burst through the pores of his skin, so intense is his agony, as he prays again and again, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Soon is he betrayed, mocked, buffeted, spit upon, scourged, a crown of thorns placed upon his head, falsely accused and unjustly condemned, made to bear his own cross till he faints under the burden, and finally, nailed to the cross, a most cruel means of death, in agony he expires. Now, in all candor, let us ask, was there nothing but mercy in this transaction? Was there any mercy to the Saviour? It is readily acknowledged that “mercy pervades it throughout,” as far as the sinner is concerned; but was it so toward the Saviour? The sinner was not the only one concerned in that transaction. No one can make or endorse this statement of Dr. Barnes unless he looks to the benefit accruing to the sinner, without considering the sufferings and death of the Saviour. And that is surely a very limited consideration of the nature and object of the death of Christ which leaves his death altogether out of view!

It may be objected here that Dr. Barnes claims an absolute excess of mercy, because the sufferings of Christ were but a small part of the sufferings that were justly due to the guilty world. But that makes not the least difference; for the question of the justice or the injustice of that part endured by him must be settled by the same principles that would govern the case had he endured the whole. The objection, however, is wholly inadmissible, involving a material error in itself; for death is the penalty of the law, and the just due of the sinner. This Christ suffered, and to deny this were to deny the whole gospel.

Why was this immense sacrifice made? Was man of so great value that the glorious Son of the Most High must come to rescue him from ruin? That is by no means the sole reason. Satan made a bold attempt to frustrate the plan of the Almighty. Man, with the power of reason and of will conferred upon him by his Maker, must be free to act and to form his own character in the sight of the Lawgiver. He yielded to the tempter’s wiles and broke the law of his Creator and Benefactor. Not only the life of man, but the honor of God is at stake. Shall Satan be permitted to triumph, and man be utterly ruined and blotted from the earth? Or shall the divine Lawgiver relax the strictness of his law, and so let man escape the penalty which he had incurred? Either would dim the glory of the Most High. Either would cause “the sons of God,” who “shouted for joy” when the foundations of the earth were laid, to vail their faces in astonishment and in sorrow. God, whose love and justice are alike infinite, determined to open a way whereby man might be recovered from his fall, and the integrity of the law be maintained, and its claims fully honored. A way, through the sacrifice of his Son, whereby “he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” And shall we yet say that the sacrifice of Jesus was not an offering to justice? that it had no reference to the dignity of the divine law, which had been dishonored? We cannot see how people can read the sacred Scriptures, and look upon the agonies of the cross of Calvary, and yet say that the Atonement does not answer the demand of justice.

But the views which we have quoted from Barnes and others on this point, are not those which are commonly accepted by evangelical Christians. And we rejoice that they are not. On the other hand we present a few quotations, the sentiments of which, we feel confident, will meet a response in many an earnest Christian heart. The first is from Bishop Baring, in a sermon on “Christ’s Death a Propitiatory Sacrifice”:—

“It is the constant failing of man’s limited intelligence to attempt to exalt one attribute of Jehovah by the surrender of another, and to throw light upon his love by vailing his justice. But the salvation of the gospel, while it immeasurably heightens the glory of each attribute, exhibits them all in perfect harmony; so that each sheds a luster on the rest, and ‘mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Ps. 85:10. Oh, where can we find set forth in more awful reality the immutability of God’s threats, the severity of his justice, his infinite abhorrence of sin, than in the simple narrative of the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion of God’s coequal Son.”

Dr. Chalmers, in a sermon on the “Power of the Gospel,” said:—

“That law which, resting on the solemn authority of its firm and unalterable requirements, demanded a fulfillment up to the last jot and tittle of it, has been magnified and has been made honorable by one illustrious Sufferer, who put forth the greatness of his strength in that dark hour of the travail of his soul when he bore the burden of all its penalties.”

Robert Hall, in a sermon, “The Innocent for the Guilty,” in which he outlines the gospel as “the substitution of Jesus Christ in the stead of sinners, his suffering the penalty of the law in their room, and opening a way for their deliverance from the sentence of condemnation,” reasoned as follows:—

“It is highly expedient, or rather necessary, that the person who is admitted as a substitute in the stead of another, should vindicate the law by which he suffered. Otherwise, the more illustrious his character, and the more extraordinary his interposition, the more the sentiments of mankind would be divided between approbation of his character, and disapprobation of the law by which he suffered. It would be dangerous to throw the luster of such a character, the splendor and weight of his sufferings, into the scale opposite to that which contains the law. While he suffered the penalty, had he complained of the law which exacted it, as being too rigid and severe, as having demanded more than was really equitable, all the glory which the law might have derived from such a sacrifice would have been entirely lost. The honor of the law would have been impaired in the estimation of men, in proportion to the impression which his character and example had made on their minds. But so far is this from the case before us, that, on the contrary, we find both his language and his sufferings combine to produce one result.

“Never had justice such an advocate as it had in the doctrine of Christ; at the same time never had it such a victim as in his sacrifice. He illustrated the law in his doctrine, maintained and defended its purity, and rescued it from the pollutions with which the scribes and Pharisees had debased it. He magnified the law, and made it honorable. There was no contrariety between his sufferings and his doctrine; on the contrary, the one afforded the clearest commentary on the equity of the other. Every part of his conduct, and every period of his life, was a practical illustration of the excellence of the precepts which compose that law, the penalty of which he endured on behalf of the offender.”

Every one must acknowledge that whatever detracts from the honor of the law, detracts from the glory of the Lawgiver. The law cannot be reproached and its Author be honored. Jesus did not seek his own glory, but the glory of him that sent him; and it was in furtherance of this object that he magnified the law and made it honorable.

The following most impressive language is found in a sermon by John Maclaurin, on “Glorying in the Cross”—

“Here shines spotless justice, incomprehensible wisdom, and infinite love, all at once. None of them darkens or eclipses the other; every one of them gives a luster to the rest. They mingle their beams, and shine with united eternal splendor; the just Judge, the merciful Father, and the wise Governor. No other object gives such a display of all these perfections; yea, all the objects we know give not such a display of any one of them. Nowhere does justice appear so awful, mercy so amiable, or wisdom so profound.

“By the infinite dignity of Christ’s person, his cross gives more honor and glory to the law and justice of God, than all the other sufferings that ever were or will be endured in the world. When the apostle is speaking to the Romans of the gospel, he does not tell them only of God’s mercy, but also of his justice revealed by it. God’s wrath against the unrighteousness of men is chiefly revealed by the righteousness and sufferings of Christ. ‘The Lord was pleased for his righteousness’ sake’ Rom. 1:17: Isa. 42:21. Both by requiring and appointing that righteousness, he magnified the law and made it honorable. . . . Considering, therefore, that God is the Judge and Lawgiver of the world, it is plain that his glory shines with unspeakable brightness in the cross of Christ as the punishment of sin. But this is the very thing that hinders the lovers of sin from acknowledging the glory of the cross, because it shows so much of God’s hatred of what they love.”

Mr. H. H. Dobney, in his excellent work on “Future Punishment,” discoursing on the nature of the law of God, says:—

“The mediatorial work of the Son of God is set forth as that which harmonizes justice and mercy. And we can easily perceive that the authority of law, its motive power, its moral force, is more than preserved by this compensative arrangement, which so wonderfully exhibits both the wisdom and the love of God. For those to whom mercy is shown through the Mediator acquire, by the very means adopted in saving them, a much deeper sense of their guilt in violating law than they would ever have attained; while their gratitude, their admiration, their love exceed the power of language to describe; and sin becomes to them inexpressibly hateful, while holiness—conformity to God—becomes the joy and rejoicing of their heart. (J. H. Waggoner—The Atonement in Light of Nature and Revelation, 1884 Edition, pp. 125-145)


By Margaretha Tierney

Some have found it difficult to see that Christ is truly the Son of God when the angel stated to Mary that He would be “called the Son of the Highest.” (Luke 1:32)  Luke 1:35 says that Jesus would be “called the Son of God.” Does this mean He is not literally a Son, but only “called” the Son of God?

Scripture must be compared with Scripture.

Luke 1:36 tells us that Elizabeth also conceived. It says, “this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.” Was Elizabeth barren, or was she just “called” barren? (It is the same Greek word.)

In verse 76, we are told that Elizabeth’s son would “be called the prophet of the Highest.”  Was John really a prophet or was he only “called” one? According to Jesus, John was “a prophet … and more than a prophet.” (Matthew 11:9—same Greek word.)

Just as Elizabeth was in actual fact barren, so she was called barren by others.  And just as John was indeed a prophet, so Jesus is literally the Son of God, as well as being called His Son.

John writes, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name.”  (John 20:31)

(Sister Tierney writes from Australia. She publishes a study paper entitled Give Him Glory in which this study was first published. You may contact her at P. O. Box 378, Ararat, Victoria 3377, Australia. Her e-mail address is: decision@netconnect.com.au)

2002 West Virginia
Camp Meeting Notice

While its planning is in the early stages, the date for the 2002 West Virginia camp meeting has been set for July 2-6. This date was chosen in part to avoid conflicting with the Colorado camp meeting June 6-15.

Please mark your calendars and be planning now to be able to attend. More details will be published at plans are finalized.


Your ministry has been such a blessing in my life. I thank God for it! Thank you! Thank you also for sending me the Old Paths newsletter. Could I please have it sent regularly and also Present Truth. I used to be on the internet to get them but not anymore. My mother, who lives in Queensland has also started receiving Old Paths and loves it.

Michael Lawrence gave me a copy of Present Truth, “Righteousness by Faith.” It was sitting around at home for quite a few weeks and then finally I read it. What a difference it made in my life. Now I know why I wasn’t getting anywhere with leading a true Christian life. What a blessing to find out that God in His love knows we can’t do this on our own and has provided a way—through His beloved Son. What a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I had now truly found life. A few weeks later I was given the tape by Lynnford Beachy on The Love of God and it was also a wonderful blessing. In the Bible study group I had learned about the Sabbath, the State of the Dead, Godhead, Health–but these two important, vital messages had been missing.

So through your ministry God has shown me these important truths and what a difference it makes in my daily, practical living. Now I also understand why the whole trinity issue was important. Not having gone to church I had, of course, heard of the trinity but didn’t believe in a God the___, God, the ___ and God the ___, so the truth made sense to me as soon as I heard it, and I thought O. K. But only recently have I realized that the important love of God gets lost in believing in a trinity.

I think David Clayton did mentioned this in the Omega series but I didn’t really take it in. And then hearing the talks at the camp and the public meeting, I especially appreciated the talk on “The Spirit of God” and the part about Jesus being our best friend and the love God has for us. It has filled me as I was praying to get to know God better as I felt there was something missing in my relationship with Him and that talk was an answer to that prayer—the joy and hope it brought me!

Both David’s and Allen’s talks I really enjoyed as they were simple and brimming over with the love of God. Mum and Dad didn’t get to see the two of you in Queensland but both are very keen on all your writing and videos.

Dad, who is still “getting around” to Christianity (is open to listening but has not truly made up his mind for God) was very impressed by your ministry tapes—perhaps a different reason than you think. The “Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly recommended,” part on all your material. He felt it showed you were keen to get the Word out and not treat it as a business. (All other material he has seen has Ó on it.) So he said to Mum, “Anything these guys bring out I will sit down and pay attention to.” So your genuine love for the truth has attracted yet another soul. “Men will be captivated by the glory of an abiding Christ.” COL p. 287

I hope Hans is still on the road to recovery. I am praying for you all. May God’s perfect plan be done in all our lives. Thank you again. Australia

(We praise God for the way He works in the lives of people and for being patient with us.    Editor)

I’m sorry I have to reduce the tithe there but we have a church home here and want to try to carry on the work here.

_____ is very well learned on the Scriptures and Bible history, and studies to show himself approved. Not because he is my son do I say this, but it is true, and he is an honest sincere person.

In this day in which we are living we see lots of professors but few doers of the Word. People are satisfied where they are. They reach a certain point and go no farther and refuse to study anymore. I have learned a lot through the years, but I am not conceited and think I know it all. We should continue to grow for our ways are so much lower and God’s ways are so much higher. We need to praise God in the good times and also in the bad times. We know we have a race to run. Paul said, “I glory in the cross of Christ.”

I really understand how Christ felt when forsaken at the cross. 2 Cor. 4: 8 & 9 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” May God bless you in your endeavor for God.

We are few in number here but God is not in the numbers. Remember us in your prayers and fellowship. I’d really like more fellowship, but I have a friend who is closer than a brother and He is the one I’m seeking after. God be with you. IL

(While we appreciate the financial support we receive from the field, we wish to encourage all our readers not to neglect the local areas that they live and work in.     Editor)

We have been getting your magazine, Old Paths, off and on now for a while, and are not quite sure how we got on your mailing list. We do not agree with your stands and would therefore request that our names be taken off your mailing list. Thank you,  Sweden

(Anyone who is receiving this publication who does not wish to, may request their name to be removed at anytime.    Editor)

We want to thank you for the many months you have sent Old Paths to us free of charge. It has given us the opportunity to examine another view on the teachings of the Scriptures.

As we draw near to the close of things, it seems life grows busier and more complex. This is just as the Enemy would have it. It becomes habit to spend less and less time with God’s Word and with the Spirit of Prophecy.

We are attempting to get organized and to simplify, in an effort to make time for that which is paramount for our salvation. One way we have found to do this is to discontinue all the commentaries on the Scriptures and Spirit of Prophecy writings which we presently receive. We’ve discovered that vast amounts of time are spent in commentary reading, while the straight “Thus saith the Lord” gathers dust on our shelf.

Thanks again for sharing with us in the past. We would ask that you remove our name from your mailing list.  This will help us in the simplification process. My husband asked me to write this letter. It is coming from both of us. Respectfully,  WV

(Since I have received letters like this before, I would like to make a few comments. I remember reading that Martin Luther wished all of his writings could be burned if people would only read the Bible. I feel the same way. I do hope that the new year will provide you with time to truly read and study the inspired writings as never before. I urge you to be faithful and true to the messages they share. If at any time, you come across truth that I need, please share it with me. I believe that truth is more important than human pride or human opinions. You mentioned in your letter that you were thankful for the “opportunity to examine another view on the teachings of the Scriptures.” I would greatly appreciate your honest and candid thoughts on that examination if you are ever so inclined to share.    Editor)

A Call for Prayer

There is a brother in Zimbabwe, Michael Sibanda, who is currently on death row for a crime he did not commit. When Howard and I were there we spent much time with his mother, Melody Tshabalala, who informed us of the situation. Michael was working away from home, and when he returned he found his wife dead in his apartment. As much of a shock as this was to him, he was then accused of murdering his wife. However, two women prior to this had been murdered in the same apartment complex before Michael and his wife moved into this apartment, and the manager of the apartment was a suspect.

Brother Michael has been reading some of our literature and had accepted the truth about God before his wife was murdered.. He recently wrote us a letter in which he stated: “Sitting sad and dismayed in the dark prison cell, sentenced to death for a crime I never committed. I was yet filled with joy to receive books and the note that there are people like you who are praying for me. Thank you very much for your kindness… through your prayers I believe God may stretch out His hands and deliver me. I made an appeal to the Supreme Court and I am still waiting for their reply. I wish to meet you some day, but if we do not meet here on earth let us meet in heaven.”

Please pray for this dear brother, for we know that God delights to answer the prayers of His people. When Peter was in prison for preaching the gospel, “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5) and the Lord answered these prayers. I am sure Michael will be grateful for every prayer that is offered up in his behalf.

You may wish to send cards and/or notes of encouragement to Michael and his mother Melody Tshabalalaat:

P. O.Nkulumane

Lynnford Beachy

Youth’s Corner
Confession of Christ

Now is the time to confess Christ before the world; by a consistent life and conversation to be a witness for Jesus Christ. By so doing you will exercise an influence over others, and will aid others to confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The more light you have, and the more Christ works through the Holy Spirit to win you from a course of guilt, the more responsible you will be for resisting his mercy and refusing his invitation. The Jewish nation rejected Christ, and the darkness that came upon them corresponded to the great light that had been given them. So it will be with you. The greater the light you have, the greater will be the darkness that will enshroud you. You will press closer to the enemy of Christ, and make it more manifest than before that it is your choice to be Satan's slave rather than Christ's free man. Not enlisting in the service of the Captain of our salvation, you show to the world that you have chosen another leader.

The kingdom of heaven has come near unto you, and you have seen the Father and the Son. You think that the time will never come when you will mock and deride Jesus. You think that if you had lived upon earth when Christ was here, your voice would not have been raised with that of the multitude who cried, “Away with him! Crucify him!” But if you persist in rejecting Christ, you will be at the mercy of the enemy, and will do his bidding at last. I beseech of you to take your stand without delay on the side of Christ. Jesus has bought you with an infinite price because he loves you. Why not reveal to the world that you do not hate and reject Jesus? Why do you not manifest that you love the attributes and the service of Christ more than you love the attributes and the service of Satan? Why do you ventilate what you call skepticism, when you know that Jesus Christ came into the world to save just such foolish sinners as yourselves? Why do you look upon religion as a restraint, when the practice of godliness will keep you from ruining your happiness in this life, and will give you a title to the future, immortal life? O let it not be said of you, “Ye have seen and hated both me and my Father.”

Jesus has done much for you, and he is willing to do much more. Every blessing, every talent, every capability you possess has come to you through Jesus Christ. Those who reject Christ, reject their only hope of happiness in this life, and cut themselves off from the hope of eternal life. Every step of rejection of Christ is a step toward the rejection of the goodness of salvation, and toward the sin against the Holy Spirit. It is evident that not one who stands under the banner of Jesus Christ, who serves him as a faithful soldier, has committed this sin. The sin against the Holy Ghost is not confined to any one period of time, or limited to any one generation. The Jewish nation who rejected Christ committed the unpardonable sin, but by taking the same course that they took in refusing the invitation of mercy, we may commit the same error. You offer insult to the Prince of life, and put him to an open shame before the synagogue of Satan. “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” You should not delay one day. The peril is too great. You may lose your life. Satan is watching every opportunity in order that he may destroy both soul and body; but Jesus is ready to pardon all your sins, and to make you a child of God, an heir of heaven. (Ellen G. White, Youth’s Instructor, August 8, 1895)

 Florida Camp Meeting Report

by Lynnford Beachy

My family and I were privileged and blessed to attend the winter camp meeting in Ocala National Forrest in central Florida from January 10-13. The church in Miami, in cooperation with the church in Orlando, hosted this camp meeting. The camp meeting was well organized and well attended.

The thing that impressed me the most was the half hour given before most of the meetings for personal and small group prayers, to prepare our hearts and ask for God’s blessings. This brought a subduing and solemn influence upon the meetings. We prayed for consecration, spiritual growth, ministers around the world, and the progress of God’s truth.

There were many new people there whom I had never met before. I very much enjoyed the opportunities of getting to know new brethren. It was encouraging to hear their testimonies of how the Lord had led them, and it was wonderful to see the Lord leading people. There were some very dedicated students of the Bible there who were thrilled to hear the truth presented. There were several people who attended who were very new to the truth about God message, or had never heard it prior to these meetings. It was a thrill to see the way God’s Spirit worked upon their hearts as they began to understand the truth about God’s love in giving up His only begotten Son. How true are the words of David, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

After opening with small group prayers, Brother Benjamin Vela had the first meeting on Thursday evening, followed by testimonies. Each night after the last meeting there was time for testimonies, which were very encouraging. Early Friday morning, after our prayer time, Brother David Clayton shared a very inspiring message. Brother Malcolm McCrillis shared the next meeting, enlightening us on some of the current events happening in our world.

I had the next meeting where I shared the first angel’s message, showing how every part of this message is designed to reveal God’s love. This is the everlasting gospel! In the afternoon, Dr. Wilson Corros shared the first half of his health seminar, encouraging us to return to a simple diet and take the health reform message to the world as the right arm of the everlasting gospel. Brother Willis Smith shared the next message, encouraging us to study the Bible for ourselves and have a personal relationship with God. Brother David Clayton had the evening meeting entitled: “Who is the God of the Bible.” I had heard that message before, but as it was given I received new insights from the Scripture. I heard one man say during the meeting, “All right! This is what I came here for.” The message went very well, followed by testimonies.

Early Sabbath morning Brother Willis Smith shared a wonderful message on brotherly love, which we all needed to hear. We all need a deeper love for the brethren than we have now. In the next meeting, Dr. Wilson Corros shared the second half of his health seminar. I shared the next message on the complete death of Christ, after which we had a lovely communion service. After lunch Brother Benjamin Vela shared a message, followed by a message by Arthan Wright, both of which encouraged us to stay faithful to the truth. The final message of the camp meeting was presented by Brother David Clayton, focusing on practical godliness, followed by the final evening of testimonies.

The meetings left us enlightened, encouraged, and challenged to reach higher ground with God. I wish to leave you with the same challenge. Christ is coming soon, and we have but a short time to prepare to meet the Lord. I pray that you will take advantage of this time to prepare your hearts to seek the Lord.

Clarification: The editor of Watchman What of the Night? has informed us that our reference to his publication in last month’s issue of Old Paths should have noted that the first paragraph we quoted was from page 2 and the second paragraph was from page 6 of the January 1998 issue.

Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322. 

Editor: Allen Stump - E-mail: editor@smyrna.org.
Associate Editor: Lynnford Beachy - E-mail berean@smyrna.org

Please also visit our Present Truth Website!

This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013