THEOLOGY OF THE SO-CALLED
Dr. DANIEL STEELE D.D.,
Professor Of Didactic Theology In
No Publishing Date
Abridged and edited
Editor’s Note and Introduction: This classic work by Dr. Daniel Steele has influenced me in many ways. He has always caused me to put on my thinking cap as I read his arguments, and re-read them over and over again until I thought that I grasped them.
Having recommended this book to people in the past, I thought that it could be more useful to many more through the wide circulation of the internet. The later half of the book dwells on Plymouth Brethren eschatology, which I have omitted. The first part of the book stands well on its own.
A few points are necessary for today’s
1). It was written around the close of
the 19th century. People may not be as familiar with a man named
Darby as they used to be.
2). Some people within today’s
Plymouth Brethren Churches say that this does not reflect what they hear in
their pulpits and reading material. So do not assume that it is an up-to-date
reflection of their doctrine…
3). It gives the reader a historical view on how some doctrines were
developed in the 1800's, and exist today as Modern Evangelicalism.
The doctrines spoken of may seem normal
to today’s reader, but in Steel’s time, these were strange new introductions
on the Christian scene.
is no secret that the author of this book
believes in a large Gospel, an evangel co-extensive with the present needs of
the depraved offspring of Adam; yea, more: he believes that where sin hath
abounded, grace doth here and now much more abound to those believers who insist
that Christ is a perfect Savior from inbred sin, through the efficacy of His
blood, in procuring the indwelling Comforter and Sanctifier. He unhesitatingly
proclaims and testifies to all the world that Jesus Christ can make clean the
inside, as well as the outside of His vessels unto honor; that heart-purity is
real and inwrought, and not a stainless robe, concealing unspeakable moral
filthiness and leprosy. He believes with St. John against the Gnostics, that if
any man asserts that he has by nature no defiling taint
of depravity, no bent toward acts of sin, and hence, that he does not need the
blood of atonement, that he is self-deceived, and the truth is not in him; but
if he will confess his lost condition, God is faithful and just, not only to
forgive, but also to cleanse from all sin, "actual and original" (Bengel).
He is bold to assert that we are living in the days when Ezekiel's prophecy is
fulfilled: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean;
from All your filthiness and from All
your idols I will cleanse you; I will put my spirit within you, and cause
you to walk in my statutes," — a case of evangelical legalism, —"
and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. I will also save you from all your
uncleanliness; and in the days when the words of Jehovah, by the lips of Moses,
are verified in the experience of a multitude of believers: "The Lord thy
God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy
God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." He
finds St. Paul's inspired unfoldings of the Gospel germs, dropped by Christ, to
be the exact fulfillment and realization of these predictions, when the Apostle
asserts that " our old man is crucified with him " — that is, in the
same manner, and with as deadly an effect — "that the body of sin might
be destroyed " — "put out of existence" (Meyer); so that every
advanced believer may truthfully assert, "it is no longer I that live"
is confident that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus does now
"make us free from the law of sin and death," although it does not,
this side of the grave, deliver us from errors, ignorance’s, and such innocent
infirmities as St. Paul gloried in without detriment to his saintly character.
Believing, as the author is not ashamed to confess with tongue and type and
telegraph and telephone, in a genuine Christian
Perfection — a Scriptural term which cannot be
used " without raising the pity or indignation of one-half of the religious
world, some making it the subject of their pious sneers " — he views with
sorrow the resurrection of that spurious perfection which wrought disastrous
effects in past generations, consisting in an imaginary perfect and inalienable
standing in Christ wholly independent of moral conduct and character, the
outcome of which must inevitably be, in many cases, the rejection of God's law
as the rule of life, and a sad lowering of the standard of Christian morality, i
It is an evil omen when Christian teachers make eloquent pleas for the
flesh, and fallaciously construct ingenious Scriptural arguments for indwelling
sin. So long as the believer dwells in the body, such preaching, instead of
inspiring unspeakable abhorrence for sin, deadens men's sensibility to its
dreadful nature and leads them "to speak of the corruptions of their hearts
in as unaffected and airy a mariner, as if they talked of freckles upon their
faces, and to run down their sinful nature only to apologize for their
sinful practices; or to appear having great proficiency in self-knowledge, and
court the praise due to genuine humility."
have noted the fact that a school of popular evangelists have espoused the
doctrines which lie at the base of Antinomianism, and that they are zealously
inculcating these peculiar tenets in Young Men's Christian Associations and
summer schools. We have done what we could, by articles in our Christian
periodicals, to warn the public of the certain evil results which will ensue
when these doctrines descend from the few Christian teachers who, by
well-established Christian habits, are fortified against their pernicious
tendency, to the multitudes of weak believers who may be ensnared to their moral
ruin by the pleasing doctrine that one act of faith in Christ secures a
perpetual exemption from condemnation, and a lifelong license for walking in the
teachers of this doctrine may live in harmony with the
purest ethical precepts of Christ, under what Joseph Cook calls "hereditary
momentum," and a personal experience of salvation in former years, before
embracing their present theological errors. But what will be the legitimate
fruit in those who give full credence to a theoretical error lying so near to
conduct and character, and who are without the safeguards of which we have just
our knowledge of the human heart we forebode many shipwrecks of moral character.
Men generally live below their creeds; few rise above them. Illustration: A
preacher riding on top of an omnibus, in
fatal mistake is in ignoring the Scriptural test of saving faith, evangelical
works. It is true that the penitent believer seeking the pardon of sin is
justified by faith only. But it is also true that in the day of Judgment the
same person will be judged by works only, works which attest the genuineness of
his faith (Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Ezek. 7:8, 27; 18:20, 30; 1 Cor. 3:8, 13-15; 2
Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5-8; especially Matt. 25:31-46).
is due to the Christian public that I should acknowledge my sense of
incompetency for the proper handling of this subject. I have long waited for
some eminent theologian to lift up his voice in refutation of a system of error
which is industriously promoted by persons whose zeal is worthy of a better
cause. At length I have yielded to the importunity of
many Christian men to expose the character and tendencies of that system of
doctrines against which this book is prayerfully directed.
have made a free use of that great armory of weapons — " Fletcher's
Checks to Antinomianism." Sometimes I have quoted sentences unchanged,
noting them with quotation marks. But frequently these marks could not be used
by reason of the alterations which I have made, either to abridge, to modernize,
or to eliminate some personal allusion.
my quotations from the writings of the Plymouth Brethren and their sympathizers,
I have endeavored to give the exact idea of the writer as gathered from the
of my Christian friends may be grieved, I trust that the great day will reveal
that truth has not been wounded, but rather cleared of errors and set forth in
the robes of her native beauty
Rev. J. Fletcher
says, "An Antinomian is a professor of Christianity, who is antinomos,
against the law of Christ, as well as against the law of Moses. He allows
Christ's law to be a rule of life, but not a rule of judgment for believers, and
thus he destroys that law at a stroke, as a law; it being evident that a ruled
by the personal observance or non-observance of which Christ's subjects can
never be acquitted or condemned, is not a law for them. Hence he asserts that
Christians shall no more be justified before God by their personal obedience to
the law of Christ, than by their personal obedience to the ceremonial law of
Moses. Nay, he believes that the best of Christians perpetually break Christ's
law; that nobody ever kept it but Christ Himself; and that we shall be justified
or condemned before God, in the great day, not as we shall personally be found
to have finally kept or broken Christ's law, but as God shall be found to have,
before the foundation of the world, arbitrarily laid, or not laid, to our
account, the merit of Christ's keeping His own law. Thus he hopes to stand in
the great day, merely by what he calls 'Christ's imputed righteousness';
excluding with abhorrence, from our final justification, the evangelical
worthiness of our own personal, sincere obedience of repentance and faith, — a
precious obedience this which he calls ‘dung, dross, and filthy rags' just as
if it were the insincere obedience of self-righteous pride, and Pharisaic
hypocrisy. Nevertheless, though he thus excludes the evangelical, derived worthiness
of the works of faith, from our eternal justification and salvation, he himself
does good works, if he is in other respects a good man. Nay, in this case, he
piques himself on doing them, thinking he is peculiarly obliged to make people
believe that, immoral as his sentiments are, they draw after them the greatest
benevolence and the strictest morality." This reminds us of the testimony
of a Universalist woman, "That she had come three miles to attend this
prayer-meeting, so as to show that the Universalists are as, pious as the
there are multitudes carelessly following the stream of corrupt nature who are
crying out, not against the unholiness, but against the “legality, of
their wicked hearts, which still suggest that they must do something, in
order to attain eternal life." They decry that evangelical legality which
all true Christians are in love with—a cleaving to Christ by that kind of
faith which works righteousness—a following Him as He went about doing good,
and a showing by St. James' works that we have
consistent Antinomian — that is, one whose practice accords with his theory
— is loud in his proclamation of a finished eternal salvation, the blotting
out of his sins, past, present and future, on the Cross eighteen hundred years
ago, without respect to his own conduct, character, or works. His salvation is
so finished that no sins can ever blot his name out of the Book of Life.
He thinks that the Son of God magnified the law that we might vilify it; that He
made it honorable, that we might make it contemptible; that He came to fulfill
it, that we might be discharged from fulfilling it, according to our capacity.
He has no sympathy with David's confession: "I love Thy commandments above
gold and precious stones: I will always keep Thy law, yea, forever and ever: I
will walk at
short, the creed of the Antinomian is this:
was justified when Christ died, and my faith is simply a waking up to the fact
that I have always been saved — a realization of what was done
before I had any being; that a believer is not bound to mourn for sin, because
it was pardoned before it was committed, and pardoned sin is no sin; that God
does not see sin in believers, however great sins they commit; that by God's
laying our iniquities upon o Christ, He became as completely sinful as I, and
I as completely righteous as Christ. Moreover, I believe that no sin can do a
believer any, ultimate harm, although it may temporarily interrupt communion
with God. I must not do any duty for my own salvation. This is included in the
new covenant, which is all of it a promise, having no condition on my part It is
a paid up, non-forfeitable, eternal-life insurance policy. Since the new
covenant is not properly made with us, but with Christ for us, the conditions,
repentance, faith, and obedience, are
not on our side, but on Christ's side who repented, believed, and obeyed, in
such a way as to relieve us from these unpleasant acts. Hence it is folly to
search for inward marks of grace, and it is a fundamental error to make
sanctification an indispensable evidence
of justification — an error which dampens the joys of him who takes Christ for
his sanctification, and plunges him into needless alarms and distresses."
move in cycles, sometimes of very long periods. They resemble those comets of
unknown orbits which occasionally dash into our solar system; but they are not
as harmless. Often they leave moral ruin in their track. Since all Christian
truth is practical, and aims at the moral transformation of men, all negations
of that truth ar^ deleterious; they not only obscure the truth and obstruct its
purifying effect, but they positively corrupt and destroy souls. This is
specially true of errors which release men from obligation to the law of God.
faith in Christ! which works by love and purifies the heart, there started up a
class of teachers who drew from Paul's teachings the fallacious inference that
the law of God is abolished in the case of the believer, who is henceforth
delivered from its authority as the rule of life. Hence they became, what Luther first styled? Antinomians (Greek anti,
against, and nomos, law). We infer from
root of this error lies in a false view of the mediatorial work of Christ, that
He performs for men the obedience which they ought to perform, and that God can
justly demand nothing further from the delinquents. It
is claimed that Christ's perfect virtues are reckoned to the believer in such a
way as to excuse him for their absence; His chastity compensating for the
absence of that moral quality in the believer. Hence, adultery and murder in
King David, being compensated by the purity and benevolence of Jesus imputed to
him in the mind of God, did not mar David's standing as righteous before God.
who state the doctrine of the atonement with proper safeguards, are careful to
limit its vicarious efficacy to the passive obedience of the Son of God,
His sufferings and death. His active obedience constitutes no part of His
substitutional work. The germ of Antinomianism is found in the inclusion of the
latter in the atonement. It is true that the God-man was actively obedient to
the Father's ^ will, but this obedience was personal, and not 2-
mediatorial. Hence, every one justified through I faith in the shed blood
of Christ, is under obligation to render personal obedience to God's law. In
this respect Jesus cannot-be his proxy or representative.
Bishop Hopkins: "Though Christ's bearing the punishment
of the law by death '' does exempt us from suffering, yet His obeying of the law
does not excuse obedience to the law. He obeyed the law as a covenant of works
— we only as a rule of righteousness."
should be said that the Gnostic sects were Antinomian on other grounds. They
held that their spiritual natures could not contract moral pollution, whatever
their moral conduct might be, sin inhering only in matter.
As a piece of
gold retains its purity while encompassed by the filth of the swine-sty, so the
soul keeps pure amid the grossest sins. This species of Antinomianism was not
limited to those who professed faith in Christ. It was adopted by all who held
that all evil inheres in uncreated matter.
Universalism is only another form of Antinomianism. It is the expectation of
salvation through Christ, without obedience to either the law or the Gospel.
was very early disfigured by antinomianism, a doctrinal and practical error
which opposes itself to God's law even in the evangelical form in which it was
defined by His adorable Son, “Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, and thy
neighbor as thyself." This had been the burden of Christ's preaching, with
the hint that His own life was to be given, as a ransom for many, and to secure
grace to enable them to fulfill God’s law. The apostles, by precept and
example, powerfully enforced their Lord's doctrine and practice. Their lives are
true copies of their exhortations. It is hard to say which excite men most to
believe and obey, their seraphic sermons
or their saintly lives. Success crowned their labors. Both Judaism and paganism
heard the thunder of their words of faith and fell prostrate beneath the
lightning of their works of love. But before all is lost, Satan hastens to
transform himself into an angel of light." In this disguise he instills
speculative faith, instead of a saving faith which works by love, purifies the
heart, and overcomes the world; he
pleads for loose living, puts the badge of contempt upon the daily cross, and
gets multitudes of Laodiceans and Gnostics into his snare. Sad and
sure is the result. Genuine works of faith are neglected; idol works of men’
invention are substituted for those of God’s commandments; and fallen
churches, gliding downward through the smooth way of antinomianism, return to
the covert way of Phariseeism, or to the broad way of infidelity.
was the distressing outlook upon the church when Luther arose. True faith was
dethroned by superstitious fancy, and works were will nigh choked by the thorns
of this baneful error. Luther swung the sharp scythe of reform over northern
Europe, and he might have mowed a broad swath through
Lord's sermon upon the Mount, was explained away, and St. James' Epistle was
wished out of the Bible as an "epistle of straw”' and not of the precious
stones of Gospel truth. The
practicable law of Christ, styled the law of liberty, because of the ease
with which it could be kept by a regenerate soul entirely sanctified through the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit, was perpetually confounded with that
impracticable Christless law of Edenic innocence; and the avoidable
penalties of the former were injudiciously represented as one with the dreadful
curse of the latter, or with the abrogated ceremonies of Mosaism. Then the law
of Christ demanding purity and love was publicly wedded to the devil, and poor
bewildered Protestants were taught to defy and scoff at both. From such a
seed-sowing the dreadful harvest waved over
Luther learned wisdom enough to abandon the root of the mischief when he
drew up, or, rather, indorsed, the Augsburg Confession, in which are these
remarkable words: "We teach touching repentance, that those who have sinned
after baptism may obtain the forgiveness of sins as often as they are
converted," etc. Again: "We condemn the Anabaptists, who say that
those who have been once justified can no more lose the Holy Spirit."
antidote of Gospel truth, clearly and frequently enforced, might have stopped
the spread of Antinomianism. But Luther did not insist upon it, vacillated, and
sometimes seemed even to contradict it. When Calvin arose, though he seldom went
the length of some of his followers in the next century in speculative
Antinomianism, yet he laid excellent foundations for it in his un-Scriptural and
unguarded doctrine of absolute decrees, and of the necessary, final perseverance
of backsliding believers.
have hinted that Antinomianism has had Its cycles in the history of the Church.
Its full development, since the Reformation, is due to John Agricola
(1492-1566), one of the early coadjutors of Luther, some of whose expressions,
as to justification and the law, in the heat of his great controversy with
doctrine completely destroys the distinction between right and wrong, and
removes all motives to abstain from sin. It boasts in the perseverance of the
saints, while it believes in no saint but one, that is, Jesus, and neglects to
persevere. Several vigorous
theologians opposed this baneful doctrine, the chief of whom were Baxter and
Williams, who, after heroic efforts and no small suffering, finally triumphed.
next revival of Antinomianism in the Church of England and among the dissenters,
was in the eighteenth century and was met most courageously by John Wesley, the
apostle of experimental godliness and of Christian perfection, and by the
seraphic John Fletcher, whose writings, says Dr. Dollinger, are the
most important theological productions which issued from Protestantism in the
latter part of the eighteenth century." His reasoning is cogent, his
imagination vivid, his style clear and incisive, and the momentum of his
arguments is so irresistible that he swept the field, driving Antinomianism out
of England during, at least, two generations. His "Checks" stand to-day unanswered
and unanswerable. No man can read them with candor and continue to
deny the obligation of believers to strict obedience to the law of God; that
inwrought holiness is the requirement of the Gospel, and that there is no sharp
contrast between it and the law.
thorough study of these "Checks," by the ministry in our times, would
wonderfully stimulate their spiritual life, tone up their theology, and furnish
them with the weapons for the conflict with the cycle of Antinomian error which
is now upon the Church.
agency through which this heresy, entombed by Fletcher, has had its
resurrection, is the 'so-called Plymouth Brethren, whose
peculiar tenets will be described in the next chapter.
What are the
Plymouth Brethren? This is a question which many people are asking. An old lady
The Plymouth Brethren originated in
years ago, D. L. Moody learned his method of Bible-study and Bible-readings from
Brethren, having no written creed and no Church discipline, are exposed to
constant schisms, so that there are several sorts in
primal error seems to be in their conception of the Atonement. They teach that sin, as a
kind of personality, was condemned on the cross of Christ and put away forever.
Whose sins? Those of the believer. All his sins past, present, and future, are
"judged" and swept away forever in the Atonement, and the believer is
to have no more concern for his past or future sins, since they were blotted out
eighteen hundred years ago. Here is their most mischievous tenet respecting
faith and its relation to the Atonement and to eternal life: The first momentary
act of faith renders the Atonement eternally available, and without any
further conditions infallibly secures everlasting life. Hence the younger Dr.
Tyng, in a recent sermon odorous of
object grasped by faith is not so much Jesus Christ, a present Savior, as His
finished work of condemning and putting away sin on the cross. "Faith
grasps only past and finished acts." Intellectual assent to these
historical facts, the atonement of Christ judging my sin, and His resurrection
as the proof thereof, constitutes saving faith.
view of the Atonement is the old and exploded commercial theory
— so much
suffering by Christ equals so much suffering by the sinners saved by Christ.
With this theory
of the Atonement, they cannot proclaim its universality without teaching
Universalism. So they make a distinction between the death of Christ
for all, and the blood of Christ shed only for those who are, through faith,
sprinkled and cleansed thereby. By this means God saves
believers, and presents "an aspect of mercy" toward all mankind.
idea of justification is not that it is a present act, taking place in the mind
of God in favor of the penitent believer, but it is a past, completed, wholesale
regeneration, the new man is created in the believer, and the old man remains
with all his powers unchanged. Mr. Darby asserted to the writer that after more
than fifty years of Christian experience he found the old man in himself worse
than he was at his regeneration. Says Mcintosh: "It is no part of the work
of the Holy Spirit to improve human nature," — that seems to be past
praying for,'—but to make a brand-new man to dwell in the same body with the
old man till physical death luckily comes and kills the old Adam who had successfully
defied all power in heaven and earth effectually to crucify him. Henceforth the
new man has the entire possession' of the disembodied soul. How different this
from a holiness bearing its heavenly fruit this side of the grave (Luke 1:74,
75; Rom. 6: 6, 19, 22; 2 Cor. 7:7, 2; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4: 7; 2:10; Heb. 12:10, 14;
Col. 2:11 (Rev. Ver.); 1 John 4:17). The only Scripture cited for this doctrine
of death sanctification is Rom. 6:7: "He that is dead is free from
sin." This evidently means (see verse 6), he who has died unto sin is freed
or justified (Rev. Ver.) from sin. This text, found by the "Brethren,"
escaped the keen eyes of the whole Westminster Assembly, who could find nothing
in proof of this point better than Heb. 12:23: "the spirits of just men
made perfect," assuming the point in proof that they were made perfect in
death. The Greek scholar will note that the text reads, not "perfected
spirits," but the "spirits of perfected just (men)," implying perfection
in this life. Yet the old man is to be quite vigorously choked down and kept
under till death comes to the rescue and brings that good riddance which the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, could not bestow. He is to be reckoned as dead by
a kind of pious fiction, though he is as lusty and vigorous as ever. That
Scripture which says "that the body of sin might be destroyed" is
explained to signify, "be repressed " and "rendered inactive
"; and those Scriptures in which the old man, or the flesh, is to be
crucified, mortified, or killed, are all understood to imply a life-long torture
on the cross — a killing that continues through scores of years. Says J. Denham Smith, a conspicuous
doctrine of the two natures is not completely stated till the fact is brought
out that neither is regarded as responsible for the acts of the other. For they
are conceived of as persons. If the flesh of the believer behaves badly, that is
none of the believer's business. He does not live in that department of his
being, and hence has no responsibility for its evil deeds. The "flesh was
condemned on the cross and is under sentence," why should I worry about it?
This reminds us of the story of the
English bishop and his servant, who reproved him for profanity. The bishop, who
was a member of the House of Lords, replied, that he swore as a lord, not as a
bishop. "But," queried the servant, “when the devil gets the lord,
what will become of the bishop?"
favorite method of exegesis of 1 John 3: 9, is to substitute
"whatsoever" for "whosoever," and to say, "that part of
our nature that is born of God does not commit sin," the unregenerate part
will continue to sin. This is the
style of exegesis: “We have a right to read the text thus: “Whatsoever is
born of God doth not sin.” We are double creatures all the way through. That
part of us that is born of God does not sin. Sin is decreasing;
righteousness is growing. So we need not feel discouraged if we find ourselves
going astray, if the purpose of our heart is toward God. We are confident of
constant progression — sure of being better in the other life than here. It is
always first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. The
Apostle tells us that religion brings us great assurance. We know we shall be
like Him — how little like Him now! We are a long way from the perfect pattern
of Christ, of being like Him in character, with not a stain upon the soul's
whiteness. Feed your soul on the thought of better things to come. Look for the
hour when He shall appear and we shall be like Him."
this point the following questions are pertinent: —
Have we any right to lower the standard of character required in the Scriptures
to suit the state of "those who are called Christians "? Is not such
an expounder guilty of a perversion of the Holy Scriptures?
How high a rank is that theology entitled to which discrowns man in order to
save him; which changes him from a "who" to a "what," from a
person to a thing, in order to keep him from sinning? Does such a theology
emphasize the sacredness and dignity of man? Does it honor the Holy Spirit to
teach that He begets impersonal "whatsoevers," instead of personal
In the light of this exposition, what becomes of
Is the human being of such a double nature that a part of him may be holy, and a
part commit sin?
Is not the action of the free will an element of every moral act, and can the
will at one and the same time sin and abstain from sin?
If such a moral philosophy is good in the pulpit, would it not be good at the
bar? Could not the lawyer plead that the part of the accused which is
born of God is innocent of the crime, and that it is only the unregenerate part
that has done the mischief, and therefore the regenerate part should be
not any judge, endowed with average common sense, sentence the unregenerate part
to the gallows, and tell the regenerate part to look out for itself? The soul
that sinneth — the undivided soul — it shall die.
Is there any analogy in the natural world for a partial birth — a part being
born at one time and a part forty or fifty years afterward? A hearer of this
exposition very properly asks me the question: "What if a person should die
before he gets wholly born?"
Is the expounder right in his interpretation of assurance, that
it does not relate to present knowledge of forgiveness and of entire
sanctification, but to the final perseverance of the saints? Does it not always
relate to a knowledge of our present acceptance with God, except this one
expression, "the assurance of hope"?
Is freedom from sin ever presented as an object of hope in the future? Is entire
sanctification ever classified with the good things to come, such as the second
coming of Christ, the [resurrection and glorification of the body, and the
rewards of Heaven?
Does not St. John, in this very epistle, declare, that as Jesus is, so are
Christians in this world? Does the likeness of Christ which believers shall have
when they shall see Him, consist in the fact of their being then sanctified, or
rather in the fact of both soul and body then glorified?
Our last question is this: Is Antinomianism getting up out of, its grave in
are impressed, in reading the
course they strenuously antagonize inwrought and personal holiness as an utter
impossibility, since the old man has a lease of the soul which does not expire
till death. Yet they insist that they are perfectly holy in Christ "up
there," while perfectly carnal and corrupt "down here" in their
moral state. They dwell ad nauseam upon the distinction between the standing
in Christ and the state. The standing in Christ attained by a single
act of faith is the great and decisive thing; the moral state is a small affair,
having not the least power to damage the standing. David
in Uriah's bed, and with hands red with his blood, was in a sad moral
predicament indeed, so far as his moral state was
concerned, but his judicial standing in Christ was not in the least impaired.
All that he lost was his communion with God; all that he sought for was restored
joy — “Restore Thou unto me the joy of Thy salvation." God did
not see his adultery and murder. These were covered with the blood of atonement
shed in the Divine purpose before the foundation of the world, and put away
forever before David was born. (Editor’s
Note: If David still had his salvation and knew it, how could he lose his joy of
salvation? The verse prior to this explains the problem. David pleads “Do not
take Thy Holy Spirit from me!” Certainly something that implies loss of
salvation and the ensuing loss of joy!)
favorite proof text for this abominable dogma, which lays the axe at the root of
the whole system 6f Christian morals, is Num. 23:21: "He hath not beheld
iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel," correctly
rendered by Rosenmiiller: "God cannot endure to behold iniquity cast upon
Jacob, nor can He bear to see affliction, vexation, trouble, wrought against
Israel." Some such must be the meaning of this text. The Plymouth exegesis makes it positively deny
the omniscence of God, and flatly contradict His declaration:
"Because all these men which have seen My glory, and My miracles which I
did in Egypt and in the wilderness, have tempted Me now these ten times, and
have not hearkened to My voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swear
unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it"
(Num. 14:22, 28). God not only saw the sins of
doctrine that the believer is seen only in Christ, and is regarded as pure as
Christ Himself, is founded on his incorporation into the glorified human and
Divine Person in heaven. The first act of faith is the occasion on which the
Holy Spirit eternally incorporates the believer into the risen and glorified
body of Jesus Christ. Since," as
Mr. Darby said to the writer, "Jesus does not walk about in heaven
dropping off fingers and toes, "it follows that every believer once
incorporated into Christ is absolutely sure of ultimate salvation.
The certainty is forever beyond contingencies. No
act of sin, even murder, can remove us from our standing in Christ. Sin may
obstruct communion, and leave the soul in sadness and darkness for a season; but
since, as Shakspeare says, “All is well that ends well," sin in a
believer is well since it ends in eternal life. For a proof of this
doctrine, Eph. 5: 30 is quoted: "For we are members of His body." The
clause, "of His flesh and of His bones," which is rejected by the
Revised Version as spurious, is strongly emphasized as a proof of a literal
incorporation into the person of Christ. A little attention to the context will
show that literal embodiment in Christ cannot be meant without implying the
actual incorporation of the husband and wife in "one flesh." If it be
said, this is just what marriage produces, we reply, that the “one flesh"
of wedlock becomes two through infidelity to the marriage vow (Matt.
5:32), Sin destroys the soul's marriage
with Christ, and brings about a divorce which may become eternal (James 4:4-6,
Rev. Ver). Another favorite proof-text is Eph. 2:6, which is understood as
teaching that all believers are, in their judicial standing, literally
"sitting together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Another
proof-text is found in the oft-recurring words, "in Christ."
It may be safely said that the
are only a few specimens of the logic of types when handled by an ingenious man,
eager to find biblical proofs for un-Scriptural doctrines. The great master of
this fallacious treatment of God's Word, the wizard who can give a Scriptural
flavor to tenets most repugnant to the sacred oracles, is Andrew Jukes. Whether
one of the "Brethren," I know not; but he is unexcelled in their
typological sleight of hand, even going beyond his teachers and demonstrating
the ultimate restoration of all the wicked in hell to holiness and heaven.
Evangelical minds should be on their guard against this subtle method of
instilling dangerous theological errors. There is a
large class of minds which are easily captivated by types which are purely
fanciful, the cunning inventions of men.
Cardinal Plymouth tenet is the
necessary continuance of the flesh, or the old man, and his abiding, unchanged,
"with the new man, till death. Regeneration has no effect on the old man by
way of improvement or extinction. He is incapable of becoming better, and has a
life-lease in the believer's soul.
MTntosh: "God will never reverse His decision as to what His people are as
to standing." "
states, “we have the positive standing
of the Christian: in the latter, the possible
state into which he may fall if not watchful.” Yet he keeps his
Christly standing. This
theologians make a nice distinction between conscience of sin and consciousness
of sins, where neither the Bible nor moral science affords the least ground
for this distinction. "The former," say they, "is guilt; the
latter is the normal experience of all believers. They ever feel the motions of
sin within their hearts." Whereas conscience is nothing more than
consciousness when the question of right or wrong is before the mind.
is another distinction vital to the
is so "fully brought out" that it took 1,800 years for Bible readers
to discover it, and then only through
text constantly urged by them, in utter disregard of the context, is Gal. 5:17,
which, by that fallacy in logic called "begging the question”' they
assume to be descriptive of the most perfect specimen of the Spirit's work in a
human soul, whereas
believers, in this mixed moral state, a struggle is going on between the flesh
and the spirit. The fallacy lies in the assumption that the best Christians are
in this state, against the positive testimony of
doctrine of assurance is strongly emphasized by these Christians as the
privilege of all who are in Christ, They are very earnest in their condemnation
of the "hope-so" experience, and they insist on a clear and undoubted
knowledge of the forgiveness of sins and adoption into the family of God. But
this truth, when joined with the pernicious doctrine of eternal incorporation
into the glorified body of Christ, removes the safeguard against sin, which
old-fashioned Calvinism set up, in the uncertainty which every Christian was
taught that he must feel respecting his acceptance with God.
Calvinism and Arminianism have checks which deter believers from sin.
The Arminian is
told that the holiest saint on earth may fall from grace and drop into hell.
is restrained from abusing the doctrine of unconditional election by the
consideration, that no man may, beyond a doubt, know that his own name is on the
secret register of God's chosen ones. This ignorance inspires a health fill
solicitude promoting watchfulness and persevering fidelity in the Calvinist,
just as the possibility of total and final apostasy tends to conserve the purity
of the Arminian. The
this matter of assurance, how much more guarded are the utterances of John
Wesley, who teaches the certain knowledge of justification by faith, with
none ever presume to rest in any supposed testimony of the Spirit which is
separate from the fruit of it."
This, translated into the
perfect accord with this absolute assurance of final salvation, is the denial of
the general judgment as taught in all orthodox creeds. If the Saints have a
through ticket for heaven, why should they stand before the Judgment Seat of
Christ? The favorite proof-text, ever on the lips of the Brethren, is John 5:24,
with the comment that "condemnation " should be translated
"judgment." To show how far this fails to prove the doctrine for which
it is quoted, I will adduce Alford's note
Anglicizing the Greek: “The believing and the having eternal life are
commensurate; where the faith is, the possession of eternal life is; and when
the one remits, the other is forfeited. But here the faith is set before us as
an enduring faith, and
its effects are described in their completion (See Eph. 1:19, 20)."
"He who believeth" (perseveringly) "comes not into, has no
concern with, the separation (krisis), the damnatory part of the
judgment." All the texts which teach the simultaneous judgment of all the
human family are ingeniously explained away by partial judgments strung along
through the future, after the doctrine of Swedenborg, in order to make way for
this new doctrine, that the saints will not be before Christ's judgment tribunal
in the last day.
The Sins Of Believers Are Not Real Sins
is a necessary inference from the assured exemption of believers from
condemnation, however deep their fall into gross sins. For this exemption
implies the absence of guilt. Those acts which entail no guilt cannot be real
sins. If they appear to be sins, their appearance is deceptive. Hence, a
distinguished English doctor of divinity could say in the pulpit, "A
believer may be assured of pardon as soon as he commits any sin, even adultery
and murder. Sins are but scarecrows and bugbears, to frighten ignorant children,
but men of understanding see they are counterfeit things."
author has heard Dr. Brooks, of St. Louis, assert that the sins of believers
materially differ from the sins of unbelievers, hinting that they are not real
sins in God's eyes, because He sees the believer and all his acts only in Jesus
is the logical conclusion from the premises that character is transferable.
that Jesus Christ on the cross became a sinner, and was punished, while we, by a
single act of faith, assume His righteousness by an inalienable incorporation
into His glorified person in heaven, and are ever afterward viewed by God as
possessing all His moral excellencies, among which is sinlessness.
an opiate to the accusing conscience!
What a weakening of the divine safeguards against sin, set up in man's moral
constitution, are manifest on the very face of such a theological tenet!
The chief barrier against sin is removed, and sinning is made easy. With
ordinary human beings, even after regeneration, facility for sinning with
impunity becomes a tremendous temptation, and to most men an irresistible
incentive to sin. If God has solemnly pronounced "woe to them that call
(moral) evil good, and (moral) good evil," what must be His sentence
-against those who entirely rub out the broad boundary line between them by
teaching that the willful violation of the known law of
God is only a seeming, but not a real sin? Yet this is the inevitable outcome of
the doctrine that there never can be condemnation to them who are in Christ. The
case is aggravated by the denial of the possibility of entire sanctification in
this life, and by the assertion that the flesh, the sin ward bent of the soul,
must remain until it is eradicated by physical death. Broadcast these twin
doctrines throughout Christendom, that believers are incapable of real sin, and
that the sin principle is a necessity in every human heart during this life,
defying the blood of Christ to purge it away, and the Christian Church will need
myriads of patient toilers to grub up these seeds of immoralities, more baneful
than the Canada thistle is to the farmers of this western world.
whole question of the believer's relation to God's law has been discussed by the
theological giants- of past generations. I quote from Baxter's Aphorisms on
Justification, an epitome made by J. Wesley: "As there are two covenants,
with their distinct conditions, so there is a twofold righteousness, and both of
them absolutely necessary for salvation. Our righteousness of the first covenant
(under the remediless, Christless, Adamic law) is not personal, or consisteth
not in any actions preferred, by us; for we never personally satisfied the law
(of innocence), but it is wholly without us, in Christ. In this sense every
Christian disclaimeth his own righteousness, or his own works. Those only shall
be in Christ legally righteous who believe and Obey
the Gospel, and so are in themselves evangelically righteous. Though
Christ performed the conditions of the law (of Paradisaical innocence), and made
satisfaction for our non-performance, Yet
We Ourselves Must Perform The Conditions Of The Gospel. These (last) two
propositions seem to me so clear, that I wonder that any able divines should
deny them. Methinks they should be articles of our creed, and a part of
children's, catechisms. To affirm that our evangelical or new-covenant
righteousness is in Christ, and not in ourselves, or performed by Christ, and
not by ourselves, is such a monstrous piece of Antinomian doctrine as no man,
who knows the nature and difference of the covenants, can possibly
entertain." (Bax. Aphor. Prop. 14-17.) Thus speaks this pious, practical,
well-balanced dissenter against the fatal errors arising from confounding the
Adamic law with the law of Christ, the first demanding of a perfect man a
faultless life, the other requiring an imperfect man, inheriting damaged
intellectual and moral powers, to render perfect, that is, pure love, to God his
Heavenly Father, through Christ his adorable Savior, with the assistance of
regenerating and sanctifying grace.
was the clearly discerned distinction between the two covenants which prompted
good Bishop Hopkins to make this paradoxical resolution: "So to Believe,
so to rest on the merits of Christ, as if I had
never wrought anything; and withal so to Work,
as if I were only to be saved by my own merits." To give each of
these its due in practice, is the very height and depth of Christian perfection.
Modern Antinomianism Examined
new Antinomianism does not make Calvinism prominent by any formal statement. It
is rather implied than expressed.
Nothing is said of sovereign decrees and of unconditional election. For this
reason it does not specially offend Arminians, while its doctrine of the final
perseverance of all believers is a tenet very pleasing to those who hold
Calvinism, with its modern alleviations, the only form still extant in
is a class of people who are especially pleased to see the Gospel set in
antagonism with the law, and they breathe more easily
when they are assured that God's law, as the rule of life, is abrogated by the
Gospel. This repugnance of the Gospel to the moral law is one of the primal
errors of all Antinomians. But the form which this antagonism takes is peculiar
to the modern Antinomianism. This is the difference between the believer's
standing in Christ, and his actual moral state. These bear no relation to each
other. The state may be utterly bad, while the standing be perfectly good. Like
the first brick in a row, Jesus only is seen by the eye of God, the defects of
the others, covered by Him, are not seen; the perfections of Jesus being seen
instead. This standing, attained by the first act of faith, is inalienable and
The influence of this doctrine of an eternal and inalienable standing in
Christ, and of exemption from the Day of Judgment, must, in many cases, be
disastrous. The removal of the wholesome safeguard found in the fear of being
morally shipwrecked and cast away, must tend to
looseness of living in not a few cases. It
is possible that a few might suffer no detriment from embracing such a theory,
but they would be exceptions. Most
people live below, not above their creed.
Repentance Slighted. At another
look in vain in all these
writers of the Antinomian school, whether ancient or modern, for any adequate
definitions of saving faith. After a
faithful and patient study, extending through ten years, I
can find in these writings no better notion of faith than a bare intellectual
assent to the fact that Jesus put away sin once and forever on His cross.
There is no preliminary to this mental act, such as a
heartfelt conviction of sin, and eternal abandonment of it in purpose and in
reality. Nor is there any test of this faith in the genuineness of its fruits.
The evangelical definition of saving faith is utterly ignored,— that it has
its root in genuine repentance, its bud and blossom in joyful obedience, and its
fruitage in holiness of heart and life; that in addition to the assent of the
intellect, — the
fruitless faith of devils (James 2:19),— there
must be the consent of the will, the Christward movement of the moral
sensibilities, and an unwavering reliance on Him, and on Him alone, as a present
Savior. Nor do the Antinomians teach that faith is continuous — a life-long
outgoing of the heart in glad obedience — but rather that its efficacy is
concentrated into a single act of assent to a past fact, an act which forever
and forever justifies. We
can easily predict the character of the edifice built upon a foundation so
defective. On such a corner-stone we do not expect to find a love which
purifies the heart and overcomes the world, a hunger and thirst after
righteousness, an eager pursuit of holiness, and "pressing on unto
perfection" (Heb. 6:1, Rev. Ver.), and that "perfect love which
casteth out all fear that has torment." We find rather a dry, intellectual
religion, tenacious of its speculative theory, indifferent
to inward and outward holiness, and reveling in imaginary graces, or, rather, in
the perfections of Christ falsely imputed to themselves, and preferring to keep
the old man alive rather than his summary crucifixion, in order "that
the body of sin may be destroyed." We
find a system which is a great comfort to the backslider in heart and life, and
a pleasant refuge to those who have lost their inheritance among the sanctified,
into which they once entered when under better religious instruction
have thus far spoken of an indefinite Antinomian faith; we now proceed to speak
FAITH VERSUS FEELING
power of God," says Fletcher, "is frequently talked of, but rarely
felt, and too often cried down under the despicable name of frames and feelings"
I had a mind,”? said the eloquent George
Whitefield, "to hinder the progress of the Gospel, and to establish the
kingdom of darkness, I would go about telling people they might have the Spirit
of God, and yet not feel it," or which is much the same, that the pardon
which Christ procured for them is already
obtained by them, whether they enjoy the sense of it or not.
is the kind of faith which multitudes of souls in utter spiritual barrenness are
resting in for eternal life. They are exhorted to beware of looking for any
changed feeling, that feeling is inconsistent with true faith. Says John Wesley,
"It is easy to satisfy ourselves without being possessed of the holiness
and happiness of the Gospel. It is easy to call these (holiness and happiness)
frames and feelings, and then to oppose faith to one and Christ to the other.
Frames (allowing the expression) are no other than heavenly tempers, the mind
that was in Christ; feelings are the Divine consolations of the Holy Ghost shed
abroad in the heart of him that truly believes. And wherever faith is, and
wherever Christ is, there are these blessed frames and feelings. If they are not
in us, it is a sure sign that though the wilderness become a pool, the pool is
become a wilderness again." (Note on Peter 3:18).
is the process of inculcating this' kjnd of faith. The
religious teacher sits down in the inquiry room, by the side of the seeker,
opens his Bible at Romans 10: 9, and reads: "If thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus (Jesus as Lord, Rev. Ver.), and shalt believe in thy
heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Do you
confess that Jesus is your Lord? Yes. Do you believe that He arose from the
dead? Yes. Well, praise the Lord, you are born again! You have found eternal
I do not experience any inward change!” Never
mind that; you are to believe without any feeling. If you look for feeling as
the ground of your faith that you are now a child of God, you dishonor the Word.
The Word says that you are saved, and you ought to believe the Bible. It is weak
and childish to be looking for any change in your feelings. I strongly advise
you to be baptized and join the Church. You have fulfilled the conditions of
are hence forth to count yourself a Christian, and by a resolved will to crush
out all doubts respecting your conversion, whenever they arise. For they will
arise. All true Christians have doubts of this kind. It is an evidence that they
have a good hope in Christ. “But,
dear pastor, is this all there is in the new birth? I
expected I should have unspeakable joy, arising from a sense of burning love. I
thought I should be sure that I was saved by some inward impression by the Holy
says the pastor, you are not to expect a miraculous conversion. That kind is
limited to the Apostolic age.
"In" And Sin "On,"
all their books and innumerable tracts runs a distinction between the
prepositions "in" and "on." It is the aim of the Gospel to
deliver from sin "on" the soul, but not from sin "in" the
heart, till we pass through the gate of death. In other words, justification is
affirmed, but entire sanctification in the present life is denied. The blood of
Jesus Christ is efficacious for the removal of actual
sins, but it fails to eradicate the sin principle, or inbred sin, till physical
death comes to the aid of atonement, and completes its saving power. Thus the
penalty of sin becomes its destroyer. "Death, that foul monster, the
offspring of sin, shall have the important honor of killing his father,"
says Fletcher. "He alone is to give the great, the last, the decisive
vain do we call for Scripture proofs for death sanctification,
and for the important distinction between ‘in" and "on." When
those Scriptures are cited which teach immediate perfect cleansing from all sin,
as in 1 John 1:7, 9, we are assured that the verb "cleanse"
here means judicial clearance, or justification, and not inherent purification.
But this involves
is easy to see that sin "in" the believer, who has been adopted into
the family of God (2 Cor. 6:18), or inbred, original depravity, is here
intended, and the Corinthians are exhorted to seek its entire purgation as a
condition to “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord."
Under The Law
from the law, oh, happy condition!"
is a verse which should never be sung except with those safeguards which the
author of the hymn has not been careful to set up.
It is true that all mankind are, by the atonement,
forever freed from the necessity of pleading that we have perfectly kept the
law, in order to acceptance with God. We are freed from the necessity of legal
justification. Such a necessity would shut up a sinful race in eternal despair.
We are freed from the law as the ground of justification. Our ground of
justification is the blood of Christ shed for us.
Nor are true believers, who have received the Spirit of adoption, under the law as
the impulse to service. They are not spurred on to activity by the
threatened penalties of God's law. Love to the Law-giver has taken the place of
fear of the law as a motive. This is especially true of those advanced
believers, out of whom perfect love has cast all servile, tormenting fear.
Before emerging into this experience, there is a blending of fear and love as
motives to service. In this state the believer is not wholly delivered from
legalism. But the law is put into the heart of the full believer, and its
fulfillment is spontaneous and free. UI
will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my heart." The
Septuagint Version, used by our Lord Jesus, reads: "I have run. . . .
Since," etc. "Without the law," says
We are free from the law as the instrument of our sanctification. Christ
has become our sanctification by purchasing with His
blood the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is called "holy," not as a
peculiar attribute, distinguishing Him from the Father and the Son, but because
it is His great office to make men holy. We are "elect through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
Christ has freed
us from the ceremonial law.
Believers in Christ are not delivered from the moral law, as the rule of
life. The form of this law may change, but the essence is as immutable as
its Author, out of whose bosom it goes forth. If believers were free from the
law, as a rule of life, we should be obliged to change the verse —
"Free from the law, oh,
moral intelligence, whether man or angel, thus freed from his proper norm, would
dash into ruins like a locomotive of an express train freed from the rails. As
the rails give direction to the mighty momentum of the
train, so is the law designed to direct our moral progress to a destiny of
unspeakable blessedness. Disobedience derails and destroys. Hence the law is a
blessing of unspeakable value. The soul , that despises it is in imminent peril.
The theology which teaches that men mount to a "happy condition," by
ridding themselves of the beneficent guidance of the moral law, merits the
condemnation of all Christians. Jesus is a Law-giver to control, as well as a
Redeemer to save.
Sinner Has Nothing To Do
"Nothing, either great or small,
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus died and paid it all,
Long, long ago."
All that Jesus has done for the sinner will do him no good till he
personally appropriates, by a faith which requires the highest effort to
exercise, and which prompts to a continued course of good works. "This is
the work of God — which He requires — that ye believe in His Son." In
all cases there must be repentance and its fruits, forsaking wicked ways, and
turning to God. They must be of the truth before they can come to Him who is the
Truth. They must so love the truth already within their reach as to be willing
to search for it diligently, and to follow wherever the truth leads. This
implies self-denial and cross-bearing, even before Jesus
is apprehended as their Savior. Then having found Him, they must consecrate all
their powers of service to do His will; they -must work while the day lasts.
These works are rewardable, though not meritorious, in the sense of putting God
under obligation to compensate the doers.
is a call in this latter quarter of the nineteenth century for St. James to go
through the world preaching from his favorite text: "Faith without works is
dead." Sinners are not saved by works, but they must work to be
saved. "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Ye are workers
together with God."
Flesh Remains Flesh
natures co-existing in the believer in his best possible earthly state, is
proved by John 3:6, which is amended to read thus: "That which is born of
the flesh is flesh, and remains flesh, and that which is born of the
Spirit is spirit." This is quoted to prove that the single nature is
untouched in the new birth, while an entirely new nature, or, rather, new
creature, is created, and associated therewith. This view assumes, without
proof, the following:—
That John uses the term "flesh" in the Pauline sense, which as Meyer
says, "is strange to him"; while Cremer, in his Biblico Theological
Lexicon, quotes this passage as an instance of John's use of sarx, flesh,
to signify merely that which "mediates and brings about man's connection
with nature." He finds six shades of meaning to this important word, the
last only embracing the idea of sin. He excludes from this meaning all passages
in the four Gospels in which the word occurs.
It is assumed that such writers as Weiss, and Julius Miiller, are in error when
they say that the meaning of Jesus is, "the corporeal birth only produces
the corporeal sensual part."
There is a confounding of birth with creation out of nothing. "For as
generation," says Dr. Whedon, "is a modifying of substance or being,
imparting to it a new principle of life, conforming it, as living being, to the
likeness of the generator, so regeneration is a modification of the human spirit
by the Holy Spirit, conforming the temper of the human to the Holy."
that that which is born of the Spirit, is the same person as is born of the
flesh. He is henceforth endowed with the new qualitj of spiritual life, instead
of spiritual death. The identical man, soul, body, and spirit — "for in
the term flesh," says Alford, "is included every
part of that which is born after the ordinary method of generation" —
is born again by the endowment of spiritual life. .
is born again in the view of the imputationist? Not the fallen nature, — that
must remain fallen; nothing is born again; but a new man is created de novo and
put into the believer, who is henceforth to live a dual life, his personality
sometimes dwelling under the way of the old man, and sometimes under the rule
of the new. This is not a birth at all. For in a true birth there is a
communication of life to non-living matter. So in the spiritual birth there is
the impartation of life to a spiritually non-living soul.
who builds on any of these hypotheses must first demonstrate its truth. Well
does Augustine say, "Where the Scripture renders no certain testimony,
human inquiry must beware of deciding one way or the other."
us emerge, then, from this region of speculation into that of common sense.
Nicodemus was surely right when he understood that the new birth was a second
birth of the same subject. The same man born of the flesh must be born again.
Himself fully explains the meaning which St. Paul puts into the words, "in
Christ," in that wonderful discourse of Christ, in the sixth chapter of
John, about the spiritual appropriation of the benefit of His atonement, by
sacramentarians, erroneously interpreted as the reception of the Lord's Supper,
Christ explains what is signified by being in Him: "He that eateth (continuously) my flesh,
and (persistently) drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him." Eternal
blessedness is in Him, and is imparted to all who by faith continually
appropriate it. With such souls there is a mystical union with Christ, an
inter-penetration of Spirit. So long as Jesus abides in the believer, he abides
in Him: "Christ in you the hope of glory." This union excludes
willful sin. When
this is committed, the union is dissolved. If Christ should continue to dwell in
the heart which persists in a course of voluntary transgression of the known law
of God, He would become what
Mr. Wesley's day, when an un-Scriptural view of the doctrine of imputed
righteousness was much preached, he not infrequently met men who, while claiming
to be "perfect in Christ, not in themselves," affirmed that their
faith canceled their obligations to obey the Divine law. They might, as they
wickedly claimed, violate any or all the ten commandments without being guilty
of sin, so long as they maintained faith in Christ, No wonder
Mr. Wesley wrote of such men: "Surely, these are the first-born children
true doctrine of the result of union with Christ, is very truly expressed by
Rev. Mr. Sears, of the Unitarian faith: "The atonement brings the believer
into such a vital union with Christ as to produce from within, outwardly not a
putative, but a genuine, righteousness."
The basis of the
doctrine of imputed holiness is that theory of the atonement which represents
that Christ Jesus, the sinless Son of God, in whom He was well pleased, was
literally identified with sin so as to be "wholly chargeable therewith,
that we might be identified and wholly charged with righteousness”' This
quotation is from Dr. George S. Bishop, who proceeds to say, "The atonement
which we preach is one of absolute exchange, that Christ took our place
literally — that God regarded and treated Christ as a sinner, and that He
regards and treats the believing sinner as Christ. From the moment we believe,
God looks upon us as if we were Christ. . . . We then are saved, straight
through eternity, by what the Son of God has done in our place. . . . Other
considerations have nothing to do with it. It matters nothing what we have been,
what we are, or what we shall be. From the moment we believe on Christ,
we are forever, in God's sight, AS Christ.
Of course it is involved in this that men are saved, not by preparing
first, that is, by repenting, and praying, and reading the Bible, and then
trusting Christ; nor the converse of this, that is, by trusting Christ first, and
then preparing something — repentance, reformation, good works — which
God will accept; but that' sinners are saved irrespective of what they are —
how they feel — what they have done — what they hope to do — by trusting
on Christ only, that the instant Christ is seen and rested on, the soul's
eternity, by God's free promise, and regardless of all character and works, is
would call attention to the following points in the above quotation; —
Repentance is not necessary to saving faith,
Good works, as the fruit of saving faith, and proof of its genuineness, have no
place in this scheme of salvation, and are distinctly repudiated; and well they
may be, since by the first act of faith, as a bare, intellectual, impenitent
apprehension that God punished His Son for our past, present, and future sins,
"the soul's eternal salvation, regardless of conduct and character, IS
we shall be matters nothing" since we have a through ticket for Heaven.
St. James is disrespectful to this scheme of salvation, and his epistle may well
be called "strawy."
That God regarded and treated Christ as a sinner "; in other words, that He
actually punished His Son because he was guilty of our sins. There was a time in
the life of Martin Luther when he sowed the seeds of this error, which produced
a sad harvest of antinomianism. He used words which seem not blasphemous, merely
because the intention was wanting. "The prophets did foresee in Spirit that
Christ would become the greatest transgressor, murderer,
thief, rebel and blasphemer that ever was or can be." "Whatsoever sins
I, thou, and we shall have done, or shall do hereafter, they are Christ's own
sins, as verily as if He had done them Himself."
once heard a layman, an ex-president of the Boston Y. M. C. A., assert in a
public evangelistic service that "Jesus Christ on the cross was the
greatest sinner in the universe!" Such
statements are usually attended by the portrayal with terrific distinctness, of
the Almighty Father in the act of hurling His thunderbolts, in blasting shocks,
down upon the defenseless head of His shrinking and suffering Son.
indignantly repudiate the monstrous idea that Jesus on the cross was a sinner
overwhelmed with the bolts of the Father's personal wrath. What we do affirm is
that his sufferings and death were in no sense a punishment, but a substitute
for punishment, answering the same end, the conservation of God's moral
government and the vindication of His holy character
while He pardons penitent believers.
chief proof-text of the doctrine that Christ on the cross was a gigantic sinner,
is 2 Cor. 5:21. "For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,
that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." This is styled
"the sublime equation." Jesus becomes guilty of our sins and suffers
their punishment, and His righteousness is henceforth forever reckoned as ours.
The exchange of our sin for Christ's righteousness is "absolute."
common sense exegesis of this text is, that Jesus became of His own free will a sin-offering
for us, and that this is the meaning of sin in the first clause. This is the
interpretation of Augustine, Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, GEcumenius, Vatablus,
Cornelius a Lapidis, Piscator, Kitsche, Wolf, Hammond, Michaelis, Rosenmiiller,
Ewald, Raymond, and others.
It is a remarkable fact that the Hebrew Word, chattath, is
used in the Old Testament by actual count one hundred
and sixty times for sin, and one hundred and twelve times for sin-offering. It
is very natural that such a mind as Paul's, saturated with the Hebrew
Scriptures, should sometimes use the Greek term for sin, hamartia, in the
sense of sin-offering. , So obvious is this usage in Paul's Epistles, that the
Revision has twice, at least, translated this term by "sin offering "
— Rom. 8: 3; Heb. 13:11. We contend that it should be thus rendered in 2 Cor.
insuperable philosophical and ethical difficulties in the way of receiving the
statement that the guilt of the race was transferred to Christ. Character
is personal, and cannot be transferred. Sin is not an entity, a substance which
can be separated from the sinner and be transferred to another and be made an
attribute of his character by such a transfer. Sin is the act or state of a
sinner, as thought is the act or state of the thinker. Neither can have an
essential existence separate from their personal subject, any more than any
attribute can exist separate from its substance.
If sin cannot exist in the abstract, it cannot be punished in the abstract.
If it cannot be
transferred to another, it cannot be punished in another, though one man may
voluntarily suffer to save another from punishment.
we repudiate in the interest of sound ethical philosophy and clearness of
thought, the following proposition of Dr. Bishop : —
the sin of the believing sinner is taken from his shoulders and laid upon the
Son of God, then justice, still following after sin, must strike through sin and
the person of the Son of God beneath it."
is a moral axiom that only the guilty can be rightfully punished. If Christ
was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, to punish Him would
be, not only contrary to all human law, but it would outrage all those God-given
moral sentiments on which human law rests. It is in vain that Dr. Bishop
seeks for analogies to sustain the monstrous injustice
of punishing innocence. He says, "When a father commits a crime, his whole
family sink in the social scale, though innocent." Here he confounds the
natural consequences of sin with the punishment of sin. Dr. Bishop should show
that society universally hangs the innocent family on the same gibbet with the
guilty husband and father. Then the case would be analogous.
persons use the expression "Christ in the stead of the sinner suffered the
punishment of his sin," without subjecting this proposition to that rigid
analysis which theological accuracy requires. While
it is true that Jesus is our substitute, He is our substitute truly and strictly
only in suffering, not in punishment. Sin cannot be punished and pardoned also.
This would be a moral contradiction.
Sin is conditionally pardoned because Jesus has suffered and died. There is no punishment of sin except in the person of the sinner
who neglects so great a Savior. Sin was not punished on the Cross. Calvary was the scene of
wondrous mercy and love, not of wrath and penalty.
Dr. Whedon, "Punishment in the strict sense implies the guilt of the
sufferer as its correlative. Whenever the sinner and the sufferer are not the
same, it is only by an allowable inaccuracy that the
suffering can be called punishment. It follows that it
is not strictly accurate to say that Christ was punished, or that lie truly
suffered the punishment of sin." But
this inaccuracy is no longer “allowable" when it is made the basis of the
doctrine of imputed holiness, which tramples the holy law of God under foot, and
flings its obligations to the winds on the plea of ail inalienable standing in
Christ, in whom, despite my wallowing in fleshly lusts, I am seen to be as holy
as He is holy.
But the ethical difficulties thicken as we continue our examination of this view
of the atonement.
Is the inevitable outcome of the doctrine that sin was punished on
the cross. Whose sin? If it be answered, that of the whole human race, then
universalism emerges, for God cannot in justice punish sin twice.
It must be, then,
that the sins of the elect only were punished. Hence at the bottom, this system
of doctrine rests upon the tenet of a particular, in distinction from a
universal atonement. The fact that this basis is not avowed, and that the
terminology of hyper-predestinariaiiism, such as "the elect,"
"the reprobates," “special call," “irresistible grace,"
"perseverance of the saints," and salvation by "Divine
Sovereignty," is studiously avoided, makes this system of doctrine still
more dangerous, because these offensive features are concealed with Jesuitical
cunning. We cannot resist the suspicion that this is designed, so as
to make it palatable to those educated in the Arminian faith, in order to
catch them with guile. Some unreflective Arminians are thus unawares entrapped
into the reception of that unmitigated scheme of doctrine which Christendom is
almost universally shaking off.
our first interview with Mr. Darby, we asked what was his view of election
founded on the foreseen, free, acceptance of the conditions of salvation,
repentance toward God, and faith in Jesus Christ. His reply was that "an
election, grounded upon reasons, would destroy the sovereignty of God, and that
no act of the' creature, no foreseen faith in Christ, conditioned
ETERNAL LIFE NON-FORFEITABLE
two instances Jesus speaks of everlasting
life as a present possession:
“He that heareth (continually) my words hath everlasting life" (John
5:24); “He that believeth (perseveringly) on me hath everlasting life"
reader of the Greek Testament sees at a glance the condition expressed in the present
tense of the verb "heareth" and "believeth." If these
conditions are fulfilled, the new life inspired by the first act of evangelical
faith becomes everlasting. This is the common sense view. If this faith, at
any point of probation, lapses, the life expires. That everlasting life once
begun can be lost, is no more a contradiction in terms than the Jew's forfeiture
of the land which God gave to them for u an
everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8), nor the seed
of Phineas losing "the everlasting priesthood," nor the Israelites
breaking "the everlasting covenant" (Is. 24:5), and finding out
Jehovah's "breach of promise" (Num. 14:34). Hymeneus and Philetus
forfeited the everlasting heritage of believers by "making shipwreck of
faith and a good conscience."
infer, therefore, that the words "hath everlasting life," were never
designed as a nonforfeitable insurance policy, giving an unconditional and
inalienable right to the rewards of Heaven.
They are a compendious expression for the spiritual life already inspired, which
is destined to become everlasting if its conditions are fulfilled through the
whole of our probation.
A Soul Born Of God Can Never Be
abuse of figurative language is a stronghold of religious error. Antinomianism seizes upon "the new birth," "the being born
again," "a child or son of God," and
presses these phrases into a proof of an unchangeable acceptance with God,
however grossly sinful the once regenerate person may afterwards become.
J. Fletcher thus points out the fallacy in this reasoning: "According to
the oriental style, a follower of wisdom is called “a son of wisdom “; and
one that deviates from her path, “a son of folly'; a wicked man is called “a
son of Belial, a child of the wicked one, and a child of the devil.” But
when he turns from wicked works, by faith, he becomes a child of God. Hence the
passing from the ways of Satan to the ways of God was naturally called conversion
and a new birth. Hence some divines, who, like Nicodemus, carnalize
the expressions new birth, child of God, and son of God, assert,
that if men who once walked in God's ways turn back, even into adultery, murder,
and incest, they are still God's dear people and pleasant children, in
the Gospel sense of the words. They ask, "Can
a man be a child of God to-day, and a child of the devil to-morrow? Can lie be
born this week, and unborn the next?" And
with these questions they as much think they have overthrown the doctrine of
holiness, and one-half of the Bible, as honest Nicodemus supposed he had
demolished the doctrine of regeneration, and stopped our Lord's mouth, when he
said, "Can a man enter the second time into his mother's womb and be
question would be easily answered, if, setting aside the oriental mode of
speech, they simply asked, "May one who has “ceased to do evil' and
learned to do well to-day, cease to do well and learn to do evil to-morrow?
To this we could directly reply, If the dying thief, the Philippian jailor,
and multitudes of Jews, in one day went over from the sons of folly to
the sons of wisdom, where is the absurdity of saying they could measure
the same way back again in one day, and draw back in the horrid womb of sin as
easily as Satan drew back into rebellion, Adam into disobedience, David into
adultery, Solomon into idolatry, Judas into treason, and
Ananias and Sapphira into covetousness? When Peter had shown himself a blessed
son of heavenly wisdom, by confessing Jesus Christ, did he even stay till the
next day to become a son of folly by following the "wisdom which is
earthly, sensual, and devilish"? Was not our Lord directly obliged to
rebuke him with utmost severity, by saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan "?
Sheep Can Never Become A Goat
is another Antinomian abuse of figures. In the Day of Judgment the human race
stand separate — the sheep and the goats. It
is said that since a sheep can never become a goat, because of the law of the
invariability of species, so one once called by Christ a sheep can never become
a goat. But this logic proves too much. Can a goat ever, by any power divine,
become a sheep? Can
a sinner ever become a saint if it is impossible for a saint ever to become an
incorrigible sinner? Yet multitudes, who
live in open sin, build their hopes of heaven upon this palpable mistake.
“Once I heard the Shepherd's voice," say these apostate souls; "I
followed Him, and received His ear-mark, water baptism, and therefore I was
one of His sheep; and now, though I follow the voice of a stranger who
leads me into all manner of sins, into adultery and murder, I am undoubtedly a
sheep; for it was never heard that a sheep became a goat." "A washed
sow is no sheep," said Mr. Darby to the writer, with an air of logical
Fletcher, "Such persons do not observe that our Lord calls “sheep” those
who hear His voice, and “goats” those who follow that of the tempter.
Nor do they consider that Saul, a grievous wolf, 'breathing slaughter
against Christ's sheep,' and c making havoc' of
His little flock, could in a short time be changed into a sheep and a shepherd;
David, a harmless sheep (and shepherd of Israel), could in a short time commence
a goat with Bathsheba, and prove a wolf in sheep's clothing to her husband."
Fletcher shows the superlative fallacy of this style of logic by quoting the
metaphors of John the Baptist and Jesus, who style the Jews a "brood of
vipers and serpents." Christ afterwards- compares this vipers' brood to a
brood of a hen! Had the vipers become chickens? To
convince the reader that this is
quote the following from Tobias Crisp, D. D,, eminent preacher and writer of the
Anglican Church in the seventeenth century, that our readers may understand the
logical outcome and immoral tendency of this pernicious doctrine :—
a believer does sin, yet he is not to be reckoned as a sinner; his sins are
reckoned to be taken away from him. God reckons not his sin to be his; he
reckons it Christ's, therefore he cannot reckon it to be his. Christ does
justify a person before he believes; we do not believe that we may be justified,
but because we are justified. The elect are justified
from eternity, at Christ's death; and the latest time is before we are born. It
is a received conceit among persons that our obedience is the way to heaven; but
I must tell you, all this sanctification of life is not a jot the way of that
justified person to heaven. To what purpose do we propose to ourselves the
gaining of that by our labor and industry which is already become ours before we
do one jot? The Lord does nothing in his people upon conditions. He intends not
that by our obedience we shall gain something, which in case of our failing we
shall miscarry of. While you labor to get by duties, you provoke God as much as
in you lies. We must work from life and not for life, Love to the brethren,
universal obedience, and all other inherent qualifications, are no signs by
which we are to judge of our state (" standing" is the modern term).
Every elect vessel, from the first instant of his being, is as pure in the eyes
of God from the charge of sin as he shall be in glory. Though such persons do
act rebellion, yet the loathsomeness and hatefulness of this rebellion is laid
on the back of Christ; He bears the sin, as well as the blame and shame; and God
can dwell with such persons that act the thing, because all the filthiness of it
is translated from them upon the back of Christ. It is the voice of a lying
spirit in your, hearts that says 'you that are believers (as David) have yet sin
wasting your conscience.' David indeed says, 'My - sins are gone over my head,'
but he speaks from himself, and all that he speaks from himself was not truth.
There is as much ground to be confident of the pardon of sin to a believer, as
soon as he has committed it, as to believe it after he has performed all the
humiliation in the world. A
believer may be assured of pardon as soon as he has committed any sin, even
adultery and murder. God does no longer stand displeased, though a believer do
sin often. There is no sin that even believers commit
that can possibly do them any
hurt. Therefore, as their sins cannot hurt them, so there is no cause of fear in
their sins committed. Sins are but scarecrows and bugbears to frighten ignorant
children, but men of understanding see they are counterfeit things.
If we tell believers, except they walk thus and thus holily, and do these and
those good works, God will be angry with them, we abuse the Scriptures, undo
what Christ has done, injure believers, and tell God lies to His face. All our
righteousness is filthy, full of menstruosity, the highest kind of filthiness;
— even what is the Spirit's must be involved within that which is man's own,
under the general notion of doing"
is a soft and easy doctrine to bid men sit still and believe, as if God would
translate them to heaven upon their couches! Christ expects that those who have grace should put forth the utmost
power thereof in laboring after the salvation He has purchased for them."
"So work with that earnestness, constancy, and unweariness in well doing,
as if thy works alone were able to justify and save thee; and so absolutely
depend and rely upon the merits of Christ for justification and salvation, as if
thou never hadst performed one act of obedience in all thy life. This is the
right Gospel frame of obedience, so to work as if we were only to be saved by
our own merits; and withal so to rest on the merits of Christ, as if we had
never wrought anything. It is a difficult thing to give to each 'of these its
due in practice. When we work, we are apt to neglect Christ; and when we rely on
Christ we are apt to neglect working. But that Christian has got the right art
of obedience who can mingle these two together; who can with one hand 6
work the works of God,' and yet, at the same time, lay fast hold on the merit of
Jesus Christ. Let this Antinomian principle be forever rooted out of the minds
of men, that our working is derogatory to Christ's work. He gave himself for us,
that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself, a peculiar
people, Zealous Of Good Works.'"
quote from modern writers essentially the same doctrines as those taught by Dr.
Crisp, only there is apparently a shrinking from the frank statement of their
logical outcome. There is rather an attempt to draw a veil over those inferences
which old Antinomianism plainly avowed. In this particular, the old is less
dangerous than the new.
turn to Mcintosh's Notes on various books of the Bible, a series of diffuse
annotations highly esteemed by D. L. Moody and many other evangelists: "The
very moment in which a soul is born again, — born from above, and sealed by
the Holy Ghost, — he is incorporated into the body of Christ. He can no longer
view himself as a solitary individual — an independent person — an isolated
atom; he is a member of a body, just as the hand or foot is a member of the
human body." "There are two grand links in Christianity, which,
though very intimately connected, are perfectly distinct; namely, the link of
eternal life, and the link of personal communion. The former never can he
snapped by anything, the latter can be snapped in a moment, by the weight of
a feather." It seems that a sin as light as a feather can suspend
communion, while the violation of every one of the ten commandments, over and
over again, can never snap the link of eternal life! Comforting indeed to the
backslider! His fear that he may at last be filled with his own ways, are
groundless. "Beholders many faults may find; but, as regards our standing,
our God sees us only in the comeliness of Christ; we are perfect in Him. When
God looks at His people, He beholds in them His own workmanship; and it is to
the glory of His holy name, and to the praise of His salvation, that not a
blemish should be seen on those who are His — those whom He, in sovereign
grace, has made His own. His character, His name, His glory, and the perfection
of His work, are all involved in the standing of those with whom He has linked
Himself." Thus it would seem that David's workmanship, in making himself an
adulterer and a murderer, is utterly ignored as a blemish. While in Uriah's bed
his standing as perfectly holy is absolute. "We must never measure the
standing by the state, but always judge the state by the standing. To lower the
standing because of the state, is to give the death-blow to all progress in
practical Christianity." That is, we must never judge the tree by the
fruit, but always the fruit by the tree.
There is much
confused and erroneous thinking and teaching on the subject of imputed
righteousness and imputed holiness. Some are confounding the two, and teaching
that the only holiness possible to us in this world is the robe of Christ's
righteousness thrown around hearts inherently impure. In the interest of clear
thought and Christian purity, we invite the reader to a discussion of the
radical distinction between imputed righteousness and imputed holiness. The term
"impute," literally signifies "to think to," to reckon one
thing belongs to another when it really does not. In the Revision it is
superseded by the word "reckon."
define righteousness in man to be conformity to the Divine law, and holiness
conformity to the Divine nature. Now, the phrase, “the imputation of
Christ’s righteousness,” or “Christ’s imputed righteousness,” is not
found in the Bible. Justification is a work done for us, and has reference to
the past; sanctification is a work wrought in us, and always has respect to the
present. Hence, imputation of holiness is not necessary.
In fact, in the very nature of things, it is impossible. There can be no such
thing as vicarious character, for character is the sum total of what we
ourselves are. There may be a vicarious assumption of another's debt; there
cannot be a vicarious assumption of another's character. Hence, holiness must be
personal, inherent, inwrought and imparted by the power of the Holy Spirit,
procured by the same atonement by which it is possible for us.
phrase "in Christ" is perpetually quoted as a proof-text to sustain
the doctrine of imputed holiness, a quality not imparted to us, being inwrought
by the Holy Spirit and ever afterwards existing inherently in the believer; but
an attribute of Jesus Christ regarded by God as belonging to Christians, even
when they are unholy in character and wicked in conduct.
theory is that Jesus Christ is standing today in the presence of the Father as a
specimen and representative of glorified humanity, and that faith in Him so
intimately unites us with Him, that all His personal excellencies become ours in
such a sense as to excuse us if we lack them. It is said that the first act of
faith eternally incorporates us into the glorified person of Christ, so that
whatever sin we may commit afterwards we incur no condemnation.
Fletcher: "People, it seems, may now be 'in
Christ,' without being ‘new creatures,' and 'new creatures' without casting
‘old things' away. They may be God's children without God's image; and ‘born
of the Spirit' without ‘the fruit of the Spirit.'"
favorite proof-text of this piece of rank Antinomianism is Rom. 8:1: "There
is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," with
special attention called to the omission by the critical MSS. and the Revised
Version, of the limiting clause: ‘who walk not after
the flesh, but after the spirit.' Over this omission the imputationists rejoice,
as if it unanswerably demonstrated the truth of their doctrine, that God, seeing
the believer only in Christ, beholds no sin in him, even when he has willfully
and flagrantly transgressed the known law. They fail to note that the same
limiting clause stands in the fourth verse unquestioned by the critics.
their assertion that the flesh is a sinful state which does not in the least
damage our perfect standing in Christ, in whom the carnally minded believer is
as holy as the Son of God Himself. It is said that "the standing is never
to be judged by the state, but the state by the standing." The New
Testament Scriptures relied on as proofs of this doctrine are those in which our
faith is imputed for righteousness. The error is in failing to notice that this
refers to the forgiveness of sins, and not to the character after justification.
mistake is in not distinguishing between the sum total
of Christ's merits, called His mediatorial righteousness, and His own personal
righteousness, which is not transferable. Character
is personal and unimputable.
constantly recurring Scripture is the expression, ”in Christ "— used to
prove an actual incorporation into His Person. We take up our pen to examine
these words. They are not found in the four Gospels nor in the Acts of the
Apostles. They are Pauline, being used only by Paul, except in 1 Pet. 3:16; v.
14. The words, "in the Lord," are peculiar to Paul also. Elsewhere
they are found only in Rev. 14:13. What does Paul mean by these phrases?
He does not mean incorporation into the glorified Person of Christ, for he
always (except in 1 Cor. 15:18—" asleep in Jesus ") avoids His
purely personal name, Jesus, never saying "in Jesus," but he always
adds one of His titular names, Christ, or Lord,. "In Christ,''
What this relation is will be seen when we observe that while Luke and Peter use
the term "Christian," Paul never used it, but uses the more vivid
phrase, "in Christ." Let us now examine a favorite text of the
imputationists — 1 .Cor. 1:2: ”To them that
are sanctified in Christ Jesus." We heartily endorse the comment of Meyer,
"the greatest exegete of the nineteenth century": “In Christ —
namely, in His redemptive work, of which Christians have become, and continue to
be, partakers, by means of justifying faith (Eph. 1:4; Heb. 10:10)." In the
fourth verse, Meyer's note on "in Christ," is "in your fellowship
with Christ." His paraphrase of the thirtieth verse, "But of Him are
ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption," is the following: "But truly it is
God's work that ye are Christians, and so partakers of the greatest Divine
blessings, that none of you should in any way boast himself save only in
God." Rom. 16:7; “In Christ before me " — Christians before me.
Rom. 16:10; "Approved in Christ"—i.e., says Meyer, "the tried
Christian." 2 Cor. 5:17; "If any man is in Christ" a Christian,
says the same annotator.
in his Biblico-Theological Lexicon, enumerates forty-eight texts where this
phrase is used with the above meaning, such as "weak in Christ" and
"babes in Christ," for feeble Christians; "growing up in
Christ," for an advancing Christian; "perfect in Christ," for a
believer fully sanctified, or, in the words of Meyer, "perfect as a
Christian, in respect to the whole Christian nature." "Holy in
Christ" is a phrase foreign to New Testament diction. The general meaning
of the words, "in the Lord," is discipleship to the Lord Jesus, as in
expressions “in Christ" and "in the Lord" are the Pauline way
of denoting a saving relation to the Son of God, a union with Him by faith, a
union which ceases when the faith decays. It is quite probable that
is a complete answer to the words of Rev. John Darby to the writer that
"believers are parts of the glorified Person of Jesus Christ, who does not
walk about in Heaven dropping His fingers and toes by self-mutilation, but
retains every part and particle of His body forever." The revised version,
in Eph. v. 30, omits "of His flesh and of His bones," and thus removes
a seeming proof-text for the incorporation theory.
This paper would not be complete if we did not refer to the objective use, by
conclusion, we aver that it is just as reasonable to interpret 1 John 5:19,
"The whole world lieth in the evil one" (R. V.), as meaning that the
whole world is in itself inherently saintly, but by imputation is wicked in the
evil one, as it is to say that the best estate of believers on earth is to be
inherently impure, while by imputation they are spotless in Christ. According
to the testimony of that cosmopolitan evangelist, Wm. Taylor, imputed holiness,
enrobing cherished vileness, is a favorite fiction of the pagans of
To be holy with a retention of the old man, would be an untruth and
a flat contradiction (Meyer on