Answers to Correspondents

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day
J. A. P. — The Sabbath is distinctly connected with the first creation; it marked the completion of God’s work therein; and then, all being “very good,” He “rested from all His work which He had created and made.”
When God separated Israel from the nations, He gave them the law which, if kept, would have enabled them to enjoy the blessings of the first creation, for theirs were earthly blessings, and the Sabbath was given to them as the sign of His covenant with them as ‘a people in responsibility on earth (Ex. 31:1313Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. (Exodus 31:13) and 17).
But as God’s Sabbath was broken in upon by sin in Eden, so Israel failed to enjoy it because of their transgressions, and in consequence God had no rest or satisfaction in them. Thus, when Jesus came to earth, there was no Sabbath for Him, for sin was here; and He had to say “My Father worketh hitherto and I work.”
But the Sabbath as given to Israel (along with everything else that belonged to the old covenant) was but the shadow of good things to come; Christ is the substance; in Him alone could rest be found. This the Pharisees refused. They held to the letter of the law, which could only slay them, while refusing Him, who was the spirit of it, and who alone could give life and rest.
Everything is changed for the Christian. Old things have passed away, and his blessings are not connected with earth, but heaven. He has not to labor six days to keep the law, and enter into rest if he does this; for he owns that he has come short of God’s standard, and that the law could only curse him; but he has turned from the law to Christ who bore its curse, and his soul has entered a new day, with not rest at the end of toil, but rest when he begins to serve the Lord in newness of spirit.
Nothing could prove the utter breakdown of man in his place of responsibility in God’s creation like the fact that Jesus, who was the Creator, lay in death on the Sabbath day. Nothing proves the greatness of His triumph and the completion and perfection of His works as does His resurrection from the dead, which took place on the first day of the week. That is the day of days for the Christian: the day of a great triumph, the inauguration of a new creation, all secured in, and to be brought into full completion by the First Begotten from the dead. The day is distinctly honored in Scripture. The Lord appeared to His disciples on it on at least two occasions; the early disciples met on it to commemorate the Lord’s death in the breaking of bread; and it is distinctly spoken of as the Lord’s day in Revelation 1. Because of this the Christian cannot view it lightly, though he does not regard it at all in the light of the Sabbath, which belonged to the old creation, to the dispensation of law and shadows.
When God takes up Israel again and places them as His redeemed earthly people, secure from harm in the land of promise, then the Sabbath will be kept according to the mind of God; that is future.
But Christian blessings are not earthly, but heavenly. Before the earth was, or any covenant existed between God and man upon it, our heavenly, holy calling, and all the blessings connected with it, were purposed and secured for us in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:99Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9)).
Our Lord’s Humanity
— F. writes as to the use of the expression “condition” on page 34 of our February issue, as applied to our blessed Lord in the words, “Come.... into manhood, into the condition of His lost and fallen creature,” and fears lest these words should give the impression that Christ partook of the sinful mature of man. Far be the thought! The Son of God in incarnation was absolutely unique. In Him was no trace or taint of sin; His every thought and word and act was of, and according to the Spirit of God.
But while earnestly insisting on this, it is needful also to insist on the reality of His manhood, for there is a phase of doctrine abroad today, which seems to view the Lord Jesus as having merely assumed the form of man, and nothing more. That is not the truth; else we had no real Savior, no true Substitute or Mediator. His was not merely the outward form and likeness, but also the whole condition that belonged to humanity (always perfect in Him). He was in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart (Heb. 4:1515For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15), N.T.). He could “hunger” and “thirst,” and knew what it was to be “wearied” by the way; He came into manhood, too, in all the reality of that condition of being Godward (Heb. 5:77Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; (Hebrews 5:7)). Moreover, though the suffering and weakness is over, He still retains His manhood in resurrection. See Hebrews 2:1313And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. (Hebrews 2:13): “Again, I will put My trust in Him.”
The mystery of incarnation is inscrutable, but through it is presented to us, for the adoration of our souls, One who was, is, and ever shall be, God over all, blessed forever, and yet is the peerless “Man Christ Jesus.”
The Kingdom and the Church
W. R. — Your question as to the kingdom of God and the Church opens up a very large subject, and one which the space at our disposal this month will not allow us to go into. For a full and clear unfolding of the truth of the kingdom we recommend you to get a copy of a book on that subject by J. A. Trench (price 4d.) from the office of this magazine.
As to the Church, in its completed aspect, it will be made up of all believers on the Lord Jesus in this present period, that is, from Pentecost to the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess. 4:16-1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17)). These are all indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus linked up with Christ, their risen Head in Heaven. A series of articles commencing this month, in this paper, entitled “The Mystery of God,” will, we trust, be helpful to the understanding of this great subject.