Correspondence

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Under this heading the Editors purpose publishing letters from time to time received on Biblical questions of interest, and also replies thereto by one or more others — printing letters on both sides of the question so as the more clearly to enable each to “prove all things.”
Readers are invited to write us further on any subjects so arising, and their letters, if suitable, will be published as “Correspondence” in a subsequent issue of the Magazine.
Questions requiring briefer treatment will be answered by the Editors as heretofore under the heading of “Answers to Correspondents.”
The Day of Atonement.
D.S. writes us as follows: —
How do you understand that in the service of the day of atonement given to us in Leviticus 16 there are no grades in the sin offering — the special offering for that day?
It apparently was a yearly service — a renewal of the ground on which as a nation they stood with God.
In Leviticus 4 there are many grades, marking the position of the offerer in the congregation. Can it be that God legislates for the poverty of apprehension as to the offering?
He legislated doubtless for the poor (see Luke 2). But could we give it as an instance of poverty as to apprehension?
The ground on which the priestly family are seen in chapter 16:11 is evidently the same for the congregation (verse 15). God has only one measure when it is the judgment of our sins or when it is the ground of approach. When it is His governmental action (4.), is it not different?
Verse 3. If the priest that is anointed do sin? No forgiveness mentioned — how is this?
Verse 13. The whole congregation — (20) it shall be forgiven them.
Verse 22. A ruler — the blood goes no further than the brazen altar — (26) it shall be forgiven him.
Verse 27. One of the common people — the blood as in 25 — it shall be forgiven him (31).
Chapter 5:7. Actual natural poverty. But God marks in His government, that place in His family makes a difference as to the sin-the more privilege the more responsibility.
Reply — by J. A. Trench
I think your correspondent has himself stated what accounts principally for the difference between the sin-offering of the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) where there are no grades of it, and those of Leviticus 4. where there are several. It is that the Day of Atonement (recurring annually, surely, verse 34) set forth the whole ground upon which Israel as a nation stood with God, and He could be with them, or, as in the expressive language of Leviticus 16:1616And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. (Leviticus 16:16), the ground upon which “the tabernacle of meeting” (as it ever is — the meeting place between God and the people) dwelt among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
The ground upon which the priestly family are seen (verses 11-14) is clearly the same as that upon which Israel generally come in (verse 15); there could be no other. It was the blood of the sin-offering as it met every exigency of God’s throne and nature in holiness and righteousness, and glorified Him, as far as a type could express this. The only difference being that for Aaron and his house there was no scapegoat, because the blood that he sprinkled upon the mercy seat for God was sprinkled seven times before the mercy seat. Once was enough for God, who could estimate perfectly the value of the blood presented to Him, but it was His will that there should be this seven-fold presentation of it for the priestly house to make thus absolutely sure to them the ground of their reception. Aaron’s eye rested where God’s did: he needed no further proof of the acceptance of the sacrifice.
In Leviticus 4 the gradations of the sin-offering are interesting in the holy government of God, which is the point I doubt not. The blood is not carried within the veil. In the case of the two first, the sin of the priest or of the whole congregation, the link of the whole people with God was affected most seriously, and the offering is the same. The blood of the bullock is carried into the sanctuary to be sprinkled seven times before the veil, and of it was put upon the altar of incense, or of communion, which had been absolutely broken. I suppose that in the case of the anointed priest’s sin bringing guilt upon the people (see verse 3, R.V.) the omission of the clause “it shall be forgiven” as in verses 20, 26, 31, 35, is because there would be no one to pronounce it; which was the less important, as in the anti-type no such case could occur. When our Aaron stood representatively for His people’s sins He made propitiation for them. It was not a question of remission for Him.
In the other cases where it is individual, as in the ruler and one of the common people, the people as a whole are not affected, and the sin-offering varies according to their position of responsibility, as D.S. says. But in the case of insufficiency of means (chap. 5:7-13), I hardly think it can be looked at as “God legislating for the poverty of apprehension as to the offering,” which would too much confound the actual offering required with its typical significance. Besides, it went as far as the bloodless “one-tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin-offering,” in the last extreme. This shows that sin cannot be met in any different way than by a “sin-offering.”
Poverty would be no plea for consideration apart from it, hence he brings it where the blood-shedding is required for sin, and it is accepted in place of it, the priest taking his handful of it as a memorial to burn it (the word for sweet incense) “upon” (R.V.) or “with” (New Trans.: “sur,” French) the offerings made by fire unto the Lord; it is identified with all the infinite value of the burnt-offering before God, although “it is a sin-offering” — more than making up for any poverty of apprehension (assuming this be the force of gradations) on the part of the offerer, in the grace that provided for such circumstances.
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The Judgment Seat of Christ
W.H.T. writes us as follows:
I have looked at September Number of “Scripture Truth” (with regard to above question) but I regret to say that to my mind it throws no further light on the subject.
The particular words which I cannot reconcile with the views there put forth are “ that each may receive the things done in the body... whether it be good or evil (2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10), N.T.). These words were the means of my studying the subject, and I cannot help thinking that they have reference to God’s governmental dealings with us.
Scripture distinctly says “receive” — then how is it possible for us to receive the evil things (the good things present no difficulty) we have done, when we have bodies changed like unto His body of glory (Phil. 3:2121Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:21))? Shall we not receive the evil things in the same body in which we committed them-on the principle of reaping what we sow?
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I think it is generally admitted that 2 Corinthians 5 and Romans 14 deal with our pathway in this world. And it appears to me that the judgment seat is brought in to steady us in that path where evil abounds: and to make us refrain from judging others. We have to examine ourselves — to walk in the light and keep ourselves personally clean. But if, unfortunately, we should sin, still there is perfect provision for that sad emergency (1 John 1:6; 2:16If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (1 John 1:6)
1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)
), and we thus learn as an immense soul reality God’s utter abhorrence of sin, and prove the truth of that statement that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:2929For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)).
God disciplines us as sons that even now we might be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:7-107If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:7‑10)), and then go on to “perfect holiness in the fear of God.” This appears to me (though I gladly admit my great ignorance and willingness to learn) to be the force of the apostle’s argument in 2 Corinthians 5. Consciously knowing in our souls the holiness of God (“knowing therefore the terror of the Lord”) “we persuade men, but have been manifested to God.” We have felt the searchlight of the holiness of God burning upon our souls, and have been made morally fitted for that light: and we turn to the poor world deluged in sin, and we use all our God-given eloquence and persuasiveness to “rescue the perishing.” It was recorded in Peter’s epistle 1800 years ago that the “time for having the judgment begin from the house of God is come.” (that is, at the time he was writing): and this is also used as a powerful gospel appeal, “but if first from us what shall be the end of those who obey not the glad tidings of God?”
Reply — by H. D. R. Jameson
In undertaking to reply to your letter, I must first remark that you make the judgment seat of Christ a present thing, but the scriptures which have reference to this solemn event will not allow of this: in each passage it is distinctly future (see Rom. 14:1010But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10); 2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10); et al.)
It ought to have a present effect upon us: it had upon the apostle, for he tells us that “knowing the terror of the Lord” he persuaded men, and that he was himself even now manifested (with-out reserve) before God.
But I can quite understand your difficulty as to the word “receive.” In our editorial reply last month on this subject we refrained from detail, and only entered upon what concerned our correspondent’s question as to time; but your question is really as to the precise exposition of 2 Corinthians 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10): —
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Now as to the difficult word “receive,” do not weaken the meaning but give it its own full and proper force. Those that have done good will receive the things done in the body; similarly those that have done evil will receive in accordance with what their deeds have been in the body. The same fact is stated in other language in Romans 2:5-1:
“The righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.
“To them who by (or in) patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, ETERNAL LIFE:
“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, INDIGNATION AND WRATH,
“TRIBULATION AND ANGUISH, upon every soul of men that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.
“But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
“For there is no respect of persons with God.”
In both Romans 2 and 2 Corinthians 5. we thus have distinctly before us two classes, those that do good and those that do evil; it is a question of what is characteristic, just as in 1 John 3:8-108He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8‑10), we read “He that committeth (or practiseth) sin is of the devil... Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (or practice) sin... in this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil;” and again, “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 John 11) When things are thus viewed characteristically in Scripture it does not suppose that a man does both good and evil, it is rather “whether good or bad” — that which marks his life.
In the scripture we are considering (2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)) there is no point of time, and no detail: it is the solemn general statement. From other scriptures we know that the time at which the saints of this day will be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, is far removed from that at which the wicked dead are raised and judged (Rev. 20:5, 115But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5)
11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)
), and is distinct too from that at which will take place the judgment of the nations actually living on the earth at the moment of the Lord’s public return with us, His saints, to reign (Matt. 25:31-4631When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31‑46)). Nor is there the detail in 2 Corinthians 5. which we find elsewhere; and while it is well to have clearly before us that which is indicated in other scriptures, yet the interpretation of this passage must not he obscured by bringing in what is found elsewhere.
Here it is not a question of the kingdom and varying rewards as in 1 Corinthians 3:12-1512Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12‑15); Matthew 25:14-3014For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14‑30), etc., but the passage itself and its whole setting (see ch. 4:17-18, 5:1 and context) has to do with what is eternal; hence we have before us but the two distinct classes, and immediately Paul speaks of his persuading men, being moved thereto by the terror of the Lord (terror, mark, not as to his own ultimate destiny, as to which he was “always confident,” verse 6, but as to the wicked for whom the retributive judgment of that day would mean eternal woe).
As to the words “we all,” it is evident from the context that the thought before the apostle’s mind embraces the appearing of all men before that judgment seat (the “all” in verse 10 reaching in its scope to the full limits of the “all” in verse 14), and, as has been pointed out by the late Mr. Wm. Kelly, the Greek construction is accordingly different from that found in such a scripture as 2 Corinthians 3:1818But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18), where believers only are included.
But to rightly understand this passage, I believe it is important to remark that there are two thoughts mentioned in it, each distinct in itself, and neither to be confounded with the other: these two thoughts are, first, manifestation, and second, retribution.
First then as to the “manifestation” of saints. We shall all be manifested — everything in our lives will come into the light of a throne characterized by judgment: and we shall be glad to have it so; for solemn though that moment be, there will be no question of guilt arising, our sins having been atoned for and put away, and, as such, will be remembered “no more” (Heb. 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)). At that time too we ourselves shall be in glorified bodies like the One who will sit upon that judgment seat: and like Him not only in body but also morally, so that we shall hate that which He hates and love that which He loves, and will with Him, and in communion with His mind, review all the past — understanding things then in the light of that day as we never can do whilst as at present we see but as it were through a glass dimly.
Then follows retribution — receiving according to the deeds done in the body; but as to the saint this is only in respect of good, for although our manifestation brings everything into view (not publicly, I judge, but as between the individual and the Lord), yet that which has been evil is not present as guilt (all our sins having been borne by Christ, upon whom fell the whole weight of retributive judgment due to them): it is most, important to see this.
There is first, then, full and complete manifestation: and this fact exercises our conscience in view of that day, for we desire to have all out and manifest before God now in our own soul experience, which will in any event be manifested in that day. Then following manifestation there is retribution, but retribution which we do not fear, for guilt is no longer ours.
Retribution here is what is eternal, not the varying rewards for service which distinguish one from another during the continuance of the Kingdom (cf. Matt. 25:14-3014For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14‑30)). Eternal blessing is in view as in Romans 2:77To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7), Mark 10:3030But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:30), and other scriptures, where it is put as the end of a certain course of life, albeit we know that that manner of life which characterizes saints is but the fruit of the grace which has taken us up as poor guilty sinners, justified us by blood on the principle of faith, sealed us with the Spirit, and kept us all along.
With the wicked all this will be a woefully different matter: their manifestation will bring out all they are and all that they have done; and retribution in respect of this must be both terrible and eternal. Moved by this solemn consideration, the apostle “persuaded” men, beseeching them to be reconciled to God (verses 11, 20).
1 Corinthians 3:12-1512Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12‑15) has its own special setting: there we get detail as to how in that day all our works of service will come into particular review — (all that we have built on the one foundation) — and specific rewards will be given according to the quality of the service rendered — rewards in which it is even possible that all saints may not participate (for tested in that day the works of some may be found defective, and be burned up), nevertheless they themselves “shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” “The day” is to be the crucible in which everything in the nature of service will be tested.
It may be illustrated thus. A son goes out to a foreign land to represent his father on some important business. He receives instructions from time to time from home: sometimes he acts upon them, sometimes he forgets them, and sometimes he thinks his own way better.
When the work is completed he returns home to the warmest of welcomes that an affectionate father can give him; but following the greetings and the joy, there comes the review of the son’s work. Then he sees that some of the time which he thought most fruitful was wasted; that some things which he did were both harmful to himself and his mission; but that often when following instructions from home he was most successful; and at last he exclaims, “Now, father, I see that all that I did of my own wisdom was worthless and is lost, and only that which I did under your instruction was successful.”
It will be even so with all believers then; and “if any man’s work abide... he shall receive a reward.” Very precious is the grace which first enables us to serve, and then rewards the service rendered.