Heavenly Vision: Have You Put Your Candle Out? No. 3

Acts 26:22  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 6
We will now in conclusion look at that truth which the apostle preached, and which produced this wondrous change of mind, in turning men to God, both from the religion of the Jews, and from all the abominations of the Gentiles—which opened their eyes, turned them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God; by which they received forgiveness of sins and inheritance among the sanctified, according to the words of Jesus "by faith that is in me." And by which great and small were shown that they must repent; they must abhor themselves, and the very things in which they had trusted, even as Paul himself did, and count them dung. Ah, Paul, if you were here now, you would have the same to do in this day to the great riders and chief priests of Christendom, and to all the small who follow them.
Well, the truth is the same; who will declare it as he did? And what is that truth? Briefly he explains it to the king Agrippa. " Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." If we turn to another scripture we shall see his exact manner of preaching, as recorded by the Holy Ghost. " Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is the Christ/' (Acts 17:33Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. (Acts 17:3).) And the effect of this preaching for three weeks may be seen in the letters Paul wrote to these Thessalonians.
In another scripture the effect of this truth is equally striking. He shows that those who believe this truth are accounted righteous before God. 'If we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 4; 5) Blessed as this is, it is far from being all. Indeed, everything is connected with the Person of Christ, dead and risen, and ascended to glory.
But it may be asked by some, Is not that the truth held by modern Christendom? Thank God, He has restored this truth again, and it is feebly preached by a few, little known except to be opposed. But if our eyes have been opened; if the light of the glory has shone into our hearts; if we have heard the voice speaking to us from heaven; if that light has so shone as to put our poor candle out—we shall then see in that light, that the truth preached by Paul, and the error preached now, are as wide apart as the poles.
The truth Paul preached was entirely from heaven. It was not of men, but of the Son of God from heaven—what He must do: that He must be engaged with the whole question of the salvation of lost sinners. And what must He needs do? Paul tells us He must needs suffer. He has suffered, bearing our iniquities—delivered for our offenses. According to the scriptures, bruised for sins. As our substitute, dead and buried; and there was the entire end of us judicially, so that we are reckoned dead and buried with Christ; no improvement expected in the old carnal man, but buried as dead—baptism being a figure-of this. (Rom. 6)
Before we go further, is this what a sinner is taught now? Is he told what has been done? or is he told to do? Is it what God is, and has done in the gift of His Son? And is he told what that Son has finished on the cross?
Paul preached forgiveness of sins through that once dead and now risen Christ; and assured all who, through grace, believed the message of God, that they were justified from all things. (Acts 13:38, 3938Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38‑39).) And since God had raised Him from the dead who had died for their offenses; and having raised Him from the dead for the very purpose of their justification, they surely were justified by faith. There could be no possible mistake: therefore they had perfect peace with God. So that God was the justifier, and the work was finished by the Man who spoke to Saul from heaven. All is thus divine certainty, everlasting peace with God; and this was, and is, the effect of believing the truth as preached by Paul. We appeal in proof to every epistle he wrote.
If we now turn to the great or learned priesthood, take that large branch of what boastingly calls itself the Catholic Church, we are obliged to admit it curses the man that believes the above truth, preached by Paul. For proof of this,, we only need read the records of the Council of Trent.. If you doubt this, go to a priest and ask him what you are to do, so as to be quite sure, like the true believers in the church at Rome, that you are accounted righteous before God, and have peace with God.
Sad as this is, yet we cannot point in warning to the church of Rome alone, as utterly denying the truth which Paul preached. In thousands of scarcely Protestant places in this land, the truth as Paul preached it, is never heard; and if they possibly could, they would take care it never should be heard in their parishes. No, with them it is what you must do to improve your poor fallen nature. And you must go on improving it until you may hope to be fit for heaven! No, you must wait until the day of judgment! The Thessalonians heard the true gospel three weeks, and they had the full assurance faith gives, and were quite ready and waiting for the Son from heaven. But you may hear the false gospel all your lives, and die in uncertainty at last.
Is this true? You know it is. Are you, my reader, enjoying peace with God in unshaken confidence in the truth of God; or are you trying by baptism, or the incarnation, or the secret though idolatrous worship of, and supposed improvement of yourself by, sacraments, and holy days, and services—are you trying by these means, or any other means, to fit yourself for heaven, according to the errors, and commandments of men? If so, you know all is darkness and uncertainty. God will not allow you to even think you have peace with Him, or have eternal life, if you are looking to these delusions. Truly He was incarnate, but that was not to improve human nature, but, that He might in due time die to save them that believe. Oh, that the light may shine into your heart.
And we would also call attention to a most important fact. Not only must Christ needs suffer, but also rise from the dead. He died for our sins according to the scriptures. There was an end of our sins forever, never possibly to be remembered against us. God says it, " And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." That is, as to the conscience before God. This does not set aside His chastening us when we sin, or the advocacy of Christ. But God deals with us according to His estimate of the blood of Christ. Therefore, as they have been laid on Him, they can be charged to us no more.
But not only has Christ died for us, we are reckoned dead with Him; so that both our sins are reckoned gone, and we also are gone. Dead with Him, buried with Him.
Now if this was "all, we should simply perish, just as Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15 "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith also vain." " And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." All turns plainly on the resurrection of Christ. For again, He is not only raised for us, for our justification; but also we are raised up with Him. " If ye be risen with Christ." Clearly, we are neither justified nor risen with Christ, if He be not risen. " The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon."
Can you then look back to the cross and see your Holy Substitute in pure love, taking your place, bearing your guilt, and sins; yea, made sin. for you? He finished there the work of atonement. Was He delivered for your offenses? It is not here a question of your accepting that substitute, but has God accepted Him? Can there be a possible doubt? Has not God raised Him from the dead, and received Him up above all heavens? What, your once bleeding substitute seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high!
Do not, however, make that sad mistake, that this is your old nature improved, reconciled to God, or worse still, God reconciled to it. This error is the foundation cause of all errors. Ritualism is entirely based on it. No, the whole thing is entirely new, not a bit of the old mended. The doctrine that the incarnation was intended to be Christ permeating human nature, and then holy communion imparting still more of Christ, to improve humanity—all this is from the father of lies, utterly contrary to the word of God. Paul did not know Christ for that purpose, he says, "Wherefore henceforth, know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth, know we him no more." To suppose that Christ in the flesh would save, or even benefit humanity, is utter folly. He must needs suffer, and rise again, or remain in His sinless purity forever alone. This is His own teaching. John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24): " Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God," &c. (2 Cor. 5:16, 1716Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:16‑17).)
The more we study in the light of the heavenly vision, the gospel committed to Paul, the more distinctly we see that there is the same need for men to change their minds now, and turn to God from the errors of Christendom, equally as it was in the days of Paul May the same Lord who thus called Saul the persecutor, call many more to declare this long lost truth to great and small.
Can you, reader, say in reading this paper,. I have heard that voice speaking to me? Soon our privilege of witnessing for Him will be closed: may we be able to say, " I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." C. S.