The Atonement; Remnant in the Last Days; Jewish Remnant; Sufferings of Christ

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I come now to the subject of the sufferings of Christ. There are persons who oppose my doctrine, by saying, “The Lord Jesus would thus voluntarily have endured non-atoning sufferings-sufferings which do not shelter from the wrath of God those for love of whom He endured them-useless sufferings, which in no measure satisfy the justice of God.” I reply: Certainly, Christ has willingly, endured non-atoning sufferings, sufferings which will not shelter those for whom He has endured them from the anger of God. In denying this truth you reject what is most comforting, and, next to salvation itself, that which is most precious in the gospel. Christ has "suffered, being tempted." Now that was not expiation, neither does it preserve us from the same kind of suffering; on the contrary, it is our precious consolation, when we are tempted. He has endured the "contradiction of sinners against himself." From that I gain courage not to grow weary in the conflict; but there is no expiation there, no delivering man from wrath. "If so be that 'we suffer with him," it is said. Are those atoning sufferings? The Lord said to two of His disciples, "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized." (Mark 10:3939And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: (Mark 10:39).) Was that a question of expiation? Paul sought the fellowship of His sufferings, and filled up that which remained of the afflictions of Christ. Were these atoning sufferings? Some say to me, But these sufferings do not extend to death.' They are mistaken, for it is quite the opposite: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus... for we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake." (2 Cor. 4:10, 1110Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10‑11).) "The fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." (Phil. 3:1010That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10).) These are very clear passages. We have only to read chapters 2, 4 of the Epistle to the Hebrews to find the plain contradiction of the doctrine which some put forth in opposition to what I have taught. That doctrine denies almost all of Psa. 69, and a great part of Psa. 22, where explicit distinction is made between the sufferings on the part of man, and forsaking on the part of God. In Gethsemane, He was not yet drinking the cup, for He asks, if it were possible, not to drink it. Was He not suffering? How can any one say that the sufferings of Christ, which do not satisfy the justice of God, were useless? Is His sympathy of no avail? Is the fact useless that He takes part in all our difficulties, in all our sorrows, in all our temptation, to know how to apply His word to him who is overwhelmed with afflictions? " We have not an High Priest which cannot (μὴ δυνάμενον) be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (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); compare Heb. 2:17, 1817Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:17‑18).) But I have said enough for every Christian, who thanks the Savior for this special manifestation of His love. There are sufferings of Christ, sufferings of an infinite value for us, which are not atoning.
Some have raised a special difficulty with respect to His sufferings for the remnant of Israel. Never will I seek to turn the Christian away from the atoning sufferings of Christ, and from those which form the basis of His sympathy with us in our conflicts, to draw his attention to that which relates to the remnant of Israel. I desire that the Christian should occupy himself, above all, with the atonement, then with the consolations which are bestowed upon us by the knowledge of the sympathy of Him, who has suffered, being tempted. But when it is a question of explaining the Psalms, it is necessary to speak of the sympathies of Christ for the remnant, because that is the principal subject of the Psalms. It is easy to understand that many souls, as dear to God as a Christian more instructed in the scriptures, know nothing of that which the word teaches on this subject. We should not lead the weak to doubtful disputations. I do not think that what I have said would do this. Such souls would perhaps have said, I understand nothing at all about it,' and would have laid the book aside, for which I should not have blamed them. They might have been able to enjoy it afterward, but they would not have been troubled,. if their attention had not been drawn to this point. Without leading them into a discussion which would not be profitable to them, I shall seek to enlighten them as to what I mean.
Every Christian believes that which I teach, although all do not apply it to the remnant of Israel. The position of this remnant will, in the last days, be as follows: They will see before them the anger of God and will be in anguish, feeling how much they have deserved it; the power of Satan will be there in an entirely special manner; the mass of the people will be upraised against this remnant. Christ has passed through these troubles, although He did not deserve to do so, but He has felt how much His beloved people have merited these troubles. He has accomplished atonement for Israel in such a manner that, finally, the wrath of God will not burst forth against the remnant of this people; this remnant will enjoy blessing. But He has passed through the troubles above mentioned. The wrath of God was before His face, the power of Satan was there, it was the hour of the wicked and the power of darkness. It is said in the word, "In all their affliction he was afflicted" (Isa. 63:99In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)), and I believe it is not there a question of expiation. In Gethsemane, He was not yet drinking the cup, but His "soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." All this appears to me very simple and very certain, according to the word.
Difficulties have also been raised with regard to the idea that this took place particularly after the last supper. But the distinction of that hour is made in the word. "His hour," it is often said, "was not yet come." Afterward the Savior Himself denotes this special time. He said to His apostles, "When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it.... For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors." (Luke 22:35-3735And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (Luke 22:35‑37).) He would not drink any more with His disciples of the wine of the passover. Then, this was the hour of His anguish. Does any one believe that He did not suffer from the forsaking of His disciples, the treason of Judas, the denial of Peter?
To the thought that this kind of suffering continued till death, special objections have been made. But Psa. 69; 22, are witnesses of it. Without doubt, the cup of the wrath of God has, so to speak, comparatively effaced all the rest; but it is no less true that these Psalms, of which we have the literal accomplishment in the Gospels, depict sufferings of Christ on the part of men even unto death, and show that He has felt them. "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psa. 69:20, 2120Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:20‑21).) Read Psa. 22:14-2014I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. (Psalm 22:14‑20), and remark the contrast between these sufferings and the forsaking of God.
We have already seen that Paul sought the fellowship of the sufferings of the Savior in death. That Christ was then occupied with Israel, is brought out evidently by His words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do": an intercession which gave force to the call to repentance addressed to Israel by Peter: "I wot that through ignorance ye did it." The fact that the remnant of Israel go to the edge of the tomb in their anguish is constantly repeated in the word. Further, the application of the sympathy of Christ to Israel is only a particular application of a general truth of which I have already spoken. It is also clearly set forth in the word, that Satan came to try Jesus in a special manner. In the Gospel of Luke, it is said, that Satan "departed from him for a season." The Lord declares emphatically, in alluding to His last sufferings unto death, "The prince of this world cometh." Dreadful words!
It was the hour of man, of the Jews, and the power of darkness.
I say no more; I do not enter into controversy. It seems to me that what I have said will be received by every true Christian.
I seek not to go deeply into the question here, but to present the truth which is found in the word in such a manner that the weakest Christian may see that what I have said is scriptural. I do not think that the church of God ought to be deprived of the value of these precious facts. The more we see that atonement was made in drinking the cup of wrath, the better we shall comprehend what sin really is, and what deliverance is. The more also will be brought out the reality of those sufferings of Christ which are not expiatory, and Christ Himself will become more precious.
I have endeavored to present my thoughts in such a manner as to wound nobody, and to avoid controversy. Whatever effects the opinions which are opposed to my teaching have produced in my own mind, I have taken care not to express them in the least. I seek, and that by request of others, to calm all anxiety which the suspicion of grave errors might have produced. "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace."... It seems to me that sincere souls might find edification in what I have written, and not objections only. I am not senseless enough to maintain that a pen, purely human and feeble, may not have expressed itself badly on such subjects; but I see nothing at all to retract from the statements themselves. I believe, on the contrary, that the Christian may learn in them better to lay hold on the whole extent of the sufferings of Christ, the reality of His humanity, and the infinite depth of His love.]
1864.