By Alonzo T. Jones
February 25, 1893
Let us study tonight in connection with what we had last night, so we may have before us fresh what the Lord has opened for us, upon which we may be sure where we stand with the full assurance of faith. “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us,” then “we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” 1 John 5:14, 15.
Let us begin with Romans 5:20. The point of study tonight is to see what place the law of God occupies in our obtaining righteousness alone by Jesus Christ. This is another phase of the thought we had last night—the Lord has given us confidence that we can claim by faith the promise of the Holy Spirit.
“Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound.” In other words, Romans 3:20, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” What was the first purpose of its giving? [Congregation: “To show us what sin is.”] To make sin abound; to give the knowledge of sin. So, “the law entered, that the offense might abound,” that sin might appear, that it might appear as it is.
Now let us read on in Romans 5: “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Then did the law come alone, making sin to appear alone? [Congregation: “No.”] It is the means to another end—to attain another object beyond the knowledge of sin. Where is it that grace abounds? [Congregation: “In the same place.”] Right there? [Congregation: “Yes.”] But does it read that way, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded”? [Congregation: “No; ‘much more.’”] if it was only “Where sin abounds, there grace abounds,” that would be pretty good. But that is not the way the Lord does things; He does things absolutely well—just as good as God could do.
Well, then, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” [Congregation: “Amen.”] Then, when the Lord, by His law, has given us the knowledge of sin, at that very moment grace is much more abundant than the knowledge of sin.
Then there is no possible place for discouragement at the sight of sins anymore, is there? [Congregation: “No.”] It is impossible, you see, for you or me to get under a cloud anymore at the knowledge of sin. Because, no difference how many sins are revealed to us, why, right there, at that very moment in our experience, the grace of God much more abounds than all the knowledge of sins. Brethren, isn’t it so, that the Lord wants us to be of good cheer? [Congregation: “Amen!”]
Well, another verse brings the same thing to view. John 16:7, 8: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” Who will not come? [Congregation: “The Comforter.”] The Comforter? Is that His name? [Congregation: “Yes.”]
“And when He is come, He will reprove [or convince] the world of sin.” Is He the Comforter when He does it? [Congregation: “Yes.”] Is He the Reprover when He does it, and the Comforter some other time? [Congregation: “No.”] It is the Comforter That reproves, thank the Lord! Then what are we to get out of the reproof of sin? [Congregation: “Comfort.”] The where is the room for our getting discouraged anymore at the knowledge of sin?
Don’t you see that we have an everlasting victory over Satan? Does Satan get the advantage of that man who believes God? Satan comes and says, “See what a sinner you are.” Thank the Lord, “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” [Congregation: “Amen!”]
“Well,” says another, “I have such a deep conviction of sin. It seems to me I was never convicted of sin so deeply before in all my life.” Thank the Lord, we have got more comfort than ever before in our lives.
But there is more in Romans 5:20. We found that the law makes sin abound in order that grace may abound, so that we may have the grace to lead us to Christ. Now what are the two things together for? The law makes sin abound that we may be led to more abundance of grace in order “that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign.”
Isn’t it so that God will make that abundance of grace to reign in our lives just as certainly as ever sin did in the world? But, mark you, freedom is much more abundant even than the slavery was.
Now let us see the whole story. “The law entered, that the offense might abound.” Then what did the law enter for? [Voice: “To bring us to Christ.”] Yes. Then when any sinner uses the Ten Commandments for any other purpose than to reach Jesus Christ, what kind of a purpose is he putting them to? He is perverting the intent of God in giving the law.
Well, the law then brings us to Christ. What for? [Congregation: “That we may be justified.”] When the law finds us, does it want anything from us? [Congregation: “It wants righteousness.”] What kind? [Congregation: “Perfect righteousness.”] Whose? [Congregation: “God’s.”] Just such righteousness alone as God manifests in His Own life, in His Own way of doing things? Will that law accept anything less than that, a hair’s breadth less? If we could come within a hair’s breadth of it—that’s too far short.
Paul tells us what the law wants out of you and me, and what it wants in us, too. 1 Timothy 1:5: “Now the end [the object, the aim, the intent, the purpose] of the commandment is charity.” What kind of love? “Out of a pure heart.” “And of a good conscience.” “And of faith unfeigned.” That is what the law wants to find in you and me. Well, that is simply perfection.
Well now, has any man in the world any of that kind of love to offer to the law of God, that kind of a conscience, that kind of faith? No, sir. The law makes that demand of everyone on Earth tonight, of you and me; of people in Africa; and of all the people on the earth; and He will not accept anything less than that from any one of them. So, the law comes to you and me and says: “I want charity; I want perfect love—the love of God. I want to see it in your life all the time. And I want to see it manifested out of a pure heart, and through a good conscience, and unfeigned faith.”
“Well,” says one, “I have not got it: I have done my best.” But the law will say, “That is not what I want; I don’t want your best; I want perfection. It is not your doing I want anyhow, it is God’s I want; it is not your righteousness I am after; it is not your doing I want; I want God’s doing in your life.” Is that not what the Scripture says: “That every mouth may be stopped”? It does just that, does it not?
But there comes a still, small voice saying, “Here is perfect life; here is the life of God; here is a pure heart; here is a good conscience; here is unfeigned faith.” Ah, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came and stood where I stand, in the flesh in which I live; He lived there; the perfect love of God was manifested there; the perfect purity of heart manifested there; a good conscience manifested there; and the unfeigned faith of the mind that was in Jesus Christ, is there.
He simply comes and tells me: “Here, take this.” The life manifested in Jesus Christ, that will satisfy the law; the purity of heart that Jesus Christ gives, that will satisfy the law; the good conscience that He can create, that will satisfy; the unfeigned faith which He gives, that will satisfy.
Is that not what the law wants all the time? It is Jesus Christ That the law wants, is it not? [Congregation: “Yes.”] That is the same thing which it calls for in the fifth of Romans, is it not? It calls for Christ in me, because the law wants to see that thing in me. Then, is not the object of the law of God, the Gospel of Christ alone? “Christ in you, the Hope of glory”?
Justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost Which is given unto us. “And God put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8, 9. There is the love of God out of a pure heart.
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14. There is the love of God out of a good conscience.
Oh, then the message of the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ brings us to, and brings to us, the perfect fulfillment of the law of God. That is the aim and the one single point of the third angel’s message, is it not? Christ in His righteousness; Christ in His purity; Christ in His love; Christ in His gentleness; Christ in His entire Being; Christ, and Him crucified. Let us be glad of it.
So then, when the law stands before us or we stand before it, and it makes its wondrous demand of charity, we can say: “Here it is; it is in Christ, and He is mine!” Just as Steps to Christ tells us, we can come to Jesus now and be cleansed, and stand before the law without one touch of shame or remorse. Brethren, when I have that which makes me at perfect agreement with the law of God, then I am satisfied.
Now let us read the 3rd chapter of Romans; that tells the whole story without any further study than simply to read the texts. Romans 3:19–22. We can say amen to every word of it now, right straight along. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” That which tells me that I am a sinner cannot tell me that I am righteous. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” Sin has so blinded and corrupted us that we cannot see it in the law: and if we could see it there, we could not get it there, because there is no thing in us to start with that is fit for it: we are helpless.
So now, “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested . . . even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe.” What does that word “believe” mean? What is genuine faith? A yielding of the heart to Him, a fixing of the affections upon Him. Believing is receiving when God speaks. He says so in the first chapter of John, 12th verse: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”
Well now, the righteousness of God in Christ may be ours. When that is true, then what is the use of the law? [Congregation: “It witnesses.”] Exactly. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law.” When the law gives a knowledge of sin in order that we may have the knowledge of the abundance of grace to take away the sin, then grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ—and this righteousness of God by faith in Christ is our own through the working of the law; and this knowledge of sin has brought us to Christ, and we have Him, and the law is satisfied in all its demands made upon us.
When the law has made demands upon us that we cannot satisfy by any other means except by Jesus Christ being present in ourselves; then will the law of God, as long as we stay there, stand there and say: “That is right, and I am satisfied with it”? [Congregation: “Yes.”] If anybody begins to question it and says: “It is not so,” then we have witnesses to prove it, have we?
It is necessary for several reasons, that we should have witnesses. When God speaks and we believe it, then we know, each one for himself, that the righteousness of God is our own, that we are entitled to it; that we can rest in perfect peace upon it. But there are other people that need to know this, too. Can they know it by my saying that I assent to this, and that I say that is so, and therefore it is so? Is that proof enough to them? [Congregation: “No.”] They need something better even than my word. Don’t you see, the Lord has given us witnesses to which they can appeal, and they can go and ask these witnesses whenever they please, whether this that we have is genuine or not.
We can say: There are some friends of mine: they know me from my birth till now. They know me better than I do myself, and if you want any more than this that I say, go and ask them: They will tell you. How many of them are there? [Congregation: “Ten.”] Is their word worth anything? They are the truth. Psalm 119:142. When they say that the demand is satisfied, that is enough for anybody in the universe, is it not?
So, the man who claims to believe in Jesus, and claims the righteousness of God, is his claiming enough for this world? [Congregation: “No.”] “Why yes, we believe in the Saviour; I have a right to claim, too, the righteousness that He has, the perfect holiness and perfect sanctification: and that I have not sinned for ten years, and am above all temptation, even: and I know it.” Well, how do you know it? “Why, I feel it in my heart; I feel it in my heart, and have for several years.”
Well, that is no evidence at all; for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Above Satan even? [Congregation: “Yes.”] Is the heart actually deceitful above all things? [Congregation: “Yes.”] It is more deceitful than Satan himself, isn’t it? The heart will deceive me quicker and oftener than Satan will.
Well then, when that person feels it in his heart, is that a good kind of evidence? When the heart says that I am good, then what is it doing? [Congregation: “It is deceiving.”] Solomon said: “He that trusteth his own heart is a fool.” Therefore, we cannot afford to trust such things as that on such an important question as this. We need better evidence than a man’s heart, that he has got the righteousness of God, and that he is fit for the Judgment, and that he has not sinned for ten years, holy and sanctified and above temptation, etc, etc. We need something better than that; and the fact of the matter is, Jesus was here in this world a good while, and He never was above temptations while He was here. Christians are not, either, while they live here.
If that person who claims to have the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ has only that for a witness, and his testimony can go only that far, then what is his claim worth? It is a deceptive claim. So the Lord has not left us there. Last night we found in our lesson that when we want to know that these things are so in our experience we are not to look within to find out whether it is so, but to look at what God says to see whether it is so. When we have found Jesus Christ, the Lord does not want us to look within to see whether He is there. He has furnished us witnesses, whose testimony will tell us all the time that He is there, and these will tell everybody else that He is there. The righteousness of God is now manifested, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, and when it is, it is witnessed by the law.
Then the law is to bring us unto Christ. First, to give the knowledge of sin, and second to witness to the righteousness of God which is by faith. Anybody who uses the law of God for any other than these two purposes is using it for purposes that God never intended.
Where is our righteousness from? 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
“But 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. What is it that we see in the face of Jesus Christ? [Congregation: “The glory of the Lord.”] What is the glory of the Lord? We have been told by the Spirit of God that the message of the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, that is the beginning of the glory that is to lighten the whole earth.
Where do we look for righteousness? In the face of Jesus Christ. There “we all are changed into the same image from glory to glory,” from righteousness to righteousness, from character to character, from goodness to goodness, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Then don’t you see how the righteousness of God and the Holy Spirit go hand in hand? When we obtain the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot be kept away from us; you cannot separate the two; they belong together. Then we have a right to ask for the Holy Spirit, and to receive [Him], too.
Then don’t you see that it is impossible to keep the righteousness of God and the Holy Spirit separate? So then, when the image of God in Jesus Christ is found in us, there is the impress, the seal of God. When by looking into the face of Jesus Christ, having received the righteousness of God which is by faith in Him; the effect of that is to change us into the same image, to perfect the image of God, and restore it in us, by the working of the Spirit of God upon the soul. And when that is done, then the same Spirit of God is there to affix the seal of the living God, the eternal impress of His Own image.
Where in Heaven do the angels look? Don’t they look into the law to see whether they are right or not? “Their angels do always behold the face of My Father, Which is in Heaven.” Then where does the righteousness of the angels come from? From God, through Jesus Christ. And what does the law in the throne of God, the foundation of His throne, what does the original copy of His law do there? When the angels look into the face of Him Who sits upon the throne, the law witnesses to the righteousness of God which they obtain without the law.
This was always the true idea of the uses of the law of God. When the Israelites had sinned against the commandments of the Lord, they were to bring the sacrifice and its blood was offered, atonement was made and they were forgiven. And then as now the commandments witnessed to the righteousness which they obtained by faith in Jesus. And therefore the tabernacle was called “the tabernacle of witness.” Acts 7:44, and Numbers 17:7, 8; 18:2. The ark was the ark of the testimony or witness, because it contained the tables of the testimony. The tables of the law were the tables of the testimony, because they were the evidence which God appointed to witness to the righteousness of God, which comes “without the law,” by faith of Jesus Christ alone. Then it is everlastingly true throughout the universe that “if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21. Forever and everywhere “their righteousness is of Me, saith, the Lord.”
Well, this is to fit us for the seal of God, the righteousness of God, in order that through this we may be changed from glory to glory, into the same image; and when that is completed, what then? It will witness to that finished, completed work all the way through.
It is the presence of Christ that makes holy and sanctifies the place where it is. What is the sign of sanctification? [Congregation: “The Sabbath.”] And sanctification complete is God’s work in the soul. Then when the work of God is completed in the soul, the law of God will witness to it all the way. But what particular part of the law of God is a witness to that particular thing, the complete sanctification of His people? [Congregation: “The Sabbath of the Lord.”] It stands there as the witness, and as the chief witness, and the two coming together testify; and the seal is affixed,—that work is completed.
Brethren, how can we get away from the seal of God? Then are we not right now, in the time of the sealing? [Congregation: “Yes.”] And it is through the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is it not? When that seal is received, when that is affixed there, then these can stand through the time of the plagues, through all the temptations and trials of Satan when he works with all power and signs and lying wonders. For the promise is: “As thou has kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
And when that is past—then entrance into the heavenly City. Brethren, when we have this righteousness of Jesus Christ, we have that which will pass through every test.
And in that day there are going to be two parties there; there are going to be some there when the door is shut, and they will want to go in, and they say, “Lord, open to us; we want to come in.” And someone comes and asks, “What have you done that you should come in? What right have you to enter the inheritance here? What claim have you upon that?” “Oh, we are acquainted with You; we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence; Thou hast taught in our streets. Yes, besides that we have prophesied in Thy name; in Thy name we have cast out devils; and in Thy name we have done many wonderful works. Why, we have done many wonderful things. Lord, is that not evidence enough? Open the door.”
What is the answer? “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” What did they say? “We have done many wonderful works; we have done them; we are all right; we are righteous; we are just. But “we” does not count there, does it?
There is going to be another company there that day—a great multitude that no man can number,—all nations, and kindreds, and tongues, and people; and they will come up to enter in. And if anyone should ask them that question, “What have you done that you should enter here?” the answer would be:—
“Oh, I have not done anything at all to deserve it. I am a sinner, dependent only on the grace of the Lord. Oh I was so wretched, so completely a captive, and in such a bondage, that nobody could deliver me but the Lord Himself; so miserable that all I could ever do was to have the Lord constantly to comfort me; so poor that I had constantly to beg from the Lord; so blind that no one but the Lord could cause me to see; so naked that no one could clothe me but the Lord Himself: All the claim that I have is what Jesus has done for me. But the Lord has loved me. When in my wretchedness I cried, He delivered me; when in my misery I wanted comfort, He comforted me all the way; when in my poverty I begged, He gave me riches; when in my blindness I asked Him to show me the way, that I might know the way, He led me all the way, and made me to see; when I was so naked that no one could clothe me, why, He gave me this garment that I have on; and so all I can present, all that I have to present, as that upon which I can enter, any claim that would cause me to enter, is just what He has done for me; if that will not pass me, then I am left out; and that will be just, too. If I am left out, I have no complaint to make. But, oh, will not this entitle me to enter and possess the inheritance?”
But he says, “Well, there are some very particular persons here; they want to be fully satisfied with everybody that goes by here. We have ten examiners here. When they look into a man’s case and say that he is all right, why then he can pass. Are you willing that these should be called to examine into your case?” And we shall answer, “Yes, yes; because I want to enter in: and I am willing to submit to any examination; because even if I am left out I have no complaint to make: I am lost anyway when I am left to myself.”
“Well,” says he, “we will call them then.” And so those ten are brought up, and they say, “Why yes, we are perfectly satisfied with him. Why, yes, the deliverance that he obtained from his wretchedness is that which our Lord wrought. The comfort that he had all the way, and that he needed so much, is that which our Lord gave. The wealth that he has, whatever he has, poor as he was, the Lord gave it; and blind, whatever he sees, it is the Lord That gave it to him, and he sees only what is the Lord’s. Naked as he was, that garment that he has on, the Lord gave it to him,—the Lord wove it, and it is all divine. It is only Christ. Why, yes, he can come in.”
[Here the congregation began singing:—
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain:
He washed it white as snow.”]
And then, brethren, there will come over the gates a voice of sweetest music, full of the gentleness and compassion of my Saviour,—the voice will come from within, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord.” [Congregation: “Amen.”] “Why standest though without?” And the gate will be swung wide open, and we shall have “an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Oh, He is a complete Saviour. My soul doth magnify the Lord. My soul rejoices in the Lord, brethren, tonight. Oh, I say with David, Come and magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
Isn’t it true, then, of Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Brethren, He can do it; He wants to; let us let Him.
(Prof. Prescott:—The times of refreshing are here, brethren. The Spirit of God is here. Open the heart, open the heart; open the heart in praise and thanksgiving.)
—From the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 27, 1893