The law of God is a transcript of His character; it portrays the nature of God. As in Christ we behold the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person, so also in the law the attributes of the Father are unfolded. Although the law is unchangeable, His having provided a means of salvation for the law-breaker does not in the least detract from the dignity of the character of God, since the penalty of man's transgression was borne by a divine Substitute. The Father Himself suffered with the Son; for "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." Man, with his human, finite judgment, cannot safely question the wisdom of God. Hence it is unbecoming for him to criticize the plan of salvation. Before the theme of redemption, let man lay his wisdom in the dust, and accept the plans of Him whose wisdom is infinite.
God grants men a probation in this world, that their principles may become firmly established in the right, thus precluding the possibility of sin in the future life, and so assuring the happiness and security of all. Through the atonement of the Son of God alone could power be given to man to establish him in righteousness, and make him a fit subject for heaven. The blood of Christ is the eternal antidote for sin. The offensive character of sin is seen in what it cost the Son of God in humiliation, in suffering and death. All the worlds behold in Him a living testimony to the malignity of sin, for in His divine form He bears the marks of the curse. He is in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that hath been slain. The redeemed will ever be vividly impressed with the hateful character of sin, as they behold Him who died for their transgressions. The preciousness of the Offering will be more fully realized as the blood-washed throng more fully comprehend how God has made a new and living way for the salvation of men, through the union of the human and the divine in Christ.
The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honour and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God. The plan of salvation, making manifest the justice and love of God, provides an eternal safeguard against defection in unfallen worlds, as well as among those who shall be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Our only hope is perfect trust in the blood of Him who can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is our only hope in this world, and it will be our theme in the world to come.
Oh, we do not comprehend the value of the atonement! If we did, we would talk more about it. The gift of God in His beloved Son was the expression of an incomprehensible love. It was the utmost that God could do to preserve the honour of His law, and still save the transgressor. Why should man not study the theme of redemption? It is the greatest subject that can engage the human mind. If men would contemplate the love of Christ, displayed in the cross, their faith would be strengthened to appropriate the merits of His shed blood, and they would be cleansed and saved from sin. There are many who will be lost, because they depend on legal religion, or mere repentance for sin. But repentance for sin alone cannot work the salvation of any soul. Man cannot be saved by his own works. Without Christ it is impossible for him to render perfect obedience to the law of God; and heaven can never be gained by an imperfect obedience; for this would place all heaven in jeopardy, and make possible a second rebellion.
God saves man through the blood of Christ alone, and man's belief in, and allegiance to, Christ is salvation. It is no marvel to angels that the infinite sacrifice made by the Son of God was ample enough to bring salvation to a fallen race, but that this atoning sacrifice should have been made is a wonder to the universe. It is a mystery which angels desire to look into. The angels are amazed at the indifference and coldness manifested by those for whom so great a salvation has been provided. They look with grief and holy indignation upon those who do not seek to appreciate the unspeakable gift of God. Instead of offering adoration to God, finite men think themselves capable, without divine unction, of determining what is worthy of praise or blame in their fellow-men. But to be glorified by man is no glory. We should learn to value the praise of man at what it is worth.
The Lord says, "Them that honour me I will honour." Let every breath of praise, every word of exaltation, flow to Him who is worthy, flow to Jesus, the Prince of life, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Elevate the cross of Christ. Elevate the Mediator. Lift up Jesus. In Him is everything noble. Contemplate God in Christ. He is surrounded with angels, cherubim and seraphim continually behold Him. Angelic voices day and night cry before Him: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.... Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee." But although God only is holy and worthy to be praised, human tongues are perverted to praise and glorify man rather than God.
The greatest gift that God could bestow upon men was bestowed in the gift of His beloved Son. The apostle says, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" There was nothing held in reserve. No second probation will ever be provided. If the unspeakable gift of God does not lead man to repentance, there is nothing that ever will move his heart. There is no power held in reserve to act upon his mind, and arouse his sensibilities. The whole character of God was revealed in His Son, the whole range of the possibilities of heaven is displayed for the acceptance of man in the Son of the Infinite One. The way for man's return to God and heaven has no barriers. The matchless depths of the Saviour's love have been demonstrated; and if this manifestation of God's love for the children of men does not prevail to draw men to Himself, there is nothing that ever will.
Those who will be saved in the kingdom of God will be those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The image of Christ will be perfected in every soul who accepts the gift of His grace, and those who are perfected through His grace, will stand before God equal in elevation, in power and purity, to the angels, and will be honoured with them before the eternal throne. The angels of heaven will love those whom Christ has loved, and has bought with His own precious blood.
The attention of all the inhabitants of all worlds will be directed to the cross of Christ, around which will cluster the exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The imagination becomes exhausted in its stretch to comprehend the wonderful work of redemption. The plan of salvation is too high to be fully reached by human thought. It is too grand to be fully embraced by finite comprehension. The apostle says, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Can we wonder that Heaven is amazed because men act as though the gift of God were valueless? What will be the eternal loss of those who reject so great a salvation, offered freely through the merits of God's only-begotten and well-beloved Son!
Originally published in The Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889.