Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
Power, justice and love required that he should not live forever in sin; and they required that he should never live again unless a deliverance would be effected to the satisfaction of justice, and he would become perfectly in harmony with righteousness. Thus we see that Divine wisdom had to work out a plan for man's creation compatibly with man's free agency and God's power, justice and love. This, then, was the problem given to God's wisdom to solve. And in its solution God's foreknowledge, as well as other knowledge, supplied Him all the intelligence needed for this plan; and His faith in His knowledge and His hope to use it to plan good ends furnished Him with the planning power to work out what the Bible calls the Plan of the Ages, because its progressive development requires several ages for its full outworking.
To solve the problem, wisdom, after planning man's creation in God's image and likeness, first planned at the behest of power, justice and love that perfect man under test should prove whether he would choose good or evil. God's foreknowledge, showing wisdom, enabled Him to know that inexperienced, perfect man under a crucial test would fail and that thus, primarily at justice's demand and secondarily at power's and love's demand, man would have to give up the life that was his as a grant on condition of obedience. Wisdom, therefore, and that in harmony with power, justice and love, which variously required the death sentence, had to make a plan taking into consideration the fact and its implication that man because of sin must die. It evolved the following things as parts of this plan: (1) that man while dying for sin might, by experiencing its rigors in physical, mental, moral and religious evils, learn its hatefulness and the desirability of avoiding it; (2) that power, justice and love might by a ransom co-operate in giving man another life free from the sentence imposed for his original sin; (3) that man might be given in another life an opposite experience,
i.e., one with righteousness, from which by experience he might learn the desirability of practicing righteousness, through its healing the many physical, mental, moral and religious effects of his first experience, i.e., with sin, and through its keeping him in that restored condition— perfection; (4) that man, having these two opposite experiences with their opposite effects, might be given a final trial to determine which he after this double training would choose; (5) that eternal destruction might be meted out to those who fail to practice righteousness after the double experience, and that eternal life might be given to those who would practice righteousness after these two experiences; (6) that thus sin and evil would be put eternally out of existence; and (7) that God would get what He started out to get—a perfect race of free moral agents who from an intelligent appreciation of the pertinent principles would hate and avoid sin, and would love and practice righteousness.
These were the general things that wisdom thought out to bring into existence a perfect race that from an intelligent appreciation of sin and righteousness would hate and avoid the former and love and practice the latter. The wisdom of this plan will become apparent on a little consideration. Since experience is the most thorough, though by no means the most gentle teacher, of course wisdom would arrange for its use to teach the sinful race the undesirability of sin, because of its terrible nature and fearful effects in physical, mental, moral and religious degradation. The principle herein displayed is that exemplified in the old saying, "the burnt child dreads the fire." Certainly the hatefulness of sin and the desirableness of avoiding it cannot better be inculcated than by the sinner's feeling the painful scourgings that it as a sore taskmaster gives him as its slave; especially so, if by a contrasted experience, i.e., with righteousness, all the effects of the experience with sin be healed and the opposite blessing of physical,
mental, moral and religious elevation unto perfection be wrought; for after these two trainings—educations—the race, when put on final trial as to fitness for everlasting life, will be a thousandfold more likely to avoid sin and practice righteousness than was perfect Adam who had no such contrasted experiences as educators. And surely in this way more will be rendered fit to live forever in a moral universe in harmony with truth and righteousness than by any other method of which we can think. And thus by the method that Divine wisdom has suggested God will get a more numerous race to illustrate eternally the reign of moral law than by any other method of which we can think. Thus, as a general proposition, wisdom has arranged very wisely to permit but not to cause the existence of sin.
But, looked upon from the standpoint of general details, the quality of wisdom shines out in the reason for God's permitting sin. For its permission for a limited time and sphere wisely circumscribes its operation to a comparatively short time and to a comparatively few of the moral agents whose creation the Lord designed in the various Ages; for the example of fallen angels and men in their terrible experiences as a result of dabbling in sin will be sufficient as a teacher to keep back all future orders of beings from sin—a thing that we conclude from the fact that after the end of the Millennium sin never again will rear aloft its head. Again we see God's wondrous wisdom in permitting the race to fall in and by one man's offense (Rom. 5: 12-21), and sin and its effects to be transmitted from parents to children; since thereby the dreadful effects of parents' sin through heredity upon their unborn generations is exhibited as a thing that will make parents hate and avoid sin all the more because of its effects on their descendants, when once they come to the contrasted experiences with their pertinent teachings on the first experiences. Furthermore, the thought of the contagiousness of sin and its effects will in due
time help toward reformation in the contrasted experience. A still greater mark of wisdom is manifest in reducing the race's suffering to a minimum by making all fall into condemnation by one man's (Adam's) offense; for this paved the way for one, by death for the one, to save all from that condemnation by becoming an acceptable substitute to justice for the one sinner, even as justice requires a life for a life, and a perfect life for a perfect life; for if God had created as perfect human beings the estimated 20,000,000,000 humans who have lived and had put them all on trial for life individually, with no experimental or observational knowledge of sin, Adam being the example of what a perfect man under such circumstances would do, we see that all would, like him, have fallen into sin and thus incurred condemnation of their own accord. But such a contingency, in view of justice requiring a perfect life for a perfect life, would have required 20,000,000,000 perfect men as saviors to die for the 20,000,000,000 individually tried and fallen men. Thus by one master stroke wisdom saved 19,999,999,999 perfect lives and thus prevented the doubling of human sufferings by arranging for the condemning of all in one and for the redeeming of all by one, even as St. Paul in Rom. 5: 12-21 teaches. Wisdom had other objections to trying all individually and thereafter redeeming all by individual saviors; for some, yea many, of these would-be saviors might have failed. Thus not only those for whom they would have attempted to act as substitutes would not have been redeemed, but the failing ones would have needed saviors—all this increasing suffering beyond that provided for in the plan that Divine wisdom has formed. Moreover, all these saviors for their self-sacrifice would come in for as high a reward as was actually provided for our Lord in the plan. This would result in so many beings attaining to the Divine nature as would not only be too many for that plane, but also too many to make practical use of
in the future creative work of the Divine class. Wisdom, of course, forbade such a thing.
Moreover, Divine wisdom saw in the fact that the race would consist of believers and unbelievers that another practical benefit could be wrought out of the permission of sin among men. While the best that Divine wisdom could plan for the unbelief class is bringing a very large majority of them into fitness for everlasting perfect human life in earth through an experience with sin and a subsequent experience with righteousness as effective dissuaders from sin and effective persuaders to righteousness, it saw that the faith of the faith class could be so used amid the experience with evil as to develop them to such a high degree of character as would fit the very best of them for the Divine nature, and the rest of them for some spirit nature lower than the Divine. This consideration moved wisdom to plan for two salvations—a general one for the unbelief class and an elect one for the faith class. The reasonableness of this is apparent when we consider that the unbelief class cannot walk by faith—they cannot trust God out of sight—while the faith class lives out the saying, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." As a result the unbelief of the unbelief class makes them resort to all sorts of violations of Divine law to save themselves from acts and conditions which will bring them earthly harm or prevent their obtaining their desires, while the faith class will suffer all things rather than displease God, and endure all things in order to please Him.
Therefore Divine wisdom planned to let the former class now have its experience with evil and later its experience with good, because while evil is rampant in the world they could not stand the tests now necessary for developing the character fitted for the elective salvation; while it planned that the faith class now be tested for fitness for that salvation, since they can be loyal to God amid the most crucial tests. Faithfully
standing such tests, they can develop a much finer, stronger and fuller character than the unbelief class will be able to do as a result of their two experiences. These considerations prompted Divine wisdom to arrange for the elective feature of God's plan, whereby arrangement is made for four elect classes: the kings and priests—Jesus and the Church, and the nobles and Levites—the Ancient Worthies, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies. These standing trial in this life, before the world in the Millennium gets its experience with righteousness, will be fit to bless as Priests and Levites and to rule as kings and nobles the unbelief class in that experience with righteousness, unto their complete deliverance from the effects of sin, as they obey righteousness. Thus Divine wisdom planned to use the experience of evil in a second way—to develop the finest of characters in the faith class— characters that God will be able to depend on as faithful to Him and His principles under all circumstances, characters better than the unbelief class will be capable of developing through their two experiences. Accordingly, Divine wisdom has so arranged to use the experience with evil as to benefit the largest possible number and to develop each one to his highest capabilities and at the same time to destroy the incorrigible of both classes, thus insuring eventual annihilation of sin and the permanence of righteousness in the spirit and human planes of existence.
Divine wisdom planned these two salvations and their experiences as to sin and righteousness to progress in various stages through the three Worlds and the four Ages of God's plan, each World and each Age contributing its share to the plan as a whole. In The Herald Of The Epiphany we have traced these Worlds and Ages in a series of articles appearing from No. 21 to No. 31. A consideration of the things therein set forth shows how Divine wisdom acted in planning every feature of these Worlds and Ages. Wisdom
planned the first World to prove that fallen man, even under angelic care, could not recover from the fall or stay the corrupting influence of sin. In the second World wisdom planned to teach that fallen man left to his own resources could not stay the downward course of sin, nor free himself from the influence of evil angels. These two features of wisdom's plan proved themselves as well taken by the result. Wisdom planned the third World to prove that man's rescue can be brought about only by Divine power exercised by God's elect for the world's uplift. The Ages of the second World display especially the wisdom of God in the elective features of His plan—in dealing with an elect individual and his family on covenant basis in the Patriarchal Age, in dealing with an elect fleshly nation on covenant basis in the Jewish Age and in dealing with an elect spiritual nation on covenant basis in the Gospel Age. Mark the Divine wisdom in arranging for the carnation of the Logos, His sinless birth, His development to perfect manhood, so that He might stand as Adam's substitute, and thus rescue from the curse all condemned in Adam. Mark the wisdom of God in testing His new creature, and in perfecting it through suffering so that as a Divine Being God could depend upon Him unto the utmost to be merciful and faithful as His Vicegerent in all things. Mark the Divine wisdom in selecting for Him a Bride out of all nations, conditions and stations of men to assist Him mercifully and faithfully in carrying out all of God's designs. Mark the wisdom of God in developing and testing this class unto fitness for such a mission. Mark the varied experiences given to them as conducive to this purpose. Only in a less degree does the same wisdom show itself in selecting, developing and testing the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, and in developing and testing the Great Company. This wisdom manifests itself in working out all things for their good in fitting them for their present and future offices.
It enters into the minutest circumstances and smallest experiences and events of their lives, as well as in their general circumstances, experiences and events. Yea, indeed, wisdom devised every phase of the plan to save rebellious man and the faithful elect. And the success of the features of the plan already enacted, as well as the assured success of its as yet unfulfilled features, will forever stand sure as praise to the manifold wisdom of God.
Nor are we to think that God's wisdom will have exhausted itself in the plan for human redemption. In the numberless Ages of the future His wisdom will be ever framing plans for new creations of whose marvels we have yet but the faintest impressions. Forever will God's wisdom invent new plans and hand them to power to execute in line with justice and love. Thus endlessly will "the manifold wisdom of God" praise Him—reflect credit on Him. And let us who know His wisdom as displayed in His Plan of the Ages praise Him, the Fountain of all wisdom; for He is worthy of our highest praise!
Having in the preceding discussion in this chapter given a general description of God's attributes in their three kinds—primary, secondary and tertiary, as well as having given a general description of His higher primary attributes of character and a somewhat detailed description of the first of these, Wisdom, we now proceed to discuss the second of His higher primary attributes of character, justice. The idea of justice is closely related to that of law, which we may define as the principle that regulates the thoughts, motives, words and acts of moral agents in their relations to themselves and others. God is the ultimate Lawgiver (Jas. 3: 12) to all moral agents. And we find that He has two laws: (1) that of duty-love, justice, which applies to all His moral creatures, whether of the Elect or not; and (2) that of disinterested love, charity, which applies to Himself and to all the elect
classes and probably to all spirit beings. Accordingly, God has put all moral agents under the law of justice, and in addition to putting His Elect under it, He has also put them and likely all spirit beings under the law of love, i.e., disinterested love. These two laws differ from one another as follows: the law of justice obligates to the good-will of duty; the law of love suggests to disinterested good-will. One binds all moral agents as subjects of it by their very existence to obedience; the other invites certain ones, the prospective Elect, to come under it as a privilege, without their being obligated so to do. The law of disinterested love is willingly assumed, without one's being obligated to assume it, and by its nature leads its acceptors to sacrifice their rights and privileges—a thing that the law of justice never does.
We are now ready to define justice: It is the love, the good will, that by right is owed to self and others. It is a matter of obligation, duty, to give it. To withhold such a love in thought, motive, word and act is sin; to give such a love in thought, motive, word and act is right. God's justice, therefore, is the love, goodwill, that by right He owes to Himself and others. This implies that God himself is subject to His law of justice. Justice is, therefore, impressed upon His heart as one of His attributes of character: He is not, however, subject to this in the same way as we are; for this law binds us to give Him duty-love with all the heart, mind, soul and strength, and to give our neighbor duty-love as to self. There is nobody whom God loves, or should love, with all His heart, mind, soul and strength; for such a love would make Him the subject of the one so loved; and God is not subject to anyone, since He is supreme over all. But God does love good principles with all His heart, mind, soul and strength; and this makes Him subject to good principles—He obeys His own law in its applications to Him. Nor has God any neighbor in the sense of an
equal, because He is supreme over all. His duty-love goes out to all others in the sense of their being His creatures— creations—and to perfect moral agents in the sense that they are His children. His justice did not obligate Him to make any creature; for creating beings is a work of grace on God's part, not of obligation. Nor is He obligated to make all creatures equal, He having the right to make some divine, others angelic, others human, others brute, others vegetable and still others inanimate (Rom. 9: 20, 21). But having once decided to make free moral agents, His justice, duty-love, does obligate Him to make them perfect, sinless and righteous (Gen. 18: 25); otherwise He would be the author of imperfection and sin, which He is not (Deut. 32: 4). Some angels and all men being now sinful, does not militate against this principle, since when they came from God's creative hand they were perfect, sinless and righteous (Eccl. 7: 29). Beings lower than man are not free moral agents, hence the Creator in making them saw that other principles than ethical ones should underlie their being— principles like utility and service to man and his habitat, after performing which, they pass away forever; nor is this cruel toward them, since not having a high mentality and a delicate nervous system they are incapable of appreciating, feeling and suffering acutely like man.
The justice of God, His duty-love, toward His perfect, sinless and righteous creatures, obligates Him to a second thing, and that is to put them under perfect, happifying, useful and prosperous conditions, so that they may have a perfect, happy, useful and prosperous existence. In harmony with this activity of God's justice He has put the heavenly hosts in their original perfection amid perfect, sinless, useful and prosperous conditions. So did He also do with the human family as represented in Adam and Eve; for the garden of Eden furnished just such conditions.
And when mankind attains restitution and the privilege of everlasting life, and when the repentant fallen angels shall be restored to God's favor, they will again find themselves amid perfect conditions. This feature of justice does not require that fallen men and angels be kept in such conditions, because another feature of God's justice requires another method of dealing.
This other feature of God's justice, or duty-love to His creatures, requires that in case they sin, they be deprived of life; because in a moral order of affairs, to give sinners everlasting life would injure them by keeping them alive in unhappiness forever, which the Creator's duty-love to them forbids, which would injure the righteous in their happiness, which God's justice will not permit, and which would be dishonoring to God, which God's justice to Himself and others will not permit. Hence the justice of God requires the death and forbids the eternal torment of the sinner (Gen. 2: 17; Rom. 1: 32; 5: 12, 15, 17; 6: 16, 21, 23; 1 Cor. 15: 21, 22, 56; Jas. 1: 15; 1 John 5: 16), and that out of duty-love to all concerned. Therefore justice punishes the wrong-doer to the intent that wrongdoing cease. It will be noted that in our definition of God's justice, as well as in our discussion of its three spheres of activity, we have held out the thought that God's justice is, and acts in harmony with, duty-love. Justice, neither in God nor in His moral agents, is a feelingless thing. It is a feelingful thing; for it has in it good-will, the good-will of duty. It is not simply duty. It is not simply a perfunctory external act. It is something hearty, but has not the heartiness of charity. It is duty-love, and not the loveless sense of duty or obligation simply, as some think. This is apparent when we note that the law of justice, binding on all God's moral agents, is supreme love to God and equal love to one's fellows.
God's justice, as one of His four higher primary attributes of character, has had a determining influence
on the various features of God's plan towards angels and men. It, therefore, required that, as these came from God's creative hand, they be perfect, sinless and righteous, and that they be given surroundings and works conducive to their lasting happiness, righteousness, usefulness and prosperity. Such were the conditions in heaven, the abode of the various orders of angels, and such were the conditions in Eden, the abode of sinless man. But God's justice required under test the proof of men's and angels' loyalty to Him; and that under such conditions as made it possible to be given. That is, God created both angels and men good (Gen. 1: 31), and thus strongly inclined to righteousness and strongly adverse to unrighteousness, so that if they would sin, it would be against the trend of their moral natures. They therefore were favorably created as to such a test. Again, the test was of such a character as they were able to bear up under. Furthermore, man was given clear instructions as to the nature of the test, obedience, the desirability of being faithful and the undesirability of being unfaithful thereunder, resulting in life for obedience and death for disobedience. Thus God's justice showed itself in the trial itself. A trial so justly conducted could in justice not be expected to end otherwise than God's justice demanded when disobedience set it—the sentence of death for man. Apart from Satan the fallen angels evidently sinned not, until deceived into assuming human bodies, marrying women and raising families in the hope of being thus enabled to extirpate sin from the human family. Hence, instead of being put under the death sentence, they were imprisoned within the atmosphere of this earth (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2: 4; Eph. 2: 2) until the judgment day; but in their final trial the sentence will be of life or death. The justice of demanding death as the penalty of sin is evident from the following consideration: Since God offered moral agents life on condition of obedience, if the condition
is refused to be fulfilled by the conditional recipient, the conditional Giver has a perfect right to take back the conditional gift. And since He takes it back for the good of all concerned, He is just in sentencing the disobedient to death—to the withdrawal of the conditional gift. Thus God's justice in the sentence is vindicated.
So, too, is He just in letting come upon Adam's race by heredity Adam's condemnation (Rom. 5: 12, 15-19). Adam, having by his sin forfeited his right to life and its conjoined light-rights, no longer possessed them, and therefore could not transmit them to his posterity. He could transmit to his children only what he had—forfeited life-rights and right to life. That Divine justice did them no wrong therein is evident from the fact that He is not obligated to give perfection, sinlessness and happiness to that which is imperfect and sinful, since only to perfectly sinless and righteous beings does justice obligate Him to give perfection. Furthermore, they are not God's direct creation, being the progeny of sinful Adam; and thus God did not create them. Finally, they have no right to complain of injustice in their coming into existence imperfect, sinful and sentenced to death through Adam; for had they been in his place they would have done what he did; and since they get in the permission of evil certain advantages that they would not have gotten had they been individually tried and sentenced (e.g., they suffer on the average much less than they would have done if they had directly forfeited life-rights and the right to life, even as perfect Adam suffered more than we do under the curse), no injustice has come to the race in its being condemned in Adam. Thus the death penalty transmitted by heredity is no injustice to man; but had the penalty been eternal torment, as the creeds of the dark ages teach, there would have been a violation of justice in placing a severer penalty on sin than justice requires. Thus God's penalty is just in its application to the whole race.
Some people have had more or less difficulty in harmonizing with the justice of God great calamities like the flood, the destruction of Sodom, etc., of the firstborn of Egypt, of Pharaoh's host, and God's charge to extirpate whole nations, like the nations of Canaan, the Amalekites, etc. The following considerations will show that there was no injustice in these things on God's part. In the first place, all of these being justly under the death sentence, it would make little difference whether they had been taken away suddenly in a calamity, or whether they had died by inches through disease. Usually their sufferings in such calamities have been less severe than those of such as died of lingering sickness. Hence they were in reality much more leniently dealt with than had they died the ordinary death of man. Moreover, such a calamitous death will, when they return for their opportunity for restitution, arouse them to greater hatred of sin and make them more amenable to righteousness. Further, their catastrophic end has been used by the Lord to work types of future events, which will make them result in ultimate blessing to their sufferers and to others. Then, too, in the case of the seven nations of Canaan, the Amalekites and others, archeological finds prove them to have been almost wholly afflicted with syphilis, which they were spreading to other nations; and to prevent this great evil from spreading to other nations, it was a mercy to all concerned to destroy them. Let us remember that for mankind in general evil has been permitted to teach them the hatefulness of sin in its nature and effects and the desirability of avoiding it, and to make them all the more appreciative of righteousness when by contrast with the terrible nature and awful effects of sin they learn by experience the blessed nature and effects of righteousness. This kept in mind will make clear to us not only the permission of evil in general, but of particular and great calamities,
and thus will vindicate God's justice in connection with their permission.
The justice of God was active in connection with the ransom for Adam and his race. As God was just in condemning Adam and his race for sin, i.e., when Adam refused to fulfill the condition on which the grant of life might be continued with him, the Giver was right in taking it from him, so without a complete satisfaction of justice it could not allow him to receive it again. Sinful man could not give this satisfaction since he was himself unsatisfactory to God by reason of his sinfulness and the sentence resting upon him, and dead men could not give a ransom, because they can do nothing (Eccl. 9: 5, 6, 10); additionally they are under the sentence of death and hence unsatisfactory to justice. Therefore wisdom planned to transfer God's Son from the spirit to the human plane of being, and by arranging for this transfer from one nature to another the necessity of having a human father for our Lord was avoided. Such avoidance justice insisted upon, because the condemned life coming through the father, for Jesus to have had a human father would have brought Him under sin and condemnation—hence unsatisfactory to God's justice as a substitute—a ransom for Adam and his race (Matt. 20: 28; 1 Tim. 2: 5, 6). Justice did not require, but was satisfied for the pre-human Word to become flesh— human (John 1: 14), because justice does not demand sacrifice, but will accept it when the sacrificer willingly gives up his rights in devotion to the Lord, provided the sacrificer in the long run does not become the loser by such sacrificial devotion to the Lord. But in the carnation of the Logos—the Word—the Greek name for our pre-human Lord Jesus, justice did insist on two things: (1) that the Word in becoming flesh should not thereby become sinful; for it would have been wrong to make a sinless being sinful; and (2) that He as a human being should be an exact equivalent
or ransom—a corresponding price—for Adam and his race. Both of these conditions were fulfilled to the entire satisfaction of justice in the carnation of God's Son.
Let us pause awhile and see the exercise of Jehovah's justice in connection with the ransom, which word is the translation of the Greek word anti-lutron, literally a price instead, i.e., a corresponding price. In the ransom, which is decidedly a commercial transaction, a number of things are implied: (1) a debt consisting of Adam's right to human life with its conjoined life-rights; (2) a debtor—Adam and the unborn race in his loins at the time of his sin; (3) a creditor—God; (4) the method of collecting the debt—the surrender of the debtor's all by death to the Creditor; (5) a friend of the debtor and the Creditor who agrees to buy the debtor from the Creditor by paying his debt; (6) the purchase-price, consisting of Jesus' right to human life and its conjoined life-rights; and (7) the method of making the purchase-price available for the purchase—Jesus' death, and the actual purchasing of Adam and his race by paying to Divine justice the price itself. In these seven points we see the operation of justice. By sin Adam forfeited for himself and his race the right to life and its conjoined life-rights, both of which were conditionally granted him by his Creator. Forfeiting by his sin to Divine justice all that he was and had, because such was his debt, the collection of the debt was made through the dying process thoroughly operated on him unto the death state. Thus Divine justice exacted and received the debt. Be it noted that the dying process was simply the way of collecting the debt, the debt being all Adam was and had—a perfect human being, with the right to life and its associated life-rights. In Adam's remaining in the death state justice has in its possession the debt payment. That debt payment justice, because of its very nature, cannot release, unless a substitute payment is
given in its stead. Divine love at the suggestion of Divine wisdom gave (John 3: 16) the Logos to become a perfect man, with the right to human life and its pertinent life-rights, and thus furnished an exact equivalent to the debt that involved Adam and his race before Divine justice. Therefore it could accept this equivalent for the debt, and thus cancel the latter so far as Adam and his race are concerned. Jesus' death was the way by which He divested Himself of His personal use of His perfect humanity with its right to life and life-rights, and thereby He made the ransom price available for the payment of Adam's debt. Instead of accepting the price for the whole race during the Gospel Age, God, on account of the elective features of His plan now working, accepts it by imputation for the elect ones' deliverance from the debt, and in the Millennium will accept it in payment for Adam and the non-elect members of his race. Thus the ransom in its relation to Divine justice is its perfect revelation.
In considering the exactness of justice in relation to the debt and the ransom therefrom, it is very necessary to keep in mind the nature of the ransom—a corresponding price— an exact equivalent. The law of justice pertinent to this subject is stated in the words, "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" (Deut. 19: 21). That is, justice insists on an exact equivalent for a debt. If the debt be a perfect human being, with the right to human life and human life-rights, it cannot from justice's standpoint be paid for by less than a perfect human being with the right to human life and human life-rights. While love may not exact a full payment, justice must; hence no imperfect being, with cancelled right to life and its life-rights, could redeem Adam and his race (Ps. 49: 7, 8); for he would not be a corresponding price. Therefore the Redeemer could not derive His life from Adam; for so to have done would have made
Him a sinner and less than a ransom. Thus justice could not be satisfied by less than the corresponding price—the ransom. Love prevailed unto the satisfaction of justice by giving the pre-human Logos to become a perfect man born of a woman, but not begotten by a man. On the other hand, justice could not take as the Redeemer one more than a perfect man; with more than the human life-rights and right to life. Therefore the Logos had to cease being the mighty spirit being through whom all things were made, and become a man (John 1: 1-3, 14; 2 Cor. 8: 9; Phil. 2: 6-8; Heb. 2: 9, 14). Thus when the Logos became a human being He ceased being a spirit being—changed in nature, just as the water that became wine ceased being water— was changed in its nature into that of wine. For Him to have remained the mighty Logos would have made impossible the ransom; for in such a case the person offered as a ransom would have been more than a corresponding price to the debt, and justice would have rejected this just as completely as it rejected sacrifices less than that of a perfect man (Heb. 10: 4), they not being a corresponding price. Thus we see how the justice of God demanded that the Redeemer be no more and no less than a perfect man, with the right to life and its pertinent life-rights.
In the reward of glory, honor and immortality given the Redeemer for His faithful and loving sacrifice, God's justice was satisfied. His justice did not give Him this reward. It was His love that gave it; but His justice was satisfied for Him to have it: first, because no principle of justice was thereby violated, and, second, because the interests of justice could thereby be advanced. Had such a reward—the bestowal of the Divine nature and heirship of God, Vicegerency for God throughout the universe (Matt. 28: 18)—been given without His having been proven worthy to receive it, and without His having been demonstrated as proof against abusing it, justice would have interposed
objections to it, and it would not have been bestowed; for Divine love never works against Divine justice. Christ's present ministry for the Church is, and His future ministry for the world, to say nothing of what will come afterward, will be an everlasting honor to the operation of Divine justice. Thus we see in connection with Christ's personal reward for His sacrifice a manifestation of God's justice, though the principal actors therein were God's love and power.
In the use of the ransom-price for the deliverance of the Church now from the Adamic sentence, we further see the operation of Divine justice. The Church is not now actually, but only reckonedly bought by Christ from Divine justice, i.e., instead of Jesus now actually buying the Church, He actually makes a reckoned purchase of her by the imputation on her behalf of the merit of the ransom-price, which at His death for this very purpose He deposited with the Father (Luke 23: 46). The following is the literal translation and sense of Luke 23: 46: "Father, into Thy hands [at Thy disposal] I deposit My spirit [right to life]." This deposit was made so that He could impute for all that come to God by Him during the Gospel Age His merit for a covering of their Adamic sentence and its effects. To impute in such a case means reckonedly to purchase. Thus Jesus having enough on deposit with Divine justice to cover the debt of the entire race, He can impute the merit of the ransom-price to anyone of the race for his deliverance from this debt. And so far as God's justice is concerned, this is as satisfactory as an outright purchase, since it holds the full price of the purchase in hand anyway; and thus it is satisfied to sell us to Jesus reckonedly, since that is about one and the same thing as an outright purchase, so long as justice holds in its power the full price. But why are we now purchased reckonedly as distinct from the world's being actually purchased in the Millennium? The right answer to this will show that only so could
the world later be purchased; for since the same debt is held against every member of the race individually as well as against the whole race collectively (for it is Adam's debt that is against all of us and every one of us), it takes as much to redeem one as a million, or a billion, or twenty billion, or the whole race. Consequently, had Jesus made an outright purchase of the Church during the Gospel Age, it would have exhausted the entire ransom-price and, as a result, no ransom-price would be available for the world in the Millennium, which would mean that there would be nothing with which to purchase them, and consequently they would never be redeemed; while an imputation of a deposit—a loan of credit—still leaves Jesus the owner of the deposit to be used otherwise after the entire Church's death, when the imputation is no more needed, and the deposit is released from it.
Thus to prevent the ransom-price from being made unavailable for the world, Divine wisdom devised the expedient of a reckoned purchase for the Church in the form of an imputation of the merit of the ransom-price for the Church, with the ransom-price deposited with the Creditor—God's justice—as a guarantee. This guarantee being the exact amount of the debt and being put into the power of justice, it is just as satisfied with all in whose interest it is imputed as though they were purchased outright. This imputation is to make the Church in her humanity acceptable to God as sacrifices through Jesus Christ (Rom. 12: 1; Heb. 13: 15; 1 Pet. 2: 5). Thereby is given us the privilege of undergoing, as the Elect, preparation for the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ, whereby we may as Christ's associates help the world to return to God in the Millennium. But one may ask, Why is this imputation made as a guarantee? We answer, Divine justice holds us as debtors unto death for Adam's sin. And that sentence must be exacted from us or from a substitute. In harmony with the Divine program,
which arranges for the death of the Church sacrificially, Jesus guarantees to Divine justice that He will keep the faithful acceptable while undergoing sacrifice unto death. To qualify her for such a death she must be reckoned perfect despite her actual imperfection. This reckoned perfection is attained by the reckoned purchase—the imputation of the merit of Christ's ransom-price to her; and at the same time it guarantees to God's justice that which it holds against us—our share in Adam's debt. Thus throughout our sacrificial course we are kept acceptable to God as sacrifices, and Divine justice is guaranteed as to the Adamic debt against us by the same ransom-merit. And the thing imputed for us being the exact equivalent of the debt, God's justice, having it in its possession, is as satisfied with a reckoned purchase as with an actual purchase, which if now made for the Church would destroy hope for the world. Surely in this feature of the Divine Plan we see the activity of justice; and His wisdom and love therein manifested make us praise, worship, adore, love and serve our God and Father, who has done all things so very well. No wonder that the ransom is the center of God's Plan! No wonder that in it more than in anything else God's Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power shine forth in resplendent glory!
"In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time,
All the light of sacred story
Gathers 'round its head sublime."
There is another phase in the operation of justice toward the righteous,—in so far as God's arranging for their sufferings is concerned. Apart from our Lord Jesus, doubtless all the righteous, like the rest of mankind, suffer more or less for their faults, which all will at once recognize as just; for every transgression should receive a just recompense of reward. But the righteous also suffer for their righteousness, e.g.,
Jesus, the Apostles and all other godly servants of God (Matt. 5: 10-12; Acts 14: 22; 2 Tim. 3: 12). In Jesus' case we have seen that justice did not demand that He suffer for others, but accepted His willingness to suffer for them. So it was Himself who freely gave up His personal rights and willingly suffered for others. Thus justice did Him no wrong in permitting Him to suffer for righteousness in the interests of the race. But how about the other righteous? Does not justice wrong them in permitting them to suffer for righteousness? We answer, No, because like Jesus they freely offer themselves to God as sacrifices in the interests of righteousness, counting it a privilege so to suffer (1 Pet. 2: 19-24; 4: 12-14, 16, 19). God does not any more demand of them that they suffer for righteousness than He demanded of Jesus that He so suffer. In both cases a voluntary and joyful sacrifice was offered to God. Hence the Bible speaks of us as suffering with Jesus and drinking of His cup—as being His associates and partners in suffering (Rom. 6: 3-11; 8: 17; 2 Cor. 1: 5; Gal. 2: 20; Col. 1: 24; 2 Tim. 2: 10-12; Mark 12: 35-39). Covered with His righteousness (Rom 10: 4), we are acceptable sacrifices with Him (Rom. 12: 1; 1 Pet. 2: 5). We deem it a joy and a privilege so to suffer, and would consider it a supreme calamity, if refused the opportunity so to do. Therefore justice does not wrong us in arranging for our suffering for righteousness, but does what we desire to have, and it is pleased to accept such sufferings as a sweet-smelling savor (2 Cor. 2: 14-17; Phil. 4: 18). Accordingly God's justice is vindicated in His arranging for the righteous to suffer for righteousness.
The great tribulation with which the Jewish Age ended, and the still greater tribulation with which this Age is ending (beginning with the World War, shortly to progress through the World Revolution and to culminate in the World Anarchy and Jacob's Trouble, famines and pestilences accompanying all stages of