THE RANSOM NOT THE SIN-OFFERING
IT SEEMS difficult for some of our dear readers to distinguish clearly between the Ransom and the Sin-offering. Although we have repeatedly tried to make the subject clear, we will try again.
The word "ransom" in the Old Testament seems to be used less definitely than in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated ransom is kopher, and signifies a covering, a protection, as when we read, "The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous" (Proverbs 21:18)--their covering, their protection. The righteous are few and uninfluential in the world; and laws would not generally be made especially for their protection. The laws of society are made for the masses of the people--not for the saints; but those laws made for the people in general we--the Lord's saints --have as a covering.
The Prophet David declares that no man can give a ransom for his brother. (Psalm 49:7.) That is to say, all mankind are imperfect through the Adamic fall. All are sinners; therefore none could stand before God in the sense of justifying themselves; and thus unable to justify themselves, they would be wholly unable to justify another--their brother. Here the thought is very similar to that attaching to the word "ransom" in the New Testament, showing that to be such a ransom, or covering, requires perfection, righteousness, which no man of all our race possessed, except the Man Christ Jesus, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," who was therefore able and qualified to give Himself "a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time."--1 Timothy 2:6.
The word used in the New Testament Greek for "ransom" is very explicit; it signifies a price to correspond, or a corresponding price. The implication is that something was lost that needs to be re-purchased, redeemed, bought back; and the thing which is competent to purchase it back must be of equal value to the thing lost or forfeited--no more, no less--a "corresponding price."
WHY A RANSOM WAS NECESSARY
The thing that was lost by Father Adam for himself and all of his family was the right to life. As the perfect man, God's arrangement provided him with the privilege of living forever on condition that he would be obedient, loyal to his Creator. His sin was disloyalty, disobedience, and its penalty was death--the forfeiture of the right to live. Thus, because of Adam's disobedience, he came under the death sentence, "Dying, thou shalt die." (Genesis 2:17, margin.) Adam's children were born to him after he had thus forfeited his life-rights, and he was unable to give them more than he possessed--a dying nature. Thus we read: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all, for that all have sinned, etc.--Rom. 5:12.
God reveals to us in His Word that while He wishes to be merciful and to receive back to Himself all the willing and obedient of the race, nevertheless He must maintain the dignity of His own Law and cannot set aside the death sentence except upon the conditions which He has arranged; viz., a Ransom. If Adam is ransomed from the sentence of death, Justice will have no further claim against his life, and the ransomer would have the right to restore Adam and his race. But no ransomer could be found amongst all the family of men; for all were sinners--none was perfect, all had inherited the blemishes of sin. Hence God's arrangement--the sending of His Only Begotten Son to be the Redeemer, the Ransomer, of Adam and his family, and ultimately to be the Restorer of all that was lost.
To this service--to this carrying out of the Divine Program--God attached a very great reward of glory, honor and immortality. The Logos, "The beginning of the creation of God," "the first born of every creature" (Revelation 3:14; Colossians 1:15), accepted the Divine arrangement gladly and humbled Himself. Leaving the honors and favors of His high position on the spirit plane, He was made flesh in order "that He by the grace of God, should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9) as the Ransomer of Adam. St. Paul tells us of Him as the One "who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame," and now as a result, "is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2), henceforth expecting, waiting, until the time shall come for Him to bless Adam and his race for whom He has already died--waiting that the Father in due time, after the selection of the Bride Class, may put all things in subjection under Him-- under the Messiah--that He may reign a thousand years for the uplifting and blessing of those for whom He died.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RANSOM
As the sinner was the perfect man, Adam--in full harmony and fellowship with God and only a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor as a perfect human being--so the one who would redeem him, or be his ransomer, must have all these qualifications. He must be a man, and a perfect man; in him God's image and likeness must be complete; he must be crowned with the glory and honor of perfection; he must be "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" and in full fellowship with God.
All these requirements were fully met in the Man Christ Jesus when He was thirty years of age, at which time He presented Himself at Jordan to complete and confirm His consecration unto death, giving Himself a Ransom-price for all the race, to be testified to them all in due time. As a bullock could never take away sin by its death, neither could an angel or other spirit being ever take away sin by dying for Adam. Under the Divine arrangement, the Redeemer must be a corresponding-price to the one redeemed. Jesus was all this; nothing more was either necessary or possible. There was nothing lacking in the merit of the perfect Man to redeem the first man and his family; nothing therefore that the Church could give or do that would help in the matter. Justice could accept only the corresponding price.
That Ransom-price, that Corresponding-price for Adam, has already been placed in the hands of Justice. Jesus did this in His consecration at Jordan, in that He agreed to do the will of the Father even unto death; and on the Cross He declared, "Into Thy hands I commit My spirit"--the spirit of life, His right to life, which He had not forfeited, either by sin or otherwise. That Ransom-price, or Price sufficient to redeem Adam and all of his race, has been in the hands of Justice as a deposit ever since, and is there now--still unapplied. It cannot be applied piecemeal, a little to each one; when applied, it must be applied for all at the same moment.
Why must it be applied all at one moment? Because it is just the one life. It would require the entire merit of Christ's sacrifice to recover Father Adam from his condemnation, and it would require the entire merit of that sacrifice for any one of the children of Adam. The Ransom cannot be divided up into millions of parts and a little piece given to each member of the race. The whole sacrifice of Christ was necessary for each one of the race, and is sufficient for the entire race, when it shall be so applied. It is to be applied for the entire race, but not until the Father's time has come for turning over the [R5972 : page 311] race to the Redeemer--not until His appointed time for the Redeemer to take possession of the race as King of kings and Lord of lords, to establish over them His glorious Kingdom, to release them from the power of sin and death and to give them all the Restitution privileges which His Ransom-sacrifice makes possible.
In the meantime, another feature of the great Heavenly Father's Plan is working out--an arrangement by which a certain number of the children of Adam may become associates with Jesus in the suffering of this present time and in the glory that is to follow. This feature of the Plan is not the providing of a Ransom; for that was already provided in the death of Jesus; but this plan is to provide an under-priesthood who are eventually to be kings with the Savior--a Royal Priesthood. Evidently therefore the Sin-offering must not be confused with the Ransom-price; for the Ransom-price is complete, and was complete before the Church was invited to come into this position of self-sacrifice.
The Jewish Day of Atonement pictured the entire work and operation of the Sin-offering, which began in the person of Jesus. The death of Jesus was typified by the killing of the bullock on the Day of Atonement. That was the great sacrifice for sins--a Sin-offering which was made by Jesus, who offered up Himself. He was both the anointed Priest of God and also the devoted Sacrifice. The merit of that Sacrifice might have been applicable to all the people; but if so, there would have been no room for the sacrifice of the Lord's Goat Class, the sacrifices of the under-priests, who, if faithful, are by and by to be made the Royal Priesthood of the Millennium. In the type, the High Priest allows the merit of his sacrifice to be applied to himself and his house--himself representing the Church which is Christ's Body; his house representing the Household of Faith, the consecrated ones who will fail to become members of the Body of Christ and will instead be on the spirit plane, "a great multitude" who will serve God day and night in His Temple--in the Church glorified.
OFFERINGS MADE DURING THE GOSPEL AGE
This passing of the merit of Jesus' Sacrifice, first of all, to and through His Church does not diminish the merit of that sacrifice nor its value, for every one who shares in that merit, participates on condition that he will surrender his earthly rights, following in the footsteps of Jesus. The priestly class includes those who keep their covenant arrangement, voluntarily and heartily lay down their lives in the Lord's service. The Great Company Class is composed of those who have failed to fully surrender [R5973 : page 311] their earthly lives and rights, and will therefore have these earthly rights taken from them through great tribulation. Any others who receive of the Lord's favor during this Age and fail to get into one or the other of those classes--if they fail to become members of either the Royal Priesthood or of the Levite-servant company --cannot retain any Restitution blessings or privileges, but will die the Second Death. Thus the entire merit of Jesus, designed for Adam and his race, merely passes through the Church Class, the consecrated ones, on its way to Adam and his race. The Church having the opportunity, by reason of this arrangement, to share with Jesus in suffering for righteousness' sake--the great High Priest accepts our consecrated beings and makes them part of His sacrifice, and the full measure of His merit as the Ransom-price passes on to humanity to give Adam and his family Restitution privileges for a thousand years.
These are the better sacrifices and offerings for sin not made by us, but made by the great High Priest whom the Father has appointed for the purpose. This great High Priest has been completing His sacrifice for sins; first His own flesh, and then the flesh of all those who have come unto the Father through Him during the past nineteen centuries. He will soon complete His sacrificial work, and glorify with Himself those who suffer with Him--making of them His consorts in His Messianic Kingdom. Then He will apply on behalf of all mankind the merit of the sacrifice which He finished at Calvary and which He has merely loaned or imputed to the Church during this Gospel Age.
This Sacrifice will be given fully, completely, everlastingly, to Justice, appropriated as the full offset of Original Sin. Forthwith Adam and all of his children will be turned over by Justice into the hands of Jesus. Divine Justice will have no more to do with mankind. All will be under the administration of the Millennial Kingdom. For a thousand years the Redeemer, the Ransomer of the race, will teach, reward, punish, deal with humanity for their instruction in righteousness and their uplift from the sin and death condition, giving to every one a full opportunity for returning to perfection.
At the close of the thousand years, Messiah having accomplished everything possible for every member of the race, will turn over all to the Father and will say to the sheep class, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the [earthly] kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34.) All others, found unworthy of everlasting life, will be destroyed in the Second Death, symbolically pictured as a devouring fire.
Thus we have striven to make plain the distinction between the Ransom-price and the application of the Ransom-price, and the Sin-offering and the blessings resulting to the Church from the privilege of participation in those sin-offerings--the sufferings of Christ.
THREE INTERESTING QUESTIONS
We take occasion here to answer some related queries:
Question.--Is it proper to say that we, the Church, receive by imputation "a certain portion" or "our share" of the merit of the Ransom now--during the Gospel Age?
Answer.--The person using this language might have the proper thought, but would not be using the best words in which to express that thought to avoid being misunderstood. As above shown, all the merit of Christ is necessary to each member of the race. If we divided up the merit of Christ, nobody would have enough. If it were all given to one, the others would get none. God's Plan, therefore, is to hold that Ransom-price in reserve until the due time for the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom, and then apply that price and transfer the whole race at one time to Jesus--to the Messianic Kingdom. Then during the Millennium, it might be proper to say that every one will be receiving the Restitution blessings as his share or participation in the Ransom merit; but strictly speaking, the whole blessing of the whole world is the ransom blessing.
Question.--If the Ransom has not yet been applied, apportioned, credited, to the race on the Books of Justice, and if we who are of the Church are members of the world, how do we participate in the Ransom blessing?
Answer.--The entire Ransom merit being in the hands of Justice, the one who owns that merit, Jesus--in harmony with the Father's Plan--imputes it to the whole company who will accept the offer of this Gospel Age and surrender themselves sacrifices to walk in the Master's footprints. There is quite a difference between giving and imputing, just as there would be a difference between giving a man a thousand dollars and imputing to him a thousand dollars by endorsing his note. Jesus, as [R5973 : page 312] our great Advocate, imputes to us, or endorses us to the full extent of our contract with the Father. Our contract is that, like Jesus, we will surrender our earthly rights.
The Heavenly Father could not recognize us as worthy of entering into such a contract, except as our great Advocate endorses for us, or guarantees us, in the matter. What does He guarantee? He guarantees that we shall lay down our lives--that our earthly lives shall be fully surrendered in due time.
As we have seen, there are three classes for whom Jesus becomes Surety, Guarantor. First are those who fully and completely carry out their contract both in letter and spirit, laying down their lives voluntarily, after the Master's example. These will be the "more than conquerors," the members of the Body of the Anointed. Next will come the Great Company class, who will eventually be conquerors, but not "more than conquerors." Because conquerors, they will be granted everlasting life on the spirit plane; but because of lack of zeal and love, they will fail of the election as members of the Body of Christ.
Third, there are those who will be neither more than conquerors nor even conquerors, but failures--turning back to sin, like the sow to her wallowing in the mire. These will die the Second Death. In any event, our great Advocate, the High Priest, having endorsed for all of these, will thus be ultimately free from all liability for them in that they all will have died according to the flesh and none of them will receive or retain Restitution rights or privileges. Those Restitution blessings will be fully and completely released when the last member of the spirit-begotten shall have gone into death.
Question.--Would it be proper for us to suppose that the world might begin to receive its share of Restitution blessings while some of the members of the Church are still in the flesh?
Answer.--No! This would be an impossible thought. The whole merit of Christ is mortgaged by the imputation which Jesus has made of His merit to the company consecrating during this Age. This mortgage must be released fully, completely, before the New Covenant can be sealed and put into operation for giving Restitution blessings to Adam and his race. Hence, we are not to expect any Restitution, either of the Ancient Worthies or others, until the Little Flock shall have passed beyond the Veil and the Great Company class shall have passed through its tribulation.