THE OFFERINGS AS A WHOLE
Union with Christ is that which essentially constitutes a Christian. Nor is this union something changeful or visionary: it is a reality wrought by the Holy Ghost. The Church is “in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 12:5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 1:22; Eph. 1:3; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 John 5:20, &c.); and, as a consequence, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17); identified with Him in His shame and in His joys; in His death, His burial, and His resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 8; Col. 2:12; 3:1).
And truly the figures which are used to describe this union are such as we should never have dared to appropriate, had they not been given to us in our Father’s Word, and were they not sealed in our hearts by His Spirit. What is the fellowship of brethren? What the union of the bridegroom and bride? What is the union of members with the head, of the branches with the vine, yea, of Christ with God; such is the union of saints with Christ, such the bond which binds us to Him. Not only does Christ say of His people,—“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14, 16); but if He is “the Head,” they are “the members,” and both but “one body.” “As the many members are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). The context and argument here plainly demand that the sense should be, “so also is the Church;” but the Church and Christ “are not twain, but one” (Eph. 5:31, 32): therefore the Apostle writes, “So also is Christ:” “For ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” “And no man ever yet hated his own body; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:29, 30).
This union has its consequences, and they are most important, having reference to our standing and to our walk in Christ.
For the first of these, our standing in Christ, faith apprehends it: and thus we have peace with God. We see a man, “the man Christ Jesus,” as man in perfectness standing “for us:” by His perfect sacrifice of Himself meeting God’s claim on man, and thus in His person reconciling man to God. The sight of this, or rather the faith of it, gives peace. We see man reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus. His place, therefore, is now by faith apprehended as ours. Through Him, and in Him, by the Spirit, we claim and realize it.
But the union of Christ and His Church not only affects our standing; it must, if it be a reality, affect our walk. It is true, indeed, that our walk, as being part of our experience, and our experience being but the measure of our apprehension, through our lack of spiritual power, is constantly short of that for which we are apprehended (Phil. 3:12). But our standard is still that for which we are apprehended, and that is the walk of Christ. “He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). Indeed, the work of the Spirit is but to verify in all Christ’s members that which is already true for them in the person of their Head. To see, therefore, what is true of Him as our Head, cannot be looked at alone in its connexion with our standing. If we are Christ’s, it must necessarily take us further, leading us to know what should be the measure of our walk, and teaching us to judge in it, as unbecoming our calling, all that in us is contrary to the walk of Christ. If it be true that we are indeed His members, by the living Spirit bound to Him, to be His for ever; if it be true that in Him we are dead and risen, and if through grace we can rejoice in this; we are only the more called on in the knowledge of this to seek to be conformed to Him, that so the things which are true for us in Him, may be made true in our soul’s experience by the Spirit.
Now, there are not a few who seem to see one part of this truth, but who appear incapable of receiving both parts; some exclusively pressing that which bears upon our walk, others that which is connected with our standing. The consequence inevitably is meagreness in both, while the truth of God is on each point deformed and weakened. Those who, while they see the standard for our walk in Christ, do not see the believer’s place in Him as accepted, uncertain of their place, while aiming to apprehend, lose the joy and strength which flows from knowing that they are apprehended. As a consequence, they lower the standard of their walk, seeking only just so much of the Spirit’s fruits as will prove them Christians. Others again, having read of Christ’s oneness with His Church, and as a consequence the believer’s acceptance in Him, seem often by no means equally to understand the necessary connexion of this with their walk as Christians. Such profess to see their union with Christ, that He died for them, that they died in Him, without seeing that this union, if indeed it be real, must involve their daily dying with Him. Indeed, the very reverse of this is practically asserted. They seem to think Christ died in the flesh, that they might live in it. With such the doctrine really is this,—Christ died to sin that I might live to sin. I ask, is there anything like this to be found within the whole compass of Scripture? Such a doctrine exhibited as it is in the lives of hundreds, though practically denying our union with Christ, because so often stated by those who profess to know that union, has done more than ought else to hide it. The humble soul, shrinking from the thought of making Christ’s love to us an indulgence or apology for sin, recoils instinctively from that which, while it speaks of union with Christ, in works utterly denies it.
To connect this with the Offerings. The Offerings set forth Christ. We see in them how man in Christ has made atonement. Our standing as believers immediately flows from this: for “as He is, so are we in this world.” We look at the Sin and Trespass-offerings, and see that the sin of man has been fully borne. We look at the Burnt and Meat-offerings, and see all God’s requirements satisfied. And this is our confidence, that as Christ “for us” has been without the camp, as “for us” He has been laid on the altar; so truly do we, if quickened by His Spirit, stand in Him, even as He is: “for by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
But there is also the other aspect of this truth. We are one with Christ: therefore we should walk even as He walked. In this view His Offering, as our example, sets before us the model and standard for our self-sacrifice. And just as Christ’s sacrifice for us had varied aspects, as satisfying God, as satisfying man, as bearing sin; so, though of course in a lower sense, will our self-sacrifice, just as it is conformed to His, and because we are one with Him, have these same aspects. It is in this way that, in a secondary sense, the Typical offerings have an application to Christians. Thus we also are offerers and our bodies offerings; as it is written, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). Not indeed as though by our self-sacrifice we could make Christ’s Offering for us more acceptable:—“We are sanctified by the offering of His body once for all” (Heb. 10:10); “we are made accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6):—but as the consequence of our acceptance in Him, and as the fruit of our union with Him through the Spirit. Therefore we offer; and as already accepted in Christ, though in ourselves poor, weak, and worthless, our sacrifices, whether our works or person, as the fruits of Christ’s Spirit, are acceptable through Him. Of course there is in His pure Offering that which will find no counterpart in us. Dissimilarities neither few nor small arise from the fact that He was sinless, we sinners. Yet the saint, as in spirit alive with Christ, as entering into His willing mind (1 Cor. 2:16), yea, as already one with Him, as in Him dead and risen, will seek further “to be made conformable to His death” (Phil. 3:10). His self-sacrifice may fail in many ways: but his rule is the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.
I proceed therefore to trace, in conclusion, how far the various aspects of the offering of the body of Christ, may be applicable to those who, being members of His mystical body, are called to walk even as He walked.
I. And first the Burnt-offering. This was man satisfying God: man in Christ giving himself to God as His portion. We have seen how for us this was fulfilled in Christ. We inquire how far in us it may be fulfilled by the Spirit. And in this light, both in its measure and character, the Burnt-offering stands a witness how we should “yield ourselves” (Rom. 6:13). First, as to its measure. It was “wholly burnt.” No part was withheld from God. Can we mistake this teaching? Does it not plainly say that conformity to Christ must cost us something,—yea, that it involves entire self-surrender, even though that surrender lead us to the cross? “I will not,” said David, “offer unto the Lord a Burnt-offering of that which doth cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). The Burnt-offering is still costly, befitting Him who receives it at our hands. The Burnt-offering was God’s claim; that claim was love; as He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart.” The fulfilment of this required a life from Christ. It will demand our lives just in measure as we walk with Him. “For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame” (Canticles 8:6).
And in these days when pious worldliness is so successfully misusing the truth of God;—when, in the light of the advanced wisdom of this our age, self-sacrifice is exploded folly;—when the mere fact that a path involves loss in this world, is considered a good reason for our at once avoiding it;—when the doctrine of the cross, as it bears upon our walk, is not only omitted, but openly condemned;—when to give up the world is injudiciousness, and to crucify the flesh a return to law;—in such days we do well to look at the Burnt-offering, as setting before us the example we are called to follow. Alas! that it should be so, but it is not denied, by some it is even gloried in, that Christianity now involves no loss; the times are altered: the world is changed. The offence of the cross has ceased: they that live godly need not suffer (See 2 Tim. 3:12). A path has been found, a happy path some think it, wherein the highest profession of Christ costs nothing; nay, in which such a profession, so far from involving the loss of this world, is the surest way to gain its praise. According to this doctrine, Christ suffered for us; apostles, prophets, martyrs, all suffered. They, in their pilgrimage, lost this world for another; but we, in happier days, can possess both worlds. It cannot be. If God’s Word be true, our path after Christ must be still a sacrifice. We, as they of old, if followers of Christ, must with Him “present our bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).
And indeed if we do but weigh these words,—“Present your bodies a living sacrifice,”—we cannot shut our eyes to what is involved in them, and that we are called to give up ourselves. Can we do this without cost, or without feeling that sacrifice is indeed sacrifice, though it be willing sacrifice? Impossible. Christ felt His sacrifice: and so surely shall we, if we offer with Him. Nor shall we grudge this. Just as it was His joy to give Himself; as He said, “I delight to do Thy will, O God” (Psalm 11:8); so in us also, as quickened with Him, “the spirit is willing, though the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
I do not wish to press every detail of the Burnt-offering in its application to our individual walk; yet the general character of the victim may be a guide to the character, as its entire surrender was to the measure, of our offering. We saw, in the application of the type to Christ, how its varieties of bullock, lamb, and turtle-dove, each brought out some distinct particular in the character of our blessed Lord. In each of these we have an example we can comprehend, however far we may be from attaining to it. Would to God that in active yet patient service, in silent unmurmuring submission, in gentleness and innocency of life, we might be conformed to Him who went before us. These emblems of His offering, if they mean anything, sufficiently shew us,—even as His example shewed it,—that self-sacrifice is not to make us great in this world: service, submission, meekness, will gain no crown here. We cannot be heroes in this world, if we offer ourselves to God in the character these emblems typify. But if conformed to them, we shall be more like Christ. May He give us grace gladly to acquiesce in the likeness! He, as man in a proud and violent world, yea, and for us, was all that these emblems typify. He bore the cross such a character involved; He shrunk not from the reproach it brought Him. He was despised and rejected of men, as a lamb slain, and none to pity. In a word, and this is indeed the sum of it, He was content to be nothing, that God might be all. May the corresponding reality be more manifested in us, through subjection to the power of His indwelling Spirit.
II. But let us pass on to the Meat-offering. Here, as man for men, Christ offered Himself as the fruit of the earth, that is, as man’s meat. In doing this, He gave Himself to God, yet with special reference to man, and as meeting man’s claim on Him. Man had a claim upon man; God had ratified the claim, saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In the Meat-offering, Christ met and satisfied this claim, by giving Himself to God as man’s portion. Let us, in the light of His sacrifice, learn how far His members, though but “leavened bread,” may yield themselves to God as man’s meat.
To turn then to our Pattern. What, as meeting man’s claim, was the character of His Offering, and what the measure of it? For its character, “the bruised corn,” “the oil,” “the salt,” and “the frankincense,” are sufficiently explicit. For the measure of it, it is enough to say, the Type shews us the whole consumed. Such is our standard. Its import we cannot mistake. The question is, How far we may be conformed to it? To answer this let us look to other days, and see how far poor sinful man has been conformed to it. Time was when the Church, though but “a leavened cake” (Lev. 23:17), was so far filled with the anointing of the Holy Ghost, that “the multitude of them which believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither was there any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:32-35). Here was a Meat-offering, and a costly one: but costly as it was, it was not then a rare one. In that day there were living men, who for the gospel had “lost all things” (Phil. 3:8), who yet, while suffering this, were willing to suffer more, even to give their own lives to God for others. “Yea,” says Paul, “if I be poured out,” (he alludes to the Drink-offering which was offered as an adjunct to the Meat-offering, Numb. 15:1-12)—“Yea if I be poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you” (Phil. 2:17). Nor was he alone in this. Time would fail to tell of others, Onesiphorus, Epaphroditus, Philemon, Phebe, who “oft refreshed the bowels of the saints” (Philemon 7). Their lives were indeed a Meat-offering.
There is yet a Church. There must yet be offerings; and thank God we yet hear of sacrifices. But what is their measure, what their character? How far are they conformed to those we have but just spoken of? Let each here judge himself. This only will I say, that just in measure as we are like our Master,—just in proportion as we accept His words as the rule for the measure, as well as the manner of our sacrifice,—just so far as in the steps of those of old, we “sell that we have, and give alms,”—just as we “give to him that asketh of us, and from him that would borrow of us turn not away,”—just so far shall we find our path a sacrifice, involving not only cost, but unexpected trial. As of old, so is it now. The box of alabaster, of ointment, of spikenard very precious, cannot be poured upon the head of Christ, without exciting the anger of those who see it. Even disciples must complain. “When the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose was this waste?” Even so is it now. Self-sacrifice is still reproved, even by those who follow the Crucified One. With not a few, such a course is sufficient proof of the lack of common sense or common prudence in the person guilty of it. But what saith the Lord? “When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me: for in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matt. 26:7-13). And in that coming day, when the gospel shall have done its work, in gathering a people out of all nations, when the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,—in that day when the righteous answer, When saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee, the King shall say, Inasmuch as ye did it to my brethren, ye did it unto me.
III. I pass on to the Peace-offering. This was that view of the Offering which shewed us the Offerer fed. In the Peace-offering, the offerer, with the Priest, and God, partook of, that is, found satisfaction in, the offering. Can it be said that in this aspect of the Offering, our self-sacrifice can at all resemble Christ’s? Can our poor offerings yield any satisfaction to ourselves? Can they afford any satisfaction to Christ and God? I must take heed what I say here. But what saith the Lord? Let His Word in each case supply the answer. That answer will teach us that in this aspect also the Peace-offering has a fulfilment, not only in Christ, but in His members.
And first, for God’s part. Does God find satisfaction in our offerings? The following witness is sufficiently clear:—“To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16). So again, the offering sent by the Philippians to Paul was “a sweet savour:” God found in it something pleasant to Him:—“The things which were sent from you, are an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). The words here used in the original are the very same as those which the Septuagint have used to express “a sweet savour” in the Peace-offering. (Note: St Paul’s words are ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας τῷ θεῷ. In the Peace offering the Septuagint version gives ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας τῷ κυρίῷ.) What stronger proof can we need of God’s satisfaction in, and the value He puts upon, the offerings of His Church. “God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7); and as our greatest gift is “to give ourselves” (2 Cor. 8:5), so the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices is “acceptable unto the Lord” (Rom. 12:1). And we need to remember this. It is possible, nay, it is easy, in our zeal against the doctrine of salvation by works, to leave the impression that all works are useless, none acceptable to God, or accepted of Him. I fear there are not a few who, practically at least, are in error upon this very question. The works of the flesh are indeed dead works; but the fruits of the Spirit, as they flow from Christ, as they are the witnesses of His grace, an offering to His praise, so do they come up before God through Him “a sweet savour.”
But the Priest also fed in the Peace-offering. For the joy which our Priest finds in our offerings, poor and feeble though they be, it is enough to know, that even in the cup of cold water, in the bread to the hungry, He is refreshed and fed. “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink” (Matt. 25:35). Oh, did we but know His joy in seeing us yield ourselves an offering for Him, to find that in a world which hated Him some remember Him while still away:—if we but realized the gladness of His soul in some work of faith or labour of love, forgotten it may be by the feeble doer, but treasured in the book of Him who is “not forgetful;”—we could not, I think, give up ourselves with such narrow, selfish, grudging hearts. Could we, if in our services to the poor we saw Christ in them, and realized that He received our gifts, present them with such niggard hands? Would not our best be freely offered Him? Suppose Him wanting bread. If we knew He lacked, that He was hungry, naked, sick, or suffering; would not our last shilling, our most precious time, be freely given to minister to Him? We can do so still. “I was sick, and ye visited me: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Verily I say, Inasmuch as ye did it to my brethren, ye did it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
But further, the Peace-offering fed the offerer. And surely we have been strangers to self-sacrifice, if we need be told the joy it imparts to him who sacrifices. But what saith the Word? Paul, speaking of his service, says, “Yea, if I be sacrificed, I joy, and rejoice with you” (Phil. 2:17). So again to the Colossians, “I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24). So again, “I count not my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24). Not only is it true, that for our service “every one shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour” (1 Cor. 3:8); but in our service, in yielding ourselves to God, there is present joy with which a stranger intermeddleth not. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35); and he who gives himself to God shall know this blessedness. “Sorrowful” he may be, “yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich” (2 Cor. 6:10). The very costliness of the sacrifice increases our joy, when we know that He, to whom we offer, rejoices with us.
IV. Thus far we have only followed the sweet-savour offerings, in their application to the Christian’s walk. Are the remaining offerings, the Sin and Trespass-offerings, equally applicable to us upon this same principle? I believe they are; though, as in the preceding offerings, only applicable in a secondary way. God forbid I should be mistaken upon this point, as though I thought that the saint could atone for himself or others. In this sense, any interference with the Sin-offering would be a setting aside of the work of Christ. Still, there is a sense and measure in which the Sin-offering has its counterpart in us, as bearing on our self-sacrifice: there is a sense in which the Christian may bear sin, and suffer its judgment in his mortal flesh. Just as the Burnt-offering,—which, in its first and full application, shews Christ in perfectness once offering Himself for man; by that One Oblation of Himself once offered, meeting God’s claim on man, and so reconciling us to God for ever;—just as this Burnt-offering, while as offered for us it secures our acceptance, has also, as an example to us, an application to our walk, shewing how man in Christ should offer himself, through the Spirit giving himself to God; just so is it in the Sin and Trespass-offerings. Without in the least degree interfering with the atonement perfected by the One great Sin-offering;—while holding that by that One perfect sacrifice, and by that alone, sin can ever be purged; as it is written, “He by Himself purged our sins” (Heb. 1:3); and again, "He hath put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26);—there is still a sense in which the Christian, in offering himself to God, can and should use the Sin-offering, as well as the Burnt-offering, as his pattern. For lack of knowing this many are sparing that flesh, which the cross of Christ was given to crucify.
What then was the Sin-offering? It was that peculiar offering, in which the victim bore sin, and died for it. The question is, how far, even if at all, this is applicable to the Christian’s offering. Is there anything to be wrought in us by the Spirit, answering to the dying for sin of the Sin-offering? Let the Scripture answer: “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). And what is the inference? Is it that the death of Christ is the reprieve to the flesh, its release from suffering? On the contrary, Christ’s death in the flesh for sin is made our example: we too must also, yea therefore, die with Him. So it follows:—“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). The saint, as having been judged in the person of Christ, and knowing that for him Christ has borne the cross, follows on by that cross to judge and mortify all that he finds in himself still contrary to his Lord. The flesh in him is contrary to that Holy One: the flesh in him therefore must die. And instead of making Christ’s cross the reprieve for that flesh, the child of God will use that cross to slay it. Others may preach the cross of Christ as an excuse for carnal and careless walking. He who abides in God’s presence will surely learn there that by the cross we must be crucified with Christ. If he says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he will add at once, “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14). I know indeed that “there are enemies of the cross, whose God is their belly, who glory in their shame” (Phil. 3:19); who are using the doctrine of the cross, to spare that flesh which the cross should crucify. But God’s truth is, that so far from “the flesh” or “old man” being saved from death by the cross, it is by it devoted to death and to be crucified; and that Christ’s death, instead of being a kind of indulgence for sin, or a reprieve of the life of the flesh, the life of the old man, is to His members the seal that their flesh must die, and that sin with its lusts and affections must be mortified. (Note: It was but lately that in looking over a work just published, I found the following objection to the doctrines of grace; that, “if death be the penalty of sin, and Christ in dying for His people indeed bore the punishment due to them, how comes it that any believers die?” Full well has the so-called Evangelical preaching of the day merited such a rebuke—a rebuke which could never have been heard, had the full truth of the cross been stated, namely, that Christ’s death is the witness to His people, that, since they are His members, they must also be crucified with Him. See Rom. 6; Gal. 2; 1 Pet. 4.)
The fact is that the child of God, who, through ignorance of God’s mind, or disobedience, instead of judging the old man with his works, makes provision to fulfil the lusts thereof; such a one, if indeed he be Christ’s, by not judging himself, only brings upon himself God’s judgment. Happy they who, in communion with the Lord, learn and judge the flesh there, rather than in chastenings from Him. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:31). But if we reject this path: still the flesh must die. If we do not mortify it, God most surely will. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh” (Gal. 5:24). “Our old man is crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6). And just as, because we are alive in Christ, we can, as risen with Him, yield ourselves to God, in spirit giving Him the fruits of righteousness, a sweet savour to Him by Jesus Christ; so may we also, as one with Christ in the power and energy of the same Spirit, mortify our members which are upon the earth, and yield our flesh to death, to be crucified with Him.
How full, then, of teaching is the Sin-offering, viewed even in this lower light, merely as an example to us! How does it seal that truth we are so slow to learn, that the flesh, the old man, must be judged and mortified! I ask, how is this aspect of Christ’s Offering, and our offering with Him, apprehended by Christians? Another has said,—“The boast of our day is that Christ crucified is preached. But is He, even in this one respect, fully preached, or the doctrine of the cross fully apprehended? Let the walk of those who make the boast answer. It is not insinuated that such are chargeable with licentiousness or immorality. But are they, therefore, not chargeable with ‘walking after the flesh,’ and ‘making provision to fulfil its desires?’ In the multitude of particulars it is difficult to make a selection. But what then is the high regard in which blood, and ancestry, and family connexion, are held by some? What is the regard to personal appearance and dress, in others? What the attention to ease and comfort, and often-times profuse expenditure, (not to speak of actual luxuries,) in the arrangement of the houses, tables, &c., of almost all? What are the accomplishments, on the acquiring of which so much time and money are spent? What the character of the education which most Christians, in common with the world, give their children? Or, to take a wider view still of making ‘provision for the flesh,’ apart from what is generally considered evil or sinful,—to what are all the discoveries in science, all the improvements in art, directed? What is the end of most of the trades and businesses followed in a professing Christian country, and often by Christians? Is all this, and a thousand other things too numerous to particularize, consistent with reckoning ourselves dead as to the old or natural man? Is this what the Scriptures intend by crucifixion of the flesh? Alas! full well do many of the professing Christians of our day shew that they are but half taught the very doctrine in which they make their boast; that they have but half-learned the lesson which even the cross teaches. They have learned that Christ was crucified for them, but they have not learned that they are to be ‘crucified with Him;’ or they have found an explanation for this latter expression in the imputation of His death for our justification;—a part of the truth, but not the whole; for in vain in this explanation of the words should we seek an answer to the objection which the Apostle anticipated. Yea, rather, that objection is confirmed by it, for it is nothing else than making the cross the reprieve of the flesh from death. And then when death itself comes to give the refutation to this creed, and to shew that the Christian is not saved in the flesh, then is the effect of this half-learned lesson seen. For, instead of welcoming death as that of which his life has been the anticipation, the execution of that sentence on the flesh, which, since he has known Christ as crucified for him, he has learned in its desert, and has been continually passing on it in mind and spirit, the dying with Christ daily, the ‘being planted in the likeness of His death,’—instead of being enabled in this view actually to glory in his infirmities, in the weakness, yea, and the dissolution of the flesh, and like the victim found on the arrival of his executioner to have anticipated the end meditated for him, being found of death dead,—he is scarcely resigned to die, and impatient of suffering in the flesh. And why? Because that truth which the Cross of Christ was designed to teach, he never distinctly understood, or rather experienced, namely, that salvation is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; not from death, but out of it; not the reinstating of the old nature, but the conferring of a new, by the dying and rising again with Christ.” (Note: Burgh’s Tracts, “On preaching Christ.” Christ in His death. Pp. 5, 6.)
V. It only remains for us to look at the Trespass-offering, in its bearing on the walk of saints. This was that offering in which restitution was made for wrong; the original claim with the added “fifth” was paid by the trespasser. We have seen how this was fulfilled for us in Christ, how at His hands God recovered all whereof man had robbed Him. We have seen the consequence of this to those in Christ, how they are complete in Him through whom we have received the atonement. Our present inquiry is, how this offering should affect our walk; how far our union with Christ will make this view of His sacrifice an example to us?
And first we have restitution here. Christ standing for man makes full restitution for man’s wrong and trespass; “not with corruptible things, as silver and gold” (1 Pet. 1:18, 19); but by the value of His own Offering He repays our trespass. In this sense we can make no restitution. If Christ has not made it, we are lost. The rest of our lives, if wholly spent for God, could never atone for our acts of trespass. Each day would bring its own proper claim. Works of supererogation, therefore, we could have none. Yet there is a measure and a sense in which the saint in fellowship with Christ will make restitution. Not indeed as to win acceptance, but as shewing how, according to his measure, through the Spirit, he sympathizes with Christ. As he has in days past, as the servant of sin, robbed man and God of their rights, so now, as having been made free from sin, he becomes the servant of righteousness. “Now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22).
But there was a fifth part added. God or man, if wronged by trespass, not only received back their original claim. In consequence of trespass, more than that claim was due to them, the payment of which with a life, constituted the Trespass-offering. Under the law, God and man had each their claim on man: the measure of that claim, by God’s own appointment, was righteousness: if man dealt justly toward God and man, nothing further than the right, nothing like grace, could by law be claimed of him. But it was different after he had trespassed. Then, by God’s own appointment, right was no longer the measure of his debt to others. If we were sinless, we should without doubt be safe, yea, we might bring the law to justify us, in dealing mere rights to every one. But if the Old and New Testaments mean anything by what they teach on this point, the trespasser is the wrong man to contend for rights. The fact of our being trespassers gives God a claim upon us, not merely the original claim, not the bare claim of right. Above and beside this, the trespasser is a debtor to yield that which, but for his being a trespasser, could never have been claimed from him. I know we call this, dealing in grace, to yield to sinners more than their just claim on us. In a sense it is grace: it would be so fully, if we ourselves were sinless before God. But because we are convicted trespassers, and trespassers who make our boast in grace, we are called, as the very witness of that grace and of our need of it, to deal in what we call grace to others. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye: but I say unto you, resist not evil. Do good to them that hate you; pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:38-44). “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your heavenly father forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, 26). “For if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:32-35).
This is very plain. But how far is it acted upon by many who profess to be one with Christ? Provided we have been just, who asks, have I been gracious, in my dealings to my fellow-men? Who scruples to go to law (1 Cor. 6:1, 7), who fears to claim his rights, little thinking of the added “fifth” of the Trespass-offering? And who, were his rights withheld by law, would hesitate to strive against the law by political agitation or otherwise; forgetting that grace, not right, must be the law, as it is the hope, of the trespasser? But I forbear upon this head. He that cannot hear Christ, will scarcely hear His feeble servant. “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
Such is “The Law of the Offerings.” It gives but one view of Christ: yet how much is involved in it, both as to our walk and standing. Do we not need this truth? Surely if ever there was a time when the truths connected with Christ’s sacrifice were needed, that time is the present. As in the days of Christ, so now God’s truth is used as the prop of error. Just as then the Law, which was given to prove man’s sinfulness, was used by Pharisees to exalt man’s righteousness; so now the Gospel, which was given to lead us to another world, is being used to make this world a more sure abiding place. I speak what is notorious: it is the beast of our age, that Christianity is doing what it never did before. It is giving temperance to the world and peace to the nations, it is vindicating the liberty of the slave; in a word, it is making for man a better home, a safer resting-place, on this side the grave. And all the while the world is still the world, and the slave still, as before, the slave of lust. Time was when Christians gave up the world. They now can mend it: they need not leave it. Oh, cunning device of the Evil One, too easily followed by a deluded age! God’s truth now, instead of laying man in his grave, with the certain hope of a resurrection morning, is used on all hands, misused I should say, to perfect man in the flesh, almost to deify him;—used to prop “the things which must be shaken,” instead of leading us to those “which cannot be moved,”—used to give an inheritance on this side death, instead of in the glory which shall be revealed. Oh, how does The Offering judge all this! It speaks of sacrifice, even to the cross. It tells us that, as one with Christ, our portion in Him must yet be His portion. What had He here? He suffered under Pontius Pilate; He was crucified, dead, and buried; He rose again the third day; He ascended up into heaven; He sitteth at the right hand of God; He shall come again to judge the quick and dead. What had He here? Nothing. He took not as His home a world unpurged by fire, a creation still under the curse. He passed through it as a rejected pilgrim. We, too, if we would be like Him, must do so still. As Luther said, “Our spouse is a bloody husband to us.” He will not let us have this world till He has it. His day is at hand: for that day He waits (Heb. 10:13). Let us be content, “yet a little while,” to wait with Him. And while many are anticipating His kingdom, in a kingdom without His presence, and without His saints, let us look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
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