Thomas Fitzgerald, Bath
We are overwhelmed when we consider the vast numbers of the human race under the sinister influence of Mohammedanism, the teeming millions of China plunged in spiritual darkness, the masses of India dominated by a multitudinous polytheism and the hosts under the Buddhistic spell of Nirvana. Added to these are the savage tribes of Africa, and the islands of the Pacific inhabited by peoples sunk in gross darkness and superstition. We turn our minds to the masses of Asia and Europe, where the light of the Gospel once shone brightly, and to our own beloved land, and we see that the light has become dim and evil is waxing worse and worse.
This alarming state of the world is beyond all human power to put right. Yet we, as Christians, must ever remember that 'God is still on the Throne'. He is a God of judgement (Mal. 2. 17; Rom. 2. 1 - 6). He, as moral governor of the universe, who 'spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell . . . And spared not the old world, but saved Noah . . . bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked', among whom he dwelt; these things are recorded to warn the ungodly 'that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men' (2 Pet. 2. 4-7; Dan. 4. 17).
Whilst 'these are parts of his ways' (Job 26. 14), we also learn from the scriptures that in times past He left nations to go in their own ways, yet left Himself not without witness, giving 'rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness'. We further read that although men had likened the Godhead unto graven images of gold, silver and stone, He, for the time, overlooked their ignorance, but now, in this era of Christ's redemption, God 'commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man' (Christ Jesus) 'whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead' (Acts 14. 16-17; 17. 29-31; Rom. 3. 25).
This brings us to the conclusion of this part of the subject of redemption. We have dwelt at some length on the state of Adam's race, and God's ways in the past with the nations. He has borne with man's evil ways; 'this revolted province of God's general empire', and not destroyed mankind from off the face of the earth. The eternal purpose in the counsels of the Godhead, to send in 'the fulness of the time' a Redeemer, shielded the universe from destruction. All appears to be chaos now, and Satan, in the saddle, controlling the world and urging mankind to increased, blatant revolt against God and His Christ (Gal. 4. 4-5).
Let us, however, who have believed the gospel, keep steady, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Redemption has a history, which has been recorded from the beginning to the end by God's chosen and inspired agents. We are independent of human histories, although these have their place and value, but 'Known unto God are all his works from eternity' (Acts 15. 18, see Greek and JND),
The aspect of redemption which we have somewhat fully dealt with (although so inadequately as the writer knows only too well - but what a subject) is cosmic and timeless. It reaches back to the eternal past and forward to the eternal future, although to the Eternal Godhead all is one eternal present, taking within its working the ages since the world began. We hope to continue our study of this theme, by considering God's further purposes in the redemption of the church and the redemption of Israel. The Son of God by His redeeming sacrifice and death of the cross, has purchased all the rights to redeem, so that all souls are at His disposal as to reward and doom, 'For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son' (Ezek. 18. 4; John 5. 19-27). He is as Redeemer, the Master, Who has bought back the race (2 Pet. 2. 1). The Greek word used by Peter is despotes, which means absolute and unlimited power over those he has purchased absolute rights as owner. He has purchased also the field the world. Israel cannot possess Palestine without first receiving it from the Redeemer, Who has purchased all rights (Matt. 13. 44). There are, however, as Peter foretold, those who are rebels and still deny Him the title and rights which are His, but the day is coming when the words of the psalmist will be fulfilled, 'Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Read Psalm 2. The wretched state of mankind under the evil sway of Satan, 'the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience' (Eph. 2. 2), bears out the fact of scripture that 'we see not yet all things put under him' (The Redeemer), but the eye of faith sees 'Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour' in heaven and He waits until the moment arrives in the purposes of the Father. There are other plans to be accomplished regarding Israel and the church. Yet let us remember that although scoffers in these last days are saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming?' the answer from scripture is, 'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (Heb. 2. 5-9, 12-13; 2 Pet. 3. 3-9; Ezek. 21. 27).
Before bringing this part of the subject to a close, it would be well to note the distinction between purchase and deliverance, two ideas included in redemption. Our Lord has purchased the rights to redeem from bondage, but all are not delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan. Those only who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are purchased with His blood, and delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son. A slave may be bought ( agorazo) in the slave market for a certain price, and still remain a slave under a new master. He is not delivered from bondage. If, however the price is paid to redeem him (lutron) his condition is changed.
He is a free man - free to serve the one who redeemed him. The believer in Christ has been 'bought with a price' (agorazo, 1 Cor. 6.20), has been redeemed (lutron), that is set free from all lawlessness (Titus 2. 14), but awaits the full 'redemption (apolutrosis) of the purchased possession' (Eph. 1. 14), and the deliverance even of the mortal body - 'the redemption (apolutrosis) of our body' (Rom. 8. 18-23). We hope to deal more fully with these aspects later.
Man's day is fast hastening to a close. The time is short. Let us be up and doing, and like the men of Israel on the seventh day, with sevenfold energy of the Spirit, march against the high walls of the Jericho of evil of our time undaunted. Let us remember that underneath a bold exterior is a quaking heart (Josh. 2. 9-11; 6. 1, 15-20; Luke 21. 26). '(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ' (2 Cor. 10. 4-5).