Let us consider this: At the close of the fifth chapter of Hebrews, immediately following the statement that Christ, "being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek," it is written: "Therefore," that is, because of this, for this reason, "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." Heb. 6:1.
Next it is shown that perfection is attained only through the Melchizedek priesthood. And it is shown that this was always so and that the Levitical priesthood was only temporary and typical of the Melchizedek priesthood. Following this, in discussing the Levitical priesthood, it is written: "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, ...what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?" Heb. 7:11. And again, in the same connection, "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did [or "but it was the bringing in of a better hope," margin]; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Verse 19.
By these scriptures it is perfectly plain that the perfection of the worshiper is that which is offered and which is attained in the priesthood and ministry of Christ.
Nor yet are these all the words on this thought. For, as already quoted in the description of the sanctuary and its service, it is said that it "was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." That none of this could make him that did the service perfect is its great lack. Therefore that the priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary can and does make perfect him who enters by faith into the service is the great thought and the goal of all.
That earthly service "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." "But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Heb. 9:12, 12. This sanctuary, priesthood, sacrifice, and ministry of Christ's does make perfect in eternal redemption every one who by faith enters into the service and so receives that which that service is established to give.
Further, "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" The blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean in the Levitical service and the worldly sanctuary did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh: for so the word concerning it continually declares. And that being so, "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God," sanctify to the purifying of the spirit and "purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
What are dead works? Death itself is the consequence of sin. Dead works therefore are works that have sin in them. Then the purging of the conscience from dead works is the so entirely cleansing of the soul from sin, by the blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit, that in the life and works of the believer in Jesus sin shall have no place; the works shall be only works of faith, and the life shall be only the life of faith, and so be only the true and pure "service of the living God."
Again it is written: "The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Heb. 10:1-4.
This again shows that though perfection was the aim in all the ministry that was performed under the law, yet perfection was not attained by any of those performances. They were all simply figures for the time then present of the ministry and priesthood by which perfection is attained; that is the ministry and priesthood of Christ. Those sacrifices could not make the comers thereunto perfect. The true sacrifice and the true ministry in "the sanctuary and the true tabernacle" do make the comers thereunto perfect, and this perfection consists in the worshipers having "no more conscience of sins."
But since it is "not possible" for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, it was not possible, though those sacrifices were offered year by year continually, so to purge the worshipers that they should have no more conscience of sins. The blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean could and did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, but of the flesh only. And even this was "but a figure for the time then present" of "the blood of Christ," which so much more purges the worshipers that they have no more conscience of sins.
"Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come...to do Thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second." Heb. 10:5-9.
Here are mentioned two things: "the first," and "the second." What are these two things? Which is "the first," and which "the second"? The two things mentioned are sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin--all as one--and the will of God. Sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin--all as one--are "the first," and "the will of God" is "the second." "He taketh away the first that He may establish the second." That is, He "taketh away sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin, that He may establish the will of God. And the will of God is "even your sanctification" and your perfection. 1 Thess. 4:3; Matt. 5:48; Eph 4:8, 12, 13; Heb. 13:20, 21. But this could never be accomplished by those sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, and offering for sin which were offered by the Levitical priesthood--they could not make the comers thereunto perfect. They could not so purge the worshipers that they should have no more conscience of sin. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.
Therefore, since the will of God is the sanctification and the perfection of the worshipers; since the will of God is that His worshipers shall be so cleansed that they shall have no more conscience of sin; and since the service and the offerings in that earthly sanctuary could not do this, He took it all away that He may establish the will of God. "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
The will of God is "even your sanctification." Sanctification is the true keeping of all the commandments of God. In other words, this is to say that the will of God concerning man is that His will shall be perfectly fulfilled in man. His will is expressed in His law of ten commandments, which is "the whole duty of man." This law is perfect, and perfection of character is the perfect expression of this law in the life of the worshiper of God. By this law is the knowledge of sin. And all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God--have come short of this perfection of character.
The sacrifices and the service in the earthly sanctuary could not take away the sins of men and so could not bring them to this perfection. But the sacrifice and the ministry of the true High Priest in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle do accomplish this. This does take away utterly every sin. And the worshiper is so truly purged that he has no more conscience of sins. By the sacrifice, the offering, and the service of Himself, Christ took away the sacrifices and the offerings and the service which could never take away sins, and by His perfect doing of the perfect will of God He established the will of God. "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:10.
In that former earthly sanctuary and service, "every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." But in the service in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, "this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Heb. 10:11-14.
Thus perfection in every respect is attained through the priesthood, the sacrifice, and the service of this our great High Priest at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Heb. 10:15-18.
And this is the "new and living way" which Christ, through the flesh, "hath consecrated for us"--for all mankind--and by which every soul may enter into the holiest of all--the holiest of all places, the holiest of all experiences, the holiest of all relationships the holiest of all living. This new and living way He "hath consecrated for us through the flesh;" that is, He, coming in the flesh, identifying Himself with mankind in the flesh, has, for us who are in this flesh, consecrated a way from where we are to where He now is, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens in the holiest of all.
In His coming in the flesh--having been made in all things like unto us and having been tempted in all points like as we are--He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. And from the place where every human soul is, He has consecrated for that soul a new and living way through all the vicissitudes and experiences of a whole lifetime, and even through death and the tomb, into the holiest of all at the right hand of God for evermore.
O that consecrated way! Consecrated by His temptations and sufferings, by His prayers and tears, by His holy living and sacrificial dying, by His triumphant resurrection and glorious ascension, and by His triumphal entry into the holiest of all, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens!
And this "way" He has consecrated for us. He, having become one of us, has made this way our way; it belongs to us. He has endowed every soul with divine right to walk in this consecrated way, and by His having done it Himself in the flesh--in our flesh--He has made it possible, yea, He has given actual assurance, that every human soul can walk in that way, in all that that way is and by it enter fully and freely into the holiest of all.
He, as one of us, in our human nature, weak as we, laden with the sins of the world, in our sinful flesh, in this world, a whole lifetime, lived a life "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and "was made" and ascended "higher than the heavens." And by this He has made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can in this world and for a whole lifetime, live a life holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and as a consequence be made with Him higher than the heavens.
Perfection, perfection of character, is the Christian goal-- perfection attained in human flesh in this world. Christ attained it in human flesh in this world and thus made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can attain it. He, having attained it, has become our great High Priest, by His priestly ministry in the true sanctuary to enable us to attain .
Perfection is the Christian's goal, and the High Priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary is the only way by which any soul can attain this true goal in this world. "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary." Ps. 77:13.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." And "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised."
"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more....But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
O, then, "see that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." Heb 12:18-25.
But it is not alone in the book of Hebrews that this great truth is found. For though it is not so directly stated nor so fully discussed in any other place as it is in the book of Hebrews, it is recognized throughout the whole of the New Testament as truly as the sanctuary and ministry of the Levitical priesthood is recognized throughout the Old Testament, though it be not so directly stated nor so fully discussed in any other place as in Exodus and Leviticus.
In the last book of the New Testament, in the very first chapter, there is seen "one like unto the Son of Man," clothed in the raiment of the high priest. Also in the midst of the throne and of the cherubim and of the elders there was seen "a Lamb as it had been slain." There also was seen a golden altar, and one with a golden censer offering incense, which, with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God. There was seen the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. There was seen the temple of God in heaven--"the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony."
There it is promised and declared that they who have part in the first resurrection and upon whom the second death hath no power "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" in that priesthood. And when the first heaven and the first earth shall have passed away and there shall be found no place for them, and the new heaven and the new earth shall have been brought in, with the holy city descending out of heaven from God, the tabernacle of God being with men, He dwelling with them, they His people and God Himself with them and their God; when He shall have wiped away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither any more pain, and the former things shall have passed away; then, and not until then, is it declared of the city of God: "I saw no temple therein."
Thus it is just as certain that there is a priesthood, a priestly ministry, and a sanctuary, in this dispensation as that there was in the old; yes, even more truly, for though there was a sanctuary, a priesthood, and a ministry in the old dispensation, it was all only a figure for the time then present--a figure of this which now is the true and which is in heaven.
This true priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary of Christ in heaven is too plain in the New Testament to be by any possibility denied. Yet, in the face of all this, it is a thing that is hardly ever thought of; it is a thing almost unknown and even hardly believed in the Christian world today.
Why is this and how could it ever be? There is a cause. The Scripture tells it and facts demonstrate it.
In the book of Daniel, seventh chapter, there was seen by the prophet in vision the four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea, "and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings;" which symbolized the world-kingdom of Babylon. The second was like a bear, which raised itself up on one side, and had three ribs in the mouth of it; which symbolized the united world-kingdom of Media and Persia. The third was like a leopard, which had four heads and four wings of a fowl which symbolized the world-dominion of Alexander the Great and Grecia.
The fourth beast was "dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns." This great beast symbolized the world-empire of Rome, diverse from all that were before it; because it was not originally a kingdom or monarchy, but a republic. The ten horns symbolized the ten kingdoms that were planted in the territory of Western Rome when that empire was annihilated.
Then says the prophet: "I considered the horns [he ten horns], and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." The prophet beheld and considered this little horn clear through until "the judgment was set, and the books were opened." And when this judgment was set and the books were opened, he says: "I beheld then [at that time] because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame."
Note the remarkable change in expression in this latter statement. The prophet beheld the little horn from the time of its rise clear through to the time when "the judgment was set, and the books were opened." At that time he beheld the little horn; and just now, particularly "because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake." And he continued to behold that same thing--that same little horn--until the end and till its destruction. But when its destruction comes, the word that describes it is not that the little horn was broken or destroyed but that the "beast was slain and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame."
This shows that the little horn is but another phase of the original fourth, or dreadful and terrible, beast that the little horn is but the continuation of the dreadful and terrible beast, in its very disposition, spirit and aims, only under a variant form. And as the fourth world power, the dreadful and terrible beast in its original form was Rome; so the little horn in its workings is but the continuation of Rome--of the spirit and working of Rome, under this form.
The explanation of this, given in the same chapter, confirms that which has been stated. For of this little horn it is said that it is to be "diverse from the first;" that he "shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws" of the Most High. It is also said that the "same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." All these things are true, and this is the description of latter Rome throughout.
And all this is confirmed by latter Rome herself. For Leo the Great was pope A.D. 440 to A.D. 461, in the very time when the former Rome was in its very last days, when it was falling rapidly to ruin. And Leo the Great declared in a sermon that the former Rome was but the promise of the latter Rome; that the glories of the former were to be reproduced in Catholic Rome; that Romulus and Remus were but the forerunners of Peter and Paul; that the successors of Romulus therefore were the precursors of the successors of Peter; and that, as the former Rome had ruled the world, so the latter Rome, by the see of the holy blessed Peter as head of the world, would dominate the earth. This conception of Leo's was never lost from the Papacy. And when, only fifteen years afterward, the Roman Empire had, as such, perished, and only the Papacy survived the ruin and firmly held place and power in Rome, this conception of Leo's was only the more strongly and with the more certitude held and asserted.
That conception was also intentionally and systematically developed. The Scriptures were industriously studied and ingeniously perverted to maintain it. By a perverse application of the Levitical system of the Old Testament, the authority and eternity of the Roman priesthood had already been established.
"The bishops now [the latter part of the second century] wished to be thought to correspond with the high priest of the Jews; the presbyters were said to come in place of the priests; and the deacons were made parallel with the Levites.
"In like manner the comparison of the Christian oblations with the Jewish victims and sacrifices produced many unnecessary rites, and by decrees corrupted the very doctrine of the holy Supper; which was converted, sooner, in fact, than one would think, into a sacrifice."--Mosheims Ecclesiastical History, Cent. II, part II, chap. II, par. 4; and chap. IV, par. 4
. And now, by perverse deductions "from the New Testament, the authority and eternity of Rome herself was established."
Taking the ground that she is the only true continuation of original Rome, upon that the Papacy took the ground that wherever the New Testament cites or refers to the authority of original Rome, she is now meant, because she is the only true continuation of original Rome. Accordingly, where the New Testament enjoins submission to "the powers that be," or obedience to "governors," it means the Papacy, because the only power and the only governors that then were, were Roman, and the papal power was the true continuation of the Roman.
"Every passage was seized on where submission to the powers that be is enjoined, every instance cited where obedience had actually been rendered to the imperial officials; special emphasis being laid on the sanction which Christ Himself had given to Roman dominion by pacifying the world through Augustus, by being born at the time of the taxing, by paying tribute to Caesar, by saying to Pilate, 'Thou couldst have no power at all against Me except it were given thee from above'"--Bryce. And since Christ had recognized the authority of Pilate, who was but the representative of Rome, who should dare to disregard the authority of the Papacy, the true continuation of that authority, to which even the Lord from heaven had submitted.
And it was only the logical culmination of this assumption when Pope Boniface VIII presented himself in the sight of the multitude, clothed in a cuirass, with a helmet on his head and a sword in his hand held aloft, and proclaimed: "There is no other Caesar, nor king, nor emperor than I, the Sovereign Pontiff and Successor of the Apostles;" and, when further he declared, ex cathedra: "We therefore assert, define, and pronounce that it is necessary to salvation to believe that every human being is subject to the Pontiff of Rome."
This is proof enough that the little horn of the seventh chapter of Daniel is Papal Rome and that it is in spirit and purpose intentionally the continuation of original Rome.
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