A Radio Message
by Maurice M. Johnson
NEW WINE IN OLD BOTTLES
I greet you this afternoon not as one who is vainly pretending to follow "the golden rule" in the ignorant hope that my poor efforts may somehow or other win God's final approval. I greet you joyously and with delightful assurance that I have received the "golden life," for
Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die;
Another's life, another's death,
I stake my whole eternity.
Just here, I wish to assure you that I am not going to seek to "make void the law" but to show that the law has already been established, or has already done its perfect work.
What did Christ mean when He said: "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved"?—Matt. 9:16-17. What is this new wine, and what is the new bottle? Is there a brand of wine that will actually satisfy this poor thirsty world?
MAN'S FICKLE REFORMS
You remember how men were thrilled as they followed an inspired leadership to "make the world safe for democracy" by destroying the Germans, the Austrians, and their allies. Then, after only two or three years, the finest youth of England, France, and Germany sent representatives over to Evanston, Ill., to a great International Youth Conference. The papers and the post-millennial preachers eagerly listened to those fine young people as they declared with sparkling wit and pacifistic intoxication that they had seen enough of war. Especially thrilling and reassuring were the fearless declarations from the German delegation of youth, to think that there was a great youth "Peace Movement" sweeping the whole of Germany with the solemn and irrevocable pronouncement that the youth of Germany had seen too much of suicidal war and were forever through with all phases of militarism. Why, even the boy and girl scouts must cease wearing uniforms that looked militaristic. In hundreds of pulpits and millions of pews, untaught religionists actually thought this "new wine" (comparatively speaking) could be preserved in the old bottles of sinful flesh.
How long did it take Herr Hitler to smash those bottles, and how much of that splendid love of the dove is being orated by youthful pacifists today? Have we not been fired and inspired many times in this country to do "big things" for "God, Home, and Native Land," and, after more or less energetic efforts, have we not wound up with all of our inspiration gone and nothing left but a disillusioned taste in our mouths? How many times have you heard of campaigns against Sunday movies, et cetera? With very rare exceptions, every preacher who was preaching fifty years ago thundered out against the corruptions of what he unscripturally called the "Christian Sabbath!' We were rallied by Sunday afternoon mass meetings where we were told that the money-grabbing Sunday desecraters were going to be arrested in their tracks by the public-spirited Christian citizens who would not stand for our fair land being turned into a Sabbath-breaking, God-defying country. Well, what's the matter now? Why don't we ever hear those same preachers in "blue-law" mass meetings today? Were they simply opportunists after all? Did they not have God's authority for their perspiring efforts in those days when their followers were in the majority in almost every community? If God's Word authorized them to organize crusades against certain habits and practices of the unbelievers away back there, why doesn't that same Book stir them up to similar efforts today? Can it be that they are silent on those issues today because they know there is no possibility of even a semblance of victory in such undertakings now, in this pleasure-mad day? Yes, the old bottles broke, and the wine of reformation has about all run out.
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST
What I am endeavoring to prove to you, my dear friends, is this: Christianity is not the imposing of any set of rules upon people whose hearts are not right with God. Nor is Christianity the taking of Christ's name on the banners of your crusade regardless of how fine and how spiritual your schemes and dreams may appear to be. Christianity is Christ, Christ as our substitutionary Law-keeper, Redeemer, and real Lord. He took our place under the law and perfectly fulfilled it, proving that it was the righteous standard and that His was the righteous life. Then He took the guilt of 'us lawbreakers and offered Himself without spot to God in our place. He died. He was banished from the holy presence of the Righteous Judge of the universe. He died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures. And He went back to heaven to sit at the Father's right hand as the Head over all things to the church which is His body. Thus, it is that He is no longer receiving orders but giving. Nor is He going to "rubber stamp" the presumptuous plans of any man, be that man ever so enthusiastic and eloquent in declaring that "God has put this upon my heart."
DRAGGING CHRIST'S NAME TO DEFEAT
The things that God puts upon men's hearts in this dispensation of grace are the things very clearly revealed in the church epistles. And in none of them do we find the most popular programs of our modern crusades. The blue-law crusades were doomed to disgusting failure because they were not ordered of God for this day of grace. The prohibition and anti-war crusades, as also the social gospel dreams, are headed for the same scrap heap where other Utopian parades have collapsed. Christ was offered to this world about nineteen hundred years ago and was deliberately rejected by all of the world leaders. The religious leaders hated Him for He spake as one having authority. He never sat in their meetings swapping opinions. He spake as never man spake. His was the quiet simplicity of Divine certainty. He steadfastly refused to receive honors from man, for He knew what was in man. He said: "Think not that I am come to bring peace on earth. I am not come to bring peace but a sword."—Matt. 10:34-36. He knew that those who rejected Him as Lord of all couldn't have Him at all. And it is those religionists today who rejected Him as Lord that are bewitching millions into following their foolish plans for doing what the Lord has never planned to have done in this, the church dispensation.
The surest and most hurtful way to "take the name of the Lord in vain" is to attempt to do in the Lord's name what the Lord Himself is not attempting to do. In other words, the mixing of God's programs causes more confusion, discouragement, and hurtful defeat than any other thing among professing Christians. God is going to deal with the blood-thirsty nations, but today is not the time for the "judgment of the nations." Hence, for some perspiring pulpiteer to organize a crusade for "God, Home, and Native Land" in the name of God, is for that religious mixer to bring nothing but ultimate confusion in the minds of those who listen to his presumptuous propaganda. 2 Tim. 2:15.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS DEMAND PERFECTON
And after all, are not these misguided efforts on the part of Christendom, these efforts to legalize or legislate morality into people in the name of Christ and these efforts to bring in a Christian socialism among those who do not know Christ as Saviour, is not all of this confusion the result of mixing law and grace? God had an earthly people, a nation, Israel, and that nation refused the Abrahamic Covenant which guaranteed them salvation from sin through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the coming Christ. Abraham had already believed God, and God had saved him, had counted his faith in Christ's perfect work as righteousness. But Abraham's great-grandchildren, in their self-righteousness, refused the covenant of promise and asked for a works' covenant. God then imposed such a covenant upon them. The Ten Commandments was the covenant of works. It was the holy and perfect standard of moral and spiritual conduct. It thundered out to those deceived children of fallen Adam: "Give me perfection in your entire life, absolute perfection," for if you keep the whole law and offend in one point you are guilty of all. "For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." Thus, the law-covenant demanded perfection but gave none.
CHRIST FULFILLED THE LAW
Now, in the fullness of time, God sent forth His own Son, made of a woman, made under the law. But why was Christ made under the law? It was first that He should prove the righteousness of the law, and, second that by His perfect, law-keeping life, He should prove that all of the rest of the children of Adam were weak and lawless. Then, last of all, He lived under the law, fulfilling it in its every jot and tittle, that He might prove His right to satisfy its just demands against mankind. Being the perfect, law-keeping One, He was in the position to die for guilty sinners, and He did. He tasted death for every man. He voluntarily gave His life a ransom for many.
The Ten Commandment system of works and fleshly ordinances pictured what God demanded. The law said, "Give!" But, since there was no natural child of Adam who could give the perfection which the law demanded, Christ came and gave. He gave a life of perfect obedience to the whole God-given Mosaic system. His entire life was substitutionary even to His being subject to the law commanding circumcision when but eight days old. Nor did He complete His "law school course" till He had submitted to water baptism in the River Jordan.
CHRIST WAS THE ONLY "LAW GRADUATE"
By the way, had you ever wondered why it was that the Heavenly Father did not publicly endorse His Son until after He was baptized with water? Why didn't the Father open heaven and endorse His Son after the rite of circumcision? After any one of the 1500 Sabbaths that Christ lawfully observed during the thirty years of His life under the law? The biblical answer to this question opens up a glorious field of spiritual truth and assists wonderfully in understanding many otherwise difficult things in the Word. The unmistakable fact is that the Father did not endorse His Son until His Son had passed the last of the demands of the law-system. When John the Baptist hesitated to baptize Christ, you remember Christ said: "Suffer it to be so now, John, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." John was the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah and, as we are plainly told in John 1:31, his water baptism was the ceremonial introduction of the Messiah to Israel. John did his part in administering that act of Judaism, and Christ perfectly fulfilled it with His perfect heart and perfect flesh. "And, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The Man of Galilee then and there passed the last test or examination of the Divinely ordained law school. May we not reverently say that Jesus of Nazareth was at that moment graduated with the highest possible honors? He was proven to be "Jesus Christ the Righteous." After thirty years in God's "law school," Christ "graduated" with 100% honors. The rest of Adam's race are miserable failures.
BEI.IEVERS HAVE CHRIST'S CONDUCT
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."—Rom. 3:21-25. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."—Rom. 10:4. These glorious truths assure us that every sinner who "believes with the heart" is instantly created anew in Christ and has all of Christ's perfect law-keeping life as his very own without having done one single good thing with his own flesh. For "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."—Rom. 8:4. In other words, we were not circumcised, but we have Christ's put to our credit. Col. 2:10-12. And, indeed, do we not have everything that Christ did while He was the law-keeping God-man on earth?
ALL FLESHLY TESTS PASSED
Yes, thank God, just as surely as Christ took all of our unrighteous character and conduct to Calvary to be judged there on the accursed tree (2 Cor. 5:21), just so surely He gives believing sinners all His perfectly righteous character and conduct. In other words, all fleshly tests for man were met and passed by our Substitute. The last fleshly test was water baptism. With that act of obedience to fleshly ordinances, Christ concluded the fulfilling of all righteousness. Matt. 3:15. "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."-2 Cor. 5:16-17. By receiving Christ's perfect finished work for us, we, by faith, establish the law. We prove that the law has done its God-ordained work in demanding perfect obedience and sentencing to death all law-breakers.
CHRISTIANS IDENTIFIED BY FRUIT
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."—John 13:35. "By their fruits ye shall know them." "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." —Gal. 5:22-26.
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