Ellet J. Waggoner
The Present Truth : January 12, 1893
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1.18. What a wonderful promise! It seems too much to be true, but it is truth. Think of it! A man that is thoroughly defiled by sin, made as pure as the snow fresh from heaven. That is the wonder of the universe!
How is it accomplished? Well, it is in a way that no man would ever have thought of. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Timothy 1.15. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” 1 John 3.4, 5. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1.7. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1.9. “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.” Romans 3.23-25. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4.5
The sum of all this is that the sinner is saved from sin by receiving the righteousness of God in Christ. He is redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Christ. But the blood of Christ is the life of Christ. See Leviticus 17.11. When Christ shed His blood for man, He poured out His life for sinful man. Whoever acknowledges that he has sinned, and takes Christ by faith, receives His life into his soul. Then he is a new creature (2 Corinthians 5.17), and the life that he lives he lives by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him and gave Himself for him. Galatians 2.20. That man has simply exchanged lives with the Son of God. Being crucified with Christ, he gives his old life to Christ, and thus it, with its sins, is nailed to the cross. But since he is crucified with Christ, he must also be made alive with Christ; for “if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” Romans 6.5. But only Christ has the power to live after giving up His life; therefore the new life that the redeemed ones live is the life of Christ. Thus he has exchanged lives with Christ.
All this is contrary to human reason. “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” 1 Corinthians 1.18. “We preach Christ crucified, and to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1.23, 24. Man would say, “Do right, and then you will be right.” That seems to the human mind to be the only reasonable way. But God says, “Let Me make you right, and then you will do right.”
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3.14, 15. The children of Israel had sinned in the wilderness, “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” Then the people confessed their sins and begged that the serpents might be removed from them. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Numbers 21.6-9
It would be strange if there were not some among the people who refused to look. They would “reason” in this way: “It is all nonsense to think that looking at that brazen serpent can heal a snake bite. If we would climb the poll, and rub the wounded against a serpent, there might be some virtue in that; but just looking can never be of any use, and I am not going to make a fool of myself.” That is just the way that men reason about the Lord. It seems to them foolishness that a man can be made perfectly righteous by simply looking at Christ. No; if they are ever to be made righteous they are confident that it must be by some more promising means than that. They will not risk their salvation upon a look. They can trust their own efforts, but to lie passively and look seems to them too presumptuous.
The truth is that the facts of the Gospel cannot be reasoned out by man. They are altogether above and beyond the reach of human reason. Man left to his own reason will reason himself into hedonism every time. See Romans 1.20-25. “But doesn’t God tell us to reason together?” some will ask. Yes; and here is where so many pervert the text with which we started. They use their reason as a basis for faith, forgetting that faith must be the instructor of reason. God does not tell us to apply our reason to the task of figuring out a way of salvation but says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” Who does the “us” include? Why, ourselves and the Lord, of course. The trouble is that so many read that call, and then they proceed forthwith to begin to reason alone, leaving the Lord out altogether. Then they come to fatal conclusions.
We are to reason together with the Lord. Well, it is only reasonable that in reasoning with the Lord we should defer to Him, and let His reason direct. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55.8, 9. Even “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” So it is not with our mind that we are to reason about the things of God, but with the mind of the Lord. First we are to submit to the Lord, that He may put in us the mind that was in Christ (Philippians 2.5), and then we shall see clearly, for we shall be walking in the light as He is in the light. Then it is that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. That which seems foolishness when looked at from a human point of view, is very reasonable when seen with the mind of God; for as “God is love,” and as He “delights in mercy,” it is the most natural thing for God to save sinners. But it is nonetheless wonderful, for the smallest of God’s ways affords matter for the never-ending wonder of man.