A Beautiful Work by Waggoner on the Holy Spirit and the Law

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Here are some things I want you to notice as you read Waggoner’s precious and refreshing article.
First, I’m thoroughly convinced that we cannot truly understand the beauty of the Third Angel’s Message of righteousness by faith unless we return to the non-trinitarian view of God that Jones and Waggoner had. We would not have an experience of the Messiah in us, the hope of glory, for we would believe the Holy Spirit to be some other spirit than that of the Messiah’s very own.
Second, the Holy Spirit does not work to condemn, nor does it work independent of the Law if it is available to a person. The Holy Spirit is our Supporter (Parakletos, Comforter)–the omnipresence of Christ who is our one and only Supporter–convicting of sin and revealing of righteousness that we may have an abundance of grace when we let Him take our sin away (Rom. 5:20). This is true support! Condemnation is from our own seared conscience that Satan loves to influence; thus, Satan is the ultimate condemner.
Third, notice the connection between the Law and the living water. The Law is the expression of righteousness, and the water represents the essence of righteousness itself, which is the life of the Messiah. Water flows from the Rock of Horeb (Sinai) where the Law was given, with the Rock representing the Messiah’s person, particularly bearing the wounds of Calvary with His life flowing out. This shows that the Holy Spirit, the life of the Messiah, flows out from Him and is not a separate being. The Messiah was struck at the cross, and blood and water poured out, the water representing His Spirit (Jn. 19:34) which imparts His life to all creatures on earth through His purchase of humanity and his earth. O yes, man who was king of earth fell, but our Saviour, the perfect Man, was crowned with thorns (the symbol of the earth’s curse, Gen. 3:18) to buy back man and his earth; and all life in on this earth flows from Calvary through His Spirit; and eternal life is imparted to all who believe.
In addition, the root of “Torah” (Law) literally means “to flow as water” (Strong’s H3384). In the very word it shows that there is more to the Law than just the letters. It is the life of the Messiah, flowing from Calvary, that imparts the living righteousness of the Law, the fullness of the Law, the Spirit of the Law. Therefore, we no longer need to look at the Law as a ministration of death (other than slaying our fallen flesh in the Messiah) but a ministration of life through the Messiah and His Spirit of holiness pouring out from Him. It was never meant to condemn but to convict of sin and reveal righteousness, which we receive in the Messiah through His Spirit flowing out from Him.
Without further ado, here is Waggoner’s excellent article (that ought to be printed in a booklet)…
March 23, 1893
“Front Page” The Present Truth 9, 6.
E. J. Waggoner
Before Jesus went back from earth to heaven He promised to to send the Comforter-the Holy Spirit-to abide with His people for ever, as His representative. Since it was by the anointing of the Spirit that He accomplished all His work here on earth (See Isa. lxi. 1-3), it is evident that the presence of the Spirit is the same as the presence of the Lord. The same instruction, counsel, and works of love that came from Christ, are continued by the Spirit.
In promising the Comforter, Jesus said, “And when He is come, He will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John xvi. 8. “By law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. iii. 20. But “the law is spiritual.” Rom. vii. 14. It is the nature of the Spirit, for the righteousness of the law is the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore there is no conviction of sin in any soul on earth, that is not the working of the Spirit of God.
But while the Spirit convicts of sin it is always a Comforter. It is as a Comforter that it convicts. Few people stop to think of that. Remember that nowhere is it said that the Spirit condemns for sin. There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. Conviction is the revealing of sin. But it depends on the person’s course after he has been convinced of sin, whether or not he will be condemned. For “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. The mere pointing out to a person that he is a sinner is not condemnation; the condemnation comes from holding to the sin after it is made known.
Let the mind grasp the thought that the same Spirit that convinces of sin also convinces of righteousness. It is always a Comforter. The Spirit does not lay aside one office while it performs another. It does not leave aside the revealing of righteousness when it convinces of sin, nor does it cease to be a convincer of sin when it reveals righteousness. It does both at the same time, and herein is the comfort to all those who will take it. It convinces of sin because it convinces of righteousness. But let us consider this matter a little, and then meditate upon it.
***The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God-the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. Therefore the righteousness revealed by it is the righteousness of God.*** Now it is only by looking at righteousness that we can know sin and its sinfulness. The law, by which is the knowledge of sin, is not sin, but is the expression of God’s righteousness. A man may look at sin, and if he has never seen anything else he will think it is all right. Even one who knows the right, may lose the knowledge of it by looking at sin, so great is the deceitfulness of sin. So the Spirit must reveal the righteousness of God in His law, before the sinner can know sin as sin. The apostle says, “I had not known sin but by the law.” Rom. vii. 7. So it is as the revealer of the perfect righteousness of God that the Spirit convinces of sin.
It is evident, therefore, that the closer one comes to God, thus getting a more perfect view of Him, the greater will be his sense of his own imperfections. He gets this knowledge of sin, not by studying himself, but by beholding God. As an illustration, take man in relation to the works of God. When does one ever feel his insignificance so much as when in mid-ocean, or by its side? Its vastness makes him feel his littleness. So when one stands amid the lofty mountains. On such an occasion one does not have to look at himself to realise how small he is. It is while looking up,-beholding the mighty works of God,-that he realises that in comparison he is nothing. The psalmist says, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” Ps. viii. 3, 4.
If this is a result of contact with and beholding the works of God, what must be the result when considering the character of God Himself. “The Lord God is a sun.” Ps. lxxxiv. 11. He is greater than all the heavens. “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep.” Ps. xxxvi. 6. As while beholding the visible works of God’s hands one feels his own physical insignificance, so in contemplating the righteousness of God, one is made conscious of his own spiritual lack. Now the message of comfort which God sends to His people, especially for the days immediately preceding His coming is this, “Behold your God! See Isa. xi. 1-9. That means that as a necessary preparation for His coming, He wants us to know our own lack of righteousness by beholding His righteousness.
Thus far we have been speaking of the knowledge of sin by the righteousness of God. Now mark the comfort that there is in that same conviction of sin. Remember that the sensibility of a lack of righteousness is caused by the revelation of God’s righteousness. Also remember that the Spirit, that convinces of both sin and righteousness, is given to men. Christ said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John xiv. 16, 17.
What necessarily follows from this? Just this, that whoever accepts the Spirit, which, by its revelation of the righteousness of God, convicts the soul of sin, and allows it to abide with him, thereby gets the righteousness which it brings. The sense of need in itself the promise of supply. It is God who produces a sense of a lack of righteousness, which is conviction for sin. But He does not do this in order to taunt the sinner, and cause him to despair. He does it for the purpose of letting the sinner know that He has that which will abundantly supply all that he lacks. In fact, it is by the very bringing of the supply of righteousness, that the soul knows itself to be simple. Therefore, whoever will take God exactly at His word need not be under condemnation for a single minute, although always, and ever anew, conscious of his own imperfections. As every new defect is pointed out, he may cry, “O Lord, I thank Thee that Thou hast this new thing to give me, and I take it as freely as Thou dost give it.” This is true rejoicing in the Lord.
This is the truth that God was trying to teach ancient Israel, when He spoke His law from Sinai, and is what He has been anxious for us to learn all these years. The law was ordained “in the hands of a Mediator.” Gal. iii. 19. That is, in the hands of Christ, for He is the “one Mediator between God and man.” 1 Tim. ii. 5. He is Mediator because He reconciles us to God. Since the enmity consists in the fact that we are not subject to the law of God, the reconciliation consists in the putting of that law in the heart and mind. So Christ is Mediator because He is the medium through which the righteousness of God is conveyed to us.
This was most forcibly illustrated at the giving of the law from Sinai. Some time before the people had been perishing with thirst, and God said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.” Ex. xvi. 5, 6. This was done, and the people drank and were revived. But the water which they drank was miraculously given by Christ. In fact it came directly from Him. The apostle Paul says that “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. x. 4. The Rock which the people saw, and which Moses smote, was a symbol of Christ.
But Horeb is another name for Sinai. So that the law of God was spoken from the very same mountain from which God had caused the water to flow, which was even then quenching their thirst. When God came down upon the mount, it was the very personification of Him and His law. No man could touch it without dying. Yet from it at that same time the water which gave life was flowing. This water, which, as we have seen, came from Christ, is a symbol of the Spirit which is given to all who believe. See John iv. 10, 13, 14; vii. 37-39. In that event God has given us a great object lesson. Although the law gives the knowledge of sin, and sin is death, the law comes to us in the hands of a Mediator, ministered to us by the Spirit; and “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” makes us free from the law of sin and death. It is thus that the commandment of God is life everlasting.
Is there not the very essence of comfort in this? At the same moment that the knowledge of sin comes to us, righteousness to cover and take away all the sin is revealed. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Rom. v. 20. The law, which convicts is spiritual, and the Spirit is the water of life, which is given freely to all who will take it. Could anything surpass the wonderful provisions of the grace of “the God of all comfort, the Father of mercies”? Who will not drink and drink again, and thus continually be filled.
“I HEARD the voice of Jesus say,
Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one
Stoop down, and drink, and live.
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.”
Amen! Be refreshed!

Comments 2

  1. Thanks for sharing these insightful articles with us. I can see that certainly Father is blessing you in your studies of the writings of Jones and Waggoner, and it inspiring others to take a look at the message God really gave to his people.

    “I would speak in warning to those who have stood for years resisting light and cherishing the spirit of opposition. How long will you hate and despise the messengers of God’s righteousness? God has given them His message. They bear the word of the Lord.” — TM p. 96. (1895).

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