The Power that Purifies

Ellet J. Waggoner

The Present Truth : July 15, 1897

Since we did not come so far last week as the close of the second verse, and the third and fourth verses form one sentence with the first two verse, we will for the sake of the connection read the entire four together:--

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds: who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1.1-4

“He Spoke and It Was.”—The story of creation runs thus: “God said, Let there be—; and it was so.” Wherever His Word came, there was the thing that it named. But Christ is the Word. John 1.1. It is in Him that every thought of God is expressed. Therefore “in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible. Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him and unto Him.” Colossians 1.16, R.V. By Him—in Him—God made the worlds, because in Christ He speaks, and when He speaks, the thing spoken is. There is a world, yea, a universe, of significance in the statement that God speaks to us in the One in whom all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, were created. The word which God speaks to us in Christ is the word that creates.

He speaks peace (Psalm 85.8), even “preaching peace by Jesus Christ” (Acts 10.36), and so there is peace; for, as the Word is the thing that it names, “He is our peace.” Ephesians 2.14. He speaks righteousness (Psalm 40.9), and therefore the name whereby He shall be called is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23.6. “of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness.” 1 Corinthians 1.30. He is the commandment of God, as we learn by a comparison of Deuteronomy 30.11-14 with Romans  10.6-9. This is seen also from the fact that the commandment of God is life everlasting (John 12.50) and to know Him is life everlasting. John 17.3. Therefore the commandments of God, all of which are spoken through Christ alone, carry with them the power of performing the things that they require. So there is rest and peace for us in the greatest and seemingly most irksome of His commandments, when we remember that nothing is spoken to us except in Christ, and that He is the Word by which the worlds were made. Thus it is that “His commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5.3

The Light of the World.—“Who, being the brightness of His glory.” Christ is the very essence of the glory of God. As the Revision has it, “the effulgence of His glory,” or as in other translations, “the shining of His glory.” God is “the God of glory.” Acts 7.2. “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1.5. “The darkness hides not from Thee; but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.” Psalm 139.12. God’s Word is light (Psalm 119.105,130), so that when God sent His Word into the darkness, saying “Let there be light,” immediately the light shone out of darkness. 2 Corinthians 4.6

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19.1), because He has set His glory above the heavens. Psalm 8.1. God’s glory is infinitely greater than that of the heavens, since He is the Creator, and they are infinitely less than He. In the New Jerusalem, when it comes down upon this earth, “the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine upon it,” for the glory of God lightens it and “the Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21.23. All the light that shines upon this earth is but a portion of the glory of God. Christ is the shining of that glory; therefore He is most literally “the Light of the world.” In every sunbeam Christ comes to us, making known His love and power. If therefore we recognize Him in the light, thanking Him for every ray of light that we receive, walking in the light as He is in the light, we shall realize that He is “the Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4.2), and will rejoice in the righteousness that His word speaks. “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” Psalm 89.15, 16

“The Impress of His Substance.”—This is what we find in the margin of the Revised Version, for “the express image of His person,” and it is more true to the original. In a vastly inferior degree we see this illustrated among men. The son is to a degree the impress of his father’s being, but only to a degree, since nothing on this earth is perfect. The son inherits not only the goods of his father, but also the disposition and characteristics; and this is by far the most important inheritance. A poor man, without a foot of land, or a shilling above his daily bread, may give his son an inheritance that cannot be valued in money, while a millionaire may bequeath to his son so wretched an inheritance that it would be almost better if he had never been born. But God is perfect, and Christ is His heir. He is the living image of the Father, the very personality of God; for “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2.9

Joint Heirs with Christ.—“And ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2.10. If by faith we receive the Spirit of God, then we are children of God; “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Romans 8.17. “Heirs of God;” not merely of His possessions, but of Himself. “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.” Psalm 16.5. “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5.19. We were made sinners by birth; we are made righteous by the new birth. Just as by our natural birth we inherit evil dispositions, and all the tendencies to evil that dwell in the flesh, even so by the new birth we inherit the graces of the Spirit. To doubt this, would be to say that God is less powerful as Father than man is.

But we must not forget that the new birth is accomplished by faith, and is therefore continuous, and is not the work of one instant for all time. God hears us continually, as we believe. It is by the obedience of Christ,—the present, personal obedience of Christ in us,—that we are made righteous. It is this inheritance of the character of God in Christ, that makes us heirs of all His possessions; for if we were not sons, we could not be heirs, and it is the bearing of His image that marks us as sons. “We all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3.18. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 Corinthians 15.49. But all this is only because Christ is “the effulgence of His glory and the very impress of His substance.”

“Bearing All Things.”—Christ is revealed to us “upholding all things by the Word of His power.” Just as we read in Colossians 1.17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” R.V. The word that creates is the word that maintains; in Christ were all things created, and in Him they are kept. But Christ Himself is the Word, the words that He speaks are Spirit and life (John 6.63), because they are the utterance of His own life. He speaks just what He Himself is; therefore in that He bears all things by the word of His power, He bears all things by Himself.

Think closely upon the word “upholding,'” remembering that Christ is the One who upholds. Upholding,—holding up,—holding all things up by Himself. That is, all things rest upon Him. And thus we come to see that the text really says that Christ bears all things by the Word of His power, that is, by Himself. This is the regular meaning of the Greek word, phero, which we have in the word Christopher (Christbearer) and which is the same as the Latin fero, which appears in so many compounds, as for example, coniferous (cone bearing). Other translations give us simply and plainly in Hebrews 1.3, “bearing all things by the Word of His power,” Here is something for us to think about for a long time.

What Christ Bears.—He bears all things. How many things?—All things. Are there any exceptions?—Impossible; “for in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, visible and invisible;” and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1.16, 17. All that can be seen, and all that cannot be seen, rests upon Him. This includes the whole universe; but we will confine our thoughts to this earth. He bears the earth, and all that is upon it. The “all things” must necessarily include us, all men. Yes, He bears us, for “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17.28. His life is the light of men, and it “lights every man that cometh into the world.” John 1.4, 9. But as He bears us, He must necessarily bear all that pertains to us,—all that we bear,—our sins, our sorrows, and our sufferings. As He is our life, it cannot be otherwise than that He bears all that tends to make life a burden. “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53.4-6

Purification of Sins.—We shall have this thought that Christ bears all things constantly before us as we pass along, for it is involved in what follows. The text says that He “by Himself purged our sins.” The word “our” is not found in the best texts. He purged sins by Himself; not simply our sins, but all sins; for “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2.2. How could He purge the sins of the whole world by Himself?—Because He bears the sins of the world. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1.29. Here the margin gives the word “bears,” which is more literal. When He hung upon the cross, when He walked by the Jordan, when He was with the Father before His revelation in the flesh, and now that He is at the right-hand of the Majesty on high,” He bears the sins of the world.

Let us come a little nearer to this thought, for it has in it all strength, all righteousness. There is no life but from the Lord. “In Him we live.” With Him is “the fountain of life.” Psalm 36.9. A fountain continually flows, and so our life continually comes from God. Our life is not in reality our own life, but His, and therefore it is that all men owe to the Lord righteousness. The sin of the world is that men have taken the life and strength which God has loaned them, and have used them in a way utterly contrary to His will and character. The strength with which man smites and kills his fellow, is not inherent in the man, but is God’s. The breath with which man blasphemes His Maker, is the breath of life from God. The very words with which man denies the existence of God, are a proof of God’s long-suffering and love, in that He continues His life to rebellious men. Sin is most repugnant to God, yet He bears it in wayward men, in hope that His love and patience will draw them to an acknowledgment of Him. So He exclaims in words that should move the hearts of all who hear: “You have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.” Isaiah 43.24b. All the sins of the world have come upon the life of God, and so God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. 2 Corinthians 5.19. Man has committed sin of his own free will; but since it was the life of God that was used in the commission of it, God takes the responsibility of it upon Himself, although He was not responsible for it. Sin is most distasteful and abhorrent to God, yet it is upon Him; therefore He says: “I, even I, am He that blots out thy transgressions for Mine own sake.” Isaiah 43.26

In the participle “being,” in Hebrews 1.3, we have the idea of cause, thus, Christ, being the brightness of glory, etc., did so and so, that is, having that nature, He was able to do what is said of Him. In a translation before me, which follows the original very closely in this verse, we have the following, “Who, because He is the shining of His glory, and the impressed image of His being, and bears all things by the Word of His power, by Himself made purification of sins, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.” He purged sins, because He is the shining of God’s glory and the expression of His personality, and because He bears all things. Since He is all that, He is able to make reconciliation for sins. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.”

Take now a brief glance over the whole, that we may begin to realize what a wonderful salvation we have in Christ. All power and glory belong to God, but Christ is the power of God and the shining of His glory. God has spoken in Him, and still speaks, the word that creates. All things are upon Him. Everything that affects one of God's creatures affects God Himself, for their life is His life. The sin and the pain that afflict us, make God weary. Everything that man has done was done with God’s life, and therefore committed upon God; and God has shown and still shows His willingness that it should come upon Him, by patiently continuing His life to sinful men, and not cutting them off from the face of the earth. But Christ, who bears all things, upon whose life are all sins, has given His life, and thereby made an atonement for all sin. “Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Hebrews 9.26. Now His life is clear; no one can charge God with complicity with sin, although it was committed with His life. He hates sin, and so He destroys it in giving up His own life. Thus He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, for He bears the sins of the world. For His own sake He blots out sin, and since His life is our life, we necessarily get the benefit of the transaction.

Will all be saved, then?—No; because they will not acknowledge sin nor the life of God in them. It is true that He bears all sin; but if we persist in bearing it as well, either by refusing to acknowledge that it is sin, or by refusing to believe that He bears it, then it necessarily follows that in the final extinction of all sin we must go out of existence also. The sacrifice has been made, and it is ample because it is the life that bears all things; therefore all men might as well be saved as not.

He bears all things, even our sins; but it makes all the difference in the world whether we acknowledge it or not. He bears us and our sins, whether we believe it or not; and if we do not believe, then we continue to bear them -- a most useless proceeding. Since the sin comes upon His life, it is no more burden for Him to relieve us of it, than for Him to bear us with the burden on our shoulders. More than this, it is a joy for Him to relieve us of the burden, because then our lives are saved; for sin must be destroyed by His life; “He will swallow up death in victory;” and if we persist in bearing the sin ourselves, we shall be destroyed with it, and He has no pleasure in the death of any.

What joy and strength there is for all who really believe that Christ bears all things. He is come in the flesh, so that we have not to go and search for Him in order that we may cast our burdens on Him. They are there; the question is, “Will we persist in bearing them also, or will we allow Him to relieve us of them?” When a strong temptation presses upon you; He feels it, for He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; believe that with all your heart, and hold to it – and you are free, for since He bears it, you do not need to.  He can bear it so easily. He has demonstrated His power to resist evil in the flesh; therefore we may safely trust Him with all that we have. You have a task, perhaps a daily round of toil that worries you, and tries your patience beyond endurance; why not accept the fact that Jesus bears the burden, and that He can do it without losing patience? It is a common saying that “misery loves company,” which means that people in trouble like to have a companion who can sympathize with them. It seems to divide the suffering. Well, Jesus is a companion in tribulation, who not merely divides it, but who takes it all, so that we May have fullness of joy. John 5.11; 16.33. Believe it, and you will find that it is no fancy, but actual  fact. In time of pain and sickness there is ease and healing in the knowledge of the fact that Jesus feels every pang. As with the heart man believes unto righteousness, so with the heart may man believe unto health. Let Him then bear the burden in His own loving way; whatever it may be, let this truth be indelibly printed in your mind, and be upon your lips, “He bears it,” and you will have so much to thank the Lord for that you will forget how to doubt, murmur, or be afraid.

Yes, He bears all things by the Word of His power, and the Word is very near us, even in our mouth and in our heart (Romans 10.10); therefore “unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.